The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association,, 207.653.3090; Zach Lingley, Preti Flaherty, 207-902-0179,

Maine Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Remove Trigger Clause from GMO Labeling Law

OCA Leading Grassroots Coalition behind Bill that Has Widespread Bi-Partisan and Grassroots Support


Lawmakers from both parties joined with concerned citizens and representatives from several non-profits at the Maine State House today, March 19, to roll out a landmark initiative that would place Maine at the forefront of the food safety movement.

"Mainers overwhelmingly support the right to know if the food they put on the dinner table every night contains genetically modified organisms. Sixty-seven countries that represent sixty-five 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, a resident of Freeport, Maine, and associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). OCA, is a consumer advocacy group that promotes food safety initiatives on behalf of more than one million consumers, including 25,000 network members in Maine.

LD 991 would require foods distributed in Maine to include a label if genetically modified organisms were used to produce the final product.

"Take a look at any food product that you see in the grocery store. There are labels that show nutritional facts such as total calories, sugars, and carbohydrates, labels that indicate measurements, like the number of ounces in a soda, and in many cases, bottle deposit information for several different states, not to mention constant re-branding for marketing purposes. Opponents of this bill contend that labeling will place a hardship on producers. But this argument simply fails to pass the straight-faced test," said Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, the bill's lead sponsor.

In 2013, Maine legislators passed a law that would require labeling for foods that contain genetically modified organisms, but only if five contiguous states passed a similar requirement first. This effectively allows Maine to be held hostage on this issue until New Hampshire decides to pass a similar law.

Rep. Deb Sanderson R- Chelsea said: "As Mainers, I'm sure we can all agree that this is a decision we do not need New Hampshire to make for us. The right to know what is in our food is a decades-old ideal that started with President Kennedy's Consumer Bill of Rights in 1962. It is high time that Maine adjust its laws to apply to 21st century bio-engineering practices."

Legislators from all four caucuses have joined forces in sponsoring this initiative that is part of a growing national movement towards a more cognitive approach to healthy food practices. On Thursday, some categorized the lack of a labeling requirement as an "inside job" by big agriculture.

Rep. Dustin White, R-Washburn, one of Maine's youngest legislators at age 23, echoed those sentiments: "The millennial generation, my generation, has to step forward and stop the cycle of nepotism that has seen big agriculture become intertwined with big government at nearly all levels. This is a common sense initiative. You've heard the numbers--97 percent of people support the right to know-why is this even up for debate?"

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.