Voters will decide if Mainers have a constitutional right to food

The proposal, which will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, is the result of a nearly decadelong effort that represents an evolution of the movement that produced the Maine Food Sovereignty Act. That landmark law authorized cities and towns to adopt local food ordinances, and more than 90 have done so.

“You have to have a right to food because food is life,” said Sen. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, an organic farmer who has long championed the cause. “This is a foundation we are putting in the constitution.”

But while the idea of guaranteeing a fundamental right to food may seem benign, or even unassailable, the proposal has met resistance. Critics say the amendment, while well-intentioned, could have unintended consequences for food safety, animal welfare or other areas as judges interpret the amendment in future court cases.