Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:42:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Groups Petition for Emergency EPA Action: “In Wisconsin, Kewaunee County water problems need federal intervention”http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/groups-petition-emergency-epa-action-wisconsin-kewaunee-county-water-problems-need-federal-intervention/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=groups-petition-emergency-epa-action-wisconsin-kewaunee-county-water-problems-need-federal-intervention http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/groups-petition-emergency-epa-action-wisconsin-kewaunee-county-water-problems-need-federal-intervention/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:42:35 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=14200 Source: Steve Johnson On October 22, 2014, environmental protection groups formally requested federal action on groundwater contamination issues in Kewaunee County. Thirty percent of tested drinking water wells have unsafe levels of bacteria, high nitrate levels or both. Midwest Environmental Advocates joined Clean Wisconsin, Environmental Integrity Project, Midwest Environmental Defense Center, Kewaunee CARES and the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin to jointly file a written Petition for Emergency Action detailing the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exercise its emergency

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Source: Steve Johnson

On October 22, 2014, environmental protection groups formally requested federal action on groundwater contamination issues in Kewaunee County. Thirty percent of tested drinking water wells have unsafe levels of bacteria, high nitrate levels or both.

Midwest Environmental Advocates joined Clean WisconsinEnvironmental Integrity ProjectMidwest Environmental Defense CenterKewaunee CARES and the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin to jointly file a written Petition for Emergency Action detailing the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exercise its emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal pollution cleanup laws. These laws empower the EPA to step in to provide safe drinking water in an area where contamination poses serious public health threats.

“The people of Wisconsin can’t keep fighting our own state government to get the help and protections they need to be sure their drinking water is safe,” said Kimberlee Wright, Midwest Environmental Advocates’ Executive Director. “The water pollution problem in Kewaunee County is so serious that we have to ask the federal government to do what our state government can’t or won’t.”

Petitioners are asking the EPA to investigate the source of contamination, take action to address the source of the problem, and provide clean drinking water to residents. The EPA took similar action to help manage nitrates in the groundwater of the Lower Yakima Valley in Washington State in 2012. The petition also builds upon ongoing local efforts including the recent 20-0 Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors vote seeking to limit winter manure spreading in the areas most susceptible to groundwater pollution.

“The state of Wisconsin has not used its authority to protect the citizens of Kewaunee County and citizens in other karst regions of the state,” said Dean Hoegger, President and Executive Director of the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin. “The EPA must step in to reverse the trend of increasing and serious drinking water contamination in light of the state’s failure.”

Portions of Kewaunee County are especially susceptible to groundwater pollution because they have shallow soils overlaying fractured carbonate bedrock (karst), resulting in the rapid movement of contaminants, including bacteria and nitrates. Even a single exposure to Salmonella or Campylobacter jejuni, pathogenic bacteria which have been found in some of Kewaunee County’s wells, have been known to cause serious illness or death. High nitrate levels pose significant risks to children and pregnant women including blue baby syndrome, a life threatening condition that limits the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the brain.

Despite well-documented pollution, including a comprehensive task force report conducted in 2007, Kewaunee County’s groundwater issues have been largely untouched by local and state officials throughout the past decade. Agriculture is not the sole cause of the contamination but is a major contributor. Intensive agricultural practices are on the rise in Kewaunee County, which has the highest concentration of large livestock confinements of any county in the state.

Records show that the animals on Kewaunee’s largest farms, combined, produce the biological waste equivalent of 900,000 humans annually, about nine times the size of the population of the City of Green Bay. Nearly 340 million gallons of liquid manure is spread annually throughout the county.

Midwest Environmental Advocates is currently representing Kewaunee County citizens in a challenge to a water discharge permit for an expansion at one of the Kewaunee County’s largest CAFOs, in part to address the lack of monitoring in an area so susceptible to groundwater contamination that it is already heavily polluted.

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Consumer Reports Poll Finds Doctors Concerned About Animal Antibiotic Usehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/consumer-reports-poll-finds-doctors-concerned-animal-antibiotic-use/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=consumer-reports-poll-finds-doctors-concerned-animal-antibiotic-use http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/consumer-reports-poll-finds-doctors-concerned-animal-antibiotic-use/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:09:11 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=14195 Food Safety News Source: Alex Prolmos Physicians are concerned about the agricultural practice of giving antibiotics to healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention, according to a poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center poll. The national poll, conducted last month, questioned 500 family practice and internal medicine physicians and found that 93 percent said they are concerned about animal antibiotic use. Eighty-five percent of the doctors said they had treated a

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Food Safety News

IMG_0613Source: Alex Prolmos

Physicians are concerned about the agricultural practice of giving antibiotics to healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention, according to a poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center poll.

The national poll, conducted last month, questioned 500 family practice and internal medicine physicians and found that 93 percent said they are concerned about animal antibiotic use.

Eighty-five percent of the doctors said they had treated a patient with a suspected or confirmed case of an antibiotic-resistant infection within the past year.

“This poll underscores how important it is to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics,” said Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We’re calling on supermarket chains — which have huge leverage with meat producers — to help end the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.”

On Thursday, Consumers Union also delivered a letter signed by 2,000 medical professionals to Trader Joe’s headquarters in California asking that the grocery chain only sell meat from animals raised without sub-therapeutic antibiotics.

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Follow the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in Louisville, KY #NOSBhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/follow-national-organic-standards-board-meeting-louisville-ky-nosb/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=follow-national-organic-standards-board-meeting-louisville-ky-nosb http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/follow-national-organic-standards-board-meeting-louisville-ky-nosb/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:28:06 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13809 Last Updated: 10-30-14, 3:38 p.m. ET Join The Cornucopia Institute as we live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. We will be sharing the play by play with our Twitter followers under #NOSB or simply follow our stream. If you’re not already following us on Twitter, please do so here. Read The Cornucopia Institute’s written comments to the NOSB here. You can also stay updated throughout the meeting right here:

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CI_NOSBKentuckyTwitterOctLast Updated: 10-30-14, 3:38 p.m. ET

Join The Cornucopia Institute as we live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. We will be sharing the play by play with our Twitter followers under #NOSB or simply follow our stream.

If you’re not already following us on Twitter, please do so here.

Read The Cornucopia Institute’s written comments to the NOSB here.

You can also stay updated throughout the meeting right here:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

3:38 p.m. ET:  Following lunch, the NOSB returns to its business and elects its officers for next year.  Jean Richardson (consumer rep) is elected chair, Tracy Favre (conservation rep) is elected vice-chair, and Harold Austin (handler, Zirkle Fruit) is elected secretary.

The NOSB turns its attention to work items for 2015.  More than 100 synthetic and non-organic materials are coming up for sunset review – a daunting task to ensure a full and proper assessment of each substances essentiality and the human health/environment impacts.

Miles McEvoy estimates that $3 million would be required for technical reviews of each substance.  To see a discussion of how lacking this has been at times in the past, see http://www.cornucopia.org/USDA/OrganicWatergateWhitePaper.pdf.

Before adjourning the semiannual meeting, the board honors its four members whose terms expire at the end of this year.

11:29 a.m. ET:  The board votes 12-3 against the removal of tragacanth gum from the National List.

Then they move to take another brief break.

11:25 a.m. ET:  NOSB brings back the tabled motion to consider relisting of tragacanth gum.

Joe Dixon (retailer, Whole Foods) indicates that the fact that a certifier has one client using this material is sufficient to him to indicate tragacanth gum is essential.

