Cornucopia News Archive

The Open Source Seed Initiative: Challenging the Corporate Control of Our Food System

Friday, July 25th, 2014

by Linley Dixon, PhD

Taking care of new developmentSeed diversity is undeniably essential to life. Scientists have only scratched the surface in identifying the millions of genetic traits stored in seed banks including variations in appearance, and nutrition, as well as resistance to disease, drought, and salinity.

Intellectual property rights allow research plant breeders to patent new plant varieties they breed and gene sequences they “discover.” There are some philosophical questions to grapple with here.

First, should we even be allowed to patent life? Read Full Article »

Lack of Transparency Fuels Corruption Allegations in Organic Governance

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

USDA Asked to Make Public All Nominations
to National Organic Standards Board

 Industry Watchdog Releases List of Known NOSB Applicants

usda logoThe Cornucopia Institute has called upon USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public all candidates for appointment to fill the four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).  The NOSB, a 15-member board of organic stakeholders representing farmer, consumer, environmental, retail, scientific, certifying and organic food processing interests, was established by Congress to advise the USDA on organic food and agriculture policies and review materials allowed for use in organic food production and processing.

Past investigations by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, found that prior appointments, during the Bush and Obama administrations, violated the letter of the law, and congressional intent, by appointing agribusiness executives to fill slots on the NOSB reserved for farmers and other independent stakeholders.  Public interest groups have suggested that these extra agribusiness representatives on the board have voted in favor of weakening the organic standards.

“Transparency has been a hallmark of organic food and agriculture.  We think that letting the organic community know who has applied for the vacant positions will allow for feedback and help the Secretary make the best possible appointments,” said Cornucopia’s Will Fantle, the organic industry watchdog organization’s Codirector.  Read Full Article »

Walmarting Organics: Will the Growth of “Big Organic” Lower Food Quality, Weaken Standards, and Destroy Farmers’ Livelihoods?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Commentary by Mark Kastel

walmart low prices b&wAs Yogi Berra said, “It seems like déjà vu all over again.” In 2006 The Cornucopia Institute released a report accusing Walmart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory farms and developing countries, including China.

At the time, Walmart announced that they would greatly increase the number of organic products they offered and price them at a target of 10% above the cost for conventional food. They failed miserably at that first attempt, eventually removing many of the organic items from their stores.

This past May, Walmart announced they will once again enter the organic arena, in earnest, with the goal of eliminating the premium price for organic food.

Since the announcement, Cornucopia has received numerous press inquiries asking if Walmart’s organic expansion is “good news or bad news” for the industry. My stock answer has been, as it was in 2006: If Walmart lends their logistical prowess to organic food, both farmers and consumers will be big winners by virtue of a more competitive marketplace. However, if the company applies their standard business model, and in essence Walmarts organics, then everyone will lose. Read Full Article »

Monsanto Wants You

Friday, July 18th, 2014

CI_CallingAllBloggers

Female bloggers that is.  The GMO and pesticide giant is seeking to (mis)inform you about their impact on food and the environment.  In addition to brunch, you get to ask questions!  Monsanto will reward your Sunday morning participation with $150.  Express yourself here. Read Full Article »

My Road to Organics: Cycling to Health, Vitality and Purpose

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

[This story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of  The Cultivator, The Cornucopia Institute’s quarterly print publication available to members and online.]

Many of us have had an aha! moment or moments that sparked our decision to farm, garden or eat organically. In this issue, Cornucopia board member Amanda Love tells how a cross-country journey awakened her to an organic lifestyle. Today she offers workshops, classes and retreats on how to prepare delicious, nourishing meals and live a harmonious life.

by Amanda Love, Board Member, The Cornucopia Institute

Amanda Love 2014Was it my grandmother who owned a health food store in New Mexico long before they were popular or my health-conscious mother? Was it reading Emerson and Thoreau in high school that opened my mind to new expanses? Or the college study-abroad trip to Italy, where I experienced real food, real family values and la dolce vita?

I’m not sure which of these had the most influence on me or if they all converged to make me begin to question my way of life and start doing things differently. But I do know that the real turning point for me came the summer of 1997, when I rode my bicycle across the country. This trip unequivocally changed my life. Read Full Article »