Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:34:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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, 01 Oct 2014 23:53:49 +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 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

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The Cornucopia Institute releases shopper’s guide red-flagging pro/con food brands involved with Colorado and Oregon Initiatives

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

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“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 has 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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The Biggest Manure Spill in Door County Historyhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/biggest-manure-spill-door-county-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=biggest-manure-spill-door-county-history http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/10/biggest-manure-spill-door-county-history/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:50:11 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13410 When Something Fails, Try More of the Same! by John Bobbe My wife and I have lived on the Door Peninsula in the same neighborhood for 36 years. It is the thumb on Wisconsin that sticks out into Lake Michigan. Door County is billed as the “Cape Cod” of the Midwest with over 300 miles of shoreline along the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.  The county prides itself as a destination for millions

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When Something Fails, Try More of the Same!

by John Bobbe

My wife and I have lived on the Door Peninsula in the same neighborhood for 36 years. It is the thumb on Wisconsin that sticks out into Lake Michigan. Door County is billed as the “Cape Cod” of the Midwest with over 300 miles of shoreline along the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.  The county prides itself as a destination for millions of tourists.

On the morning of September 16th, the day started out as any other until about 10 a.m. I discovered that the 250+ cow dairy farm ¼ mile west of us had a manure system malfunction that resulted in 640,000 gallons of liquid manure spilled and flowing across fields into Sugar Creek.   Sugar Creek is an intermittent stream that flows for several hundred feet through our property.  This was one of the largest manure spills in Wisconsin history.  It was the second manure spill by a large farm within a week in the county.

ManureSpillSugarCreek JohnBobbe

Photo:  Manure spill, Brussels, WI 6 hours after it was discovered.    All running towards Sugar Creek.  Our residence is ¼ mile east of this site and the creek runs through our property.  Courtesy:  John Bobbe

Three sand and straw bale berms were installed in the creek to attempt to contain the spill.  One at the site of the spill entering the creek, one on our property and one about another ¼ mile downstream.

Now it would be easy at first glance to place all the blame on the farmer. My wife and I have known this family for 36 years. However the days after the spill have demonstrated how inept, ill-equipped and incompetent the county soil and water department, other county departments and state agencies such as the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were in dealing with the spill.

Agency incompetence and finger pointing at its finest:

A simple check valve in the manure system that would have prevented the whole mess was reportedly not installed.  Reports are the county soil and water department said it wasn’t needed.  This would fit the pattern as there are other cases in the county where department personnel said specific things weren’t needed that have resulted the potential for more problems like this.

It took the county health department 8 days after to spill to notify residents that we should take precautions such as testing wells and buying bottled water to drink because no information was shared with them.

All the while the county corporation counsel was holding the hands of county supervisors and others assuring them through enough legal gyrations how the county would not be held liable for any screw-up.  After all they have insurance for that just in case.

As a final straw, one week after the spill, and some rain over the ensuing weekend, DNR officials ordered the farmer to remove the retaining dikes in the creek allowing the remaining effluent (now swelled to over 3 million gallons) to simply flow downstream and into the Bay of Green Bay.  They had earlier told me that this was an easy spill to clean up because they had it contained.

This made the situation worse for us as homeowners, because instead of the spill being confined to the creek, it flowed through the ditches completely surrounding our homes.  No attempt was made to inform property owners further downstream of the mess headed their way.

To top this off, the county has no manure spill emergency plan.  The morning the farmer phoned in the spill, it was reported that agency personnel ran around like the sky was falling, not knowing how to react.

Taxpayers take the hit:

It’s easy to think that it is simply a spill and they will clean it up. There are five areas where taxpayers have a vested interest or are taking the hit:

  1.  The initial tax dollars in cost-share to the farmer when the system was installed was over $150,000 – Taxpayers have a vested interest in systems that work;
  2. Cost of personnel for local and state agency personnel for days of work supervising the clean-up;
  3. Department of health costs of well water testing and personnel time;
  4. Degradation of state waters by all this effluent being allowed to simply flush downstream per the DNR’s solution to the problem;
  5. Potential costs which could be significant for the county to defend itself for negligence when the farmer in this case may not be at fault because the county soil and water department engineered the system that failed.

