Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Wed, 17 Sep 2014 02:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Letter to the Congressional Organic Caucushttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/letter-congressional-organic-caucus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=letter-congressional-organic-caucus http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/letter-congressional-organic-caucus/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:46:49 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13279 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 To the Congressional Organic Caucus, We the undersigned organizations are writing to ask you to advocate reversal of USDA’s unilateral changes

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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.

USDA’s policy change makes relisting and renewal of synthetics much easier. Now, only six votes are needed for a synthetic to be allowed continued use, not the 10-vote supermajority mandated by OFPA. This assumes the full board even gets to vote on the relisting, since the murky nature of how these materials would be handled in subcommittees seems to preclude a full board vote if the subcommittee approves continued use.

Now, even if nine NOSB members oppose relisting, a six-vote minority favoring continued use would determine the “Decisive Vote” to enable continued use. This is contrary to Congressional intent for consensus in requiring a supermajority for Decisive Votes, through any plain reading of the law.

OFPA’s framers meant clearly to establish a very high hurdle to add an exemption and to renew any exemptions — not a high hurdle to allow, and a low hurdle to renew.

Policy change without public comment

USDA’s unilateral changes have been labeled a “power grab” with cause, since they were announced without the benefit of full notice and opportunity for public comment.

When asked where the changes originated, NOP staff has stated that “USDA did recently adjust how it works with the National Organic Standards Board to be more consistent with how other federal advisory boards are managed [under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)].”

The unique powers and authority granted to NOSB by OFPA have rubbed some USDA officials the wrong way from inception. But attempting to redefine the NOSB “to be more consistent with how other federal advisory boards are managed” contravenes what Congress enacted into law. (Note that FACA Sec. 9 says: (b) Unless otherwise specifically provided by statute or Presidential directive, advisory committees shall be utilized solely for advisory functions.)

Congress knowingly and intentionally granted exceptional and unique powers and authority to the National Organic Standards Board — unlike most other federal advisory committees. In passing OFPA in 1990, Congress knowingly and intentionally superseded the provisions established by FACA in 1972. In other words, OFPA overrides FACA.

Subcommittee eliminated

We are very concerned by the NOP’s elimination of the Board’s Policy Development Subcommittee and control of the NOSB work plan and agenda. This unilateral, top-down action suggests that NOSB under the new rules would no longer be allowed to create a subcommittee to work on topics of its choosing, such as the GMO subcommittee or a subcommittee to study nanotechnology.

OFPA established the NOSB to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the organic program. NOSB cannot advise the Secretary well if its authority to develop a work plan and agenda, or create committees and procedures, is diminished or denied.

Mandates ignored

There are two other OFPA provisions that appear to be contravened by USDA’s management of the organic program.

Sec. 2119 (j) “Other Terms and Conditions” states “The Secretary shall authorize the Board [NOSB] to hire a staff director … “To date, staff directors have been hired not by the Board as the law stipulates, but rather by the USDA. This must be rectified.

Also, Sec. 2119 (j) (3) “Technical Advisory Panels” says, “The Board [NOSB] shall convene technical advisory panels to provide scientific evaluation of the materials considered for inclusion in the National List … ” To date, TAPs have been convened by USDA unilaterally, not the Board, as stipulated by the law. Selection of TAP reviewers by USDA has become so shrouded in secrecy that NOSB members do not even know who the TAP reviewers are. This must be rectified.

We realize the pressure USDA, and you in particular, must be facing from industry. Manufacturers and processors barely mustered the votes to allow carrageenan (even with flawed TAP reviews). They nearly lost DHA, and larger orchards did lose antibiotics for growing apples and pears.

Yet changing the rules and admitting they were intended to reverse the course of Sunset — to enable renewal of synthetics with just six of 15 votes — and to refashion NOSB under FACA, violates the intent of Congress and the letter of the law in OFPA. The drafters of OFPA required a two-thirds supermajority for Decisive Votes, requiring a higher level of consensus across the full range of organic stakeholders, to ensure both credibility of the organic label and public support for organic products.

As significant stakeholders in the National Organic Program, we ask you to reverse these policies. We ask you, respectfully, to utilize the full notice and comment rulemaking procedures when there are changes NOP considers important.

