Martens named to advisory group

Staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Penn Yan woman has been appointed to a national agricultural advisory committee by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Mary-Howell Martens will join 21 other agriculture experts on the reactivated Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, or AC21. Appointees will initially serve one or two-year terms, and may be reappointed to serve up to six consecutive years.

Martens, who operates an organic farm in Torrey with her husband, Klaas, and who owns Lakeview Organic Grains in Penn Yan, previously served on the committee in the early 2000s, and she says she’s proud to be invited to work on it again.

She says the focus of the committee, which is smaller than the original group of 50 that met under the Clinton administration, will be on coexistance of genetically modified crops and organic crops.

“This advisory committee will come together to continue investigating the challenges of coexistence among different forms of agricultural production,” said Vilsack. “I hope this committee will recommend workable solutions that will enhance the ability of all farmers to grow the crops they want in order to effectively meet the needs of their customers.”

The AC21 is composed of 22 members from 16 states. The members, who will meet three to four times annually, represent the biotechnology industry, the organic food industry, farming communities, the seed industry, food manufacturers, state government, consumer and community development groups, the medical profession, and academic researchers.

Russell C. Redding, Interim Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Delaware Valley College, in Aspers, Penn., will serve as Chair of the AC21.

The other members of the AC21 come from New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida.