May 25th, 2013
Raw milk trial
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Rick Barrett
Baraboo — Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges early Saturday morning in a trial that’s drawn national attention from supporters of the raw, unpasteurized milk movement.
Image courtesy of By Pitcherman (Zenon niewada)
Jurors in Sauk County District Court deliberated about four hours, until nearly 1 a.m. Saturday, before returning a verdict of guilty on one charge of violating a holding order placed on products on the Hershberger farm, following a raid on the farm in the summer of 2010.
The 41-year-old farmer faces up to a year in jail and $10,000 in fines on that conviction. A sentencing date will be announced later, said Judge Guy Reynolds.
Hershberger was found innocent of three charges that included operating an unlicensed retail store that sold raw milk and other products; and operating a dairy farm and dairy processing facility without licenses.
Hershberger’s supporters have said he was targeted for prosecution because he sold raw milk directly to consumers through a private buying club with several hundred members.
The trial’s outcome will set a precedent, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization that has advocated for the legalization of raw-milk sales in Wisconsin and other states. “This is a victory for the food rights movement,” said one of Hershberger’s attorneys, Elizabeth Rich.
Hershberger said he was pleased with the acquittals, and that now he can return to his farm in Loganville and continue to run his food store without a retail license because it’s a members-only buying club.
“I can continue to feed my community,” he said. Read Full Article »
May 24th, 2013
USDA violates the Organic Foods Production Act
Draft rule on carrageenan, cellulose and “inert” synthetics in pesticides disregards decisions by the National Organic Standards Board
Comment before Monday, June 3, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. ET
Political corruption and power grabs usually happen behind closed doors. The Cornucopia Institute has consistently called for more transparency at the USDA’s National Organic Program, but quite frankly, this power grab, in broad daylight, is unexpected.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the citizen panel charged by Congress to determine which synthetics are allowed in organic food production, voted to prohibit the use of carrageenan in organic infant formula, to prohibit the use of synthetic microcrystalline cellulose as a food ingredient, and set a deadline for reviewing synthetic and potentially harmful ingredients in previously approved pesticide formulations.
By law, the USDA cannot allow a synthetic material in organics unless it has been approved by the NOSB. But the agency seems completely uninterested in following the law governing organics, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The USDA’s proposed rule, released on May 3, disregards the NOSB’s decisions entirely on these three important topics.
Please send a comment to the USDA—let them know that they are acting outside their legal authority and that we will not stand by quietly while they protect corporate interests rather than the health of consumers and the environment. Read Full Article »
May 23rd, 2013
Image courtesy of Donnylad
A French farmer who can no longer perform his routine farming duties because of permanent pesticide injuries has had his day in court, literally, and the perpetrator of his injuries found guilty of chemical poisoning. The French court in Lyon ruled that Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller formula, which contains the active ingredient alachlor, caused Paul Francois to develop lifelong neurological damage that manifests as persistent memory loss, headaches, and stuttering during speech.
Reports indicate that the 47-year-old farmer sued Monsanto back in 2004 after inhaling the Lasso product while cleaning his sprayer tank equipment. Not long after, Francois began experiencing lasting symptoms that prevented him from working, which he says were directly linked to exposure to the chemical. Since Lasso’s packaging did not bear adequate warnings about the dangers of exposure, Francois alleged at the time that Monsanto was essentially negligent in providing adequate protection for its customers.
To the surprise of many, the French court agreed with the claims and evidence presented before it, declaring earlier this year that “Monsanto is responsible for Paul Francois’ suffering after he inhaled the Lasso product … and must entirely compensate him.” The court is said to be seeking expert opinion on how to gauge Francois’ losses in order to determine precisely how much Monsanto will be required to compensate him in the case. Read Full Article »
May 23rd, 2013
By Jim Webster
WASHINGTON — The drive to require labeling of food with biotech ingredients “is not going to go away,” former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan said today.
“People want to know,” she told the CropLife America 2013 National Food Policy Conference. “I’m not saying it’s a right to know or a need to know, but it’s not going to go away,” she said.
Merrigan pointed out that neither USDA nor the Food and Drug administration has allowed an organic producer to use a biotech-free label, although USDA’s National Organic Program bars biotechnology from production of organic food. “It’s schizophrenic to say you can’t have a GMO free claim,” she said in her first major public appearance since leaving office.
She said that Monsanto concurred with the USDA organic rule that prohibited biotech ingredients on the belief that it would provide an option for people who want to know. “If that logic still reigns, I’m curious why industry is not pressing to allow that ‘organic plus GMO free’ claim.” Read Full Article »
May 22nd, 2013
Dr. Phil Howard updates his popular infographic on the organic food industry
The latest version of Who Owns Organics has been released by Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State. Dr. Howard teaches in the University’s Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies program. The latest update now includes the top 100 food processors in North America.
According to Dr. Howard, acquisitions and changes in the organic industry have been picking up this year. Hain Celestial has acquired Ella’s Kitchen, and Danone acquiring Happy Family just this month. And Hain Celestial’s CEO stated earlier this year that they intend to acquire several more firms in the range of $25 to $30 million.
Furthermore, notes Dr. Howard, Boulder Brands (which is not a top 100 firm, but is publicly traded, and owns the brands Earth Balance and Udi’s), announced this year that they plan to invest in more natural and organic food companies.
You can view a full-size version of the latest chart by clicking here
. Read Full Article »