Jay Feldman (enviro, Beyond Pesticides) asks if the the new letter from the user of the material that was given to the board yesterday was untimely.

Cornucopia contacted the original petitioner for the allowed use of this material three times.  They never responded, nor did they submit any information in support of keeping this material on the National List.

11:13 a.m. ET:  The full board votes 9 to 6 against removing aqueous potassium silicate from the list.

Prior to the sunset changes imposed by the USDA in Sept. 2013, this material would have no longer been allowed for use in organics. This cuts to the core of the argument that the new process means the sun will never set on nearly every non-organic and synthetic material on or added to the National List.

11:06 a.m. ET:  NOSB considers relisting of aqueous potassium silicate.  When is was initially approved for use, the Crops Subcommittee determined that it was not essential and it was not compatible with organic agriculture – yet it was still approved by the full board.

11:00 a.m. ET:  After a brief break, the NOSB turns to sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate.

No discussion. Board votes 10-5 to reject removal from the National List.

See Cornucopia’s comments on why we opposed the relisting of sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate: http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/

10:31 a.m. ET:  Jay Feldman (enviro rep and Beyond Pesticides):  No motion is required by the full board level for this material; no criteria provided for review as required.  I will vote against this.

Zea Sonnebend (scientist rep and CCOF employee):  Couldn’t disagree more with Jay

NOSB board votes 11-3, with one abstention, against removal of sulfurous acid from the National List.

10:22 a.m. ET:  Nick Maravell (farmer): We have process colliding with substance.

Harold Austin (handler rep): This is about soil health; this does it for farmers in the drier arid areas.

Francis Thicke (envir rep and farmer): We can argue whether or not we should farm in the desert; this product will help in those areas.

10:12 a.m. ET:  Question of how sunset works again rises as board considers voting on sulfurous acid.

Colehour Bondera (farmer rep):  Are we looking at the material or at the process?  We cannot isolate them.

10:03 a.m. ET:  Crops Subcommittee begins discussion of sulfurous acid and its relisting on the National List.

9:53 a.m. ET:  Inert ingredients, added to chemicals used in organic pest control, should be thoroughly reviewed and approved.  Inerts can have their own damaging impacts.  This has been a long simmering item before the NOSB.  An udpate of its status was provided by program staff concerning the working group working on this.

Jay Feldman (enviro rep from Beyond Pesticides):  I appeal to the program to bump this up to a higher priority and move this along.  He wryly observes, “Hurry up and do this before I die.”

Feldman has extensive knowledge on this topic from his years of work on this issue with BP.  It’s most unfortunate that more progress was not made during his 5 year term on the board, which ends this meeting.

9:32 a.m. ET:  Jennifer Taylor (consumer rep) asks the NOSB to tell the NOP to stop work on the drafting of aquaculture rules.

Miles McEvoy:  That would not be a good process  It would be appropriate for the program to finish the draft rules, then open for public and board feedback.

Tracy Favre (enviro/cons rep):  Many of us have concerns, but let the process move forward.

No further action taken by board.  McEvoy indicated on Tuesday that drafting of the rules was underway.

Given the pace of this process, Cornucopia believes it will take many more months for these to be released (if not longer).

9:23 a.m. ET:  The NOSB unanimously votes to send this matter to the USDA’s National Organic Program for resolution.

9:19 a.m. ET:  NOP Director McEvoy:  This will take resources; board could help us prioritize this type of work.  GMO vaccines not authorized by regulation and will take us some time for analysis.

Jean Richardson:  We can’t get the information we need to develop an approved list of vaccines.  Companies won’t provide confidential information.  This has to go back to the government/NOP to get that type of information.

Nick Maravell:  To keep this issue within the NOSB would be the definition of insanity.  We would need a lot of resources to pursue.

8:58 a.m. ET:  Jean Richardson (consumer rep): This isn’t an easy issue; we should remind poultry producers that they can petition for an exception (such as for salmonella).

Nick Maravell (farmer): It is possible to make vaccines without GMOs.  It has been done for 100+ years.  If we aren’t firm on this, there will be no incentive (for development).

8:42 a.m. ET:  The Livestock Subcommittee is up and discussing the thorny issue of GMO vaccines used in livestock production.

For more on Cornucopia’s position on GMO vaccines, go to http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/ and read the fall meeting comments.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

4:59 p.m. ET:  Handling Subcommittee is nearly done, than the Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee will be up, focusing on an assessment of soil conservation practices.

4:27 p.m. ET:  NOSB moves on to discussion of non-organic and synthetic materials that are scheduled for sunset in 2016.  No votes on these materials will occur at this meeting, only a preliminary discussion.  See Cornucopia’s comments for a full roster of these materials at http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/.

4:14 p.m. ET:  Nick Maravell: If the industry is moving away from carrageenan to gellan gum, this shows cooperation.

Joe Dixon: There was no checklist used as part of the review.

NOSB votes to keep gellan gum on the National List by 12-3 vote.

4:06 p.m. ET:  Joe Dixon (retailer, Whole Foods): New information from one user leads us to believe tragacanth gum is needed.

Zea: This material is probably worth keeping and giving it the benefit of the doubt.

Harold: Lack of any public comments for continued use of this material lent us to think that we should remove.  Then we got this new information from one user of the material yesterday that changed our mind.

Joe Dixon: Handling Subcommittee did not use the checklist (that other committees use) on health, environmental impact and essentiality.

Board tables vote until tomorrow.

3:57 p.m. ET:  Procedural motion on point of order fails, 9-6.  Voting fault line closely resembles Cornucopia analysis of  NOSB member votes over the past 5 years.

3:52 p.m. ET: The Cornucopia Institute summarizes the debate:

Jay: “Protect the process”
Zea: “Get the job done, leave the politics behind”
Jay: “The process protects the outcome”

3:51 p.m. ET: Subcommittees absolutely followed the procedures, says McEvoy.

3:49 p.m. ET:  Zea (scientist): You are saying the only way the full board can be on the record is by the subcommitee making a motion to remove (Q to Miles McEvoy).

Not a problem for this meeting, McEvoy says, because all materials have that motion at this meeting.

3:46 p.m. ET:  Tracy Favre:  These are interim solutions … we are on a moving train.  Failure to move on these materials leaves further uncertainty in the industry.  This is an opportunity for us to move forward while recognizing that there are things we can do to make the process better.

3:44 p.m. ET:  Responding to a question from Nick Maravell (farmer), Miles says the plan is to work with the Policy and Procedures Subcommittee to further clarify this process.  The memo that was sent to the board a few weeks ago only pertains to this meeting on how things work.

3:42 p.m. ET:  Miles McEvoy: Subcommittees have a role to play; it is only the full board that makes those final recommendations.  He says that procedures were clarified in a memo to the board a few weeks ago.  NOSB is responsible for reviewing all materials under sunset process.

3:35 p.m. ET:  Jay Feldman (envir. rep and Beyond Pesticides): The process is almost as important as the outcome.  It hurt me to find out that members were meeting privately to develop the new procedures, and not as the full board.

We constantly hear how we must honor prior boards and procedures.  That is not being done.

3:30 p.m. ET:  Zea Sonnebend (scientist rep and CCOF employee): I do not trust motives of my colleagues on the board … they might want to remove all materials from the list.  Leave the politics to the politicians and allow us to do our job — NOP should tell us how to do this. Zea gets applause.

