Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:07:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 DDT Quadruples Breast Cancer Risk, First-of-Its-Kind Study Showshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/ddt-quadruples-breast-cancer-risk-first-of-its-kind-study-shows/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/ddt-quadruples-breast-cancer-risk-first-of-its-kind-study-shows/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:07:08 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16921 Rodale News by Leah Zerbe Exposure to DDT in the womb significantly increases breast cancer risk years later, scientists say. Source: Francis Storr The U.S. government banned DDT more than 40 years ago, but this potent insecticide is still haunting us. Women exposed to higher levels of DDT while in their mother’s womb were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as women exposed to lower levels in the womb, according

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Rodale News
by Leah Zerbe

Exposure to DDT in the womb significantly increases breast cancer risk years later, scientists say.

Source: Francis Storr

The U.S. government banned DDT more than 40 years ago, but this potent insecticide is still haunting us. Women exposed to higher levels of DDT while in their mother’s womb were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as women exposed to lower levels in the womb, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

This decades-long study looked at 20,000 woman and nearly 10,000 of their daughters and provides more strong evidence that coming in contact with hormone-disrupting chemicals like DDT during crucial stages of development could trigger disease decades later in life. “This 54-year study is the first to provide direct evidence that chemical exposures for pregnant women may have lifelong consequences for their daughters’ breast cancer risk,” says one of the study’s authors, Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California. “Environmental chemicals have long been suspected causes of breast cancer, but until now, there have been few human studies to support this idea.”

Cohn says that many women who were exposed in utero in the 1960s, when the pesticide was used widely in the United States (including the highly estrogenic commercial DDT, o,p’-DDT), are now reaching the age of heightened breast cancer risk. DDT and similar chemicals tamper with the body’s natural estrogen hormone functioning, also increasing a person’s risk of birth defects, infertility, and type 2 diabetes. Another recent study even linked DDT exposure to Alzheimer’s disease.

In this latest study, researchers looked at DDT levels in the mothers’ blood while they were pregnant or just after delivery. They then studied the daughters to see how many developed breast cancer by age 52 (118 had). Scientists found that regardless of family history of breast cancer, higher levels of commercial DDT in the mother’s blood were associated with a nearly fourfold increase in the daughters’ risk of breast cancer.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DDT persists for a very long time in soil; half the DDT in soil will break down in 2 to 15 years. While DDT was sprayed on food crops, in barns, and even along roadsides while it was still legal to use, today, people’s main source of exposure comes from food, including fatty meats, poultry, fish and shellfish, and imported foods from countries that still allow the use of DDT to control pests. (It’s still allowed in many Asian and African countries.)

“This study calls for a new emphasis on finding and controlling environmental causes of breast cancer that operate in the womb,” Cohn said. “Our findings should prompt additional clinical and laboratory studies that can lead to prevention, early detection, and treatment of DDT-associated breast cancer in the many generations of women who were exposed in the womb. We also are continuing to research other chemicals to see which may impact breast cancer risk among our study participants.”

Investigating environmental hormone disruptors and the impacts they have on the body is an increasingly important area of research. “Puberty is of interest when studying breast cancer because early onset of menstruation in girls has been linked to higher risk for breast cancer and other reproductive cancers in adult women,” explains Julie Deardorff, PhD, coauthor of The New Puberty. “Many researchers are interested in whether there are common causes or environmental exposures early in life that might lead to early puberty and also increase risk for breast cancer later in life, like chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors.”

Eating lower on the food chain (fewer animal products) and eating domestically produced food can lower your exposure to DDT. If you are concerned or curious, you can learn more about testing for DDT or DDT breakdown materials in your body. Recent research also suggests maintaining a healthy gut can also lower your breast cancer risk.

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Down on the Farm with Tom Willeyhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/down-on-the-farm-with-tom-willey/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/down-on-the-farm-with-tom-willey/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:03:22 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16916 July 3, 2015 at 5 p.m. KFCF, 88.1 FM: Listen live here We must consider it a scientific fact that you are what you eat. The same molecules that make up the food we consume become those of our minds and bodies. “Down on the Farm” is hosted by California Certified Organic Farmer Tom Willey, who harvests beets artichokes, tomatoes, turnips, peppers, among a diversity of biologically grown crops on a family-owned farm in Madera.

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July 3, 2015 at 5 p.m.
KFCF, 88.1 FM: Listen live here

616px-Farmer_listening_to_crystal_radioWe must consider it a scientific fact that you are what you eat. The same molecules that make up the food we consume become those of our minds and bodies.

