Opinion/Editorial Archive

U.S Organic Dairy Politics: Animals, Pasture, People and Agribusiness

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan– a division of St. Martin’s Press (in the US)

A review by James Goodman

DairyBookGraphicBruce Scholten’s in-depth and thoughtful analysis of U.S. organic dairy politics begins with his own memories of growing up on a Washington State dairy farm. From what was common in his childhood, small dairy farms operated by multi-generational family labor, pasturing their cattle, building the soil and supporting local communities, Scholten shows the reader how things have changed over the past five decades.

Scholten exposes the system that has come to control and victimize the farmer (both conventional and organic), the animals, the environment and the consumer. Noting that “Get big or get out” — the exhortation of Earl Butz — set the stage for the shift of agriculture from small family dairy farms to “mega-dairies,” Scholten clearly explains how this shift was made using government policy, driven by corporations that have taken control of markets, of seeds and even of the simple ethical principles that had been a safeguard for the environment and the animals with whom we are so interdependent. Read Full Article »

Can GMOs Save the World?

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Aljazeera America
by Anna Lappé

Source: Peter Blanchard

In October in Istanbul, farmers, agricultural researchers and advocates from around the world gathered for the Organic World Congress, organized by the 42-year-old International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM). With 800 affiliates in 124 countries, IFOAM comes together every three years to gauge its global efforts to promote chemical-free farming, share innovations and address challenges to growth.

The research presented to packed auditoriums detailed the evidence of the multiple benefits of organic farming — what Europeans call multifunctionality. For one, farmers benefit because instead of needing to purchase costly chemicals, genetically engineered seeds and synthetic fertilizer, they can largely work with the ecological systems of their own farmscapes to fend off pests and promote fertility. Organic farming benefits the rest of us too. These low-input practices promote biodiversity (key to food security), protect pollinators (key to one-third of the food we eat), reduce farm energy use while storing more carbon in the soil (key to fixing climate change) and foster clean water and air (key to, well, everything). Read Full Article »

Better Dying Through GMOs

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

The Daily Call

BumperCrop MarkTaylor Read Full Article »

Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Despite environmentalists’ worries, cattle don’t guzzle water or cause hunger—and can help fight climate change

Wall Street Journal
by Nicolette Hahn Niman

Source: AgriLife Today

People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.

As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet. Read Full Article »

Scientists Need to Rethink Their Beliefs About GMOs

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Francis Thicke is a Cornucopia member and Policy Advisor.

Des Moines Register
by John Ikerd, Fred Kirschenmann and Francis Thicke

Francis Thicke

Belief systems and narratives matter, as was pointed out in a Nov. 23 opinion piece defending genetically modified organisms (GMOs) against growing public concerns (“Americans need to rethink our views of GMO vs organic crops”). We agree that a dramatic change in belief systems is needed if we’re to have enough healthful food for all, including the 9 billion or so people expected globally by 2050. However, American scientists and bureaucrats are the ones who need to examine their belief systems.

Scientists have a responsibility to be objective when assessing the validity of conflicting beliefs. Government bureaucrats are responsible for protecting public interests even under conditions of uncertainty. In reality, there is not yet clear or compelling evidence to either convict or acquit GMOs of the indictments reflecting growing public concerns. Scientists in much of the rest of the world are willing to admit this reality. Their government officials are taking a precautionary approach to protecting the environment and public health from potential risks posed by GMOs. Scientists and bureaucrats in the United States have few global allies in their beliefs, other than those with conflicts of interest through corporate connections. Read Full Article »