The cost to the farmer is already topping $50,000 to clean up with more costs coming.  Of course after all this demonstrated ineptness, agencies would like to make sure the blame falls totally on the farmer. And perhaps at least some of the blame does lie there.   One voice mail left on the farmer’s phone demonstrates where this is headed.  It was from the county’s soil and water department head threatening to shut him down if he didn’t have his system inspected so it didn’t happen again.  It was bureaucrats attempting to blame the farmer.  The farmer already had the inspection scheduled before they even called.

What all of us as affected home owners are  praying for is a good “gully washer” rain to finish flushing the rest of the spill out of the creek and ditches and on downstream.  Then things can get back to normal.  The county soil and water department can continue to take millions of dollars to engineer the next boondoggle system as they have for over 20 years.  The health department can get back to vaccinations instead of sending registered letters.  And county board members can get back to their regular monthly committee meetings to hear reports from bureaucrats and technocrats in the Courthouse about how all is well and then rubber stamp their reports.  And we as residents, can rest easy as things are now all back to normal until the next major manure spill.

As one long-time Door County farmer, who has a compliant manure system on his farm noted, “The over-all water quality in the county is worse now than when they (referring to the agencies involved) started installing these systems over 20 years ago.”   When something doesn’t work, try more of the same.

John Bobbe is a 36 year resident of Door County who has worked since the late 1980′s to get farmer’s to adopt sustainable and organic farming practices in Door County, Wisconsin,  the Great Lakes Basin including Ontario, Canada. He is currently the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., an organic grain and livestock marketing cooperative with members in 19 states. He is a supporter of the Cornucopia Institute, Food and Water Watch and The Nature Conservancy.

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3 Reasons You Need More Dairy in Your Lifehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/3-reasons-need-dairy-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=3-reasons-need-dairy-life http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/3-reasons-need-dairy-life/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:11:55 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13406 Rodale News by Julia Westbrook High in fat, dairy has gotten a bad rap lately, but these experts share why you shouldn’t shy away from it. Credit: hjhipster Get it out of your head that dairy is a one-trick pony. Yes, this calcium-rich food group is the poster child for strong bones and healthy teeth, but dairy can do so much more for your health. (Just be sure you choose milk from grass-fed, organic cows. Organic

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Rodale News
by Julia Westbrook

High in fat, dairy has gotten a bad rap lately, but these experts share why you shouldn’t shy away from it.

Credit: hjhipster

Get it out of your head that dairy is a one-trick pony. Yes, this calcium-rich food group is the poster child for strong bones and healthy teeth, but dairy can do so much more for your health. (Just be sure you choose milk from grass-fed, organic cows. Organic milk has been scientifically proven to be much better for you.)

Hug Your Heart
Your heart loves dairy, according to research from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Studying 4,000 Taiwanese individuals, the researchers found that daily consumption of dairy helped optimize heart health. “We observed that increased dairy consumption meant lower risks of mortality from cardiovascular disease, especially stroke, but found no significant association with the risk of cancer,” says Mark Wahlqvist, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash.

“Those who ate no dairy had higher blood pressure, higher body mass index, and greater body fatness generally than other groups,” Dr. Wahlqvist says. “But Taiwanese who included dairy food in their diet only three to seven times a week were more likely to survive than those who ate none.”

Ditch Diabetes
Full-fat milk probably isn’t the first thing you’d reach for if you want to prevent diabetes, but maybe it should be, according to research from Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden. The researchers found that people who ate the most dairy (eight or more servings per day) had 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate one serving or less per day.

Interestingly, the high-fat dairy items had more of a protective effect than the low-fat ones. For instance, increasing daily intake of cream from 0.01 ounces to 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) was associated with a 15 percent risk reduction. However, there was no protective association found for low-fat dairy products.