“Down on the Farm” is hosted by California Certified Organic Farmer Tom Willey, who harvests beets artichokes, tomatoes, turnips, peppers, among a diversity of biologically grown crops on a family-owned farm in Madera.

Tom’s focus is to help listeners be as informed as possible about the foods that grace their family’s tables. Each month’s program takes a deeper look into various aspects of progressive and environmentally conscious food production taking root on San Joaquin Valley farms.

Tune in to KFCF, 88.1FM from 5:00-6:00 p.m. every first Friday of the month, or listen to the show live online at that time.

 

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Nutrition Scientists on the Take From Big Foodhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/nutrition-scientists-on-the-take-from-big-food/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/nutrition-scientists-on-the-take-from-big-food/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:19:40 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16911 Eat Drink Politics by Michele Simon New Report from Eat Drink Politics asks: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility? In my new report, I expose the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the nation’s leading authority of nutrition scientists and researchers, for its cozy relationships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Mars, and even the Sugar Association. Such conflicts of interest are similar to those exposed in my previous report

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Eat Drink Politics
by Michele Simon

Nutrition Report_CoverNew Report from Eat Drink Politics asks: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility?

In my new report, I expose the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the nation’s leading authority of nutrition scientists and researchers, for its cozy relationships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Mars, and even the Sugar Association. Such conflicts of interest are similar to those exposed in my previous report about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Powerful junk food companies purchase “sustaining partnerships” from the American Society for Nutrition, gaining access to the nation’s leading nutrition researchers at their annual meetings, and in their policy positions. ASN’s “Sustaining Member Roundtable Committee” includes PepsiCo’s Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Science Officer at National Dairy Council.

Additional findings in the report include:

  • Of the 34 scientific sessions at ASN’s annual meeting, 6 were supported by PepsiCo
  • Other session sponsors included the Egg Nutrition Center, Kellogg, DuPont Nutrition and Health, Ajinomoto, and the National Dairy Council

  • The International Life Sciences Institute (a front group for Big Food and Big Pharma) sponsored a session on low-calorie sweeteners; speakers included a scientific consultant for Ajinomoto, which produces aspartame
  • The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group for the food and beverage industries, sponsored a symposium on sodium intake, noting “putative health concerns”
  • A session on “Sweeteners and Health” was sponsored by the Rippe Health Institute without disclosing that founder James Rippe is a consultant to the Corn Refiners Association, which represents makers of high fructose corn syrup
  • For $35,000, junk food companies can sponsor the hospitality suite at the annual meeting, where corporate executives socialize with nutrition researchers
  • Obesity researcher David Allison serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ASN’s flagship publication; he has been a consultant to The Sugar Association, World Sugar Research Organization, PepsiCo, Red Bull, Kellogg, Mars, and Dr. Pepper Snapple
  • Official spokespeople for ASN have conflicts with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, the American Beverage Association, General Mills, and Cadbury Schweppes
  • ASN published an 18- page defense of processed food that consists of numerous talking points for the junk food industry, such as “There are no differences between the processing of foods at home or at a factory”
  • ASN opposes an FDA proposed policy to include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel, at a time when excessive sugar consumption is causing a national public health epidemic.

The report concludes with a statement from Food Politics author and long-time ASN member Marion Nestle:

I think it’s important that professional societies like ASN promote rigorous science and maintain the highest possible standards of scientific integrity. Research and education about food and nutrition are easily influenced by funding from food companies but such influence often goes unrecognized. This means that special efforts must be taken to avoid, account for, and counter food industry influence, and organizations like ASN should take the lead in doing so.

You can read the entire report here. Thanks to the Alliance for Natural Health for collaborating on this report.

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The Canary in the Organic Coal Minehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/the-canary-in-the-organic-coal-mine/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/the-canary-in-the-organic-coal-mine/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:35:21 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16898 Organic Crops and Gardens Increasingly Contaminated by Persistent Herbicides by Linley Dixon, PhD This sunflower shows the leaf curl characteristic of poisoning by aminopyralid herbicide. In this case, the herbicide contamination came from horse manure. Photo by John Mason, www.geologywales.co.uk Nothing is more infuriating than first-hand accounts of “Big Ag” putting sustainable organic farmers out of business. Herbicide carryover in compost embodies this travesty in the same vein as chemical drift, GMO contamination, and the monopolies created when

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Organic Crops and Gardens Increasingly Contaminated by Persistent Herbicides

by Linley Dixon, PhD

This sunflower shows the leaf curl characteristic
of poisoning by aminopyralid herbicide. In this
case, the herbicide contamination came from
horse manure.

