GMO labeling, fuel poverty, health care reform and flood prediction apps
- By Brianna M. Fay
“Tiny state’s GMO labeling law causing massive uproar” ran the headline in a national magazine last week. "Big food caves to tiny Vermont" read another. At the heart of the debate is Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law set for adoption July 1. Vermont support for the law continues to be very strong, with 75% in favor and 10% opposed, according to a recent survey by the Center for Rural Studies at UVM. See interview with CRS's Jane Kolodinsky here.
In 2010, Vermont ratified a new law accepting human rights principles as guidelines for health care reform, and in 2011, became the first U.S. state to authorize framework legislation to establish a universal health care system. A study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston reported on the Vermont Workers’ Center’s human rights-based approach to universal health care and it’s influence, finding that the principles had a significant effect on mobilizing Vermonters around the issue.
With the increasing influence of climate change transforming the Vermont landscape, how should farmers adapt their agricultural practices? A recent study by UVM researchers provides an “Economic Analysis of Climate Change Best Management Practices in Vermont Agriculture,” to aid in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change on farms in the region.
A statewide housing needs assessment published in February has concluded that Vermont has a significant housing shortage. The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development hired Bowen National Research to conduct the study, which particularly identified a need for housing for seniors and families who make less than $20,000 per year.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
The effect of changes in climate and land use on surface water quality in Vermont and Southern Québec is the subject of a recent report. Led by researchers at the Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement and BOKU, the study modelled the relative influence of each change on water quality, showing that both climate and land changes should be considered together to account for synergistic impacts to surface water health in the region.
While this past winter may have been the warmest on record, energy continues to be an essential resource to the welfare of Vermonters. According to a report by the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, a those who spend more than 10 percent of their monthly income on energy services are considered “fuel poor.” By this definition, the report identifies that 125,000 Vermonters, or one in five, live in fuel poverty.
A report by the U.S. Geological Survey details the results of a new web-based application titled “Application of Flood Regressions and Climate Change Scenarios To Explore Estimates of Future Peak Flows.” The app lets users apply a set of regression equations to estimate the magnitude of future floods for any stream or river in New York State and the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont.
Bernie Sander’s book Outsider in the White House originally published in 1997, is being reprinted with a new preface and afterword by John Nichols. The book details Sanders’ political life, from his work in the Civil Rights movement to his presidential candidacy. Also new is Bernie, by Tedd Rall, a graphic novel of Bernie's life and times.
The novel Moral Dissipation by Burlington resident Sarah Jarvis, tells the story about a Vermonter struggling with heroin addiction in the context of the very real regional opiate crisis. See Jarvis’s interview with WCAX here.
The increasing prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the U.S. continues to raise questions around the source, diagnosis, and treatment of the disorders. A 2016 dissertation by UVM grad Tristan James McNamara examines the educational practices and services for youth with ASDs in Vermont. See our previous newsletter for information on prescription treatment for children with ASDs.
The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment. See WCAX interview with Richard Watts on the newsletter here.
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Funding provided by the Lintilhac Foundation and the Humanities Center at the University of Vermont.