Opinion/Editorial Archive

Kids and …

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The New York Times
By Mark Bittman

1. Lunch

Credit: Beau Wade

Allow me this generalization: Healthy food initiatives threaten profits and are therefore fought or deflected or co-opted at all costs by the producers of hyperprocessed food. This is true even when those costs include producing an increasingly sick population — and a disproportionate number of defenseless children — and an ever-growing portion of our budget spent on paying for diet-related illness. Big Food will continue to pursue profit at the expense of health as long as we let them. Read Full Article »

Why Does the Food Industry Carry Monsanto’s Dirty Water?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

by Robyn O’Brien

MonsantoSignMonsanto just might be the most contentious company on the planet.  If you read their PR, you’d think they were here to save the world.  If you read their financial statements, you will quickly realize that they are a chemical company.

So can a chemical company save the world?  Especially in light of the escalating rates of cancers?

It doesn’t appear to be the case, as countries around the world increasingly restrict or ban their chemical products and the genetically engineered crops designed to withstand them.

So what are we doing here in the United States?

In the United States, we are introducing labeling laws at a record pace since these ingredients were never labeled.  Can you imagine if Intel operated this way?  Read Full Article »

Should Cities Be Banning Herbicides & Pesticides & Going Organic?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Sustainable Cities Collective
by David Thorpe

Seedy-greedyParks and city green spaces and school grounds are safe, pleasant and healthy places, right? Perhaps not, if they are sprayed with dangerous pesticides and herbicides.

Cities are gradually waking up to the idea that they may be putting their populations at risk by using these chemical-containing pesticides and herbicides. Some of them are already receiving demands that they refrain from their use, replacing them with healthy alternatives.

Last month, Ségolène Royal, the French Minister of Ecology, appeared on television to ask that “all mayors remove pesticides in parks and schools”, following the appearance of scientific doubts about the safety of these substances. This week, on May 22, World Biodiversity Day, she is to launch a campaign called “cities and villages without pesticides“, under which schools are being asked to ban their use and convert to organic growing. Read Full Article »

A Response to The Wall Street Journal article: “Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable”

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Linley Dixon, PhD
Cornucopia Farm Policy Analyst

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece “Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable” published May 15, 2014 by Dr. Henry Miller misrepresents the industry and is riddled with factual inaccuracies. Dr. Miller attempts to discredit organic agriculture’s environmental benefits on the basis of pesticide use, lower yields, groundwater contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions. The author displays a clear bias and incomplete knowledge of these subjects throughout the piece.

Dr. Miller states that one problem with organic farming is the use of pesticides, including nicotine sulfate and rotenone. Although natural, nicotine sulfate is listed as a prohibited substance in organic production. Rotenone is not licensed by the EPA for use in the United States and the National Organic Standards Board voted to prohibit rotenone in international organic commerce.

The more commonly used organic natural/botanically-based pesticides like pyrethroids, although safer to the environment, are considered “restricted” under organic regulations and only used as a last resort after cultural and biological preventative measures are exhausted.

These materials are very expensive compared to synthetic pesticides giving growers tremendous economic disincentive to use them. Instead, disease and pest prevention practices are routine in organic production and eliminate the need for chemical inputs.

Skeptics of organic agriculture frequently point to the use of natural pesticides, but fail to understand they are highly scrutinized to assure their safety for human health and the environment and are only last resort materials and thus used in very limited quantities. Conventional agriculture, on the other hand, sprays highly toxic and carcinogenic agrochemicals because they are cheaper than practicing disease prevention. Read Full Article »

Mr. Orwell Would Be Proud: Animal Farm Becomes Certified Organic

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Update:  We want to be clear about the discussion in the commentary below regarding the certifier OCIA and the letter sent to the USDA by the umbrella group Accredited Certifiers Association.  In addition to OCIA’s board, the staff of the organization was likewise unaware of this letter being sent by the ACA to the USDA.

In a move truly deserving of the comment “You can’t make this stuff up,” illustrating the widening divide in the organic community the USDA’s National Organic Program announced this week that they would require public interest groups, educators, and the public to get their blessing before using the USDA organic logo in media coverage.

CI_NOSBUSDAdisputeOrwellMaybe this edict isn’t entirely Orwellian, and maybe it’s not Stalinistic, but it sure smacks of how the press operates under Premier Vladimir Putin.

After months of pointed criticism, and press coverage, of a series of allegedly illegal power grabs by the USDA, stripping authority Congress vested in the advisory panel it created, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the USDA has figured out a way to resolve the dispute — control the message.

Their quarterly newsletter, distributed this week, recapped the recent NOSB meeting in San Antonio, Texas. It was one of the most contentious meetings in the history of the organic movement. It included a protest that initially shut down the proceedings and a parliamentary challenge to the illegal power grab by NOP staff director Miles McEvoy.

The protest ended after police came in for an arrest and the challenge, under Roberts Rules of Order, endorsed by a number of board members, only ended after a long adjournment where Mr. McEvoy conferred with his staff (and superiors and lawyers in Washington by phone) and subsequently threatened to shut the entire meeting down and send everyone home if the parliamentary motion challenging his authority wasn’t withdrawn.

But if you read the USDA’s Organic Integrity Quarterly you might question the “accuracy” of their story. There’s not a word of any dispute at the meeting even though, besides the protests, numerous citizens and public interest groups, in formal written and oral testimony, condemned the USDA’s actions. Read Full Article »