Motivate Your Metabolism
Not only does dairy decrease your chances for diabetes, but it’s also beneficial for preventing other metabolic issues, including obesity, found Canadian researchers. Blood tests of Quebec City residents revealed that greater dairy consumption was related to lower blood pressure and lower fasting plasma glucose level (glycemia). The researchers attributed this to the naturally occurring trans-palmitoleic acid in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. The body cannot synthesize trans-palmitoleic acid, and higher blood levels of this fatty acid were associated with positive health benefits.

Want to take matters into your own hands? Try making your own healthy yogurt at home.

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10 Urban Agriculture Projects in Chicago to Explorehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/10-urban-agriculture-projects-chicago-explore/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-urban-agriculture-projects-chicago-explore http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/10-urban-agriculture-projects-chicago-explore/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:26:09 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13400 FoodTank by Kathleen Corr Credit: Linda from Chicago In neighborhoods, in parks, on rooftops, and even at its airports, urban agriculture in Chicago is thriving. Food Tank has compiled a list of ten urban farming projects in Chicago that are definitely worth a visit. 1. Urban Canopy Rooftop Farm – 1400 W. 46th Street, Back of the Yards, Chicago, IL Located on the rooftop of The Plant building, the Urban Canopy is a rooftop farm and Local Unified Community Supported Agriculture site. Visits

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FoodTank
by Kathleen Corr

Credit: Linda from Chicago

In neighborhoods, in parks, on rooftops, and even at its airports, urban agriculture in Chicago is thriving. Food Tank has compiled a list of ten urban farming projects in Chicago that are definitely worth a visit.

1. Urban Canopy Rooftop Farm – 1400 W. 46th Street, Back of the Yards, Chicago, IL
Located on the rooftop of The Plant building, the Urban Canopy is a rooftop farm and Local Unified Community Supported Agriculture site. Visits to the Urban Canopy can include “Dinner Dates” hosted at the rooftop farm, membership in the farm’s Compost Club, or simply volunteering to work on the farm.

2. Chicago Lights Urban Farm – W. Chicago Avenue & N. Hudson Avenue, Cabrini Green, Chicago, IL
This former rundown basketball court was converted into a community garden in 2003 through a partnership between Growing Power and Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. Visitors outside of the five-block radius residential community can volunteer at daily Open Hours from 12:00pm to 3:00pm CST.

3. The Edible Gardens at Lincoln Park Zoo – Green City Market on Stockton Avenue, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
Operated by Green City Market and located inside the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-In-the-Zoo complex, the Edible Gardens welcomes visitors from April through November. Drop in for a visit or take a free hands-on gardening workshop offered by the program.

4. Grant Park “Art on the Farm” Urban Agriculture Potager – E. Congress Parkway & S. Columbus Drive, South Loop, Chicago, IL
Growing Power collaborated with the Chicago Park District and Moore Landscapes, Inc., to build this urban farm in Grant Park. Occupying 20,000 ft2 of space next to Buckingham Fountain and Lincoln Memorial, the farm welcomes park goers and is maintained by farm interns within the Art on the Farm program.

5. Wood Street Urban Farm – 5814 S. Wood Street, Englewood, Chicago, IL
Occupying two-thirds of an acre in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, the Wood Street Urban Farm is the product of a partnership between Teamwork Englewood and Growing Home. Visitors to the farm can purchase the certified organic produce from the farmstand located there from April through October.

6. Rooftop Farm at McCormick Place West – 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, South Loop, Chicago, IL
The rooftop garden located on top of McCormick Place (the largest convention center in North America) is the largest soil-based rooftop farm in the Midwest, taking up 20,000 ft2 of roof space. The farm is maintained by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Visitors to the convention center can experience the farm’s produce through the convention center’s on-site catering service, SAVOR…Chicago.

7. Su Casa Market Garden – 51st Street & S. Laflin Street, West Englewood, Chicago, IL
An organic urban garden run by the Su Casa Catholic Worker in partnership with Growing Home, the Su Casa Market Garden is located on Chicago’s South Side. Community members and visitors to the farm can also volunteer at the Catholic Worker’s soup kitchen and food pantry, where much of the garden’s produce is prepared and served.

