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Ben & Jerry’s joins coalition of Mainers in support of GMO labeling

April 30, 2015

AUGUSTA – Farmers, advocates for organic food and consumers were joined by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in supporting a bill from Rep. Michelle Dunphy that would require the labeling of food containing genetically modified ingredients.

“Just like labels that require disclosure of farm-raised salmon or orange juice from concentrate, labeling of GE [genetically engineered] food will provide consumers the information they need to make choices for themselves and their families,” Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of the ice cream company, wrote in his testimony to the committee, adding that Ben & Jerry’s makes frequent changes to labeling and could easily accommodate such a law.

The measure builds on a 2013 law that requires genetically modified organisms to be labelled in food and seed products, but only if four other contiguous states pass similar measures first. Dunphy’s bill would repeal the trigger, which would make labels mandatory at the time the law goes into effect.

“The idea behind my bill very simple,” said Dunphy, D-Old Town. “Mainers have a right to know what is in the food we feed our families. The vast majority of Maine citizens want food with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled so that we can make informed decisions.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Deputy Director Heather Spalding and Organic Consumers Association Associate Director Katherine Paul, testified in support of labeling food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

“For decades, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has been leading the fight in Maine for good food, good farming and demanding transparency in labeling food made from GMO crops,” said Spalding, who also pointed out that beverage labels have successfully accommodated Maine’s bottle deposit law as evidence that food distributors can tailor labels to state law.

“Sixty-seven countries that represent 65 percent of the world’s population have already embraced transparency through GMO labelling,” Paul said. “We believe that Maine is ready to lead the nation and adopt this commonsense requirement to ensure that we have a choice in the types of foods we decide to feed to our children.”

The Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will hold a work session on the bill, LD 911, in the coming weeks. At that time, members of the panel will have the opportunity to offer amendments before making a recommendation to the full Legislature.

Dunphy is serving her first term in the Maine House. She represents Old Town and Penobscot Indian Island.

Contact:

Ann Kim [Dunphy], 287-1430, c. 233-1838