Opinion/Editorial Archive

Demise of the National Organic Standards Board?

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Montana Organic Association
by Barry Flamm, Former Chair of the National Organic Standards Board,
Board Member of The Cornucopia Institute
and MOA Lifetime Member

 Barry Flamm

Barry Flamm

The original and current purpose of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) is to bring integrity and order to organic food production and marketing by establishing uniform standards. The Act, established by the U.S. Congress, and the implementing regulations, adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is driven by the organic community’s desire to ensure that “organic” is something special and help assure a continuing organic community role in the process. Under the Act, the Congress established the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and gave it very important duties. In its Report (1990) on the bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee stated that,  “ The Committee regards this Board as an essential advisor to the Secretary (of Agriculture) on all issues concerning this bill and anticipates that many of the key standards will result from recommendations by this Board….(it) is generally responsible for advising the Secretary on all aspects of the implementation of OFPA, specifically, the Board is responsible for evaluating substances for inclusion on the Proposed National List.” Read Full Article »

The F.D.A.’s Blatant Failure on Food

Friday, August 1st, 2014

New York Times

fda_hogs

               Image Source: FDA

EVERY year, antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 23,000 Americans and make another two million sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why a recent ruling by the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals is so appalling.

It allows the federal Food and Drug Administration to leave an antibiotic used in animal feed on the market even if the agency openly states that the drug’s use is not safe and increases the risk of antibiotic resistance in people.  This means that the dangerous misuse of antibiotics in industrial livestock and poultry can continue unabated.

For years industrial meat and poultry producers have fed healthy animals antibiotics to fatten them up fast. The antibiotics also prevent disease in what are often overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This practice breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten us all.

The F.D.A. has issued a toothless voluntary guidance document for the industry, which requires no action to reduce antibiotic use and will therefore do little to nothing to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Read Full Article »

Don’t Repeat Mistakes That Led to Superweeds

Friday, July 18th, 2014

The Des Moines Register
by Neil D. Hamilton

Palmer Amaranth
Credit: USDA

The Des Moines Register deserves a hearty thank you for Donnelle Eller’s eye-opening Sunday article on glysophate-resistant Superweeds. It details a real threat to Iowa agriculture and raises important questions about responsibility and the way forward.

Some may believe it too soon or even unhelpful to consider how this happened and who bears responsibility for getting us into this mess. But if we fail to consider these questions, don’t we risk the likelihood our “solutions” will simply repeat our mistakes?

For over 20 years the farm chemical industry, led by Monsanto, has proclaimed the unquestioned benefits of genetically modifying seeds, and farmers gladly got on the GMO bandwagon as we raced to a golden era of high-tech agriculture. Claims of enhanced yields and one-pass weed control were hard to resist — especially as the seed industry bred resistance to Roundup, or glyphosate, into every crop and variety possible.

Truthfully, though, herbicide resistance is not inherently yield enhancing — not like the hybridizing work of Henry Wallace or any seed breeder who helps plants put more beans in the pod. What we created is simply a weed control system the main effects of which are to sell more Roundup and expensive modified seeds and allow farmers to cover more acres. Read Full Article »

The Future of Farming Is A Gift From Our Past: Celebrating 90 Years of Biodynamic® Agriculture

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Demeter Association, Inc.
by Erin Sojourner Agostinelli

Demeter Certified BiodynamicNinety years ago this year, Rudolf Steiner addressed a group of farmers at a European farmhouse located in today’s Poland.  A well-known scientist and social advocate, Steiner is now best known as the founder of Waldorf education.  The farmers asked Steiner for help because they were very concerned about what they were witnessing on their farms.  Their farms’ soil was depleted, their seeds weren’t germinating, and their animals were suffering: the overall life and vitality of their farms was markedly declining.

It’s helpful to place this in the context of the times.  Prior to the advent of industrialization, our communities were agrarian and people lived on their farms.  They grew food for themselves and their farm animals.  Lots of different crops grew and the farm itself existed in a larger ecological context of forests, plains, and watersheds.  People lived in tune with the seasons and the celestial rhythms.  But by the turn of the last century, people moved from their farms to the cities.  Factories were built focused on increased production based on the increased utilization of our natural resources.  Read Full Article »

California Stung by Lawsuit to Protect Bees

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Pesticide Action Network North America
by Paul Towers

Blue Orchard Bee
Credit: USDA

They’re in our garden plants, sprayed on orchards throughout the state, and used as seed coatings on commodity crops in California and across the country. After five years of review, California officials have not only failed to complete an evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), they continue to bring more and more of these bee-harming chemicals to market.

Fed up with the years of hand-sitting, PAN and our partners brought the state and pesticide manufacturers to court today.

Read Full Article »