8. O’Hare International Airport Urban Garden – O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL
Now, layovers and delayed flights can turn into an urban farming experience. Jetsetters can visit the vertical aeroponic tower garden in the Rotunda Building of O’Hare International Airport to see the herbs, greens, and tomatoes growing there. Visitors may even catch a glimpse of the goats, sheep, llamas, and burros the airport uses to mow the property’s lawn.

9. The Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden – Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL
The Fruit and Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden contains more than 400 different fruit and vegetable varieties, and this ‘living museum’ demonstrates best practices for growing food crops in the nearby Chicago region. The farm also plays host to a variety of events year-round including festivals, demonstrations, exhibits and tastings. While visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden, patrons can explore the various edible crops growing in the garden.

10. FarmedHere – Bedford Park, IL
The largest indoor aquaponic vertical farm in the United States, Farmed Here is also the first vertical farm to be USDA Certified Organic. Visit the farm or shop at the numerous grocery stores that sell Farmed Here’s greens, including Chicago Whole FoodsGreen Grocery, and Standard Market.

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USDA to Start Program to Support Local and Organic Farminghttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/usda-start-program-support-local-organic-farming/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=usda-start-program-support-local-organic-farming http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/usda-start-program-support-local-organic-farming/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:46:06 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13393 The New York Times by Stephanie Strom Credit: Natalie Maynor The United States Department of Agriculture plans to announce Monday that it will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming. The local food movement has been one of the fastest growing segments of the business, as consumers seek to know more about where, how and by whom their food is grown.

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The New York Times
by Stephanie Strom

Credit: Natalie Maynor

The United States Department of Agriculture plans to announce Monday that it will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming.

The local food movement has been one of the fastest growing segments of the business, as consumers seek to know more about where, how and by whom their food is grown.

But local farmers still struggle to market their food. Distribution systems are intended to accommodate the needs of large-scale commercial farms and growers. Grocery stores and restaurants largely rely on big distribution centers and are only beginning to figure out how to incorporate small batches of produce into their overall merchandise mixes.

Farmers’ markets are proliferating around the country, increasing 76 percent to 8,268 since 2008, according to the Agriculture Department, but they have trouble marketing themselves. And few consumers are aware of a website the department created to help them find a farmers market in their area.

“These types of local food systems are the cornerstones of our plans to revitalize the rural economy,” Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, said in a telephone interview. “If you can connect local produce with markets that are local, money gets rolled around in the local community more directly compared to commercial agriculture where products get shipped in large quantities somewhere else, helping the economy there.”

The $52 million will be the first outlay to local and organic enterprises of the farm bill signed into law by President Obama in February, which tripled the amount of money aimed at that sector to $291 million. The organic business, which has long complained that the Agriculture Department does not support it financially, will get $125 million over the next five years for research and $50 million for conservation programs.

“It’s a really nice bump for us because we’ve been getting chump change for research,” said Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic research and advocacy group.

Still, Mr. Kastel said that given the growth in the organic business, with about $35 billion in sales in the United States last year, he wished there was more money to study organic practices.

The department will also be putting $30 million a year into marketing programs for farmers markets and promotion of locally grown foods, and has an additional $70 million available as a block grant to support more research on so-called specialty crops, or fruits and vegetables.

“These are significant increases over what it was before I became secretary and certainly over the 2008 bill,” Mr. Vilsack said, referring to the previous omnibus farm bill.

He said local food systems were good investments for government. “Small and medium-sized operations end up helping to generate more employment than commercial operations because of their different distribution systems and their local natures,” Mr. Vilsack said. “And food hubs hire about 20 people on average.”

Mr. Vilsack said there were about 300 food hubs around the country, and he is eager to see more. These enterprises, like Appalachian Sustainable Development in Virginia and La Montañita in New Mexico, help small farmers market and distribute their products and offer a variety of other services.

