Making Democracy Work

Agriculture--national League study

LWVUS is conducting a study to update its agriculture position.

"The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on:

1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and

2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process."

Study materials developed by the national study committee are now available. See below.

Consensus meetings of local/state study committees were held in March and April 2014 and results submitted to the LWVUS study. Consensus questions (see below).

LWVUS will issue a revised position statement based on the results of nationwide consensus meetings later this spring.

News item: Washington state voters defeated a much-published GMO-labeling bill Nov. 5, 2013.

On this site, we will post additional articles and links to current events or NH-specific aspects of agriculture.

All League members are encouraged to become informed on this topic.

LWVUS articles for study

The suggested reading articles can be accessed using the links below. Also included are three websites giving various perspectives on agriculture issues, chosen by the LWVUS study committee:

"Click here for link to LWVUS webpage:"<http://lwv.org/search/content/agriculture%20study

The article below is reprinted from the December newletter of the League of Women Voters Vermont. It explains how FSMA regulations will impact the small farmer in Vermont. The situations as described repeat what we have heard from some small farmers in NH, so it gives a well-written perspective that relates to our state. Download the pdf

Consensus Questions & Meetings

LWVUS board of directors has approved the following consensus questions for this study. Consensus has already occurred; questions are here for background information only.

Consensus Questions

Sat., March 8 10 am to noon What We Grow: What We Eat; How We Are.. Organic farmer Larry Pletcher and nutritionist Hope Damon will speak. This is part of the background study materials for the agriculture position update. Tracy Library, New London. All League members and public welcome.

Wednesday, March 19 11:30-1:30 Presentation by LWV Greater Capital Area members on Agriculture Issues.

Wed., April 9, 2014. LWV Greater Capital Area consensus meeting.

Wed., March 19, 2014. LWV Kearsarge/Sunapee Area consensus meeting.

NH Events related to this study

January 15, 2014, 11:30 am: Two members of the LWV Greater Capital Area summarized and led a lively discussion of the pros and cons of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, based on suggested articles from LWVUS

January 29, 2014, 10 am: Study committee meeting of the LWV Kearsarge/Sunapee Area, to discuss articles and issues of the agriculture update study. Open to all interested League members and prospective members. Woodcrest Assisted Living Facility (front parlor), Main St., New London NH 03257

League workshop: Food for Thought--Challenges and Opportunities Facing Farmers and Consumers in NH. Nov. 18, 2013, at Horseshoe Pond in Concord. NH Dept of Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrell was the keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion on agriculture issues as they affect NH farmers and GMOs (genetically engineered foods): what they are and information about HB 660, the bill proposing required labeling in NH. Download the pdf Information presented by Rep. Maureen Mann, sponsor of HB 660, is available as a pdf (see GMO section below).

League members from the Greater Capital Area met on Dec. 11, 2013, for a discussion of direct-to-consumers farm products in NH. Guest speaker was Meg McGoldrick, the farmer who started the Northwood Farmers' Market.

Quad States conference (April 27-28, 2013) had as its guest speaker Prof. John E. Carroll of UNH. He is the author of several books about NH and New England agriculture. Attendees are excited to begin the study!

LWVNH convention (June 1, 2013 in Hopkinton Library) had as guest speakers the chair and ranking minority member of the NH House Agriculture Committee, Rep Tara Sad (D) and Rep Bob Haefner (R). Notes from their talk are above, under articles.

LWVKearsarge/Sunapee had its first farm field trip on June 18, 2013, visiting Battles Farm in Bradford NH (milk, beefalo, sheep, chicken and eggs, turkeys) and The Veggie Ranch (organic farm) in Warner NH. To join the study committee contact Libby Howell.

GMO issues -- articles--testimony

New Hampshire house bill HB660, requiring labeling of products containing genetically engineered materials, has been entirely rewritten thru the amendment process. The bill was completely amended fall 2013. Here is the current wording The bill as amended was voted by the House committee on Agriculture and Environment as "inexpedient to legislate" and will come before the entire House Jan. 8, 2014.

