Opinion/Editorial Archive

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to shut the entire meeting down and send everyone home if the parliamentary motion challenging his authority wasn’t withdrawn.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 »

Another Reason to Eat Organic – Decrease Pesticide Exposure by 90%

Monday, May 19th, 2014

by Max Goldberg

Credit: USDA

Here are a few things that we know.

1) In its pioneering testing several years ago, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) identified up to 493 chemicals in Americans of all ages, including 287 industrial chemical pollutants found in the cord blood of 10 babies born in 2004.

So, from the time we are in the womb of our mother, our body is flooded with synthetic toxins.

2) Even though this EWG data was collected a decade ago, not much has changed since then, in terms of our exposure to chemicals. Read Full Article »

An Inconvenient Truth About Our Food

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

New York Times
by Mark Bittman

“Fed Up” is probably the most important movie to be made since “An Inconvenient Truth,” to which it’s related in a couple of ways.

One of its producers is Laurie David, who also produced “An Inconvenient Truth.” Climate change, diet and agriculture are inexorably intertwined; we can’t tackle climate change without changing industrial agriculture, and we can’t change industrial agriculture without tackling diet. Read Full Article »

‘Made In Rural America’ But Not For Americans

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Honey Colony
by Brett Barth, Buzzworthy Blogs

Credit: NRCS

The steady creep of prices at your grocery checkout might have you wondering about frosts and droughts and the many other challenges confronting agribusiness. That’s kind of you, really, but stop. Truth be told, these are roaring times in the U.S. Farming industry.

According to a recent report from The Council of Economic Advisors, net farm income in 2013 (a function of the handful of industrials that control most American farmland) hit a 40-year high and marked a 46 percent increase in growth since 2008. As President Obama noted in a recent speech, “agriculture is thriving.” Read Full Article »

Why Congress Should Care About the Beepocalypse

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Roll Call
by Rep. John Conyers Jr. and Michael Shank

Credit: Devcore

This year, food security is set to suffer another big setback, and the culprit could not be cuter: honeybees. Last winter, America’s beekeeping industry lost nearly half of all its bee colonies. And the numbers keep falling. Last summer, in the largest bee kill on record, more than 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Oregon as a direct result of exposure to an insecticide applied to trees for cosmetic purposes.

The killing has gotten so bad that people are calling it a beepocalypse. This is a serious situation. One-third of the food produced in North America depends on pollination by our honeybees. Nearly 100 varieties of fruits depend on honeybee pollination, from almonds (which are California’s third-largest export) to avocados to apples to cranberries. Read Full Article »