Photo by John Mason, www.geologywales.co.uk

Nothing is more infuriating than first-hand accounts of “Big Ag” putting sustainable organic farmers out of business. Herbicide carryover in compost embodies this travesty in the same vein as chemical drift, GMO contamination, and the monopolies created when seeds and genes are patented. [[1]]

Herbicide carryover (when persistent herbicides remain in compost, which then damages crops) may be initially hard to fathom, but occurrences are increasing due to the expanded use of certain persistent chemicals.

Here’s the calamity, for many family farmers, in a nutshell: broadleaf-specific herbicides sprayed on conventional pasture and hay fields pass unchanged through the digestive tract of farm animals, ultimately ending up in their manure, where the herbicides do not break down for many years, even when properly and thoroughly composted. [[2]] When contaminated compost finds its way into garden soil, crops will suffer. When that garden is your livelihood, it is tragic.

Soil type and environmental conditions affect the length of time that persistent herbicides are active, but damage to crops from a single application of contaminated compost is commonly reported to last several years. Symptoms resemble diseases caused by plant viruses and nutrient deficiencies; therefore, the problem is often misdiagnosed by extension agents, agronomists, and other experts. Testing is expensive and doesn’t detect the small amounts of herbicide that crops react to. Highly susceptible cash crops include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, beans, peas, spinach, carrots, and berries, among others. [[3]]

In the last few years, herbicide carryover has garnered attention as gardeners, organic farmers, commercial composting companies, and extension agents learn to recognize the diagnostic symptoms on crops and understand how prevalent persistent herbicides in compost and irrigation water have become. [[4],[5],[6],[7]]

In fact, the problem of persistent chemicals contaminating farms has become so mainstream that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been discussing the issue for the past year through a formal discussion document entitled “Protecting Against Contamination in Farm Inputs.” [[8]] On February 24, 2015, the NOSB Crops Subcommittee released a “Contaminated Inputs Plan.”[[9]] The plan considers various off-farm materials and addresses what contaminants might be present, whether they are of concern, and if they can be avoided. Unfortunately, this plan continues to place the burden on the farmer, not the contaminator. Nothing short of a ban on persistent herbicides by the EPA will prevent continued crop failures from these materials.

The NOSB plan to avoid contamination is nearly impossible to implement when contaminants arrive through irrigation water, or drift, and organic matter is sourced from multiple farms over many years. Currently, crop failures occur when inaccurate information regarding source material is relayed through the long supply chain (hay farmer to livestock rancher to composter to vegetable grower).

The NOSB proposal to require the farmer to conduct bioassay tests on compost to determine whether or not a contaminant may be present places an unrealistic burden on organic farmers given the time it takes for symptoms to develop, greenhouse space required, qualifications needed to properly diagnose symptoms, lack of uniformity in compost piles, and a continuous supply of varying source materials.

The suggestion that it is up to the farmer to prevent compost contamination is directly in line with the advice given by the chemical companies that profit from the sale of these persistent herbicides. In other words: it’s your problem, not mine.

Unacceptable Persistence

The EPA should never have approved herbicides that have the potential to persist for several years in the environment. Ironically, their ratings are designed to give potent, persistent chemicals the best EPA scores.

For example, chemicals are rated highly for requiring lower doses (i.e., highly potent) and less frequent applications (i.e., highly persistent). [[10],[11]] While low doses and fewer sprays sound good at first, chemicals that require low doses are more likely to cause damage to neighboring farms from drift. Chemicals that control weeds for a full season are more likely to contaminate other farms due to their persistence. Why chemicals receive the best environmental ratings for traits likely related to potency and persistence is counterintuitive.

Contamination events are still grossly underreported both in the U.S. and globally.  Farmers are not always qualified to know why crops are failing or showing reduced yields. Even scientific professionals often mistake symptoms from pathogens, nutrient toxicities, and herbicide damage without expensive, comprehensive testing. In addition, if farmers are able to determine that herbicide contamination has occurred, they may be unlikely to come forward due to potentially losing the ability to market their produce. If a system is in place to be compensated for financial losses due to herbicide carryover, farmers are much more likely to investigate and report when contamination has occurred.

