EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 20, 2013

Shea-Porter tours Londonderry plant

Shea-Porter advocates for labeling law in Londonderry plant

By John Toole

---- — LONDONDERRY — Business is good for Derry-based FoodState, makers of the MegaFood dietary supplements.

The company, with manufacturing facilities near Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, is growing about 30 percent a year and has 165 employees.

“We’re doing well,” CEO Robert U. Craven said yesterday, as Congressman Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., toured the company. “We’ve hired 35 people this year.”

The company could easily have 300 employees within five years, he said.

But something Congress could do would potentially make business even better.

FoodState supports a labeling law that would require food companies to disclose details about genetic modification of products.

Shea-Porter is a cosponsor of a bill that would provide for labeling about genetically modified organisms in the food chain, as are Congressman Anne McLane Kuster, D-N.H., and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

“We are 100 percent non-GMO. We believe in the movement,” Craven said. “So we ensure that all of our products are certified or documented as non-GMO. So for us, it would be a big boon for our company. The awareness is growing and people are looking for non-GMO product.”

Shea-Porter was candid about prospects for passage.

“You know, we’re not going to get that GMO bill through right now, but we are building more interest,” she said to Craven.

Craven nodded, as Shea-Porter said consumers want it, even if Congress isn’t ready yet.

“All they are asking for is the choice. Just label it and let people make their decision,” she said. “That’s the American way: Just tell us what it is and then we will decide.”

Craven encouraged Shea-Porter.

“Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you,” he said.

Craven said he is confident it’s a matter of time before consumers see such labeling.

“Oh, it’s not going to go through in Congress,” he said. “But the states are taking it on. Washington state is about to champion this and if one state falls, then all manufacturers have to pay attention.”

Packaged food manufacturers are fighting against labeling with big dollars, but Craven sees consumers winning in the long run.

“It’s starting to roll,” he said. “If the consumer wants it, it will happen. So, whether it happens in Washington or not, if the consumer wants it, manufacturers will have to follow. It’s definitely a consumer-driven issue.”

For Shea-Porter, this is about jobs.

“We are always thrilled when we see companies that are thriving and they are in New Hampshire,” she told company employees during the tour, which lasted more than an hour.

Shea-Porter had to put on a hair net and lab coat as she walked through lab and production areas at FoodState.

She also spoke to company employees about other business in Congress.

Shea-Porter defended both Social Security and Medicare. She said she would preserve Social Security by raising the cap applied to earnings, now set around $112,000. She explained she only has to pay Social Security taxes on her first $112,000 in earnings.

“Why would that be?” Shea-Porter asked. “You pay every dollar, why shouldn’t I?”

It’s a question of being fair, she said.

Increasing the cap would help most people in the country, she said.

Medicare, meanwhile, is an efficient, effective program, Shea-Porter said.

“Look around and you will see it is the healthiest senior population in our history,” she said. “It’s because they had access to Medicare.”