3:25 p.m. ET:  Mac Stone (certifier rep) says he thinks it should be harder to get materials on the national list and harder to take them off (which is the newly instituted process).

John Foster (handler rep from EarthBound) wants to vote on every material.

Tracy Favre (envir. rep), tends to agree with John and Mac.  Risk that people may misunderstand subcommittee votes is a risk on every material.

Harold Stone, (handler rep from Zirkle): Let’s give this new process a try and see what we can make of it.

Colehour (farmer): We all need to be following the same process …. (and) we don’t.

3:15 p.m. ET:  We need to start this (process) out right and do it well:  Colehour Bondera (farmer).  If the NOP wants to issue a new federal register notice with some corrections, then they should get right on it …. We aren’t able to speak (now) in a coherent manner on this process.

3:11 p.m. ET:  Francis Thicke (farmer) adds that in his subcommittee (Crops) similar problems arose when members voted to remove a substance without really intending to vote that way when the full board weighs in.  Misleading or confusing the public has consequences.

3:07 p.m. ET:  Nick Maravell (farmer) argues that the maker and seconder of the motion should truly believe in their motion, otherwise confusing to the public when they vote against their own motion.

3:02 p.m. ET:  Handling Subcommittee turns to tragacanth gum.  Jay Feldman (Beyond Pesticides) raises a point of order challenging the way the motion was brought to the board.  Board discussing how this fits into the new sunset process.

2:59 p.m. ET:  Handling Subcommittee votes to withdraw algal flour recommendation and reconsider. The petitioner finally provided some more information on the manufacturing of this substance in their written and oral testimony.

2:56 p.m. ET:  NOSB Handling cCommittee moves to center stage.  Handling Subcommittee withdraws current glycerin recommendation so they can reword it.

Very difficult material, lot of moving parts, want to make sure when they come back with a proposal it would be a good proposal.

2:33 p.m. ET: Marty Mesh for Florida Organic Growers, long time certifier, has the last word from the public in the morning.

Marty Mesh
Charlotte Vallaeys

2:29 p.m. ET:  Charlotte Vallaeys of Consumers Union says of Sunset changes:  broken promises hurt consumer confidence.  She also tells the NOSB that Consumers Union is opposed to substituting algal oil for eggs and milk (real organic food).

12:04 p.m. ET: Growers and a product manufacturer testify about the use of sulfurous acid. Gerald Davis, from Grimway Farms, advocates for continued use of sulfurous acid as a soil amendment for acidic soils and reducing irrigation needs, fertilizer use, and improving crop quality. The machine costs at least $30,000 though, so not available for all scales of agriculture.

Cornucopia’s Will Fantle

11:42 a.m. ET:  Cornucuopia Codirector Will Fantle congratulates the NOSB for reclaiming some of their authority with the chairing of the meeting and reestablishment of the policy and procedures subcommittee.  He calls for the development of new technical reviews for the 100+ synthetic and non-organic materials coming up for review in 2017, as many  of the initial reviews were poorly done.  And he decries the languishing of enforcement action against the giant Shamrock factory dairy in AZ, that was found guilty of organic violations by the USDA in 2011 (based on a Cornucopia complaint in 2008), but is still operating under appeal.

10:39 a.m. ET: John Brunquell of Egg Innovations says methionine use in poultry operations is an animal welfare issue. He says they need continuing access to vaccines (such as a salmonella vaccine). He lobbies for letting birds outside.

John Brunquell
Mitch Blumenthal

10:35 a.m. ET: Mitch Blumenthal is a self-defined tree hugging, dirt loving farmer and owner of Global Organics Specialty Source (an organic produce supplier). Expresses concerns about the intersection of GMOs and crops/seeds. We “can’t let” this label be diluted. He is also a Cornucopia policy advisor.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite
Cornucopia

10:23 a.m. ET:  Cornucopia staff member Rebecca Thistlethwaite speaks to the NOSB about animal vaccines.  The NOP needs to produce a list of which animal vaccines may be made using genetic engineering techniques. The NOSB has asked for this, but the NOP has not delivered.

Thistlethwaite also addresses the use of sulfurous acid, saying it can help reclaim high pH soils and water. Yet there are serious safety issues in operating sulfur burners and they can emit sulfur dioxide emissions. We need more information in order to relist this material.

Alexis Baden-Mayer

9:15 a.m. ET: Alexis Baden-Mayer, of the Organic Consumers Association, tells the NOSB to reclaim their power to restore the sunset process. Notes that the OCA is in communication with 2 million consumers and this is a very hot item for these people, and nearly 100,000 have signed a petition protesting the sunset changes.

Allison Leathers

10:10 a.m. ET: Kelly Shea speaks in favor or renewal of gellan gum, says markets for organic farmers will be reduced without. Shea does not tell the board and public that she is an executive of WhiteWave.

9:48 a.m. ET:  Allison Leathers, who grew up on a sheep farm in MN and is studying to be an extension agent, notes that healthy soils are the foundation of organic agriculture.  She asks for improvements to organic system plans that would have inspectors visit farms during different seasons to get a fuller picture of land management practices.  Allison is a citizen lobbyist for Cornucopia.

Joan Levin & Robin Migalla

9:41 a.m. ET: Proud citizen lobbyists and volunteers for Cornucopia Joan Levin and Robin Migalla present testimony to the NOSB. Joan, an organic enthusiast who followed J.I. Rodale, called for the removal of boiler chemicals up for sunset — all three fail federal OFPA criteria She added that food processing agents SAPP and TSPP are not essential and shouldn’t be renewed.

Robin Migalla discussed gellan gum, a highly processed synthetic material with isopropyl alcohol residues. When the original petitioner asked for this substance to be listed, they described it as a non-organic synthetic substance. Yet the word synthetic has been removed from the listing. Cornucopia opposes its relisting.

Dimitria Stephens

9:24 a.m. ET: 5th generation farmer from Kansas, Dimitria Stephens, supports the thorough review of all materials. “We want the NOSB to feel empowered to do what they need to do.” She also noted her role as an official of the certifier OCIA.

Linley Dixon, Cornucopia

9:13 a.m. ET: Aimee Simpson, staff attorney for Beyond Pesticides, provides a detailed breakdown of federal law as it relates to the “Sunset” of non-organic materials and synthetics. She outlines how the new process arbitrarily established by the USDA violates the law. She urges the NOSB to request that the USDA “revoke” the September 2013 memo that set the new procedures.

9:08 a.m. ET: Cornucopia’s Dr. Linley Dixon discusses the damage being done by persistent pesticides that remain in compost and take years to break down. She has seen the problem on her own farm. There is a need to ban these persistent pesticides across the country.

Harriet Behar, MOSES

8:53 a.m. ET:  Harriet Behar, of MOSES, demands fair compensation for organic farmers affected by pesticide drift.

8:41 a.m. ET:  Mac Stone, NOSB member from the certifier community, offers some opening remarks from his Kentucky perspective.  He says because of the turmoil at the last meeting, he “uninvited” the KY state secretary of agriculture.  He also uninvited Wendell Berry.  Didn’t want them to get the wrong impression about organics.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5:18 p.m. ET:  Alexis Randolph, from certifier QAI, tells the NOSB that they have one client who uses tragacanth gum.

Phil LaRocca, organic winemaker from California, concludes the public testimony. He calls for the removal of marsala and sherry as non-organic ingredients, noting that there are organic versions available that can meet the need.  He also tells Miles McEvoy that organic farmers are concerned about the impact of and threat posed by GMOs.  He has been collecting comments from organic farmers for the past several months and will be sharing them with the NOP.