Sincerely,

PCC Natural Markets, Seattle, Washington
Central Co-op, Seattle, Washington
Marlene’s Markets, Tacoma and Federal Way, Washington
The Markets, Bellingham, Washington
Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Mt. Vernon, Washington
Tonasket Food Coop, Tonasket, Washington
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Sacramento, California
Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Coop, San Diego, California
Ashland Food Co-op, Ashland, Oregon
Outpost Natural Food Cooperative, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dill Pickle Food Co-op, Chicago, Illinois
Wheatsville Food Co-op, Austin, Texas
La Montanita Food Co-op, Albuquerque, New Mexico
People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, Michigan
Whole Foods Co-op, Duluth, Minnesota
Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op, St. Paul, Minnesota
The Merc Community Market & Deli, Lawrence, Kansas
New Leaf Market Co-op, Tallahassee, Florida
Los Alamos Cooperative Market, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Hanover Consumer Co-op, Hanover, New Hampshire
Wild Oats Market, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Eastside Food Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Belfast Cooperative, Belfast, Maine
Bluff Country Co-op, Winona, Minnesota
First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op, Corvallis, Oregon
Lexington Cooperative Market, Buffalo, New York
Rising Tide Community Market, Damariscotta, Maine
Chico Natural Foods Cooperative, Chico, California
Weaver’s Way Co-op, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Blue Hill Co-op, Blue Hill, Maine
Seward Community Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Grain Train Natural Foods Market, Petoskey, Michigan
One Degree Organic Foods, B.C., Canada
Nature’s Path Foods, Blaine, Washington and B.C., Canada
Organic Consumers Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance
Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Brussels, Wisconsin

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The Vermont Traditional Foods and Health Symposium, September 25-27http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/vermont-traditional-foods-health-symposium-september-25-27/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=vermont-traditional-foods-health-symposium-september-25-27 http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/vermont-traditional-foods-health-symposium-september-25-27/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:49:04 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13274 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

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VTTradFoods2014

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.

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How the USDA’s New ‘Chicken Rule’ Could Change What You Eat, and How It’s Inspectedhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/usdas-new-chicken-rule-change-eat-inspected/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=usdas-new-chicken-rule-change-eat-inspected http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/usdas-new-chicken-rule-change-eat-inspected/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:55:54 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13272 YouTube.com In one of the most far reaching changes in U.S. meat inspection history, federal regulators this fall will allow poultry plant employees – instead of USDA inspectors – to help determine whether chicken is contaminated or safe to eat, a move critics fear could spread to beef and pork processing plants. Indeed, a severe shortage of federal inspectors in slaughterhouses is so widespread that critics and some inspectors claim some meat in supermarkets stamped

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YouTube.com

In one of the most far reaching changes in U.S. meat inspection history, federal regulators this fall will allow poultry plant employees – instead of USDA inspectors – to help determine whether chicken is contaminated or safe to eat, a move critics fear could spread to beef and pork processing plants.

Indeed, a severe shortage of federal inspectors in slaughterhouses is so widespread that critics and some inspectors claim some meat in supermarkets stamped as “USDA inspected” may never have been inspected at all.

Mike McGraw reports: read the full story from The Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT at http://kcpt.org.

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Organic And I Know Ithttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/organic-know/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=organic-know http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/organic-know/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:21:47 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13264 YouTube.com Enjoy this organic parody of  “Sexy And I Know It” by LMFAO. ▶ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewholefooddude ▶ Green Juice & Smoothie Recipes: http://www.thewholefooddude.com Luke Nicoloau – Cinematography Phil Hancock – Music Production: http://www.youtube.com/philhancockmusic Sarah Mae – Making this idea a Reality: http://www.youtube.com/sarahmaevegan Red Foo & Blue Sky for Party Rocking!!! Thanks to: Northey Street City Farm: http://www.nscf.org.au Froothie: http://www.froothie.com.au Buchi Kombucha: http://www.buchi.com.au Coochin Hills Organics: http://www.coochinhillsorganics.com.au Sun and Earth Organics: http://www.sunandearthorganics.com.au

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YouTube.com

Enjoy this organic parody of  “Sexy And I Know It” by LMFAO.

