Media/News Archive

A Touching Story: Ancient Conversation Between Plants, Fungi and Bacteria

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Science Daily
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Image Credit: Mathias Erhart

The mechanical force that a single fungal cell or bacterial colony exerts on a plant cell may seem vanishingly small, but it plays a heavy role in setting up some of the most fundamental symbiotic relationships in biology. In fact, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that plants may have never moved onto land without the ability to respond to the touch of beneficial fungi, according to a new study led by Jean-Michel Ané, a professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Many people have studied how roots progress through the soil, when fairly strong stimuli are applied to the entire growing root,” says Ané, who just published a review of touch in the interaction between plants and microbes in the journal Current Opinion in Plant Biology. “We are looking at much more localized, tiny stimuli on a single cell that is applied by microbes.”

Specifically, Ané, Dhileepkumar Jayaraman, a postdoctoral researcher in agronomy, and Simon Gilroy, a professor of botany, studied how such a slight mechanical stimulus starts round one of a symbiotic relationship — that is, a win-win relationship between two organisms. Read Full Article »

Letter to the Congressional Organic Caucus

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

NOTE: PCC Natural Markets, in Seattle, coordinated a letter to members of Congress expressing the concerns from three dozen retailers about the arbitrary changes made by the USDA to NOSB governance and advice over organic food and agriculture.  These changes continue to trouble Cornucopia and many others in the organic community.

PCC Natural Markets

500px-USDA_organic_seal_svg - wikicommonsTo the Congressional Organic Caucus,

We the undersigned organizations are writing to ask you to advocate reversal of USDA’s unilateral changes to the organic program’s Sunset Provision. We believe these changes violate the intent and the letter of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).

A high bar to allow and renew synthetics

We have re-read OFPA and the letters from Sen. Leahy and Rep. DeFazio to Sec. Vilsack, as well as the letter from three former chairs of the National Organic Standards Board, and we respectfully disagree with the Deputy Administrator’s statement that the changes “shouldn’t make it harder” to remove items from the National List.

NOP staff has admitted in various settings that materials up for Sunset from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances were subject to being removed by a minority vote, and that materials some interests wanted to renew [leave on the list] weren’t getting enough votes, so USDA changed the voting process. In other words, NOP staff has admitted publicly it changed the rules to make it easier to keep synthetics on the National List.

OFPA established the two-thirds supermajority requirement for “Decisive Votes” [Sec. 2119 (i)] intentionally to establish a very high hurdle for prohibited synthetics to be allowed, even temporarily, in organics. Within the context of the overarching principle in Sec. 2105 [7 USC 6504], that foods labeled organic must be “produced and handled without the use of synthetic chemicals …,” Congress certainly intended the Sunset Provision to emphasize the temporary nature of exemptions. Read Full Article »

The Vermont Traditional Foods and Health Symposium, September 25-27

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


Learn the core principles of traditional diets, inspired by the teachings of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and explore how embracing this lifestyle can contribute to one’s health, wellness and longevity.

Hosted at Shelburne Farms, The Vermont Traditional Foods and Health Symposium is a program sponsored by The Forrest C. and Frances H. Lattner Foundation.

Registration is required to attend the Symposium. In order to make the program accessible, the program is being offered on a suggested sliding scale of $0 – $75 per day, which includes lunch (Friday &Saturday) and traditional foods tasting (Friday evening) provided by The Farmhouse Group, and more.

Register here. Read Full Article »

High Levels of Fungicide Found in Pregnant Women Living Near Banana Plantations

Friday, September 12th, 2014

The Tico Times
by Zach Dyer

Credit: USDA, Lance Cheung

A new study has found alarmingly high levels of pesticides in the urine of pregnant Costa Rican women working in and living near the banana industry in Matina, Limón. The chemical ethylene thiourea (ETU) found in the fungicide mancozeb, which is sprayed over banana plantations here, can be detrimental to fetal brain development, according to the report released Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study registered 451 pregnant women and tracked urine samples from 445 to test their level of exposure to ETU. Expecting mothers had levels of ETU in their urine five times greater than the general population, exceeding reference doses for the chemical. ETU levels were significantly higher for women living less than 50 meters from a banana plantation. Seventy two percent of the women surveyed had on average 45 percent higher levels of the chemical in their bodies than women who lived more than 500 meters away. The report also noted higher levels in women who washed agricultural work clothes one day before samples were collected; women who worked during pregnancy; and immigrant women. Read Full Article »

The Drought Is Destroying California’s Organic Dairy Farms

Friday, September 12th, 2014

The drought that is parching California is having a horrendous impact on food produced and raised in that state.  This is especially important for all Americans as so much of our food comes from the farmers working California land.  In the following story, Grist chronicles the destruction occurring on organic dairy farms.

Credit: NRCS

by Madeleine Thomas

“Roll down your window for a second and tell me what you smell,” Rosie Burroughs instructs me. It’s early March and I’m in the passenger seat of her gigantic white Ford pickup truck, bouncing down a narrow, potholed dirt road on her farm in the rolling hills just east of Turlock, Calif. Her husband, Ward is sitting in the driver’s seat.

The Burroughs’ 4,000 acres of sweeping organic grasslands, which practically rest under the shadow of Yosemite’s Half Dome, are a pastoral dream. On the Saturday afternoon of my visit, a storm was brewing over the purplish mountains, sending gusts of pink petals from their neighboring almond orchards across the landscape.

I opened the window, gazing at a herd of cattle grazing not more than ten feet away from our car, half expecting the acrid stench of manure and animal common on larger factory farms to assault my nostrils. But I couldn’t smell anything, save for the faint scent of damp earth and rain brewing on the horizon. Rosie leaned back in her seat, content…. Read Full Article »