There will be more public testimony on Wednesday.

The NOSB will spend the remainder of its meeting time today hearing from its subcommittees, with a close look at research priorities for organic food and agriculture.

Pat Kerrigan

3:59 p.m. ET:  Pat Kerrigan of the Organic Consumers Association calls on the NOSB and the USDA to require companies to submit manufacturing information for vaccines used in organic livestock agriculture.  Companies producing GMO vaccines have been reluctant to share this information.  Kerrigan says if the vaccine is going to be used, the companies need to petition to ensure that the manufacturing process is fully reviewed and compatible with organics.

3:46 p.m. ET: CP Kelco representatives call for renewal of gellan gum as an allowed substance.

The representative of Hains Celestial calls for renewal of gellan gum, sodium acid pyrophosohate, and activated charcoal for use in their products.

Brad Alstrom

3:38 p.m. ET:  Brad Alstrom, of the Blooming Foods Co-op with 12,000 members in Bloomington, Indiana, mentions the co-op is a long time Cornucopia member. He testifies as a Cornucopia citizen lobbyist and asks for removal of ferric phosphate.  The Cornucopia Institute opposes the relisting of ferric phosphate because it is not effective without chelating agents that have known negative impacts to human health and the environment.

3:06 p.m. ET:  Gwendolyn Wyard, of the OTA, focuses on the need for reapproval of gellan gum, encouraging  stability for organic businesses, especially those moving away from carrageenan.  And she mentions that adequate amounts of organic gylcerin exist to allow for the removal of the non-organic version from the National List.

Starr Molle, of Organic Valley, speaks in support of a dairy cow treatment, Acidified Sodium Chlorite, that is used as a teat dip.  Will be on a future meeting agenda.

2:38 p.m. ET:  Urvashi Rangen of Consumers Union discusses why they have downgraded the USDA organic label from their highest standard to meaningful. She indicates that they see added value from coupling organic with biodynamic or organic with certified humane.  Consumers are getting smarter and smarter about these labels and what they are offering.  You are getting beaten by these other labels that are offering something.

Max Rangen NOSB
Urvashi Rangen
Max Rangen

Max, Urvashi’s 8 year old son, told the board about his organic diet, what organic means, and what it should mean.

Dag Flack

1:52 p.m. ET:  As public testimony resumes after lunch, Dag Flack, of Nature’s Path, challenged the USDA on the sunset changes and asked the NOSB to take action.

He said he was “baffled” by and was “at a loss” about the NOP’s logic (or lack thereof) in changes that changed an act of nature (the setting sun) by an artificial construct (the sun never setting) …. Materials never coming off the List unless a supermajority of the NOSB takes action.

Brad Russell

12:21 p.m. ET:  Louisville resident, a stone mason and local musician, Brad Russell spoke as a citizen lobbyist for Cornuocopia.  He noted how he has personally benefited from an organic diet.

Addressing the use of hydrogen cholride he said that the 2003 TR from Hydrogen Chloride does not discuss the latest research by USDA/ARS Researcher Greg Holt, who is currently in the final stages of developing a mechanical delinter. What it would take to bring mechanical delinting from these final research stages into commercial production is unknown because of an outdated TR.

11:57 a.m. ET:  Jake Lewin, representing certifier CCOF, indicates that he shares “many of the sentiments” expressed by Jim Pierce of Oregon Tilth pertaining to the National Organic Program.

OSGATA’s Jim Gerritsen

11:54 a.m. ET: Lisa Bunin, of the Center for Food Safety, hands out copies of their new report on the incompataibility of organics with ocean based aquaculture systems.

11:42 a.m. ET:  Jim Gerritsen, representing the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and a Cornucopia policy advisor, shared images of his home farm in Maine.  He criticized the appointment of individuals to NOSB slots that don’t fit the legal criteria, particularly to the farmer slot.  He also spoke against the changes to Sunset, saying “we will not abide.”  He also responded to questions about genetic engineering and its impact on organic farmers and their right to farm the way they choose.

NOC’s Liana Hoodes

11:42 a.m. ET:  Also speaking for the National Organic Coalition, Liana Hoodes says, “Let’s stop saying that loud and public criticism is hurting organics.”  She adds that the use of synthetics is meant to be an exception.

11:38 a.m. ET:  Jim Pierce, an Oregon Tilth employee, mentions in a humorous light that they are the best.  On a serious note, he tells the NOP “good job.”  He adds, “we agree with most NOP decisions.”

Cornucopia Codirector
Mark Kastel

11:34 a.m. ET:  Cornucopia’s Kastel: “Mr. McEvoy, there has been an overwhelmingly negative response to the unilateral power grab by the USDA. But what has been your response? You are now holding listening sessions and meeting with NGO leaders. But you still seem to not hear the message.  You know, it is self-serving to quote some who are telling you that they support …. Off the record.”

11:11 a.m. ET:  Public testimony begins: Steve Etka, representing the National Organic Coalition, expresses their discontent with the Sunset changes, which he says turns the process on its head.

A “high hurdle” was set by the organic law requiring a supermajority to renew or re-list the synthetics that come before the board.

11:05 a.m. ET:  New NOSB chair Jean Richardson (consumer rep), prior to public testimony, makes a few announcements.  She says several things have been “corrected” for this meeting, stating that the NOSB “is once again chairing the meeting.”

She also mentions that the NOSB policy and procedures subcommittee has been “reactivated,” after the USDA had discontinued the committee earlier this year.  One of their tasks will be developing a new policy on annotations, something that the USDA had discontinued.

Annotations, or stipulations, had previously been used to limit the way specific materials could be used.  One recent example was the USDA’s refusal to attach an annotation (that the NOSB had passed) prohibiting the use of carrageenan in infant formula.

10:53 a.m. ET:  Dr. Lisa Brines, the National List Manager at the NOP, says in her report that the majority of the 200+ non-organic and synthetic materials allowed for use in organics will be up for review in 2017 (and Sunset process).

Betsy Rakola, USDA Organic Policy Advisor

10:17 a.m. ET:  The new USDA Organic Policy Advisor, Besty Rakola, is presenting her overview of the work underway to integrate organic policy inside the various arms of the USDA.  This is her first NOSB meeting.

10:03 a.m. ET:  NOSB board member Jay Feldman (Beyond  Pesticides) questions McEvoy about his characterization of a climate of “intimidation” which McEvoy says is preventing some people from voicing support for the USDA’s changes in organic governance.  Feldman notes that the simple expression of a viewpoint by members of the public may be perceived as intimidating by some.

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of non-profit groups, like Cornucopia, have been strongly critical of the USDA’s changes imposed on the NOSB.

9:42 a.m. ET:  As  he continues his remarks, Miles McEvoy says he was surprised that only 60 people were on an Oct. 16 conference call and listening session organized by the NOP to gather feedback on the NOSB.  Cornucopia’s report on that call noted that the commentors were overwhelmingly critical of the changes to organic governance and authority.

McEvoy says he hears more support for the changes during his travels but that those individuals are “fearful” to speak out.

9:34 a.m. ET:  McEvoy says that National Organic Program staff has grown to 43, from 11 when he started.  He mentions that NOP worked to provide information to the FDA for the draft of the new produce food safety rule (Cornucopia is currently analyzing the new draft from FDA).