Organic Farmers Should Have the Right to Clean Organic Matter

The incorporation of organic matter into the soil from a wide range of sources has been used to maintain soil fertility for over 10,000 years and is central to organic and sustainable farming. Incorporating organic matter and nutrients back into the soil prevents the need for synthetic fertilizers and mitigates pollution elsewhere. On- and off-farm inputs include compost, mined minerals, animal byproducts (fish, slaughterhouse waste), hay, mulches, and manures. Organic farmers provide a great benefit to society by recycling these waste products that will end up as hazards if not properly handled.

When organic matter becomes contaminated, humic acids and nutrients cannot be returned to the soil. Manure can contain other synthetic agrochemical residues that may not cause crop failures but still pose risks to consumers and the environment. Other contaminants include heavy metals, insecticide residues, and antibiotics. Herbicide contamination is perhaps “the canary in the coal mine” because of its direct impact on crop plants and farmer livelihood, but these other contaminants should not be discounted.

With the increase in the use of persistent chemicals, including herbicides and insecticides, organic farmers are no longer able to trust that organic matter inputs and irrigation water are free of these prohibited materials. Much like GMO contamination, it is nearly impossible for organic farmers to be clean of these materials once they are produced. Until persistent materials are banned, farmers should not be held responsible for contamination and should be compensated by the manufacturer of the herbicides for losses incurred.

NOSB: Action Steps Needed

The following items are currently missing from the NOSB’s Contaminated Input Plan. The Cornucopia Institute urges the NOSB to:

  1. Pressure the EPA to ban the persistent herbicides that have already caused widespread crop losses, including those in the pyridine carboxylic acid class.[[12]] The EPA must seriously consider the fate of herbicides in compost when evaluating the registration of products.
  2. Require organic manure and compost to be utilized when commercially available, much as is the case with organic seed.
  3. Require the manufacturer of persistent herbicides to be held liable for losses incurred to farmers from unintentional contamination.
  4. Increase awareness of the issue of contaminated farm inputs.

Please join The Cornucopia Institute in our fight to ban persistent herbicides by contacting your local and state representatives about your concerns.


[1] http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/weeds/weed-control-guides/nd-weed-control-guide-1/wcg-files/15-CO.pdf

[2] http://www.dowagro.com/range/aminopyralid_stewardship.htm

[3] http://www.the-compost-gardener.com/picloram.html

[4] http://csuhort.blogspot.com/2014/04/herbicide-carryover.html

[5] http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/milestone-herbicide-contamination-creates-dangerous-toxic-compost.aspx

[6] http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/wtr11Aminopyralid

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

[8] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5108939

[9] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5110812

[10] http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/ecorisk.htm

[11] http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/chem_search/cleared_reviews/csr_PC-005100_10-May-05_a.pdf

[12] http://vtdigger.org/2013/06/10/herbicide-that-contaminated-green-mountain-compost-now-effectively-banned-in-vermont/

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Insecticides May Affect Cognitive Development in Childrenhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/insecticides-may-affect-cognitive-development-in-children/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/insecticides-may-affect-cognitive-development-in-children/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:25:13 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16894 Nature World News by Jenna Iacurci Source: Jason Shultz Insecticides may affect cognitive development in children, according to a new study. Pyrethroid insecticides are one of the most commonly used pesticides, with benefits in a variety of sectors including residential pest control, public health and agricultural purposes. They can also be found in many domestic products such as lice shampoo and mosquito repellent. With more toxic compounds such as organochorides, organophosphates, and carbamate having been

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Nature World News
by Jenna Iacurci

Source: Jason Shultz

Insecticides may affect cognitive development in children, according to a new study.

Pyrethroid insecticides are one of the most commonly used pesticides, with benefits in a variety of sectors including residential pest control, public health and agricultural purposes. They can also be found in many domestic products such as lice shampoo and mosquito repellent.

With more toxic compounds such as organochorides, organophosphates, and carbamate having been banned due to health concerns, pyrethroids are now increasingly popular, and considered relatively safe for humans and mammals.v

Now, a study published in the journal Environment International provides new evidence of neurotoxicity in humans from pyrethroid insecticides. An increase in the urinary levels of two pyrethroid metabolites (3-PBA and cis-DBCA) in children is associated with a significant decrease in their cognitive performance, particularly in terms of verbal comprehension and working memory.

Pregnancy is also an important period of life for the future health of a child. So during the study, researchers from INSERM (or IRSET in English, standing for the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health) in Rennes, France studied a total of 287 mother-child pairs randomly selected from the PELAGIE cohort. This cohort, established between 2002 and 2006, considers exposure to pyrethroid insecticides during fetal life and childhood.

