On Tuesday, voters in Maine approved a referendum to add a “right to food” amendment to the state’s constitution. The amendment, the first of its kind in the United States, gives Mainers a constitutional right to grow, harvest and consume their own food, and it includes protections for the rights to save and share seeds.
The amendment was approved by the state legislature by a two-thirds vote earlier this year, but it needed voter approval to become a constitutional amendment. The amendment states: “All people have a natural, inherent and inalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to cultivate, raise, harvest, produce and to consume the food of their choice for their own nutrition, sustenance, bodily health and well-being. It also includes some qualifiers, indicating that the right to food is granted “as long as an individual does not trespass, theft, poaching or other abuses of the rights of private property, public land or land. natural resources in the harvest, production or acquisition of food. . “
The issue divided the state as debates over the amendment ensued. Opponents of the amendment, including the Maine Farm Bureau, argued that the wording of the amendment is vague and may lead to legal issues, as well as animal and property rights issues. Opponents feared the constitutional amendment would override current food safety laws, animal cruelty laws and city restrictions on where animals can be raised and slaughtered. Some feared that opening the amendment would allow people to breed dogs, cats or other animals not traditionally used in animal husbandry for food and animal welfare and food safety. be compromised when people without proper training treat animals for food. However, supporters of the amendment claim that the amendment does not replace current legislation and restrictions and, instead, ensures that the Mainers maintain their power over food, guarding against potential corporate excesses.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), one of the oldest and largest organic associations in the United States, approved the constitutional amendment, arguing that the amendment is a big step towards a more local food economy, pointing out that 92% of food in Maine comes from across state lines, even though the state has the resources to produce much more of his food. At a time of extreme instability in the food supply chain, MOFGA said the amendment would help “create a safer food system.”
MOFGA also stressed that the amendment “transfers power from corporations to individual citizens”. In recent years, some states have past initiatives— Often funded by large agricultural corporations — to restrict activities such as saving seeds and sharing certain seeds. With the adoption of the new “right to food” legislation, the Mainers have taken a proactive step in securing certain agricultural rights for the individual.
While it remains to be seen how the constitutional amendment on the ‘right to food’ will impact the state, the Mainers have finally taken a critical step towards securing food sovereignty and a food chain. stronger local. As the MOFGA says, “the Constitution of the United States should have such an amendment.”
Jj Starwalker, a homesteader from Maine, voted in favor of the amendment. “Growing food yourself has become the most radical act,” she says. “It really is the only effective protest. He is the one who can and will overthrow the powers of the incumbent companies. “