So far a record number of complaints have been filed with the NOP this year: 411.  “I think that’s good,” he says, explaining that the public is watching organic activities.  Two-thirds of complaints concern uncertified operations, with 20% involving labeling or fraud violations.

9:19 a.m. ET:  Miles McEvoy, the head of the National Organic Program, gives his report to the NOSB and public.  He notes that the long awaited Origin of Livestock rule will likely be released in the first half of next year (he had called this a priority in April 2010).  Clarity on nanotechnology will be provided next year, based on another several-year-old NOSB recommendation (see this Fall’s Cultivator from Cornucopia for more).  Aquaculture will not be ready in the near future.

NOSB Barrier9:00 a.m. ET:  Fall NOSB meeting opens in Louisville.  Note the new barrier put in place to slow or block protestors from coming to the front of the room (last meeting was adjourned temporarily when protestors from the Organic Consumers Association voiced their displeasure with the USDA’s unilateral changes to the governance and authority of the NOSB).

 

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Biotech and Agribusinesses Spending Heavily to Defeat State GMO Food Labeling Voteshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/biotech-agribusinesses-spending-heavily-defeat-state-gmo-food-labeling-votes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=biotech-agribusinesses-spending-heavily-defeat-state-gmo-food-labeling-votes http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/biotech-agribusinesses-spending-heavily-defeat-state-gmo-food-labeling-votes/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:04:49 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13414 The Cornucopia Institute releases shopper’s guide red-flagging pro/con food brands involved with Colorado and Oregon Initiatives    [Contribution data will be updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis until election day, and a final poster will be published in early December.] INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED 10-29-14: DuPont adds another $4.4 million to the NO side coffers, with Coca Cola pushing another $468K towards a NO vote and Kellogg pumping an additional $250K towards a vote opposing GMO food

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The Cornucopia Institute releases shopper’s guide red-flagging pro/con food brands involved with Colorado and Oregon Initiatives    [Contribution data will be updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis until election day, and a final poster will be published in early December.]

INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED 10-29-14: DuPont adds another $4.4 million to the NO side coffers, with Coca Cola pushing another $468K towards a NO vote and Kellogg pumping an additional $250K towards a vote opposing GMO food labeling.  The Big Food and Biotech forces have now spent nearly $33 million opposing the consumers’ right to know that is in their food.  The YES side has raised about $9 million, with significant new donations from the Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety and Lemelson Vineyards.  Full details on corporate spending in the updated infographic below. 

INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED 10-23-14: New money for the NO side comes from Big Food and Biotech interests as DuPont/Pioneer throws in $3 million, Monsanto adds another $2.5 million and Coca Cola spends another $+1 million fighting the consumers right to know what is in their food.  New money supporting the YES vote comes from Clif Bar ($35K) and Hain Celestial ($35K).  The NO forces have raked in nearly $26 million while supporters of GMO food labeling have raised a little more than $8 million. Full details on corporate spending in the updated infographic below.

INFOGRAPHIC UPDATED 10-16-14: More new money from Big Food and Biotech interests flows into fight against GMO food labeling votes in Oregon and Colorado. Coca Cola drops $1.168 million, Pepsi puts up another $1 million, Kraft adds another $870K, with Land O’Lakes putting in an additional $900K. Supporting the consumer’s right to know, the Center for Food Safety adds $1 million, Dr. Bronner’s puts in another $285K, Presence Marketing adds $175K and the Organic Consumers Association spends another $100K. The NO vote forces are outspending supporters by more than 3 to 1. Full details on the updated infographic below.  

UPDATED AGAIN  10-8-14:  Kellogg drops $250K against GMO food labeling + other contribution updates to the YES and NO positions.

UPDATE 10-2-14:  Cornucopia’s GMO food labeling infographic has been updated and now includes the contributions made to the Oregon Right to Know committee, which was organized to help get Measure 92 on the ballot. (Information on contributions for petition gathering are listed separately by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office and were not previously included.)  This update also includes significant additional contributions reported over the last couple days to both the Vote Yes on Measure 92 committee in Oregon, and the Right to Know Colorado committee.  Stay tuned for additional revisions of this infographic based on campaign finance reporting deadlines in Oregon and Colorado!

For a larger, easier to view version of the infographic please click on the image. Once downloaded (please be patient) you can click a second time to enlarge that further. A high-resolution file, suitable for enlargement and printing, can be found at the linked pdf below the graphic image.

Cornucopia, WI: Citizen initiatives on the November 4 ballots in both Colorado and Oregon would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. The pending votes have sparked a high-priced battleground pitting consumer and farmer advocates against multi-billion-dollar agribusiness corporations.

Opposition to the state food labeling measures is coming from giant biotech companies (DuPont, Dow and Monsanto), that sell genetically engineered crops, and the well-heeled Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a national business lobbying organization. Millions of dollars are being spent on the two campaigns with advertising blitzes underway.

Now The Cornucopia Institute has released a detailed infographic that reveals which food companies are supporting or opposing the food labeling initiatives (with many of the major manufacturers opposing passage owning leading brands in the natural/organic marketplace).

Measure 92 Prop 105

(click on the image above to view a quick loading larger version,
and then click on it again for an even larger version
)

Download High Resolution PDF for printing purposes by clicking here

“Many consumers will likely be surprised to learn that owners and management of some of their favorite organic and natural brands are fighting against the right of consumers to know what is in their food,” says Mark Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group. “We want to spotlight this issue so that consumers can vote in the marketplace for manufacturers and brands that reflect their personal values.”

Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients (commonly called GMOs — standing for genetically modified organisms) at the state level is viewed as a watershed event by many industry observers, given the prolonged inaction at the federal level. Earlier this year Vermont passed a state law requiring GMO food ingredient labeling, and the states of Connecticut and Maine have adopted similar legislation that will take effect when other neighboring states pass such laws.

Last year a state GMO food labeling initiative was narrowly defeated in Washington by a 51-49 percent margin. In California in 2012, a GMO food labeling initiative lost by a similarly slim margin. Biotech interests spent close to $50 million opposing the initiatives in California and Washington. And the GMA and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), another trade-lobby group, are now suing Vermont over its legislatively adopted food labeling law.

At the national level, Monsanto, its biotech allies, and the GMA in particular, have been credited for bottlenecking action on a federal law although they have recently rallied behind a new proposal that would outlaw state GMO food labeling laws while permitting “voluntary” labeling by companies of such ingredients (voluntary labeling is already being allowed by the FDA).

More than 60 countries around the world require the labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients. “Interestingly, in Europe where GMO labeling is required, consumers overwhelming choose to buy organic and non-GMO products,” said Kastel. “The industrial food lobby is fully cognizant of the European experience and what’s at stake — that’s why they’re fighting like hell against these grassroots efforts in states like Colorado and Oregon.”

North America’s largest independent organic breakfast foods manufacturer, Nature’s Path, has been actively promoting and funding a “yes” vote. “Nature’s Path USA has supported citizens’ fundamental right to know if their food contains GMOs, with a simple label declaration. Then they can choose whether or not they want to buy it,” says Arran Stephens, the company’s CEO and cofounder.

“One of many great qualities of organic agriculture is in the superior taste and higher nutrient profile — the natural result of a farming system that emphasizes long term soil fertility, farm family security and non-toxic ecological balance,” Stephens added.

Other prominent commercial backers of state citizen initiatives, viewed as heroes in the organic movement, include Dr. Bronner’s and Bob’s Red Mill.

