Maine Legislature to decide right-to-know food labeling issue
Augusta — The Maine Legislature took its first action March 7 on LD 718 – An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock.
The bill would require genetically-modified foods and foods containing genetically-modified organisms, such as processed foods made with genetically-modified corn, to bear a new label alerting consumers that the content has been “genetically engineered.”
Genetically-modified organisms and “genetically engineered” refer to the same process, which is unlike traditional plant breeding. This process combines genetic material from two or more different organisms to create a set of traits in the final product that could not be achieved by normal reproduction.
The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Lance Harvell-R, Farmington, argues, “Mainers have a right to know what is in our food. For dietary, health and religious reasons, people just want to know what they are eating. ”
The bill is unusual because it has more than 120 co-sponsors, reflecting tripartisan interest from across the state in the historic effort to label GMOs.
“Widespread support for this bill shows that the time is right for Maine to be a leader on this issue. Polls show that upward of 90 percent of Americans want this label; now we are asking the Legislature to require this label,” said Heather Spalding, interim executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Association, in a news release.
The Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will schedule a public hearing on the bill in the coming weeks. The hearing is expected to attract significant attendance by food consumers and farmers.
For more information, please contact Logan Perkins, Right to Know—GMO Campaign Coordinator, 2949-7371.