Psychologists assessed each child’s neurocognitive performances using the WISC scale – a combination of the verbal comprehension index (VCI) and working memory index (WMI).

Simultaneously, exposure to pyrethroid insecticides was estimated by measuring levels of five metabolites (3-PBA, 4-F-3-PBA, cis-DCCA, trans-DCCA and cis-DBCA) in urine from the mother and the child.

They found that an increase in two metabolites – 3-PBA and cis-DBCA – in children was associated with a significant drop in cognitive performance. Such a drastic decline, however, was not exhibited for the other three metabolites.

“Although these observations must be reproduced in further studies in order to draw definite conclusions, they indicate the potential responsibility of low doses of deltamethrine in particular (since the metabolite cis-DBCA is its main metabolite, and selective for it), and pyrethroid insecticides in general (since the metabolite 3-BPA is a degradation product of some twenty of these insecticides),” lead author Cécile Chevrier, INSERM Research Fellow, explained in a press release.

Not only that, but what’s also concerning is the fact that children are exposed to pyrethroids on a daily basis. That’s because kids stand closer to the ground where there is pollutant-containing dust, and because they have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact, researchers say.

In children, pyrethroids are mainly absorbed via the digestive system, but are also absorbed through the skin. These chemicals are rapidly metabolized in the liver, and mainly eliminated in the urine as metabolites within 48 hours.

Given these contributing factors and the neurotoxicity of pyrethroid insecticides, the researchers believe these contaminants negatively impact the nervous system and its development in children.

“The consequences of a cognitive deficit in children for their learning ability and social development constitute a handicap for the individual and for society,” added co-author Jean-François Viel. “The research effort needs to be pursued in order to identify causes that could be targeted by preventive measures.”

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No Organic Check-Off!http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/no-organic-check-off/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/no-organic-check-off/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:26:27 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16885 The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pushing a proposed USDA-sanctioned “check-off,” or tax on organic farmers and processors, to pay for research and promotion activities. But a growing number of organic farmers and organizations OTA works with are opposing the check-off scheme. Many of these same farmers have a bitter taste in their mouths from similar check-off taxes they experienced in conventional agriculture. Visit noorganiccheckoff.com to learn why opposition to this OTA scheme is mounting.

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NoCheckoffFBThe Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pushing a proposed USDA-sanctioned “check-off,” or tax on organic farmers and processors, to pay for research and promotion activities.

But a growing number of organic farmers and organizations OTA works with are opposing the check-off scheme. Many of these same farmers have a bitter taste in their mouths from similar check-off taxes they experienced in conventional agriculture.

Visit noorganiccheckoff.com to learn why opposition to this OTA scheme is mounting.

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Why Is Whole Foods Market Inc. Undermining Organic Farmers?http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/why-is-whole-foods-market-inc-undermining-organic-farmers/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/why-is-whole-foods-market-inc-undermining-organic-farmers/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:16:26 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16879 The Motley Fool by Rich Duprey Source: LearningLark The grocer has been a friend to organic growers up to now, but its new produce rating program might undo all the good work Whole Foods Market‘s (NASDAQ:WFM) new produce rating system might have been launched with the best of intentions, but we know what’s paved with such well-meaning works, and the grocery store chain is barreling down the highway full throttle. A responsibility to act “Responsibly

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The Motley Fool
by Rich Duprey

Source: LearningLark

The grocer has been a friend to organic growers up to now, but its new produce rating program might undo all the good work

Whole Foods Market‘s (NASDAQ:WFM) new produce rating system might have been launched with the best of intentions, but we know what’s paved with such well-meaning works, and the grocery store chain is barreling down the highway full throttle.

A responsibility to act
“Responsibly Grown” is Whole Foods’ attempt to quantify the entire farming process, from seed to harvest, worker to waste, and everything in between. It is using the results to provide customers with at-a-glance information about those foods that takes all those factors into consideration by ranking produce as good, better, or best (or unrated, if the farmers don’t participate in the program).

What Whole Foods’ Responsibly Grown program is actually doing is creating a schism in farming that might ultimately undermine the organic movement’s growth trajectory.

Because of the trail Whole Foods blazed in grocery retailing, smaller rivals such as Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market have flourished while traditional grocers such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, and even Costco — which is now the largest organic goods retailer, with an estimated $4 billion in annual sales this year — have rushed to build out their own offerings.