“As a lover of science and as an activist, it’s clear to me that labeling genetically engineered food just makes sense. Consumers have a right to know whether the food they’re eating has been genetically engineered to withstand huge amounts of pesticide that contaminates our food, wreaks havoc in the environment and ends up on our dinner plates,” says the company’s CEO David Bronner, describing why the company has donated $715,500 to the state initiative campaigns.

Additional organizations throwing their financial weight behind the consumer’s right to know include the Organic Consumer’s Fund, Food Democracy Action and Mercola.com and Presence Marketing.

The biggest single donor to the “NO” vote is biotech giant Monsanto, having poured more than $6.3 million into the state campaigns. Pepsi has donated $2 million and General Mills has donated more than $1.5 million. Other heavyweight opponents include Kraft, Dow AgroSciences, J.M. Smucker, Land O’ Lakes and ConAgra.

All told, opponents of the consumers’ right-to-know what is in their food have already raised more than $15.1 million, while supporters of the state initiatives have gathered nearly $3.3 million.

“We doubt if loyal customers of Naked Juice (PepsiCo), Dagoba chocolate (Hershey’s) RW Knutson or Santa Cruz juices (Smuckers) realize that their corporate parents are taking the profits from their patronage and stabbing them in the back by investing to defeat GMO labeling on food packages,” the Cornucopia’s Kastel lamented.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in ‘voting with their forks,’ and many want to support companies that share their values,” notes Jason Cole, a researcher for Cornucopia who compiled the data for the infographic. “We hope the information we are providing on corporate involvement with the upcoming votes on food labeling will help consumers make informed choices in grocery store aisles.”

Supporters of Measure 92, the GMO food labeling initiative in Oregon, have raised $2.96 million with opponents of the initiative collecting $5.41 million according to state records.

In Colorado, supporters of Proposition 105, the GMO food labeling initiative, have raised $320,000 while opponents of the initiative have collected $9.7 million.

Data for the campaign contributions was gathered from appropriate state regulatory agencies.

The Cornucopia Institute’s board of directors has formally endorsed the Oregon state initiative (they have yet to meet and take action regarding the Colorado initiative).

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Organic the Real Natural: Jackie Kellerhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/organic-real-natural-jackie-keller/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=organic-real-natural-jackie-keller http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/organic-real-natural-jackie-keller/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:06:36 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13804 Organic The Real Natural Sponsored by OFARM (Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing) What’s the best way to prevent water pollution from farm chemicals? Jackie Keller, an organic farmer in Kansas, says the answer is simple: “Don’t use them in the first place!” Her water quality award shows organic farming is the way to go.

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Organic The Real Natural
Sponsored by OFARM (Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing)

What’s the best way to prevent water pollution from farm chemicals? Jackie Keller, an organic farmer in Kansas, says the answer is simple: “Don’t use them in the first place!” Her water quality award shows organic farming is the way to go.

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2,4-D Crops Rubberstampedhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/24-d-crops-rubberstamped/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=24-d-crops-rubberstamped http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/24-d-crops-rubberstamped/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:29:15 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13801 Pesticide Action Network, North America by Linda Wells Source: Tom It’s official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical’s new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist, and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market. This is a turning point, not just for grain production, but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will

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Pesticide Action Network, North America
by Linda Wells

cornfield TomSource: Tom

It’s official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical’s new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist, and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market.

This is a turning point, not just for grain production, but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.

This is a decision that our regulators should not have taken lightly. And yet, it seems they did. Both USDA and EPA set up an intentionally narrow scope for evaluating the potential harms posed by 2,4-D resistant crops — one that ignored the biggest problems and held up irrelevant factors as evidence of safety.

As small farmers brace for the impact of pesticide drift that will hit with the introduction of Enlist crops, it is time for us to look forward. It’s time to demand a regulatory system that takes a rigorous approach to pesticides and genetically engineered crops, one that values small farmers as much as industrial agriculture — and public health as much as corporate profit.

It’s a set up

Dow Chemical’s Enlist seeds and pesticides passed this approval process with relative ease, despite extended public outcry from farmers, health professionals and communities across the country.

Dow, and the other “Big 6″ global pesticide corporations, would have us believe that this was a drawn-out, rigorous process that once again proves the safety and necessity of GE crops. The reality is that the whole process was a tricky sleight-of-hand: Enlist passed the test because the test itself was set up to be a cake-walk.

From the beginning, opponents of 2,4-D-resistant crops have focused on three main objections:

  1. Enlist crops will mean a massive increase in the use of the toxic and volatile chemical 2,4-D. Neighboring farms, especially those that grow fruits and vegetables, will be put at risk for increased crop damage. Their livelihoods will be threatened, and fruit and vegetable production will become an even riskier venture for U.S. farmers.
  2. Rural exposure to 2,4-D will also increase to unprecedented levels. 2,4-D is linked to cancer and reproductive harm, among other negative impacts. USDA itself predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500% and 1,400% over the course of nine years.
  3. Dow is presenting Enlist as the answer to farmer’s prayers about “superweeds,” an economic must-have that outweighs any side effects. But the truth is that superweeds were caused by Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready seed line, the current king of pesticide-resistant crops — and there’s nothing to stop weeds from developing resistance to 2,4-D just as they have to glyphosate, RoundUp’s active ingredient. USDA needs to invest in real solutions for weed management, not allow this false solution to exacerbate the problem.

And of these major points, how many were accounted for in the approval process run by USDA and EPA? Not a single one.

Agency hot potato

What happened? Well, to Administrators Tom Vilsack (USDA) and Gina McCarthy (EPA), when it comes to evaluating the safety of new GE crops, apparently the buck stops — somewhere else. Each agency accepted the narrowest possible interpretation of its responsibilities to safeguard our fields and families.

USDA essentially decided to only look at the damage that GE seeds themselves would cause, ignoring the threat of pesticide drift entirely — and passing the onus of evaluating pesticide-related issues to EPA.

Meanwhile, EPA did a rather shoddy job of addressing the health impacts of this dramatic increase in 2,4-D use. McCarthy didn’t consider the cumulative damage that will result from repeated 2,4-D exposures, and instead insisted that 2,4-D health impacts in general had already been evaluated by a previous process. As for crop damage from pesticides, well, crop damage is USDA’s domain. So EPA didn’t consider that issue at all.

And neither Vilsack nor McCarthy tackled the one of the biggest questions: Why would we put a product on the market that’s going to make superweeds even more out of control? As stated in a recent LA Times editorial:

No agency looks at the bigger policy question of whether the nation is embarking on a potentially dangerous path toward creating ever-more resistant weeds and spraying them and crops with larger and larger doses of stronger herbicides. That question should be answered before the country escalates the war out in the fields.

Hear, hear.

Do better.

It’s time to intercept this game of agency hot-potato with clearly defined directives for protecting farmers and rural families. PAN is joining allies in demanding that USDA and EPA produce a new, more robust process for the approval of GE crops — one that considers the full implications of new GE products before they hit the market, from pesticide drift to cumulative impacts.

No distractions, no loopholes. Let’s take our food and farming system seriously, and make decisions based on all of the facts.

Take action » Join PAN and partners in calling on President Obama to step in and keep 2,4-D crops from hitting the market. He has the authority to direct USDA and EPA to take a closer look at on-the-ground impacts and better protect community health and farmer livelihoods.

