Anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis is probably aware of my personal opposition to genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. Back in Novemeber of 2012 I wrote a series of posts regarding the issues surrounding GMOs as we watched California gearing up to vote on Proposition 37 (here is their website). I did extensive research, reading and studies, about GMOs and wrote these articles: “How GM-foods affect the body“, “Let me decide“, “Monsanto claims commitment to the honeybee industry“, “10 tips on how to avoid GMOs“, “GMOs, Let’s Review“, “What really demonizes Monsanto“.
Naturally I was disappointed when the proposition was defeated–read more about that here (blog-post from the Huffington Post Green).
However, since then, 18 other states have taken up the fight against Monsanto, including Hawaii, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine. On Tuesday, April 23rd, the national debate settled at the State House in Augusta to hear testimony regarding whether or not Maine should require labeling for GM-foods. More than 100 people signed up to testify for or against the LD-718 bill, which would require retailers to label products containing genetically modified seed or ingredients.
The bill was sponsored by Representative Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, with support from MOFGA with their Right-to-Know GMO campaign. If passed, the bill would also prohibit retailers from labeling a product as “natural” if it contains GMOs.
Opponents included the Maine Grocer’s Association, the Maine Farm Bureau, and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and they are backed by Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association. Attributing the public outcry for GMO-labeling to a mere “consumer curiosity”, representatives protested that the debate should be delt with at the federal level. They claim that the bill violates constitutional provisions on interstate commerce allowing companies to avoid disclosing whether their products are genetically modified.
But advocates say that consumers have the right to know if their food has been bioengineered. They need to know if the food they are eating and feeding their children, their families, was made with ingredients that came from plants that have had their DNA spliced with that of an un-related plant, animal, bacterium, or virus.
Supporters went on to point out that despite the opposition’s claim that there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful or different from other plants in any way, there is new scientific evidence that GM foods can increase health risks and food allergies. It was also pointed out that there is a lack of scientific study proving the health risks because federal regulators have left testing up to the biotech industry. The same industry that is producing and profiting from GM-products, which have been in our food supply for nearly 20 years now.
I couldn’t make it to Augusta on Tuesday to do my part to support the bill. It would have been great to be able to stand among the other organic farmers for this common cause. And there was only one advocate that mentioned the threat to wildlife that GMOs pose, which made me realize that no one even mentioned the pollinators.
GM-crops kill pollinators. I would have liked to have been there with reports and my own testimony, informing lawmakers of the devastation that these crops pose to the beekeeping industry and our natural wildlife.
Alas, I was only able to listen to the live feed that I chanced upon that afternoon.
Even still, I was there in spirit.
For more about Tuesday’s hearing for LD-718 and the proposed labeling of GM-foods in Maine, check out these links:
Should Maine require labeling for genetically modified food? – The Portland Press Herald
Lawmakers take up GMO labeling bill – WABI TV 5 News, with an accompanying video clip.