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Experts Agree: Organic Farming Is Revolutionaryhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/experts-agree-organic-farming-revolutionary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=experts-agree-organic-farming-revolutionary http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/experts-agree-organic-farming-revolutionary/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:32:02 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13388 It’s time to get back to the roots of farming to save the planet. Rodale News by Julia Westbrook Credit: Dorothea Lang via Wikimedia Commons “Organic” is just another word for “expensive.” It’s a joke bandied about in supermarkets, illustrating that people are widely unaware of the connection between the contents of their carts and its impact on the health of our bodies and the planet. “I would say that [organic farming is] a 100-percent solution

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It’s time to get back to the roots of farming to save the planet.

Rodale News
by Julia Westbrook

Credit: Dorothea Lang via Wikimedia Commons

Organic” is just another word for “expensive.” It’s a joke bandied about in supermarkets, illustrating that people are widely unaware of the connection between the contents of their carts and its impact on the health of our bodies and the planet.

“I would say that [organic farming is] a 100-percent solution to the health problem, to the unemployment problem, the poverty problem, the biodiversity problem, and the water problem,” says Vandana Shiva, PhD, founder of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy. She was one of several speakers to discuss regenerative organic agriculture at an expert panel event hosted by the Rodale Institute, the Carbon Underground, and Organic Consumers Association.

But the benefits go way beyond these comparably “small” issues because organic farming is also the solution to our carbon problem. According to the Rodale Institute, the answer to the looming climate catastrophe is right under our feet: soil. The researchers found that, through regenerative organic agriculture, the soil will be able to sequester carbon in a way that not just limits, but also reverses, the threatening levels of atmospheric CO2.

Kristine Nichols, PhD, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute, explained that if we shift to a regenerative organic model of agriculture, 40 percent of the total annual carbon emissions will be taken out of the atmosphere and stored in the soil. (That’s an estimated reduction of 21 gigatons of CO2 every year, or equal to about 4.25 billon cars off of the road). Additionally, the Rodale Institute found that this organic model would apply to pasture and rangelands, too, sequestering another 71 percent of annual carbon emissions.

“This is tipping that needle past 100 percent that we’re going to be able to sequester more carbon in the soil than the emissions that we have on an annual basis,” she says. The positive conclusion? She and other experts say this will reverse climate change.

Farming as the Problem and the Solution
“Most figures say that farming is about 30 percent of greenhouse gases output,” says Andre Leu, president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. “What we’re saying here today is that we can turn the biggest emitter into the biggest solution.”

Mark Smallwood, executive director of the Rodale Institute, elaborates: “Regenerative means that you’re leaving behind better than what you found.” Smallwood and his collegues have pinned down practices that don’t just help farmers grow great food, but also make farms stronger with stronger soil that is able to take up carbon emissions.

The beauty of these solutions, the experts point out, is that they already exist. For the same research and development cost of developing one GMO, many farms could instead be converted to using sustainable, carbon-storing solutions. Here is a sampling of those solutions:

Conservation Tillage
Unrestrained plowing is the antithesis of restorative farming and is counterproductive for carbon sequestering by the soil, as explained by Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. She says, “The heavy machinery compacts the soil further, requiring deeper plowing to loosen the soil. As greater volumes of soil are churned up and exposed to the air, the soil carbon meets oxygen combines with it to form CO2, and departs for the upper atmosphere.”

Cover Crops
Left in nature, an empty plot of dirt will usually sprout and slowly turn from dusty dirt to living and green. But this isn’t “clean” enough for farmers using modern techniques that strip fields naked between growing seasons. Using cover crops ensures that the carbon-based soil isn’t exposed, and that carbon stays in the ground, not in the air. The researchers from the Rodale Institute cite other benefits of cover crops, including reduced weeds, decreased water runoff, and stronger soil structure and water infiltration.

Crop Rotation
Nichols compares monoculture farming to a “doughnut diet:” If you eat nothing but doughnuts, your body cannot function because it lacks the nutrients you need for everything to work properly—calcium for your bones, protein for your muscles, and so forth. Same thing happens when farms plant one type of crop in the same field year after year: The nutrients become depleted. Plus, the researchers point out that, like cover crops, enhanced rotations result in continuous ground cover.

