Mainers are now voting whether to amend the Maine Constitution to include a “right to food.”

Supporters admit that the amendment is not about guaranteeing food for the hungry. In fact, proponents haven’t given us even a single tangible reason for the amendment.

Apparently, they plan to use the amendment in court to further the food sovereignty movement. But most of us know little about the food sovereignty movement and don’t want judges to determine our food policy. Not to mention the time and cost involved in litigating one case after another.

The Maine Municipal Association says the amendment could take away the power of local governments to provide proper health and safety, anti-pollution, and zoning standards. (Think uninspected and unlabeled food, backyard slaughterhouses disturbing neighbors and polluting nearby streams.)

The Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine Potato Board oppose the amendment because it could undermine food safety standards and undermine public confidence in their commodities.

The Maine Veterinary Medical Association opposes the right to food amendment because the amendment could strip away animal welfare standards in animal agriculture. For example, Maine has a law to ban extreme confinement of pigs in stalls so small that the animals are immobilized. Might a farmer disregard this law relying on consumers having “the right to…consume the food of their own choosing?” Some consumers don’t care how their meat is produced.

Supporters of Question 3 may have some interesting ideas for Maine’s future. But starting with a constitutional amendment is wrong.

Beth Gallie, South Portland

Editor’s note: The author chairs the PAC “Vote No On 3: the Right to Food is Wrong for Maine Committee”

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