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The Summer 2013 Terning Point!
I did, myself, and in reading Jane Welch’s article about Marching on Monsanto, thought I would mention two bills that we had up in Augusta this session dealing with GMOs.
The first bill is one I know you knew about, because you wrote to us. (and wrote to us, and wrote to us!!!- Thank you so much for that…)
LD 718, “An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock” can be found for your review at this link LD 718
While the legislature did pass this bill into law, the law will not go into effect unless four other states join us in enacting the same law. We passed the bill overwhelmingly, despite objections cautioning us about lawsuits from Attorney General Janet Mills and huge pressure from the industry. MOFGA organized a formidable grassroots campaign, and all of your letters made a huge difference.
But, if the federal government is going in the opposite direction, as reported in Jane’s article, things could go afoul.
We had another bill this session dealing with GMOs- my colleague on Marine Resources, Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville, presented LD 898, “An Act To Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Marine Organisms”. Unfortunately, this bill did not fare as well as LD 718, perhaps just due to people not knowing about it or MOFGA not picking it up, and the bill was killed after a valiant attempt by the House to keep it alive through some negotiations with the Senate.
There are, as yet, no genetically engineered Atlantic salmon on the market in the United States, but if, as expected, the federal Food and Drug Administration approves their sale as food for human consumption Rep. Chapman proposed that they be tagged with a special label before they can be sold in Maine, for the same reasons that consumers should have a right to know about their fish, just as much as any other food.
Last December, the FDA gave preliminary approval to the sale of the AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon that has been modified with a gene that lets the fish reach market weight in about half the time as a conventional salmon. The public comment period on FDA’s approval of what many have called the “Frankenfish” closed April 26.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) both opposed LD898 at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee, but neither one of them supports the sale of genetically engineered salmon in Maine.
The Department’s stance was that the law was too broad, and that they didn’t have the resources to enforce. This lack of resources to enforce complaint is one we hear often at the legislature, incidentally.
At any rate, I thought that this issue would be something that Terners would want to know about.
The summary of Rep. Chapman’s bill, and all actions and text of the bill, can be found here: LD 898
As always, be in touch. — Cheers from Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson
Raw Snacks Event: April 13. Stay tuned for details!