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Maine Governor Will Sign Bill Requiring Labels for Genetically Modified Foods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Maine News page.

AUGUSTA - Gov. Paul LePage confirmed Tuesday that he will sign a bill to require food producers to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

In a letter obtained by the Portland Press Herald, the governor informed the lead sponsors of L.D. 718 that he will sign the measure when lawmakers reconvene after the current legislative session adjourns.

The delayed signing will likely make the bill effective in January and give the state time to plan its response to what officials believe is an inevitable lawsuit by the food production and agribusiness industry.

Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, the sponsor of L.D. 718, told the Press Herald on Monday that the governor planned to sign the bill. Tuesday's letter, obtained through a Freedom of Access Act request, confirms LePage's intention.

The letter doubles as assurance to supporters of the food labeling bill that it will become law.

The bill is part of a national movement to pressure food producers to disclose whether their food contains ingredients that are bioengineered -- their DNA spliced with that of unrelated plants, animals, bacteria or viruses.

L.D. 718 has counterparts in 30 states and is part of a 50-state strategy that supporters hope will prompt the federal government to draft national labeling standards for genetically engineered foods.

The proposal has won overwhelming support in the Maine Legislature. On Tuesday, activists delivered 3,850 petition signatures urging LePage to sign the bill.

LePage, in his letter to Harvell and Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, echoed concerns expressed by Attorney General Janet Mills about the legal challenge the state would face. However, he wrote, "I deeply appreciate the strong public sentiment behind the bill and agree that consumers should have the right to know what is in their food."

LePage acknowledged that delaying the signing of the bill would enable Maine to monitor action in other states.    
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