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EPA Approves Enlist Duo®, Opens Gate to New Wave of GE Woeshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/epa-approves-enlist-duo-opens-gate-new-wave-ge-woes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=epa-approves-enlist-duo-opens-gate-new-wave-ge-woes http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/epa-approves-enlist-duo-opens-gate-new-wave-ge-woes/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:49:04 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13797 Beyond Pesticides Despite a massive outpouring of public opposition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it has registered Enlist Duo®, officially putting the rubber stamp of approval on the sale and use of a new wave of genetically-engineered (GE) 2,4-D tolerant crops. Developed by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo® is an herbicide that incorporates a mix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, intended for use on GE Enlist-Duo®-tolerant corn and soybean crops. While registration

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Beyond Pesticides

enlist logoDespite a massive outpouring of public opposition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it has registered Enlist Duo®, officially putting the rubber stamp of approval on the sale and use of a new wave of genetically-engineered (GE) 2,4-D tolerant crops.

Developed by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo® is an herbicide that incorporates a mix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, intended for use on GE Enlist-Duo®-tolerant corn and soybean crops. While registration of the herbicide was anticipated by most of the public since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s approval of the Enlist Duo®-tolerant crops in mid-September, the announcement still comes as a disappointing shock, demonstrating the failings of the U.S. pesticide and agricultural regulatory system to put people and the environment before economic incentives and industry bottom lines.

“EPA approval of this herbicide sets a dangerous precedent,” says Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “Instead of looking to alternatives, regulators are signaling that the answer to widespread weed resistance is more toxic products that endanger farmworkers and farming communities.”

As Beyond Pesticides noted in its comments submitted to EPA in June of this year, the documented adverse effects of 2,4-D, a chlorophenoxy herbicide, are plentiful and include human health risks of soft tissue sarcomanon-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, and harm to the reproductive system. EPA’s own research suggests that babies born in counties where high rates of chlorophenoxy herbicides are applied to farm fields are significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits, and extra digits. These birth defects are 60-90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates. The results also show a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.

And it doesn’t stop with human risks. Environmental adverse effects also abound, stemming from EPA-acknowledged risk of increased-weed resistance.

There are concerning safety gaps in the human health risk assessment that Dow AgroSciences provided to EPA for Enlist-Duo®’s registration. These issues are compounded by EPA’s decision to waive the tenfold safety standards under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), as noted in a letter from U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to EPA, as well as dismiss the need for new tolerance assessments from aggregate exposures based on outdated data.

For these and other reasons, public opposition to both the clearance of Enlist-Duo®-tolerant seeds and registration of Enlist Duo® has been loud and clear. Over the 60-day public comment period for the Enlist Duo® seeds, which ended back in March, USDA received over 10,000 comments on its draft environmental impact statement and plant pest risk assessments. Of these comments, over 88%, including Beyond Pesticides, were opposed to the non-regulated status of the Enlist varieties. During a recent 30-day “review period” in August for the final environmental impact statement, the agency received 969 submissions. Again the majority did not support deregulation. Additionally the agency received over 240,000 signatures from three non-government organizations opposing the deregulation of the Enlist crops.

Regardless of public opposition and the science to back it, EPA insisted in its announcement yesterday that, “EPA scientists used highly conservative and protective assumptions to evaluate human health and ecological risks for the new uses of 2,4-D in Enlist Duo. The assessments confirm that these uses meet the safety standards for pesticide registration and, as approved, will be protective of the public, agricultural workers, and non-target species, including endangered species.”

Registration only applies to the use of the pesticide six states, (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) and further comments are solicited until November 14, 2014 for expansion of the registration to use of the herbicide in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota.

Beyond Pesticides has argued to EPA and USDA that the weed resistance in herbicide-tolerant cropping systems is escalating and not sustainable, contributing to a chemical-dependency treadmill. A 2011 study in the journal Weed Science found at least 21 different species of weeds to be resistant to applications of Monsanto’s Roundup.

Although touted to address this problem of resistance, research reveals weed resistance to 2,4-D is already developing in areas of the western U.S., even without the presence of herbicide-ready crops. Additionally, despite assertions to the contrary, a 2012 report shows that GE crops are responsible for an increase of 404 million pounds of pesticides, or about 7%, in the U.S. over the first 16 years of commercial use of GE crops (1996-2011). USDA’s own analysis finds that approval of 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans will lead to an unprecedented 2- to 7-fold increase in agricultural use of the herbicide by 2020, from 26 million to as much as 176 million pounds per year.  Even at current use levels, 2,4-D drift is responsible for more episodes of crop injury than any other herbicide. These alarming and ongoing problems point to systematic deficiencies in the current regulatory system and pesticide-use paradigm —new GE crops will not “solve” resistance issues, but merely push the problems of weed management further down the road.

Join Beyond Pesticides in continuing to fight against the dangerous wave of GE crops and chemicals! Visit our website to learn more about GE crops and how to keep them out of our environment and food!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: EPA

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COOL Updatehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/cool-update/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cool-update http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/cool-update/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:23:50 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13792 Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) On October 20, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that the U.S. country-of-origin labeling of meat violated international trade rules. WTO found that the goal of the labeling program was not illegal, but its implementation presented a trade barrier by treating Canadian and Mexican livestock less favorably than U.S. livestock. The United States has 60 days to appeal. In response, Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) has called on the

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Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC)

WORC-logoOn October 20, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that the U.S. country-of-origin labeling of meat violated international trade rules. WTO found that the goal of the labeling program was not illegal, but its implementation presented a trade barrier by treating Canadian and Mexican livestock less favorably than U.S. livestock. The United States has 60 days to appeal.

In response, Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) has called on the Obama administration to appeal the decision and urged Congress to resist efforts by labeling opponents to cripple or kill the labeling program and let this trade dispute run its course through the WTO’s appeal process. You can read WORC’s statement by Mabel Dobbs, a Weiser, Idaho rancher, here.

WORC continues to work with allies to keep — and even strengthen — the meat labeling program.

WTO’s decision muddies the water for the Obama administration’s push for “Fast Track” trade authority and two major trade pacts, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. Both of these treaties would open the United States to similar attacks on our consumer, health, land use, regulatory permits, environmental and other policies.

Our trade policy should strengthen, not weaken, the health, environment, food sovereignty, working conditions, labor rights, and transparent, competitive market principles of this country and all countries.

There’s more information on trade and WORC’s Trade Bill of Rights on our website.

It’s likely that Fast Track and attacks on country-of-origin labeling will come up in Congress after the November elections. WORC will work to provide the latest news and opportunities to voice public opinion on these issues.

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10 Best: Places to Dine Down on the Farmhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/10-best-places-dine-farm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-best-places-dine-farm http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/10-best-places-dine-farm/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:29:24 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13782 USA Today by Larry Bleiberg Source: Ralph Daily With farm-to-table restaurants booming in popularity, farms themselves are now getting in on the act, offering meals to diners craving super-fresh cuisine that’s often raised on site. “The producers are honoring the ground, presenting the fruits of their labor in a fun and delicious fashion,” says Matt Jones of Slow Food USA, an organization dedicated to sustainable, local agriculture. He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY. Many of these

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USA Today
by Larry Bleiberg

Source: Ralph Daily

With farm-to-table restaurants booming in popularity, farms themselves are now getting in on the act, offering meals to diners craving super-fresh cuisine that’s often raised on site. “The producers are honoring the ground, presenting the fruits of their labor in a fun and delicious fashion,” says Matt Jones of Slow Food USA, an organization dedicated to sustainable, local agriculture. He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY. Many of these meals are offered seasonally and often support food-based charities.

