Cornucopia News Archive

Five Vacancies Open for Nominations on the National Organic Standards Board

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

The 15-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is seeking to fill five pending vacancies.  The vacancies include two organic farmers/producers, two public or consumer interest representatives, and one USDA accredited certifying agent.  The terms for the volunteer board are five years and would begin in January 2016.

Information on how to apply, if you are interested, can be found here.

The NOSB plays a key role in determining the use of synthetic and non-organic materials allowed for use in organic food and agriculture, and in advising the USDA Secretary on all aspects of organic policy.  The five retiring members of the NOSB include several of the staunchest advocates for organic integrity. Read Full Article »

Neonicotinoid Pesticide Implicated in Monarch Butterfly Declines

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

by Jérôme Rigot, PhD

CatwillowMonarchArea_Susannah Rogers USDA Forest Service
Source: Susannah Rogers,
USDA Forest Service

USDA researchers have identified the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin as a likely contributor to monarch butterfly declines in North America. The USDA research was published online April 3rd, 2015 in the journal Science of Nature.

Neonicotinoids have been strongly implicated in pollinator declines worldwide; they are neurotoxins that are partially banned in the European Union. A recent report indicates (see references at the end of full article) that neonicotinoids, such as clothianidin (Bayer), are a particular hazard because, unlike most pesticides, they are soluble molecules. From soil or seed treatments they can reach nectar and are found in pollen.

Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used pesticides in the world. Read Full Article »

Latest USDA Scandal: Organic Program Dismisses Legal Complaints Targeting Factory Farms — Without Investigating

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Watchdog Asks OIG to Investigate “Unholy Alliance” Between Industry Lobbyists and Regulators

The Cornucopia Institute harshly criticized the USDA for its failure to conduct an investigation of 14 legal complaints filed by the Wisconsin-based organic industry watchdog group last December.  The complaints allege a systemic pattern of livestock management violations occurring on some of the nation’s biggest certified organic “factory farm” poultry and dairy operations.

In their brief letter to Cornucopia, the National Organic Program‘s (NOP) director of Compliance and Enforcement stated that the agency “has determined that an investigation is unwarranted.”  Last December, after an investment of seven months and tens of thousands of dollars, Cornucopia filed 14 complaints with the NOP utilizing evidence primarily gathered through high resolution aerial photographic examinations of industrial-scale certified organic dairies and poultry operations.  The hundreds of images taken documented an overwhelming absence of dairy cows on pasture, and the exclusive confinement of hundreds of thousands of egg laying hens and meat birds inside buildings.

A related article was produced, today, by the Washington Post, as a follow-up to an exclusive story the paper ran outlining the allegations against the industrial-scale, organic livestock operations, when they were initially filed in December 2014.

The massive Herbrucks egg laying operation in Saranac, Michigan,
according to state regulatory filings licensed for 1.15 million birds.
Read Full Article »

Cornucopia Is Hiring!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

CI_HiringCommsAndDevAssistant_1The Communications and Development Assistant will assist with Cornucopia’s many communications (reports, newsletters, infographics, etc.) as well as the organization’s revenue development efforts (grants, fundraising mailings, occasional fundraising events, etc.). Reporting directly to the Communications and Development Director, this is an early-career position that offers great opportunity for advancement. A heartfelt passion for protecting the environment, the good food movement, human health, humane livestock husbandry, and social/economic justice for family farmers is essential.

Cornucopia is formally based in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, but staff members are “virtually officed” in home offices around the country. Because of this, applicants must be highly motivated and able to work independently.

View the job description and application instructions at Read Full Article »

Day Four (Thursday) Report: NOSB Members Voting While (not) at the Meeting

Friday, May 1st, 2015

NOSBSPring2015 NOSBMembers withcaption
Thursday was the fourth and final day of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California. At least twice a year the 15-member expert stakeholder panel meets at different locations around the country. The NOSB was created by Congress to represent the interests of the organic community, rather than allowing the industry to be dominated by corporate lobbyists, as is the custom in Washington.

High Drama: Synthetic Methionine Approved at Higher Levels of Administration

The independent block of NOSB members, farmers and academics courageously led a fight to try to constrain the use of the synthetic amino acid, methionine, in poultry use.

Organic laying hens and meat birds need methionine, an essential amino acid, as part of their diet but they can get it from natural sources, being afforded legitimate outdoor access and a diet more suited to their species (as omnivores).

Intrepidly led by public interest representative Dr. Calvin Walker, the independents on the board tried and failed to convince their colleagues to both restrain methionine use and create a date certain for its removal from organic production.

Dr. Walker cited numerous past votes by the NOSB, working to reduce methionine use, and prevent its increased application, and asked the board colleagues to respect the history, and investment, of past NOSB members — to no avail. The livestock subcommittee chair, who was facilitating the debate, even cut Dr. Walker off before he could finish. Read Full Article »