▶ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewholefooddude
▶ Green Juice & Smoothie Recipes: http://www.thewholefooddude.com

Luke Nicoloau – Cinematography
Phil Hancock – Music Production:
http://www.youtube.com/philhancockmusic
Sarah Mae – Making this idea a Reality:
http://www.youtube.com/sarahmaevegan
Red Foo & Blue Sky for Party Rocking!!!

Thanks to:

Northey Street City Farm:
http://www.nscf.org.au
Froothie:
http://www.froothie.com.au
Buchi Kombucha:
http://www.buchi.com.au
Coochin Hills Organics:
http://www.coochinhillsorganics.com.au
Sun and Earth Organics:
http://www.sunandearthorganics.com.au

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High Levels of Fungicide Found in Pregnant Women Living Near Banana Plantationshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/high-levels-fungicide-found-pregnant-women-living-near-banana-plantations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=high-levels-fungicide-found-pregnant-women-living-near-banana-plantations http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/high-levels-fungicide-found-pregnant-women-living-near-banana-plantations/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:40:42 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13253 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

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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.

Mancozeb is a common agrochemical used on a variety of crops here and around the world. The fungicide is registered with the Plant Health Department for use on bananas, plantains, peppers, beans, potatoes, watermelons and tomatoes, among other foods.

Berna van Wendel, a professor with the National University’s Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances, which conducted the study, told The Tico Times that the problem did not just affect workers at the plantation but the wider community as well. The report argued that the inverse relationship between ETU exposure and distance from the area where the fungicide was applied suggested that aerial exposure was the most likely source of the chemicals.

“Few women work in the agricultural sector, which led us to believe that this is a problem for the wider environment,” van Wendel said, noting that direct exposure is not necessary to see elevated levels of ETU in the body.

“The weather is hot and their homes are build to let the air in. It’s not easy to avoid contact with these chemicals so we suggested reducing the amount of chemicals at the source,” she said.

Van Wendel said that other countries, like Argentina, required a 500-meter buffer between the community and the field where crop dusters work. The report recommended reducing the frequency of aerial applications, using application methods that keep agrochemicals from drifting into the community, and that clothes used in the fields not be washed at home.

“It’s important to review the current legislation on required distances for the application of pesticides by air,” she said, noting that several people interviewed in their research complained about the crop dusters buzzing the banana fields near where people live.

Sergio Laprade, coordinator for the National Banana Corporation, CORBANA, told The Tico Times that the trade group took the report seriously but had some concerns with its conclusions.

The CORBANA representative clarified that women are not allowed to work with agrochemicals after they report that they are pregnant, in reference to the report’s mention of women washing clothing exposed to the fungicide. Laprade said that all contaminated clothing was washed in automatic machines.

Laprade added that the report’s recommendations regarding expanding the distance crop-dusters can be from populations missed what he considered the more important factor: weather. He said that weather conditions, especially wind, were more important for controlling the spread of the agrochemicals.

“You could be 100 meters away and if the wind if blowing the damage could be serious,” he said.

Laprade said that Costa Rica’s aerial application regulations were based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards in California. Crop dusters cannot apply agrochemicals within 30 meters of a barrier, typically a line of trees, between the plantation and the community.

Laprade said that aerial application of mancozeb and other agrochemicals by the banana industry is regulated by the government and certified by international observers.

“We’re visited by international observers. Our aerial applications are in line with the law. We’ve never been told that we’re not in compliance with the law,” he said.

The report, however, argued that the problem has more to do with lax laws, not whether or not they are followed.

The CORBANA representative pointed out that the report did not take into consideration whether the exposure could have come from ground application of pesticides, which is not regulated in Costa Rica. Laprade said that CORBANA would consult a toxicologist to assess the report’s findings.

Van Wendel said that her team was collecting data about children’s development in the communities, including 12-month check-ups for height, weight and development. The current report did not address whether any of the children born to the study’s mothers had any birth defects because the sample size was too small, according to the researcher.

Bananas are an important commodity in Costa Rica. Exports of the fruit were valued at over $828 million in 2013, second only to Intel microprocessors, according to figures from the Foreign Trade Ministry.

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The Drought Is Destroying California’s Organic Dairy Farmshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/drought-destroying-californias-organic-dairy-farms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=drought-destroying-californias-organic-dairy-farms http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/drought-destroying-californias-organic-dairy-farms/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:43:28 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13258 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 Grist by Madeleine Thomas “Roll down your window for a second and tell me what you smell,” Rosie Burroughs instructs me.

