The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.
July 30th, 2014
Report warns against letting pesticide companies fund key research for government plan to boost pollinators
by Damian Carrington
|Credit: Ken Thomas|
Criticial future research on the plight of bees risks being tainted by corporate funding, according to a report from MPs published on Monday. Pollinators play a vital role in fertilising three-quarters of all food crops but have declined due to loss of habitat, disease and pesticide use. New scientific research forms a key part of the government’s plan to boost pollinators but will be funded by pesticide manufacturers.
UK environment ministers failed in their attempt in 2013 to block an EU-wide ban on some insecticides linked to serious harm in bees and theenvironmental audit select committee (EAC) report urges ministers to end their opposition, arguing there is now even more evidence of damage. Millions of member of the public have supported the ban.
“When it comes to research on pesticides, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is content to let the manufacturers fund the work,” said EAC chair Joan Walley. “This testifies to a loss of environmental protection capacity in the department responsible for it. If the research is to command public confidence, independent controls need to be maintained at every step. Unlike other research funded by pesticide companies, these studies also need to be peer-reviewed and published in full”. Read Full Article »
July 29th, 2014
The Washington Post
by Barbara Damrosch
|Amy’s Organic Garden|
Image Credit: USDA
Watching the studies come out about the merits or demerits of organics is a little like watching World Cup soccer. A large study done at Stanford in 2012 claimed organic food to be no more nutritious than chemically grown. Score one for that side. But a report newly published in the British Journal of Nutrition finds organically raised vegetables to have more antioxidants, less cadmium (a toxic metal in commercial fertilizer) and fewer pesticide residues. Score one for Team O.
Now what? Nobody’s exactly rooting for chemical residues, or for cadmium. Antioxidants are superstars — if they’re in a tomato or head of broccoli, not in a pill — but they don’t seem to be fully understood. Important to study, yes, but only as part of a vast web of interactions in which one part touches many others.
To me, the groundbreaking scientific revelations in recent years have been about how little we all know. The natural world does not bow before the mighty human brain. More accurately, our brain bows before the miraculous, newly discovered empire of good bacteria in our gut. Yet we must feed that gut every day and make dietary decisions based on simple observation and common sense. Read Full Article »
July 29th, 2014
Crop Seen as Threat to Honey Bee Colonies
Environmental and Food Justice
by Devon G. Peña
|Credit: Scott Bauer|
According to reports appearing in the Mexican print media, a federal district court judge in Yucatán yesterday overturned a permit issued to Monsanto, the U.S.-based multinational corporation that is a leading purveyor of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The permit, which had been issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food on June 6, 2012, allowed the commercial planting of GM soy bean in Yucatán. The ruling was based on consideration of scientific evidence demonstrating (to the judge’s satisfaction) that GMO soy crop plantings threaten Mexican honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán.
An op-ed piece appearing in yesterday’s La Jornada (July 23), applauded the decision with insightful commentary suggesting that the federal agencies involved in this dispute are guilty of corruption and collusion with the transnational Gene Giant. Read Full Article »
July 28th, 2014
Dr. Henry Miller’s July 22 Wall Street Journal opinion piece entitled “Why the Buzz About a Bee-pocalypse is a Honey Trap” argues that bees are not in decline and that U.S. agriculture would be devastated without the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.
His article is likely in response to the National Resource Defense Council’s petition to the EPA to suspend the use of neonicotinoids, a class of non-selective, systemic insecticides. This would follow in the footsteps of the European Union’s restriction of three (out of seven) neonicotinoids in 2013 and earlier suspensions by several other countries.
Neonicotinoids, developed in the 1990s and used more heavily in the early 2000s, are the most widely used insecticides worldwide. The EPA estimates that 3.5 million pounds were applied on approximately 127 million acres worldwide in 2011. Read Full Article »
July 28th, 2014
by Carey Gillam
A class of insecticides popular with corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. Midwest but feared as a factor in the decline of U.S. honey bee colonies and other crop pollinators, has been found to be widespread through rivers and streams in Iowa, according to a government study released on Thursday.
Image Credit: Jsayre64
The study, released by the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, marks the first broad-scale investigation of multiple neonicotinoid insecticides in waterways in the Midwestern U.S., and is one of the first conducted within the entire United States, according to the government scientists.
In the report, 79 water samples from across Iowa, the top U.S. corn-producing state, were collected during the 2013 growing season. Researchers said the use of neonicotinoid insecticides has grown in recent years, and they found them to be both “mobile and persistent” with “a strong pulse of neonicotinoids associated with crop planting” in streams. Read Full Article »