June 25, 2022


The amendment to the Maine Constitution permitted by voters before this month with 61 per cent of the vote establishes a “natural and unalienable ideal to grow, elevate, harvest, develop, and take in the foods of their own selecting.” This is a commendable addition to Maine citizens’ existing essential 24 rights enumerated in Posting I of our constitution. The amendment grew out of the food security motion in Maine, and now it will be still left to the courts to make a decision the realistic indicating of the modification.

The Salt Marsh Path in Gouldsboro leads to several lookouts with sights to West Bay. “Maine’s background tends to make apparent that, with no sturdy laws and enforcement, firms and people will pollute if they imagine a financial gain is to be experienced,” Roger Bowen writes. Carey Kish photograph

Mainers, and not basically the libertarians amid us, really should applaud this new correct. We must, even so, also inquire ourselves no matter whether a logically prior “natural and unalienable right” to a clean up and risk-free environment should also be additional to our structure. Immediately after all, if our waters are polluted and our soils are contaminated by harmful toxins, then rising crops and raising livestock turn into a fool’s errand that correctly undermines the modification about right to foods.

We can cite a precedent: The Human Legal rights Commission of the United Nations voted unanimously final month to recommend that the Basic Assembly adopt as a “basic human right” a “healthy and sustainable surroundings.” If permitted, then environmental legal rights could be extra to the Common Declaration of Human Rights, first adopted in the late 1940s and spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt.

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As it occurs, we also have floating in Maine’s legislative ether an additional advised amendment to our constitution: the Pine Tree Modification (L.D. 489), which is becoming championed by Rep Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, and supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. It reads, “The State shall preserve, protect, and sustain the State’s purely natural means, such as but not restricted to, its air, h2o, land, and ecosystems for the advantage of all individuals, which include generations to come.” The proposed modification was documented out of the Organic Means Committee in a bipartisan 9-4 vote in favor.

Contrary to the food stuff modification, the suitable to a thoroughly clean and protected environment will be considerably less appealing to the libertarians due to the fact it will have to have powerful govt help in its implementation by means of regulations, guidelines, paperwork and qualified enforcement. Maine’s background tends to make apparent that, without having potent laws and enforcement, firms and individuals will pollute if they consider a financial gain is to be had, if the threat of currently being caught is nominal and if anti-pollution polices are not codified and commonly disseminated as element of a forceful ad marketing campaign.

The rubber meets the road, on the other hand, when the food modification and the proposed environment modification are in conflict. A single case in point, near to house, is American Aquaculture’s strategy to increase hundreds of countless numbers of salmon in football area-sized pens in Frenchman Bay. If the “fish factory” is built, the salmon will become significant polluters and diesel gas will be burned 24/7 in buy to ability vacuums that take away some (but far from all) effluent and the barges and trucks that daily transportation the captured effluent, furthermore the captured fish, for processing in Prospect Harbor. Lobster fishers worry that the lines to their traps will be severed by barges Acadia National Park fears guests will see the fish factory as an eyesore, and nearby inhabitants anxiety the noise and air pollution that will devoid of question be caused by American Aquaculture.

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Does the correct to mature food stuff increase similarly to American Aquaculture as effectively as small-scale lobstering in the bay? Whose proper to harvest foods has priority? And which procedure is most environmentally friendly?

In such instances, a constitutional appropriate to a clean and secure setting, if regarded as a logically prior suitable, really should trump food items rights, or at minimum distinguish between competing organizations in phrases of which is minimum likely to harm the natural environment.

Foodstuff safety is a human ideal, and Maine’s citizens have enshrined this correct in our structure. We ought to observe accommodate, and before long, to elevate the appropriate to a wholesome and sustainable ecosystem to become the 26th Modification to our point out constitution.

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