The following is a summary by HB660 sponsor Rep. Maureen Mann of the testimony in favor of labeling genetically engineered foods. Testimony was given during subcommittee hearings in summer and fall 2013. download the pdf

New Hampshire poll (Nov. 2013) shows strong support for labeling of genetically engineered products. Read the article

Jan. 4, 2014 article from the NYTimes, reporting efforts by Hawaiian legislators to find out the truth about genetically engineered foods. Several studies reported earlier about dangers of GMOs have recently been debunked, the article reports. Lengthy but worth the effort to see how one state did a very thorough study, in spite of emotional arguments on various sides. Read the article

Nov. 2013 blog from a scientist opposing labeling <http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/2013/11/08/gmo-labeling-i-522-and-why-this-debate-sucks-for-progressive-scientists-like-me/>

This website is definitely opposed to GMOs. Citations for their claims are given in a link at the end. The League has not studied this website but members may find it worth further study. Earth Open Source Posted 10/11/13

This October 1, 2013 article by Reuters points out possible increased use of pesticides as some GE crops become resistant. Reuters

August 2013: NY Times article about the backlash, including vandalism, against "golden rice." Golden rice delivers vitamin A thru genetically engineered means, heralded as a boon in developing countries when it was developed a decade ago (and improved since), and it is not allied with agrichemical companies. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/sunday-review/golden-rice-lifesaver.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0>

July 2013: NY Times article explaining the European and American attitudes toward GMOs. Attitudes on crops are Modifying.

June 2013: biased but fascinating article from NYTimes: <http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/the-true-deservers-of-a-food-prize/?_r=0>

Notes from speakers at LWVNH convention, June 1, 2013

February 2013: Supreme Court case about GMO seeds

March 2013: One view of the effect on crop productivity in the US of genetically modified corn and soybean--Union of Concerned Scientists.

April 2013: Court cases about state regulation (labeling) of genetically engineered food

The link below will take you to the recently developed site regarding state activity dealing with GMO labeling. It is quite recent within the past month or so. If you click on the word `map' along the top menu you can then click on individual states. <http://righttoknow-gmo.org/mission>

Read several articles in theMay 2, 2013 edition of the science magazine NATURE, all about genetically modified crops. There is balance in these articles. One points out that the biggest GMO crops are soybeans, cotton, corn and canola, and that the US, Argentina, Canada, India, and Brazil are the major planters of GMO crops. Good reading, with colored charts.

FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act) being considered at the federal level may harm New England farmers. NH Representatives Sad and Haefner, speaking to LWVNH convention attendees June 1, mentioned this proposed change. This "Boston Globe article highlights the issue"<http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/national/northeast/2013/05/new_england_seeks_public_hearing_on_farm_rules

Click here for some online articles recommended by one of the national study committee members.

LWV Kearsarge/Sunapee Study Committee

The LWV Kearsarge/Sunapee local League is working on this study. Below are summaries of some articles read and discussed by study committee members. The committee hopes members will read the LWVUS study articles (see above). Any League members interested in joining the committee should contact Libby Howell or Sally Embley.

Next meeting of the study committee will be Feb. 19, 2014 at 10 am at Woodcrest Assisted Living (front parlor), Main St, New London.

Wed., March 19, 2014. LWV Kearsarge/Sunapee Area consensus meeting. All League members are invited to this meeting to discuss and reach consensus on the study questions. Hilltop Place (in the library), New London. 10 am-2 pm. Bring a bag lunch; beverages will be provided.

Summary of testimony by Gary Hirshberg before the NH House Agriculture/Environment committee, Sept. 10, 2013 download the pdf

Summary of testimony by Dr. Michael Hanson before the NH House Agriculture/Environment committee, Sept. 3 2013 download the pdf

Summary of an interesting non-profit website; includes some of the good stories about GMO products. download the pdf

This summary explains how some of the promise of GMO products has not come true. download the pdf

A summary of the worksession on HB660 in the NH House Agriculture committee meeting, Aug 2013 download the pdf

Summary of the Supreme Court case (spring 2013) between a farmer and Monsanto regarding GMO seeds download the pdf

Summary of a book: Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--Promises and Perils, by Peter Pringle

Summary of an article about GMO work on oranges:download the pdf

other food/agriculture/environment issues

This website is of interest for its argument that a plant-based food system is healthier for humans and the environment. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine This does not relate to our limited area of study at this time, but may be of interest to individuals.