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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.

CAdroughtNRCS
Credit: NRCS

Grist
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….

Click here to continue reading this story by Madeleine Thomas in Grist.

 

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GMOhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/gmo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gmo http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/gmo/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 19:41:11 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13251 Vimeo by The Lexicon of Sustainability GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms. They are created when scientists take DNA from one plant species and add it to the DNA of another and they’re probably already in what you eat and what you wear. Jessica Lundberg of Northern California’s Lundberg Family Farms advocates initiatives that would impose mandatory labeling of food products using GMO ingredients because she believes consumers have the right know what’s in their food.

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Vimeo
by The Lexicon of Sustainability

GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms. They are created when scientists take DNA from one plant species and add it to the DNA of another and they’re probably already in what you eat and what you wear. Jessica Lundberg of Northern California’s Lundberg Family Farms advocates initiatives that would impose mandatory labeling of food products using GMO ingredients because she believes consumers have the right know what’s in their food.

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Taxes, Subsidies Could Encourage Healthier Diet, Lower Healthcare Costshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/taxes-subsidies-encourage-healthier-diet-lower-healthcare-costs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taxes-subsidies-encourage-healthier-diet-lower-healthcare-costs http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/taxes-subsidies-encourage-healthier-diet-lower-healthcare-costs/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:37:01 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13246 Science Daily Credit: Lance Cheung, USDA In a Viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of Boston researchers call for the implementation of taxes and subsidies to improve dietary quality in the United States. The researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital write that policies taxing nearly all packaged foods and subsidizing healthier foods could both help people make meaningful

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Science Daily

Credit: Lance Cheung, USDA

In a Viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of Boston researchers call for the implementation of taxes and subsidies to improve dietary quality in the United States. The researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital write that policies taxing nearly all packaged foods and subsidizing healthier foods could both help people make meaningful dietary changes and substantially reduce health care costs.

“With climbing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses helping to drive health care expenses to an all-time high, we are at a crossroads,” said first author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “The strategies we rely on now — labels on food packages and dietary guidelines — place responsibility squarely on the shoulders of individual people to find, purchase, and eat healthy foods. Given the complexities of our modern food environment, that is an uphill battle. We must start looking at enacting policies that help people navigate our complex food environment and adopt a healthier way of eating.”

Mozaffarian; senior author David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital; and co-author Kenneth S. Rogoff, Ph.D., Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and professor of economics at Harvard University say the goal of taxes and subsidies is to improve overall dietary patterns rather than reduce calorie intake. They suggest a 10-30% flat tax on nearly all packaged foods, as well as foods served at most chain restaurants and by large cafeteria vendors. This tax revenue would be used to offset the cost of subsidizing healthier foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, beans, and whole grains, including in supermarkets and served to children in schools and afterschool programs.

“We are encouraged by existing research linking public awareness campaigns and changes in the food supply to declines in cardiometabolic risk factors and chronic disease,” Ludwig said. “It’s clear that poor nutrition has a major role in some of the leading American health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. We must act now to reduce the financial barriers to more sensible dietary choices and help people live long, productive lives.”

Over time, the size of the tax could be on a sliding scale depending on nutritional quality, a tactic the authors hope would prompt restaurants and food manufacturers to produce healthier products. “We believe our proposal of a food tax and subsidy system would be faster to implement than other approaches,” Rogoff added. “Reducing the rate of diet-related diseases and their economic costs would be a huge economic and welfare boost to Americans, and help relieve pressures on the health care system.”

