Media/News Archive

Busted: EPA Discovers Dow Weedkiller Claim, Wants It Off The Market

Monday, November 30th, 2015

NPR – The Salt
by Dan Charles


Ever been caught telling different stories to different people? It’s awkward.

Dow AgroSciences, which sells seeds and pesticides to farmers, made contradictory claims to different parts of the U.S. government about its latest herbicide. The Environmental Protection Agency just found out, and now wants to cancel Dow’s legal right to sell the product.

The herbicide, which the company calls Enlist Duo, is a mixture of two chemicals that farmers have used separately for many years: glyphosate (also known as Roundup) and 2,4-D. It’s Dow’s answer to the growing problem of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, which has become the weed-killing weapon of choice for farmers across the country.

The new formulation is intended to work hand-in-hand with a new generation of corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate sprays of both herbicides.

When Dow applied for permission to sell Enlist Duo in 2011, it told the EPA that this mixture of glyphosate and 2,4-D is no more toxic than the two chemicals are, if considered separately. The EPA accepted that argument and approved the new herbicide just over a year ago. Dow began selling it, in small quantities, this year. Read Full Article »

Pesticides Stop Bumblebees from Pollinating Apple Trees, Research Shows

Monday, November 30th, 2015

The Guardian
by Damian Carrington

Source: Deedavee Easyflow

New findings on neonicotinoids have important implications as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce

The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bumblebees to pollinate apple trees, scientists have discovered. The finding has important implications for agriculture and the natural world, say the researchers, as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce.

There is good evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees but the new research, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show a negative impact on the vital pollination services bees provide.

In 2013 the EU suspended the use of three types of the pesticide for three years. But has since approved two new types, while the UK has partly lifted the suspension after lobbying from farmers.

“Bumblebees are major pollinators of apples and many crops around the world,” said Prof Nigel Raine, at the University of Guelph, Canada, and one of the research team. “The findings of this study have important implications for both society and the economy, as insect pollination services to crops are worth at least $361bn worldwide every year, and are vital to the functioning of natural ecosystems.” Read Full Article »

What Is a ‘Natural’ Food? FDA Seeks Public Input for Definition

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Journal Sentinel
by Rick Barrett

NaturalLabel CornucopiaFederal regulators are seeking public opinion on the use of the word natural on food labels, a move that could change the way hundreds of products are advertised.

Phrases such as “made with natural ingredients” are commonly used in the food industry, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have a definition for what constitutes a natural food.

On Thursday, the agency said the AquAdvantage salmon — developed using growth hormone from Chinook salmon and a gene from an eel-like ocean fish — has become the first genetically engineered animal approved for American consumption, and that it doesn’t require special labeling.

Foods with no artificial or synthetic ingredients could be considered natural, according to the FDA. However, it doesn’t address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides and irradiation, when the term is used on a product label.

Often, the word natural is little more than a marketing gimmick, said Mark Kastel, founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a family-farm advocacy organization based in Cornucopia. Read Full Article »

Putting the Chicken Before the Egg

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

[NOTE: Click here to view the New York Times slideshow of images from the article below.]

The New York Times
by Stephanie Strom

Source: Martin de Witte

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. — A decade ago, a couple running a dairy business in Northern California visited a Mennonite farm where the owner had used a flock of laying hens to teach his children business principles and instill values like responsibility and care for nature.

They returned home and bought 150 hens for their boys, Christian and Joseph. “My parents told us, you and Joseph are in charge of keeping these 150 birds alive,” recalled Christian Alexandre, who now heads the family’s egg business.

What started as a parental effort to instill solid values has become the mainstay of Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farms. Within five years, Christian and Joseph were tending 1,500 hens and had a deal in place to supply eggs to Whole Foods stores in Northern California. Christian remembers Walter Robb, co-chief executive of the grocery retailer, showing up at one of his football games.

The rusty red chickens foraging in the fields outnumber the cows 10 to 1 — and the roughly five million eggs they will produce this year command prices that make organic milk look cheap. “The egg business has kept the dairy going for several years,” Blake Alexandre, Christian’s father, said. Read Full Article »

A Fisherman’s Plan to Feed the World and Reduce Climate Change

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015


Source: Farrukh

One of the most prestigious prizes in sustainability, the Fuller Challenge, has been awarded to a commercial fisherman turned entrepreneur who once worked on factory trawlers pillaging the seas of fish. Following hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Bren Smith, founder of the ocean farming non-profit GreenWave, said he had a change of heart and began to search for a more sustainable form of fishing seafood.

“I had to adapt and reimagine how I was going to grow for this new era of climate change … what species do I pick, what technologies do I use,” he said.

Enjoy this clip from Marketplace of Bren Smith, interviewed by David Brancaccio, produced by Shana Daloria and Beidi Zhang:

Read Full Article »