FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2015
Maine Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Remove Trigger Clause from GMO Labeling Law
OCA Leading Grassroots Coalition behind Bill that Has Widespread Bi-Partisan and Grassroots Support
AUGUSTA, Maine—Lawmakers from both parties joined with concerned citizens and representatives from several non-profits at the Maine State House today, March 19, to roll out a landmark initiative that would place Maine at the forefront of the food safety movement.
“Mainers overwhelmingly support the right to know if the food they put on the dinner table every night contains genetically modified organisms. Sixty-seven countries that represent sixty-five percent of the world’s population have already embraced transparency through GMO labelling. We believe that Maine is ready to lead the nation and adopt this common-sense requirement to ensure that we have a choice in the types of foods we decide to feed to our children,” said Katherine Paul, a resident of Freeport, Maine, and associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). OCA is a consumer advocacy group that promotes food safety initiatives on behalf of more than one million consumers, including 25,000 network members in Maine.
LD 991 would require foods distributed in Maine to include a label if genetically modified organisms were used to produce the final product.
“Take a look at any food product that you see in the grocery store. There are labels that show nutritional facts such as total calories, sugars, and carbohydrates, labels that indicate measurements, like the number of ounces in a soda, and in many cases, bottle deposit information for several different states, not to mention constant re-branding for marketing purposes. Opponents of this bill contend that labeling will place a hardship on producers. But this argument simply fails to pass the straight-faced test,” said Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, the bill’s lead sponsor.
In 2013, Maine legislators passed a law that would require labeling for foods that contain genetically modified organisms, but only if five contiguous states passed a similar requirement first. This effectively allows Maine to be held hostage on this issue until New Hampshire decides to pass a similar law.
Rep. Deb Sanderson R- Chelsea said: “As Mainers, I’m sure we can all agree that this is a decision we do not need New Hampshire to make for us. The right to know what is in our food is a decades-old ideal that started with President Kennedy’s Consumer Bill of Rights in 1962. It is high time that Maine adjust its laws to apply to 21st century bio-engineering practices.”
Legislators from all four caucuses have joined forces in sponsoring this initiative that is part of a growing national movement towards a more cognitive approach to healthy food practices. On Thursday, some categorized the lack of a labeling requirement as an “inside job” by big agriculture.
Rep. Dustin White, R-Washburn, one of Maine’s youngest legislators at age 23, echoed those sentiments: “The millennial generation, my generation, has to step forward and stop the cycle of nepotism that has seen big agriculture become intertwined with big government at nearly all levels. This is a common sense initiative. You’ve heard the numbers—97 percent of people support the right to know-why is this even up for debate?
“Poll after poll indicates that consumers want to know what’s in their food – especially if it includes ingredients from GMO crops,” said Heather Spalding, deputy director of MOFGA. “Ninety-seven percent of Mainers want to know. This bill will provide Maine legislators another opportunity to learn even more about GMOs in food and agriculture, and consider options for a speedier implementation of Maine’s landmark GMO labeling law.”
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.