May 11, 2013

Another View: Labeling GMO products helps shoppers, won't hurt farmers

A spokesman for the biotechnology industry is exaggerating the costs of a pro-consumer law.


Given Bob Tardy's position as a well-paid lobbyist for huge biotechnology corporations, it was not surprising that in his May 9 column ("Maine Voices: Affixing a GMO label to food would be misleading and expensive"), he argued that disclosing the presence of genetically modified ingredients in food would be too costly and difficult for his clients.

Many consumers aren't aware that the tomatoes in the supermarket may contain flounder genes or that, in some cases, potatoes have been altered to contain potentially toxic pesticides. I want to know what is in my food, and I know Mainers share this desire. We care about our families and want every avenue made available to be informed.

A bill requiring food manufacturers to label products containing genetically modified plants and animals is currently being considered by the Maine Legislature.

This is a common-sense way to help consumers make informed decisions about the food they buy. Nutritional labeling already helps consumers make smart choices about what to feed their family, and labeling genetically engineered food is an obvious next step.

This bill is not an arduous requirement for manufacturers. Producers are not prevented from using engineered ingredients; rather, they will only be required to make a small change in their labeling.

Additionally, the bill would exempt those who unknowingly use genetically engineered ingredients in their products. Labeling requirements would also not apply to restaurants, alcoholic beverages or medical food items.

President Theodore Roosevelt got it right when he created the Food and Drug Administration and instituted food labeling. I hope you will join me in calling on the Legislature to approve this common-sense measure.

Rep. Joshua Plante, D-Berwick, is a first-term member of the Maine House of Representatives.


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