Fresh and Wyld Farmhouse Inn and Garden
Paonia, Colo.
On Friday nights from May through Thanksgiving, this inn sets a table replete with fresh ingredients, many grown on the farm or produced in the area. “It’s all organic and all local. It’s the epitome of a farm dinner,” Jones says. “It’s a very engaged agricultural community. This is our Shangri-La, our gem on the western slope of Colorado.” 970 527-4374, freshandwyld.com

Our Table in the Field
Sherwood, Ore.
This Portland-area farm regularly hosts meals built around food raised right in the area. “Typically the dinners showcase local culinary talent and raise money for non-profits,” Jones says. A recent dinner featured Pinot Noirs from the nearby Willamette Valley wine region. “It’s a shining example of the vast variety and biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest.” 503-217-4304; ourtable.us

Suzie’s Farm
San Diego
This farm near the Mexico border takes a playful approach to its dinners. “They have really fun parties. They’ll have music. As opposed to the formal sit-down dinners, it’s more of a celebration,” Jones says. In the past, organizers have themed events to the Day of the Dead, and have brought in food trucks to serve produce from the region. “There’s a lot of acknowledgment of the local cultural diversity.” 619-662-1780;suziesfarm.com

New Town Farms
Waxhaw, N.C.
Expect an elaborate and tasty meal at this Charlotte-area farm, which raises heritage and heirloom vegetables and livestock, including poultry and hogs. “Their dinners are spectacular. They’re loaded up and they’re exquisite,” Jones says. “They’re able to put together a full meal from the farm.” Proceeds benefit local charities. 704-843-5182;newtownfarms.com

White Oak Pastures
Bluffton, Ga.
This 150-year-old family farm located near the Florida border has adapted with the times, and focuses on the humane treatment of its grass-fed livestock. It runs a restaurant and offers seasonal Friday and Saturday night dinners served in the same farm kitchen used to feed employees. “They’re opening it up to the public and sharing the bounty of the farm,” Jones says. 229-317-0203; whiteoakpastures.com

Shelburne Farms
Shelburne, Vt.
Throughout the growing season, this famous New England farm and restaurant hosts upscale outdoor family-style dinners by its vineyard on the shores of Lake Champlain. The meal, which include cheeses, vegetables and other products from Vermont farm partners, benefits a charity that educates children about healthy eating and sustainable agriculture, Jones says. “The backdrop is fairly spectacular.” 802-985-8686;shelburnefarms.org

Spence Farm
Fairbury, Ill.
This multi-generation Midwest farm dates to 1830, but in the last decade has focused on increasing crop diversity and raising rare livestock breeds. “They’ve taken on rejuvenating the farm, raising a vast variety of heirloom products,” Jones says. “The lesser-known vegetables and breeds in their dinners set them apart.” The farm often collaborates with top chefs from nearby Chicago. 815-692-3336; thespencefarm.com

Glynwood Farm Dinners
Cold Spring, N.Y.
Monthly dinners showcase sometimes surprising seasonal products from New York’s Hudson Valley. Dinners are often topical, and have highlighted ingredients from goat meat to hard ciders. “They have wonderful stuff going on all the time up there,” Jones says. “I would fly there just to go to that cider dinner.” Often meals welcome a guest farmer as a speaker. 845-265-3338; glynwood.org

Fox Hollow Farm
Crestwood, Ky.
There’s no doubting the origin of the ingredients at a “Wheelbarrow to Table” dinner offered by this Louisville area cattle and vegetable farm, which brings in top chefs from the region. “It’s in an old Kentucky farmhouse, a simple expression of locality and freshness,” Jones says. 502-241-9674; foxhollow.com

Harley Farms
Pescadero, Calif.
This restored 1910 dairy farm produces award-winning goat cheeses and holds dinners year-round. A November five-course dinner in a restored Victorian hayloft offers barbecued Cornish game hens, lamb or skewers of fresh vegetables. 650-879-0480; harleyfarms.com

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New Report Finds Ocean-based Fish Farming at Odds with Organic Standardhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/new-report-finds-ocean-based-fish-farming-odds-organic-standard/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-report-finds-ocean-based-fish-farming-odds-organic-standard http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/new-report-finds-ocean-based-fish-farming-odds-organic-standard/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:37:58 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13762 Center for Food Safety Source: Joseph Azzopardi October 21, 2014 (Washington, DC)—Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) released a comprehensive, scientific report detailing why ocean-based aquaculture (fish farming) can never be certified organic.  In advance of USDA’s publication of regulations to govern organic aquaculture, CFS’s report, Like Water and Oil:  Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix, warns that permitting “organic” aquaculture at sea would put the entire U.S. organic industry in jeopardy by weakening

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Center for Food Safety

Source: Joseph Azzopardi

October 21, 2014 (Washington, DC)Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) released a comprehensive, scientific report detailing why ocean-based aquaculture (fish farming) can never be certified organic.  In advance of USDA’s publication of regulations to govern organic aquaculture, CFS’s report, Like Water and Oil:  Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix, warns that permitting “organic” aquaculture at sea would put the entire U.S. organic industry in jeopardy by weakening the integrity of the USDA organic label.  Fifty-three fishers, organic farmers, organic consumers, and animal welfare and environmental advocacy organizations endorsed the major findings of the Report in an Organic Aquaculture Position Statement.

“It’s mind-boggling to think that USDA would seriously consider allowing fish farms at sea to be organic,” said Dr. Lisa J. Bunin, Center for Food Safety’s Organic Policy Director and the report’s co-author.  “It’s absolutely impossible to control or monitor the wide range of substances, including toxic pollutants, that flow into and out of sea-based farms.”

Twenty-four million fish escapes have been reported worldwide in just over two decades (see report), based upon data compiled by CFS from available public records.  Escaped farmed fish can carry pathogens and diseases, restructure food webs through the introduction of non-native species competing for resources, and could lead to extinction of wild fish of the same species in certain areas.  This disruption of marine ecosystems violates one of the basic tenets of organic, which is to promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.

Based upon the Report findings, CFS has determined that:

Open-ocean fish farms can never be organic. Inputs and outputs to the system cannot be monitored or controlled and neither can a farmed fish’s exposure to toxic synthetic chemicals, which are prohibited under Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and present in the marine environment.

Farming migratory fish can never be organic. This statement holds true regardless of the type of system in which they are reared. That is because their confinement in fish farms would curtail their biological need to swim far distances, creating undue stress. Some migratory species are also anadromous, such as salmon, migrating between freshwater and the ocean during various life stages, a behavior not possible while in containment. The organic standards dictate that organic production systems must not the natural behaviors of farmed animals.

Farmed fish fed wild fish, meal or oil can never be organic. That is because OFPA requires that all certified organic species are fed an organic diet. Feeding farmed fish wild-caught fish and related by-products—fish meal and fish oil—would increase pressure on already over-exploited and recovering fisheries that form the basis of the marine food web. It would also decrease the food supply of a wide range of native, aquatic species, including seabirds and sea mammals, contravening the USDA organic biological diversity conservation requirements.

 “We believe that the strong findings contained in this Report warrant USDA’s withdrawal of plans to allow organic ocean-based fish farming,” Dr. Bunin said.  “To do less would be irresponsible organic policy-making, and it would do a disservice to the entire organic industry.”

Download the Executive Summary
Download the Report
Download the Position Statement and Endorsements

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