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.
December 5th, 2013
Industrial agriculture will soon be in decline. Here’s why that’s great for humanity.
By Steve Holt
What if one of the most prosperous periods for agriculture in the United States is actually a facade?
On its face, the amount of money agriculture contributes to the U.S. economy, around $444 billion in 2012, is incredible. More incredible still is that just 10 years ago, that number was $218 billion. But the more than 100 percent increase does not tell the whole story. Looking deeper into numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture, one finds that agricultural growth is not primarily attributable to a dramatic increase in growing foods Americans eat but to commodity crops grown for export (mostly to China) or to be turned into non-food products like corn-based ethanol. And we are still feeding an ever-increasing amount of food to animals to satiate the world’s exploding appetite for meat.
But no matter how great life on the factory farm may be these days (for the owners, that is), the agricultural bubble of the last decade is headed for an irreversible dip over the coming years, experts say. Read Full Article »
December 4th, 2013
By: Jenny Hopkinson
Monsanto is the agriculture world’s prince of darkness, spreading its demonic genetically modified seeds on fields all over the earth. Or at least that’s the case if you believe the likes of HBO talk-show host Bill Maher, the hazmat suit-wearing activists in Occupy Monsanto or any of a growing number of biotechnology haters.
For years the St. Louis-based company has ignored such critics. But now the biotech giant is attempting a public relations makeover.
In recent months the company has shaken up its senior public relations staff, upped its relationship with one of the nation’s largest public relations firms and helped launch a website designed to combat the fallacies surrounding genetically modified organisms.
And, most importantly, it is recognizing biotechnology has a public image problem. Read Full Article »
December 4th, 2013
The following is excerpted from The Cornucopia Institute’s report “Carrageenan: How A Natural Food Additive is Making Us Sick.”
Organic foods should be a safe haven from harmful ingredients. In fact, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the law governing organic foods, requires that non-agricultural ingredients must be determined safe to human health and not deleterious to the environment before they can be added to organic foods. After all, if organic food isn’t safer than conventional food, what’s the point, right?
So, how did a controversial ingredient like carrageenan get into organic food in the first place? The additive is divisive in the industry because of its link to gastrointestinal issues and a higher rate of colon cancer (in animal studies).
Federal organic standards require that nonorganic ingredients must be essential to producing the food (e.g., baking powder for producing organic cookies). Since nearly every product on store shelves containing carrageenan can be found by another manufacturer using an alternative to carrageenan (e.g., locust bean gum, guar gum), or with the words “shake it” on the package, carrageenan does not appear to be an essential food-processing ingredient. Read Full Article »
December 3rd, 2013
Food Safety News
Pitcherman (Zenon niewada), Wikimedia
The production, testing and labeling of raw milk will be under new rules in South Dakota effective Dec. 11, 2013.
State Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch approved the rules, clearing the way for the changes under consideration since early this year to go into effect. The changes were already passed by the South Dakota Legislature’s Rules Review Committee and were subjected to three public hearings.
Lentsch said that, “at a bare minimum,” the public needs to know that raw milk is not pasteurized and the date on which it was bottled.
“Those are all very minimum expectations that we’ve put out there for the raw milk producers, and it’s really for the public health and safety,” he said.
The new South Dakota rules set a maximum coliform level of 10 per milliliter for raw milk, which at least one producer says is “next to impossible to hit.” Dawn Habeck, who owns Black Hills Milk in Belle Fourche, predicts the new rules will put raw milk dairies out of business. Read Full Article »
December 3rd, 2013
The government has been paying farmers to convert their land to forest, but an end to those payments could mean recent environmental gains are lost
By Wang Heyan and Zhang Xia
Hundreds of millions of farmers are wondering whether to plant trees or crops on their farmland next year, as key government subsidies are set to expire.
Starting this year, subsidies to farmers for growing trees on their farmland – subsidies that have been around for almost 15 years – are scheduled to be phased out in the 25 provinces and regions involved. It is unclear whether the government will extend them.
Since they were introduced, natural vegetation has reappeared on 139 million mu (or 9.3 million hectares) of severely desertified land and steep slopes that had been used to grow crops.
All of this was backed by the government’s subsidies. And without them, it seems Read Full Article »