Compost
It’s not a surprise that composting makes stronger, healthier soil. It increases biodiversity, microbial biomass, and boosts nutrients. And rather than using chemical fertilizers (which do way more harm than good), compost uses the waste materials farms naturally produce, so, for farmers, it’s a win-win.

Forget Band-Aids; We Need Solutions
The message presented by these experts is clear: It’s not enough to just reduce emissions. We need to find a real solution. Tom Newmark, cofounder and chair of The Carbon Underground, compares our situation to a morbidly obese man going to the doctor to get healthy. If the doctor just puts the patient on a diet that will slow his rate of weight gain, he isn’t going to get better. It’s only when the doctor prescribes a way to lose weight that patient’s health will improve.

This is the same approach we take when we only look at limiting carbon emission rates: It doesn’t solve the problem.

Surprisingly, this avenue of research to prevent or reverse climate change is fairly new. “Climate change is reversible. Nobody is talking about that,” said Larry Kopald, cofounder of The Carbon Underground. “Eight or nine months ago, I had never heard this story. And I sat there and I said, ‘How is it possible that the single biggest cause of climate change, nobody is talking about? And the only solution that we know of right now is not being discussed?’” That’s what makes this announcement promoting organic farming as a true a solution is so groundbreaking. Pun intended.

So why soil? Why now? Leu says that it’s been our lack of understanding of the soil that has been holding us back. “The whole idea of soil and agriculture is relatively new,” he says. “When I was learning agriculture in the ’70s, we were told that the only reason you need soil was as a medium to hold the plants up; otherwise, they’ll fall over. We were told we were idiots for adding organic matter to the soil because plants get all their carbon from the air. This whole concept of soil and soil health is relatively new.”

Walk to DC
With this greater understanding of the soil, we’re not doomed to trudge towards catastrophic weather patterns caused by global warming. That’s why Smallwood will be marching from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, to Washington, DC, with the findings from the Rodale Institute to take real steps toward a solution.

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Food Affected by Fukushima Disaster Harms Animals, Even at Low-Levels of Radiationhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/food-affected-fukushima-disaster-harms-animals-even-low-levels-radiation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-affected-fukushima-disaster-harms-animals-even-low-levels-radiation http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/food-affected-fukushima-disaster-harms-animals-even-low-levels-radiation/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 20:21:16 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13380 Stone Hearth News Zizeeria maha Credit: Dr. Raju Kasambe Butterflies eating food collected from cities around the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site showed higher rates of death and disease, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Researchers fed groups of pale blue grass butterflies (Zizeeria maha) leaves from six different areas at varying distance from the disaster site, and then investigated the effects on the next generation. Feeding offspring the same

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Stone Hearth News

Zizeeria maha
Credit: Dr. Raju Kasambe

Butterflies eating food collected from cities around the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site showed higher rates of death and disease, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Researchers fed groups of pale blue grass butterflies (Zizeeria maha) leaves from six different areas at varying distance from the disaster site, and then investigated the effects on the next generation. Feeding offspring the same contaminated leaves as their parents magnified the effects of the radiation. But offspring fed uncontaminated leaves were mostly like normal butterflies, and the authors say this shows that decontaminating the food source can save the next generation.

The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant released substantial amounts of radiation into the surrounding area. Humans were evacuated, and no significant health effects have been reported, but the scientists from the University of the Rukyus, Okinawa, Japan, are studying the impact on the area’s wildlife.

In a previous study, the group suggested that eating leaves with high levels of radiation seriously affected the pale grass blue butterfly. Their new study investigated the effect of eating leaves with much lower levels of radiation, which had been collected in 2012, a year after the disaster, from six areas that were 59km to 1760km from the site.

Their study showed that even in these comparatively low levels of radiation, there was an observable difference in the butterflies’ lifespan, depending on the dose of caesium radiation in their food, which ranged from 0.2 to 161bq/kg. For comparison, leaves collected in the months after the disaster around 20km from the site had radiation in the thousands of Bq/kg. Butterflies fed leaves with higher caesium radiation doses were also smaller and some had morphological abnormalities such as unusually shaped wings.

