May 22, 2013
Maine Agriculture Committee Votes to Label GMOs
Other States Also Move Toward Labeling
Augusta, Maine – The Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) voted 8 - 5 yesterday in support of a bill that would require labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. Now the bill will go to the full legislature for votes in the House and Senate.
Proponents of the bill expressed relief that the Committee rejected a last minute amendment by out-of-state infant formula manufacturers. The amendment sought to create a labeling exemption for infant formula and other highly refined products.
“This is a major step toward ensuring that Maine people can make informed choices about eating GMOs,” said Heather Spalding, Interim Executive Director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). “We are happy that the Committee concurs with 95% of Maine people who feel that the public has a right to know if the food we’re eating is derived from genetically modified crops.”
In addition to the 8 members of the ACF Committee who voted in favor of labeling, two members, Representative Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) and Representative Russell Black (R-Wilton) voted for a version of the bill that would require labeling, but only if New Hampshire and four other contiguous states were to pass similar labeling requirements. MOFGA opposed this additional requirement.
New Hampshire’s legislature is considering a GMO labeling bill but it is not expected to pass this year. Yesterday, Connecticut’s Senate voted 35 - 1 in favor of a GMO labeling bill. Connecticut’s House is expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks. Similarly, Vermont’s House recently passed a labeling requirement, and the Vermont Senate will take up the issue in January. Maine’s labeling bill has widespread bi-partisan support with 123 co-sponsors in the Legislature. The Maine House and Senate are expected to entertain the labeling bill within the next two weeks.
Roll call of ACF Committee votes on GMO Labeling:
Committee members supporting the bill included Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), Senator James Boyle (D-Cumberland), Representative James Dill (D-Old Town), Representative Peter Kent (D-Woolwich), Representative Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop), Representative Brian Jones (D-Freedom), Representative William Noon (D-Sanford), and Representative Robert Saucier (D-Presque Isle).
Representative Jeffrey Timberlake (R-Turner) and Russell Black (R-Wilton) voted for labeling only if five contiguous states were to require labeling.
Senator Roger Sherman (R-Aroostook), Representative Dean Cray (R-Palmyra) and Don Marean (R-Hollis) voted to send the discussion to Congress.
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MOFGA's Right to Know - GMO Labeling Campaign
Infant Formula Council Seeks GMO Labeling Exemption