Prior research has shown that higher quality diets typically cost about $1.50 more per person per day. “With a modest 10-30% tax on most packaged foods, healthy foods such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables could be subsidized to cost pennies to consumers,” Mozaffarian said. “This would dramatically reshape the food supply, help to reduce nutritional and health disparities amongst the poor and other disadvantaged Americans, and potentially save billions of dollars in year in health care costs for diet-related diseases.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tufts UniversityNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dariush Mozaffarian, Kenneth S. Rogoff, David S. Ludwig. The Real Cost of FoodJAMA, 2014; 312 (9): 889 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.8232

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Anna Lappé & Food MythBusters — Do We Really Need Industrial Agriculture to Feed the World?http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/anna-lappe-food-mythbusters-really-need-industrial-agriculture-feed-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=anna-lappe-food-mythbusters-really-need-industrial-agriculture-feed-world http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/anna-lappe-food-mythbusters-really-need-industrial-agriculture-feed-world/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:09:01 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13244 YouTube How can we feed the world—today and tomorrow? The biggest players in the food industry—from pesticide pushers to fertilizer makers to food processors and manufacturers—spend billions of dollars every year not selling food, but selling the idea that we need their products to feed the world. But, do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world? Can sustainably grown food deliver the quantity and quality we need—today and in the future? Our first

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YouTube

How can we feed the world—today and tomorrow?

The biggest players in the food industry—from pesticide pushers to fertilizer makers to food processors and manufacturers—spend billions of dollars every year not selling food, but selling the idea that we need their products to feed the world. But, do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world? Can sustainably grown food deliver the quantity and quality we need—today and in the future? Our first Food MythBusters film takes on these questions in under seven minutes. So next time you hear them, you can too.

For more information, Sources & Citations, credits, and database of the research sources used:
www.foodmyths.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FoodMythBusters
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Monarch Butterflies Dying — and Roundup Is a Suspecthttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/monarch-butterflies-dying-roundup-suspect/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=monarch-butterflies-dying-roundup-suspect http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/monarch-butterflies-dying-roundup-suspect/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:15:09 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13234 The Des Moines Register by Mike Klein Credit: Susannah Rogers, USDA Forest Service The monarch butterfly weighs a fourth of a gram, yet migrates thousands of miles every September through Iowa to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The iconic orange-and-black butterfly marks changing seasons. Chasing it is a rite of Iowa early childhood and watching its life transformations in classrooms is a thrilling memory, as it was for two school groups this week. But earlier in

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The Des Moines Register
by Mike Klein

Credit: Susannah Rogers, USDA Forest Service

The monarch butterfly weighs a fourth of a gram, yet migrates thousands of miles every September through Iowa to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

The iconic orange-and-black butterfly marks changing seasons. Chasing it is a rite of Iowa early childhood and watching its life transformations in classrooms is a thrilling memory, as it was for two school groups this week.

But earlier in the week, a leading monarch scientist announced that the monarch may be heading closer to its death. Lincoln Brower joined three nonprofit groups in a petition of the government to save the monarch from steep population decline, saying the main cause is agricultural practices in fields — the same fields Iowa children see out their schoolroom windows.

Liz Block, a retired teacher who was conducting a volunteer monarch presentation to elementary students Wednesday, said it was hard to find monarch eggs on fewer milkweed plants this year. Then a caterpillar climbed to the top of a classroom terrarium to make its chrysalis.

“The children just rushed up to see it,” she said. “The control was gone. It just captures the kids. If you are a spiritual person, it’s a metaphor. If you are a naturalist, it’s a wonderful thing to watch.”

In Dallas County on the same day, naturalist Chris Adkins was giving a similar presentation when the shouts of a young schoolgirl girl rang out. “It’s wiggling!” Again, the children rushed to the terrarium. “In 30 seconds we watched that chrysalis split open and watched a butterfly emerge,” Adkins said. “Every kid in there was wide-eyed and slack-jawed.”

But the monarch is in trouble, says Brower, the renowned monarch researcher from Sweet Briar College. He made national news last year when his yearly monarch count in the overwintering grounds in Mexico showed a 90 percent decline in monarchs over 20 years.

At their peak, migrating monarchs covered 45 acres of Mexico wintering grounds in 1996 but only 1.7 acres last year. Anecdotal reports indicate a possible weather-related rebound this year, but the trend has been downward for two decades.

It’s why on Monday Brower joined three nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rule the monarch butterfly threatened and give it Endangered Species Act protection.

His studies have included visits to Iowa, a state that historically has been a prime territory for their birth, but now is at the center of his criticism.

He blames the decline in migration numbers on the widespread use of Roundup herbicide, used to kill milkweed but not the genetically-engineered row crops resistant to it. Milkweed is the monarch caterpillar’s only food.

Habitat has also declined in Mexico and in the U.S., where development and increased corn production to meet the demand for the biofuel industry has decreased acreage in government conservation programs.