Professor Joji Otaki, University of Rukyus, says: “Wildlife has probably been damaged even at relatively low doses of radiation, and our research showed that sensitivity varies among individuals within a species.”

In the second part of the experiment, the researchers looked at the next generation of butterflies. These were split into groups fed an uncontaminated diet, and those fed the same diets as their parents.

The offspring fed an uncontaminated diet had a similar lifespan, irrespective of the amount of radiation their parents had been exposed to. The only effect seemed to be that those whose parents had been exposed to higher caesium diets had smaller forewings. But those fed the same contaminated diet as their parents showed magnified effects.

The authors say that this shows that the effects of eating contaminated food can be significant, and that they can be passed on, but are minimized if the next generation have an unaffected diet.

Professor Otaki says: “Our study demonstrated that eating contaminated foods could cause serious negative effects on organisms. Such negative effects may be passed down the generations. On the bright side, eating non-contaminated food improves the negative effects, even in the next generation.”

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A Beekeeper’s 6 Tips for Picking Honeyhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/beekeepers-6-tips-picking-honey/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=beekeepers-6-tips-picking-honey http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/beekeepers-6-tips-picking-honey/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13376 Teen beekeeper Orren Fox knows that the key to delicious food is quality ingredients. Rodale News by Ramin Ganeshram “Honey comb02“. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons Adapted from FutureChefs For some young cooks, preparing food is as much about a social message as it is about the flavors and composition of the dishes themselves. Add to that list Orren Fox of Massachusetts, who first became interested in the plight of farm animals before he

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Teen beekeeper Orren Fox knows that the key to delicious food is quality ingredients.

Rodale News
by Ramin Ganeshram

Honey comb02“.
Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons

Adapted from FutureChefs

For some young cooks, preparing food is as much about a social message as it is about the flavors and composition of the dishes themselves. Add to that list Orren Fox of Massachusetts, who first became interested in the plight of farm animals before he was 10 years old.

“Bees are critical to one-third of everything we eat with their pollination,” he says. “The honey is absolute gold. It requires so much work to collect a single teaspoon of honey.”

Not all honey is what it seems. Often the commercially available honey sold in most supermarkets is “ultrapurified,” a process that removes much of the pollen deposits that honey aficionados consider desirable. Orren offers these 6 Do’s and Don’ts when buying honey:

DO buy honey from a local producer who sells raw honey. This will have the highest local pollen content, which many consider integral to honey’s health benefits.

DON’T bother to look for “grades” of honey, the way you would with maple syrup—it’s not labeled in that way.

DON’T be surprised if your honey has large crystals; this is common in raw honey.

DO use pasteurized honey for children, seniors, those with immunity issues, or pregnant women.

DO use pasteurized honey for cooked preparations and save the raw for drizzling and maximum taste impact.

DO ask your beekeeper about the nectar sources for his or her bees because this will impact taste. Keep notes on which flower-source honeys you like best, for future reference.

Check out this full profile on Orren and try his delicious honey-toasted carrots recipe.

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Seed Privatization Motivates U.S. Seed Savershttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/seed-privatization-motivates-u-s-seed-savers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=seed-privatization-motivates-u-s-seed-savers http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/seed-privatization-motivates-u-s-seed-savers/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 22:00:59 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13372 US Food Sovereignty Alliance The US Food Sovereignty Alliance’s unveils A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in time for World Food Day and the presentation of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prizes. The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to

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US Food Sovereignty Alliance

foodsovereigntycrisisThe US Food Sovereignty Alliance’s unveils A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in time for World Food Day and the presentation of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prizes.

The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to produce healthy food, preserve their cultural heritage, and to defy efforts by transnational agribusinesses to privately patent and monopolize control of seeds.

The report is especially pertinent during 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Based on the surveys and the Call to Action of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the report provides individual, community, national and international action recommendations aimed at defending seeds from privatization and preservingthem for the common good.

The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance presents this report in solidarity with La Via Campesina in its global efforts to defend food and seed sovereignty.

