Logan Perkins - Right to Know-GMO Campaign Coordinator - (207) 949-7371
Heather Spalding - Interim Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association - (207) 568-4142
Proponents Hold Press Conference and Rally Before Public Hearing
Augusta, Maine - Nearly 100 people are expected to turn out today in Augusta to testify in favor of LD 718, An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock. The Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will hear public testimony on this bill beginning at 1 p.m., and the hearing is expected to last into the evening. At noon, before the hearing, proponents of the bill will hold a press conference and take questions in the Welcome Center of the Capitol building.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington), requires a label reading “Produced with Genetic Engineering” on foods consisting of or containing a genetically modified organism (GMO). Rep. Harvell says, "The scientific uncertainty surrounding GMOs is a good reason for the state to require labeling. Consumers have a right to know what they are eating and to make informed choices about the health risks they take with products that are not subject to federal safety testing."
Testimony on the bill is expected to come from a wide range of proponents, including doctors, farmers, consumers and retail food sellers. Opponents are expected to include the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Maine Grocers Association and other industrial agriculture interests.
"Ninety-one percent of Maine people support a labeling requirement disclosing genetically modified ingredients in their food," says Heather Spalding, interim executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, referencing a recent scientific poll of Maine voters. "Members of the committee should respect the wishes of their constituents and support this bill."
Maine is one of 37 U.S. states considering GMO labeling bills in 2013, including every New England state.