But all the competition has eaten away at Whole Foods’ leadership position, with sales in the second quarter falling short of analyst expectations and growth slowing to less than 4%. As it attempts to meet the threat by implementing programs such as Responsibly Grown that differentiate it from its rivals, “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” is also angering the very people who helped put Whole Foods in its preeminent position.

Opening up a wider lens on the industry
Responsibly Grown assigns ratings to produce based on seven broad factors:

  • Soil health
  • Air, energy, and climate
  • Waste reduction
  • Farmworker welfare
  • Water conservation and protection
  • Ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Pest management

Additionally, Whole Foods prohibits produce that has been irradiated or fertilized with treated municipal waste biosolids within three years of sale. Any genetically modified produce must also be labeled. Produce can earn a total of 300 points.

But because the program doesn’t give more weight to farmers who adhere to the federal organically grown standard — it gives them just 10 points — conventionally grown produce can and does earn higher rankings than organic produce.

Walk Whole Foods aisles and you’ll find produce from nonorganic farmers who have used standard fertilizers and pesticides earning a “best” rating while nearby organically grown produce is rated only “good” or “unrated.”

Considering organic produce is typically more expensive than conventionally grown food, the Whole Foods rankings could lead customers to buy more conventional produce, and that has a number of organic farmers angry.

An uneven playing field
In a letter sent to Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey, five prominent organic farms objected to how the program is being run. They said while they have enjoyed working with the grocery chain over the years, and as much as Whole Foods has helped educated the public on the benefits of eating organic, the Responsibly Grown program “is onerous, expensive, and shifts the cost of this marketing initiative to growers” while unfairly putting conventionally grown produce on an equal footing with organic.

The farmers say the USDA’s organic certification is the “gold standard” of labeling, so there’s no way conventionally grown produce should ever earn the “better” rating, let alone “best,” and there’s no way organically grown produce should be stuck with an “unrated” label. The produce has already been vetted by third parties, so organic farmers should at least earn extra points in each of those areas.

Indeed, the farmers made the case that since organic growers are already doing more to protect the environment and their workers from harm, factors that should be paramount for an ethical grocer such as Whole Foods, conventional growers ought not even be considered for the “Responsibly Grown” program.

Whole Foods said it is trying to nudge conventional farmers closer to organic growing by requiring they follow certain procedures, but organic certification is still a half-empty basket. The New York Times quoted Whole Foods Associate Global Produce Coordinator Matt Rogers as saying “the organic standard does not cover water, waste, energy, farmworker welfare, and all of these topics are really important, too.”

Although there’s something to be said for Whole Foods’ holistic approach to ethically grown food, it does seem to be working at cross purposes with the grocer’s goal of making healthier, more natural produce ubiquitous.

As the farmers noted, if conventional growers can earn a best rating, then there’s little incentive for them to turn organic. And if consumers are led to believe that conventional produce is as good or better — even cheaper — than organic, they’ll purchase less of the latter and more of the former.

Or, as one farmer told NPR, “Organic is responsibly grown, for goodness sake. Organic should be the foundation of anything that Whole Foods might do.”

However, as competition from traditional supermarkets eats away at profits, margins, and its leadership position, Whole Foods Market might feel it needs to position itself more toward the center. Not only might that undermine organic farmers, but it could also erode what made it special to both shoppers and investors.

John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Costco Wholesale, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Costco Wholesale, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Magical Sour Cabbage: How Sauerkraut Helped Save the Age of Sailhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/magical-sour-cabbage-how-sauerkraut-helped-save-the-age-of-sail/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/magical-sour-cabbage-how-sauerkraut-helped-save-the-age-of-sail/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:55:25 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16831 Modern Farmer by Tyler LeBlanc Source: mokapest It’s hard to go anywhere these days without running into a super-food. From farmers’ markets to your local grocery store, shelves are increasingly packed with items like goji berries, chia seeds, kelp and … sauerkraut? That’s right, sauerkraut. Not a traditional super-food by definition, this stringy, pale product of fermentation is the victim of a serious case of mistaken identity. Not only is sauerkraut really good for you,

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Modern Farmer
by Tyler LeBlanc

Source: mokapest

It’s hard to go anywhere these days without running into a super-food. From farmers’ markets to your local grocery store, shelves are increasingly packed with items like goji berries, chia seeds, kelp and … sauerkraut?

That’s right, sauerkraut. Not a traditional super-food by definition, this stringy, pale product of fermentation is the victim of a serious case of mistaken identity. Not only is sauerkraut really good for you, but it also changed the world.

