NH GMO Bills: Report, Request, and Resources

This week, Slow Food Seacoast has posted twice about NH policy related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Your chance to speak out against GMOs in NH and Attend GMO hearings today. Elizabeth Obelenus (info@nofanh.org), program coordinator at the Northeast Organic Farming Association, NH Chapter (NOFA-NH), provides a brief report of yesterday’s hearings here:

The hearings were delayed till 2 pm and we finished at 5 pm.  The morning’s hearing on a study committee to ban pesticides went from 9am to noon (it was an excellent hearing too) which was a problem for us because we had at least 60 people show up all anxious to be a part of the hearings.  However, our hearings went very well, and even better, biotech’s lobbyists were in DC digging out from the snow so could not show up and their substitute lobbyist was a joke.  Rich Bonanno from the NE Veg & Berry Growers though showed up against (I was surprised) but after all the people signed in (not including the 150+ emails sent) we out numbered the opposition by what, 30-1?

The interim results sound promising … but the game is still on! If you haven’t yet, please urge your NH legislators to support the labeling of GMO seeds and protect NH farmers whose non-GMO crops are contaminated by GMO crops by February 15. Use the following link to quickly send (or customize)  a form email to the members of the NH House Environment and Agriculture Committee and your own representative: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1221/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2253. Suggestion: Write the message on your own computer, SAVE IT, then copy and paste it into the window provided. If the website doesn’t work properly, please send your message to the following addresses, provided by Elizabeth from NH House of Representatives, Environment and Agriculture Committee, website (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/committeedetails.aspx?code=H06):

Tara A. Sad, (d) Chairman (tara.eric@gmail.com)
Jane E. Beaulieu, (d) Vice-Chairman (jane.beaulieu@leg.state.nh.us)
Suzanne J. Smith, (d) Clerk (zanne1@metrocast.net)
Derek Owen, d (owen31@juno.com)
Leigh A. Webb, d (leigh.webb@leg.state.nh.us)
Roger R. Beauchamp, d (roger.beauchamp@leg.state.nh.us)
Steven W.Lindsey, d (steven.lindsey@leg.state.nh.us)
Brian D. Poznanski, d (bpoznanski@anselm.edu)
Susan E. Wiley, d (stephmwv@ncia.net)
Robert H. Haefner, r (bobhaefnerjp@comcast.net)
J. David Knox, r (jdknox@worldpath.net)
Laura J. Gandia, r (laura.gandia@leg.state.nh.us)
Warren J. Groen, r (warrengroen@gmail.com)
Stephen J. Palmer, r (spalmer_peanuts@msn.com)
Pamela Z. Tucker, r (pamzt@comcast.net)

And finally, here are some GMO-related facts and resource links from Pam, to inform and motivate you.

  • Geneticist Marcello Buiatti says, “From a scientific point of view GMOs are a total failure.” He adds that they “use out-dated technology, do not increase production of useful food crops, do not help fight famine and do not do what their patents claim” and “serve only to make their owners rich as farmers have to pay royalties to the multinationals to use their seeds” (http://www.slowfood.com/sloweb/eng/dettaglio.lasso?cod=D5D7F482190d022CD4RxY105A0A2).
  • Monsanto is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It calls itself an agricultural company yet was founded as manufacturer of agricultural chemicals, then expanded to include molecular biology, biotechnology, genetic modification, and pharmaceuticals (http://www.monsanto.com/who_we_are/history.asp).
  • Monsanto sells 90% of genetically engineered or GMO seed worldwide. It started to acquire existing seed brands in 2004 and has continued to do so almost every year since (http://www.monsanto.com/who_we_are/history.asp).
  • Monsanto also is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate (active ingredient in the Roundup family of brands). Its broad-spectrum, nonselective herbicide products “are registered in more than 130 countries and are approved for weed control in more than 100 crops” (http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/products/productivity/roundup/back_history.pdf).
  • GMO farming encourages monoculture (growing one single species or crop), which decreases ecosystem diversity and is not a sustainable approach to agriculture. “Monocultures deplete the soil, and fruits and vegetables become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays” (http://www.sustainabletable.org/intro/dictionary/).
  • Farmers growing GMO crops are prohibited from saving seeds (i.e., collecting and drying seeds from one crop to use the following season) because GMO seeds are patented (http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstryc657.html?recid=505).
  • Many GMO crops are genetically modified to either be tolerant of or contain (directly in the seed) pesticides or herbicides. Examples include Roundup Ready varieties of soybean, cotton, canola, and corn (which require the application of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) and YieldGard Rootworm corn (with “in-seed insect-protection against the corn rootworm”) and Bollgard II insect-protected cotton (http://www.monsanto.com/who_we_are/history.asp). Both kinds of seed increase environmental exposure to pesticides and herbicides, which has implications for the health of water, plants, insects, and humans as well as other animals.
  • The use of pesticide-tolerant GMO seeds has been implicated in the widespread decline in the populations of honeybees and other plant pollinators (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4557.cfm). Without pollinators, plants cannot bear fruit or vegetables.
  • The results of a recent study indicate an alarming effect of GMOs on human health: Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/12/monsantos-gmo-corn-linked_n_420365.html).
  • Because of nature (in the form of wind, birds, and other animals), GMO seed and pollen inevitably “drift” into non-GMO crops. And in cases of GMO drift, liability usually falls on the farmer (http://www.caff.org/publications/aa/02_Fall/gmo_threat.shtml).
  • GMO drift and cross-pollination spell economic loss or ruin for farmers whose valuable non-GMO crops have been contaminated by GMO crops. What’s more, Monsanto has a history of criminalizing small farmers who have been unwitting victims of the forces of nature (e.g., Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser, http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/schmeiser012004.cfm and http://www.percyschmeiser.com/).

Thanks in advance for sending your written statement!