Loss of monarchs a widespread problem

Brower calls the monarch the “canary in the cornfield,” signaling widespread problems in the insect world, which include the vital loss of pollinators, such as bees, vital to our food supply.

“What the monarch is telling us is we are up against the wall and we’d better start thinking about it hard,” he said. “The monarch is a symbol of a bigger biological problem.”

It’s why he visited the Iowa acreage of Bill and Sibylla Brown in Decatur County in mid-July. The Browns have restored 200 acres of oak savanna, prairie and wetlands on their property, where he was astounded to find nine species of milkweed.

“We understand that not everyone can do what we are doing,” Bill Brown said. “People have to make money off their land. But there has to be a balance. In Decatur County there are 20,000 acres that could be just like this.”

Other solutions include planting roadside ditches with native plants such as milkweed. Iowa has been a national leader in that effort since 1988. The Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of Northern Iowa produces seed for 1,500 acres and works with 80 Iowa counties on their roadside vegetation programs. The center has been busy producing seeds for three varieties particularly vital to monarchs — butterfly milkweed, swamp milkweed and Sullivant’s milkweed.

CHART: Monarch colonies

The common milkweed once found with abundance in row crop fields and pulled by Iowa farmers when fields were walked prior to widespread chemical spraying is not part of the seed mix near farm lands. But it is just as vital to monarchs.

Many of the monarchs later found in Mexico were produced on those common milkweeds, said center director Laura Jackson. “Who would have ever thought monarchs and milkweed would be in trouble 20 years ago,” she said.

Other organizations are urging private landowners, even folks with little backyard flower gardens, to help by planting so-called “monarch way stations” that include milkweed plants.

“We really need to have much greater buy-in from Iowa,” said Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas that promotes way stations. “We have more in the eastern U.S. But Iowa is where the monarchs are produced. Iowa is very clearly fading as a monarch habitat.”

Iowa has 198 monarch way stations, versus 763 in Michigan and 316 in bordering Minnesota, he said.

Brower fears the solutions won’t be enough, so he asked the government to protect the monarchs.

If the petition is ruled “substantial” after a 90-day service review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials say, it will move to a more rigorous review and study. The process can often take years. If the monarch is ruled threatened, it can get special protection and restrictions from activities that are proven to diminish its population, and recovery plans are implemented.

A change in ag methods needed

Brower said a change in our agricultural methods is needed.

“I think industrialized chemical agriculture has reached a point of absurdity in terms of its impact,” he said.

Rick Robinson, environmental policy adviser for the Iowa Farm Bureau, said the known factors in monarch decline are the loss of habitat in its Mexico overwintering grounds and unfavorable weather.

“The milkweed decline is less certain,” he said, adding that the study that blamed herbicide use was faulty because there was no control portion, so it could be other factors in crop production causing it. “The ecology of the system is too complex to blame Roundup for the decline of milkweed or monarchs.”

Adkins and other educators will continue with their own solution — reaching children and parents with the story of the colorful butterfly.

During Adkins’ monarch tagging programs with Dallas County Conservation, this year on Sept. 8, 15 and 22, he tells the story of their life cycle, a magical transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, and their uncanny navigation skills during migration.

“You are holding a miracle in your hand,” he said.

“But I’m not in Disneyland and I ain’t Walt Disney. There is a dark side. There is one place on this planet that they go in the winter in Mexico and the trees there have been reduced by 40 percent. They say, ‘Someone has got to stop those Mexicans.’ But wait a minute. Where do they spend their lives?”

He shows them a map of Iowa’s vegetation, one where more than 99 percent of the prairie has disappeared.

“As a society we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to trade miracles for monoculture,” he said.

Then Adkins has them release the monarchs with a prayer or salutation to wish them well.

“It’s just a gift to watch people’s faces as the monarchs fly away with their good wishes and good hopes,” he said.

To help

Monarch Watch’s Monarch Waystation seed kits are available for $16 and include nine varieties of nectar and monarch host plants as well as a detailed “Creating a Monarch Waystation” guide. For more information, go to shop.monarchwatch.org or call 800-780-9986. An Iowa business that sells native seeds for plants that attract butterflies is Ion Exchange. Go to ionxchange.com for more information.

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