by Abby King, NRCM Toxics Policy Advocate
Good Afternoon Senator Jackson, Representative Dill, and distinguished members of the Joint Select Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. My name is Abby King and I am the Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am here to testify in support of LD 718.
NRCM is not an expert on the science of genetically modified organisms and thus we are not prepared to say that genetic modification of crops is universally harmful. We are, however, strongly committed to the principle of consumer choice and a consumer’s right to know. And that is what this bill is about. We believe that GMO products should have a GMO label so that consumers for whom this is an important issue can make an informed decision.
We do also have concerns with the genetic modification of crops in a fashion that results in an increased use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, which can result in risks to the environment, wildlife, and human health. You may hear from others that the use of GMOs has contributed to a decrease in the use of pesticides by enhancing the pest resistance of GMO crops. But the preponderance of scientific literature demonstrates that the increasing use of GMOs has resulted in an increase in pesticide and herbicide use.
I am including a scientific article with my testimony that provides details about the toxic effects of glyphosate, or RoundUp, whose increased use has coincided with the increased use of crops of the genetically modified “Roundup Ready Variety.” These crops are engineered to tolerate applications of this herbicide. This increased tolerance to the pesticide enables agricultural operations to apply more of the toxin as a single pesticide, at levels that cause environmental and human health impacts.
The scientific evidence is mounting that GMOs have been detrimental to environmental health as they have created pesticide-resistant super-weeds. There is evidence of an increase in the amount of RoundUp residue present on retail produce, as farmers find themselves on an herbicide and pesticide treadmill, using higher doses of RoundUp in fields as an early response to the rise of these super-weeds, spurred by the use of GMO seeds.
Consumers in today’s marketplace have a growing level of sophistication about the environmental and public health impacts associated with certain products, and they increasingly want to use their purchasing power in a fashion consistent with this knowledge. NRCM supports labeling of these products so that consumers can make informed decisions to protect the health of their family and the environment. We urge the Committee to support LD 718.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify and I’d be happy to answer any questions.