Media/News Archive

Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

The New York Times
by Mark Bittman

Copyright 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright 123RF Stock Photos

At dinner with a friend the other night, I mentioned that I was giving a talk this week debunking the idea that we need to grow more food on a large scale so we can “feed the nine billion” — the anticipated global population by 2050.

She looked at me, horrified, and said, “But how are you going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”

I suggested she try this exercise: “Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because she — and almost all of you reading this — would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it’s money. Read Full Article »

Organic Farms Become a Winner in Putin’s Feud With the West

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

The New York Times
by Neil MacFarquhar

Market in Krasnador
Source: Geir Halvorsen

MOSCOW — Boris Akimov’s cellphone, which quacks like a duck, started to sound like a whole flock soon after President Vladimir V. Putin imposed sweeping food sanctions barring many Western imports last August.

Major Russian grocery chains, desperate to find new suppliers, tracked down Mr. Akimov, the founder of Russia’s fledgling farm-to-table movement, to ask urgent supply questions. How many chickens and eggs could he provide, they wanted to know, and could he deliver 100 tons of cheese, say, immediately.

Mr. Akimov, 36, who has a heavy beard and an infectious grin, had to turn them away — his 100 farmers produce nowhere near the amounts requested. LavkaLavka, the organic farm cooperative he and a friend set up about five years ago, sells between six and 12 tons of artisanal cheese annually, for example. Read Full Article »

Toward Non-Toxic ‘Taters

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

[You can sign the petition Tell McDonald’s: No more toxic taters! here]

PAN North America
by Margaret Reeves

Source: Susy Morris

When you think of potatoes, you might think of McDonald’s french fries. But what do we know about how those potatoes are grown? Are hazardous pesticides applied? And what might that mean to the health and wellbeing of communities in potato-growing regions?

The fact is, more than 1,750,000 pounds of pesticides were applied to U.S. potatoes in 2012. Topping the list of pesticides of concern, particularly in the potato-growing regions of Minnesota, is the highly hazardous fungicide chlorothalonil (a probable carcinogen). But this is just one of dozens of health-harming chemicals routinely applied in conventional potato production.

Fortunately, alternatives to chemical-intensive potato production have been developed, primarily by organic producers. So we know that pesticide-free solutions work. Moving McDonald’s — the world’s biggest potato buyer — toward demanding potatoes grown with these safer solutions is the precisely the mission of the Minnesota-based Toxic Taters campaign. Read Full Article »

McDonald’s Rejects Simplot’s Genetically Modified Potato

Monday, November 24th, 2014

The Idaho agribusiness continues to get blowback over the Innate line of spuds.

Idaho Statesman
by Zach Kyle

Source: Bowen Chin

The J.R. Simplot Co.’s freshly approved genetically modified potato is not being welcomed by one of the company’s oldest business partners.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food company and a longtime buyer of Simplot potatoes for french fries, says it doesn’t plan to buy Simplot’s latest genetically modified organism, the Innate potato.

“McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices,” the company said in a statement.

The Innate line of potatoes received federal approval Nov. 7 to go to market. The potatoes have fewer sugars than conventional potatoes and less asparagine, which has the potential to become a carcinogen – acrylamide – when fried. The modified potato contains only potato genes, not genes from other organisms. Hence its name, “Innate.”

Simplot spokesman Doug Cole didn’t address the company’s plans to sell to the fast-food industry or the dehydrated potato industry, which both have urged growers against planting GMO potatoes. Read Full Article »

EPA Accepting Comments on Pollinator Health Until November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Beyond Pesticides

Co-Chairs of Pollinator Health Task Force:
USDA’s Tom Vilsack and EPA’s Lisa Jackson
Image Source: USDA

At the close of Pollinator Week 2014 President Obama called on government agencies to create a plan to “promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.” However, at the end of last month the Task Force announced it would miss its self-imposed December 20th deadline on its action plan, delaying needed steps towards improving pollinator health.

EPA will be accepting written comments at this link until November 24, 2014.

Talking Points for Comments:

EPA and USDA have a duty to protect our nation’s pollinators, and the Presidential memorandum has directed federal agencies to take action. Given average loss rates near 30% over the past 8 years, there is an urgent need to move quickly on finding long-term sustainable solutions for pollinator protection. A growing body of scientific evidence reveals connections between pollinator declines and pesticide exposure, making it evident to the public and government agencies that action must be taken to rein in these harmful chemicals. Read Full Article »