A boy checks out an orgaincally grown watermellon at the Common Ground Fair in Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
By Ramona du Houx
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle joined Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, at the State House March 19, 2015, in support of her bill to require the labeling of food containing genetically modified ingredients.
“The idea behind my bill very simple,” said Rep. Dunphy. “Mainers have a right to know what is in the food we feed our families.”
Sixty-seven countries that represent 65 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, Associate Directior of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).
Dunphy was joined by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Deputy Director Heather Spalding and Paul, in support of labeling food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“For decades, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has been leading the fight in Maine for good food, good farming and demanding transparency in labeling food made from GMO crops,” said Spalding, who also pointed out that beverage labels have successfully accommodated Maine’s bottle deposit law as evidence that food distributors can tailor labels to state law.
The measure builds on a 2013 law that requires genetically modified organisms to be labelled in food and seed products, but only if four other states in the Northeast pass similar measures first. Dunphy’s bill would repeal the trigger, which would make labels mandatory at the time the law goes into effect.
“As a mom and a lawmaker, I don’t believe we should have to wait for other states to act before we have access to this information,” said Rep. Dunphy (photo above.) “The vast majority of Maine citizens want food with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled so that we can make informed decisions.”
The bill, LD 911, has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. It will be scheduled for a public hearing in the coming weeks.
Dunphy is serving her first term in the Maine House. She represents Old Town and Penobscot Indian Island.