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.
January 28th, 2015
Over a decade after consumer opposition halted multinational agrichemical business Monsanto’s plans to develop genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant wheat, the company is trying again. This time, Monsanto’s goal is to create wheat that is resistant to three different herbicides; glyphosate, glufosinate, and dicamba. Although over 90% of corn, soybean, and cotton grown in the United States are GE, no GE wheat is currently allowed to be planted.
In 2013, a farmer in Oregon discovered the presence of Monsanto’s original Roundup-Ready wheat, developed to be resistant to glyphosate, in his field despite the company’s plans to abandon the strain and claims to have destroyed the crop a decade earlier. The company had restarted extensive field trials back in 2011. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that the contamination was an “isolated incident.” It was unable to determine exactly how the wheat came to grow in the Oregon farmer’s field. Read Full Article »
January 27th, 2015
[NOTE: The Harvard’s endowment fund has also been a key owner of Aurora Dairy, the nation’s largest factory farm producer of “organic milk.”]
by Richard Valdmanis
Harvard University has quietly become one of the biggest grape growers in California’s drought-stricken Paso Robles wine region, securing water well drilling permits to feed its vineyards days before lawmakers banned new pumping, according to records reviewed by Reuters.
The investment, which began as a bet on the grape market, has turned into a smart water play as the wells boosted the value of its land in the up-and-coming wine region of Paso Robles. But it has also raised questions about the role of big investors in agriculture in the midst of a water crisis. Read Full Article »
January 27th, 2015
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
by , MD1, 2, , MPH2 (Author affiliations at end of text)
On April 10, 2014 the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) was notified by a local newspaper of a suspected pesticide poisoning incident in Douglas County involving pesticides not previously reported in the published literature to be associated with human illness. On that same day, WSDA notified the Washington State Department of Health, which investigated this incident by conducting a site visit, reviewing medical and applicator records, and interviewing affected farmworkers, pesticide applicators, and the farmworkers’ employer. In addition, on April 11, WSDA collected swab, foliage, and clothing samples and tested them for residues of pyridaben,* novaluron,† and triflumizole.§ In this incident, all 20 farmworkers working in a cherry orchard became ill from off-target drift of a pesticide mixture that was being applied to a neighboring pear orchard. Sixteen sought medical treatment for neurologic, gastrointestinal, ocular, and respiratory symptoms. This event highlights the need for greater efforts to prevent off-target drift exposures and promote awareness about the toxicity of some recently marketed pesticides. Incidents such as this could be prevented if farm managers planning pesticide applications notify their neighbors of their plans. Read Full Article »
January 26th, 2015
After testing dust in the air near cattle feedlots in the Southern High Plains, researchers at The Institute of Environmental & Human Health at Texas Tech University found evidence of antibiotics, feedlot-derived bacteria and DNA sequences that encode for antibiotic resistance.
The study was published online Jan. 22 in the National Institutes of Environmental Science’s peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The research was funded through a grant from Texas Tech’s College of Arts & Sciences. It is the first study documenting aerial transmission of antibiotic resistance from an open-air farm setting. Read Full Article »
January 26th, 2015
More than 100 businesses, including Clif Bar, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley and Stonyfield, sent a letter to the White House yesterday urging it to immediately suspend pesticides linked to global bee declines in order to protect the nation’s food supply, environment and economy. The businesses, members of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and Green America’s Green Business Network, voiced concerns about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s delays in restricting neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely-used insecticides.
Many of the 118 businesses that signed the letter sell products with ingredients or inputs that are dependent on pollination from bees and other pollinators, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton) and hay (including alfalfa grown to feed livestock). The businesses call on the EPA to immediately suspend the registrations of neonicotinoids for agricultural uses, including seed treatments, as well as cosmetic and other unnecessary uses pending the results of pesticide re-evaluation. They also called for increased investments in green, fair and cutting-edge alternatives to neonicotinoids that support a prosperous and sustainable agricultural system. Read Full Article »