Simple, fermented sauerkraut played an important role in helping prevent scurvy — an affliction known in its day as the scourge of the seas, responsible for an estimated two million deaths between 1500 and 1800 — on sailing ships around the world.

Scurvy, a disease caused by extreme vitamin C deficiency, plagued sailors aboard long-distance sailing ships for centuries. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps the body produce important proteins and acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cell structures from damage caused by free radicals.

Jonathan Lamb, a humanities professor at Vanderbilt University and author of the upcoming book, “Scurvy: The Disease of Discovery,” says the disease took its toll on nearly every voyage during the Age of Sail — the period of global exploration by sailing ships lasting from the 16th to the mid-19th century.

Lamb’s research details the loss of life on many famous expeditions throughout the period. For instance, commodore George Anson, who set sail with six ships for the Pacific in 1740 with 2,000 able seamen, returned to England with less than 700, the rest consumed by the disease. (And it wasn’t a pretty death: According to Anson’s chaplain, “those affected have skin as black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out and, perhaps most revolting of all, a strange plethora of gum tissue sprouting out of the mouth, which immediately rotted and lent the victim’s breath an abominable odor.”)

Anson’s voyage brought scurvy to the public’s attention and after studying historical accounts of the disease, in 1753, Scottish naval surgeon James Lind noticed scurvy was invariably linked to those whose diet had been severely limited. He began testing various foods and noted that citrus fruits provided the quickest and most effective cure for the disease.

However, this brought about another problem. How do you keep fruit fresh on a sailing ship that could be at sea for months at a time? You don’t.

With no real cure available, the British crown outfitted four captains during the 1760s with various potential cures in an attempt to find a reliable method to prevent scurvy through trial and error.

Captain James Cook, one of these four captains, was given several different experimental foods to try aboard his ship the HM Bark Endeavor when he left England for the South Pacific in 1768. Among them, as noted in the victualing minutes — the log of provisions put aboard — was 7,860 pounds of sauerkraut.

Made by fermenting thinly sliced cabbage in its own natural juices, sauerkraut is rich in vitamin C, which — although unknown at the time — is the key to preventing and curing scurvy.

While raw cabbage contains moderate levels of the vitamin, the process of fermentation sees these levels rise considerably.

“The bacteria create vitamin C and certain B vitamins as by-products of their metabolism. They digest parts of the cabbage and as part of their digestion the vitamins are made,” says Alex Lewin, fermented food guru and author of “Real Food Fermentation.” “So you get more vitamin C from sauerkraut than just from cabbage, it’s sort of a super raw food in that way.”

Three years after leaving England with his store of Sour Kroutt (as it was spelled then) and with not a single death attributed to scurvy, Cook returned home to report his findings. Although sour cabbage alone did not rid the seas of the disease — Cook’s crew also dined on such delicacies as spruce beer, malt and portable soup (think 18th century powdered beef stock) — it certainly played a major part.

It must be noted, though, while captains were sure to stock kraut on future voyages because of its nutritious qualities, Cook was far from the first to find out the curative powers of the dish: Asian cultures have relied on fermented cabbage to survive long winters between fruit seasons for thousands of years. Kimchi, sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, was historically used during winter to stave off vitamin deficiencies, while early records show workers building the Great Wall of China ate fermented cabbage regularly when fruit was not available. In fact, the earliest sauerkraut recipes found in Eastern Europe are thought to have come by way of the hordes of Genghis Khan.

So next time you are craving an orange or a lemon, try a mouthful of sauerkraut. It might be just what your body needs.

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WHO Unit Finds 2,4-D Herbicide ‘Possibly’ Causes Cancer in Humanshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/who-unit-finds-24-d-herbicide-possibly-causes-cancer-in-humans/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/who-unit-finds-24-d-herbicide-possibly-causes-cancer-in-humans/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:54:34 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16875 Reuters by Carey Gillam A widely used farm chemical used as a key ingredient in a new herbicide developed by Dow AgroSciences “possibly” causes cancer in humans, a World Health Organization research unit has determined. The classification of the weed killer, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, known as 2,4-D, was made by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The IARC said it reviewed the latest scientific literature and decided to classify 2,4-D as “possibly carcinogenic

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Reuters
by Carey Gillam

Dow_Chemical_Company_logoA widely used farm chemical used as a key ingredient in a new herbicide developed by Dow AgroSciences “possibly” causes cancer in humans, a World Health Organization research unit has determined.

