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 25th, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: The seed industry has become increasingly consolidated as Monsanto and other Biotech players gobble up smaller companies. Rather than try to make target plants immune to pesticides, this new company is working to improve plant health.
Seed startup closes $100 million funding to tackle water scarcity
Food & Environment Reporting Network
by David Abel
Seed startup Indigo said that it closed a $100 million Series C investment, the largest private equity financing in the agriculture technology sector. Indigo first came onto the map in February when it unveiled cotton seeds laced in probiotics that conserve water and help replenish the soil. With more funding, the company plans to expand research and launch its first line of probiotic wheat seeds.
“The microbes covering Indigo Cotton are specifically chosen to help make the plants more resilient to (water) stress,” company CEO David Perry told The Verge. “Indigo plans to develop seed coatings that address issues like low nutrient stress, high salience stress, and threats like insect infestations.” Read Full Article »
July 25th, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: While President Obama considers signing the GMO labeling compromise, the newest GMO technique, gene editing, is escaping federal regulation. Cornucopia supports the precautionary principle: companies should prove the safety of their products before bringing them to market.
Americans Are Buying Gene-Edited Food That’s Not Labeled GMO
by Craig Giammona and Jack Kaskey
Products made possible through gene-editing have landed on grocery shelves. Whether they’ll stay there is up to shoppers wary of technological tinkering.
Food companies are now required to label GMOs in Vermont, and debate is raging over a federal standard. But so far, regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have taken a pass on overseeing gene-edited crops. They say cutting DNA from a plant is not the same as adding genes from another organism. So corn injected with outside DNA is classified a genetically modified organism, but canola that can tolerate herbicide because scientists removed a gene is not. Read Full Article »
July 22nd, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: It is no coincidence that the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world. Organic food – unsubsidized by the U.S. government – is more expensive up front, but you get what you pay for.
How the Government Supports Your Junk Food Habit
The New York Times
by Anahad O’Connor
At a time when almost three-quarters of the country is overweight or obese, it comes as no surprise that junk foods are the largest source of calories in the American diet. Topping the list are grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars. (Yes, granola bars are dessert.)
That’s according to data from the federal government, which says that breads, sugary drinks, pizza, pasta dishes and “dairy desserts” like ice cream are also among Americans’ top 10 sources of calories. Read Full Article »
July 22nd, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: One more example of unintended consequences of the widespread use of pesticides as they disperse across the environment and impact non-target species.
Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians
Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure.
The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about environmental exposure for organisms.” Read Full Article »
July 21st, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: Since 2007 the USDA mandate for pasteurized raw almonds has meant that California-grown raw almonds are no longer truly raw. They must be treated with a toxic fumigant classified as a possible carcinogen (propylene oxide) or heated with steam. Newly introduced radio frequency technology may be a game-changer for growers and consumers.
Organic raw almond producer first to use new pasteurization process
Sustainable Food News
California’s 2016 almond crop forecast to yield 2 bil’ lbs.
The Almond Board of California (ABC) has approved a non-roasting bulk pasteurization process for raw almonds at Sran Family Orchards, a producer of organic and conventional almonds in Kerman, Calif.
The ABC’s Technical Expert Review Panel (TERP) has certified RF Biocidics’ APEX 85 chemical-free, pasteurization system that uses radio frequency technology to significantly reduce the level of harmful pathogens in raw almonds. Read Full Article »