The Alliance wishes to dedicate this publication to Charity Hicks, who joined the ancestors on July 8, 2014, after a valiant fight for life after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in New York City as she was preparing to speak at the Left Forum. Every one of us that knew her will deeply miss her and her powerful voice for justice and inclusion.

Charity worked with a small team from the Alliance’s Rights of Mother Earth workgroup to compile the results of a seed survey into this report, that paints a picture of the experiences of seed savers and seed culture keepers in the United States. This preliminary report offers an overview, anecdotes and stories of seed keeping practices, and the motivations of seed savers. The report also includes resources (with web links on the electronic version) and a set of individual, community, national and international Recommendations for Action for Seed Freedom, including how to resist seed monopolies.

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Food & Water Watch to SEC and FDA: Stop AquaBounty’s Campaign of Misinformation on GMO Salmonhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/food-water-watch-sec-fda-stop-aquabountys-campaign-misinformation-gmo-salmon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-water-watch-sec-fda-stop-aquabountys-campaign-misinformation-gmo-salmon http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/food-water-watch-sec-fda-stop-aquabountys-campaign-misinformation-gmo-salmon/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:46:47 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=13369 Food & Water Watch Consumer Group Asks Federal Regulators to Correct Company’s Misleading Filings Washington, D.C. — In response to misleading information found in AquaBounty Technologies’ newest regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange (SEC), including that the company’s GMO salmon product will not require a label, Food & Water Watch called on the SEC today to make corrections to protect investors. Food & Water Watch also called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take

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Food & Water Watch

Consumer Group Asks Federal Regulators to Correct Company’s Misleading Filings

Salmon.SizedWashington, D.C. — In response to misleading information found in AquaBounty Technologies’ newest regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange (SEC), including that the company’s GMO salmon product will not require a label, Food & Water Watch called on the SEC today to make corrections to protect investors. Food & Water Watch also called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action, as this represents the second time this year that AquaBounty has misleadingly asserted that GMO salmon will not require a label, if and when FDA gives regulatory approval. In reality, FDA has not made a labeling decision.

“AquaBounty’s pattern of willful distortion shows how desperate the company is to promote it’s totally unnecessary product, which consumers have said they won’t eat, grocery stores have said they won’t sell, the salmon industry has said they won’t grow, and scientists have said is too risky,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

AquaBounty’s initial regulatory submission to SEC in April, which was part of the company’s bid to join NASDAQ, has been followed by a succession of amended registrations forms. The amended forms seem to be an attempt by the company to respond to complaints from Food & Water Watch about misrepresentations and omissions. The omissions included the company’s failure to acknowledge its serious battle with diseased GMO salmon in its production facility and that many of the nation’s leading grocers have pledged to not sell GMO salmon in response to widespread consumer opposition. AquaBounty’s amended forms attempted to correct these problems, but also introduced new false statements, including some on labeling.

“While we are happy that SEC appears to be taking these issues seriously, and we hope the SEC will continue to compel AquaBounty to make corrections, we remain troubled with the many weaknesses found in FDA’s ongoing regulatory review of GMO salmon,” Hauter said. “As journalists and public-interest groups have turned up a mountain of evidence contradicting FDA’s regulatory review—from news of “lost” fish in Panama to reports that GMO salmon can’t actually grow faster than normal salmon—FDA has sat on its hands.”

The company’s misleading suggestion that GMO salmon will not require a label follows a similarly deceptive comment to the media made by AquaBounty’s vice-president earlier this year, which prompted the FDA to reach out to the company to correct the record. The FDA has long noted that it will not issue a labeling decision on GMO salmon until it issues its final regulatory decision. To date, FDA has made no final determinations or decisions on any aspect of GMO salmon.  If approved, GMO salmon would be the first biotech food animal ever to enter the food supply.

You can view Food & Water Watch’s letter to the SEC here: http://fwwat.ch/1mqU01t

Contact: Rich Bindell, Food & Water Watch, 202-683.2457, rbindell@fwwatch.org

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