The classification of the weed killer, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, known as 2,4-D, was made by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The IARC said it reviewed the latest scientific literature and decided to classify 2,4-D as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” a step below the more definitive “probably carcinogenic” category but two steps above the “probably not carcinogenic” category.

IARC’s findings on 2,4-D have been awaited by environmental and consumer groups that are lobbying U.S. regulators to tightly restrict the use of 2,4-D, as well as by farm groups and others that defend 2,4-D as an important agent in food production that does not need more restrictions.

In March, IARC said it had found another popular herbicide -glyphosate – was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co’s Roundup herbicide and other products.

IARC classifications do not carry regulatory requirements but can influence regulators, lawmakers and the public. Following the glyphosate classification, some companies and government officials moved to limit glyphosate use.

Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical Co, has had a particular interest in IARC’s review. The company is using both glyphosate and 2,4-D in a herbicide it calls Enlist Duo that received U.S. approval last year. Enlist Duo is designed to be used with genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops developed by Dow.

Dow had no comment on the IARC classification, but the company has said 2,4-D is a safe and valuable tool for agriculture.

IARC said it decided on the “possibly” classification because there was “inadequate evidence in humans and limited evidence in experimental animals” of ties between 2,4-D and cancer. It said that epidemiological studies provided “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress … and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression …”

However, IARC said, “epidemiological studies did not find strong or consistent increases in risk of NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) or other cancers in relation to 2,4-D exposure.”

Dana Loomis, a deputy section head for IARC, said the most important studies reviewed showed mixed results, and a “sizable minority” judged the evidence as stronger than others did.

Among the research presented to IARC was an analysis funded by a Dow-backed task force that found no ties between 2,4-D and many cancers.

Some critics of 2,4-D had thought IARC would assign at least the “probably” cancer-causing classification to 2,4-D. But the Dow-backed task force said there was no reason to do so.

“Not one health and safety regulator in the world consider 2,4-D to be a human carcinogen,” the 2,4-D Research Task Force said in a statement.

Since its introduction in 1945, 2,4-D has been widely used to control weeds in agriculture, forestry, and urban and residential settings. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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France Bans Roundup Sales in Garden Centershttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/france-bans-roundup-sales-in-garden-centers/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/france-bans-roundup-sales-in-garden-centers/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 21:19:38 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16846 Rodale News by Julia Westbrook Parts of Europe continue to rebuff Monsanto. Source: Takeshi Kawai France took another shot at Monsanto recently by banning the sale of the herbicide Roundup in garden centers. The decision from the French Ecology Minister, Segolene Royal, comes just months after World Health Organization dubbed glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, a probable human carcinogen. This measure aims to protect amateur gardeners from a chemical that is questionable at best; at worst,

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Rodale News
by Julia Westbrook

Parts of Europe continue to rebuff Monsanto.

Source: Takeshi Kawai

France took another shot at Monsanto recently by banning the sale of the herbicide Roundup in garden centers. The decision from the French Ecology Minister, Segolene Royal, comes just months after World Health Organization dubbed glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, a probable human carcinogen.

This measure aims to protect amateur gardeners from a chemical that is questionable at best; at worst, a potential cancer-causer implicated in all sorts of other health problems, too.

Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group’s senior policy analyst, says that the U.S. should take a cue from France and pay closer attention to the carcinogen warning now attached to America’s most popular weedkiller. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should heavily weigh the world’s leading cancer experts’ recent classification of glyphosate as the agency moves through its process to re-register this widely used herbicide,” she says. “In the U.S., most glyphosate is sprayed on farmland—roughly 280 million pounds annually.”

Kustin points out that France’s GMO labeling laws also help protect individuals from harmful farming chemicals. “Blanketing genetically engineered crops with glyphosate accounts for the vast majority of the toxic herbicide’s agricultural use,” she explains. “But without requiring labels on GMO foods similar to labeling laws in France and 63 other countries around the world, the U.S. leaves its consumers confused as to whether or not they’re buying GMO foods.”

As a result of this type of European resistance, Monsanto has suspended trying to break into Europe with any new GMOs, noting, “We have withdrawn all applications for the cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe, and have no plans to submit any new ones anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think what’s unfolding in Europe is a tragedy, both for Europe and for the signal that Europe’s anti-scientific hysteria about supposed ‘Frankenfoods’ is sending the rest of the world.”

Read these 7 Facts You Need to Know About GMOs and then make up your own mind about France’s decision to continue to block this agro-chemical company.

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