The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.
January 23rd, 2015
Farmers seek better protections and resources to deal with pesticide drift.
Iowa Farmers Union
DES MOINES (Jan. 20, 2015) – The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU), along with Pesticide Action Network (PAN), today announced their request to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to improve the reporting and response process and the agency support available to farmers who experience losses from pesticide drift.
“Pesticide drift from nearby fields is a very real problem for farmers in Iowa,” says Jordan Scheibel, a diversified vegetable farmer from Grinnell, Iowa. “Not only can pesticide drift delay or cause a farm to lose its organic certification, it results in products that farmers – certified organic or not – may not be able to sell legally, safely, or in good conscience, and it exposes the farmers and their workers to potentially harmful pesticides.”
Pesticide drift is a growing concern among Iowa farmers. A recent report to IDALS from the Practical Farmers of Iowa highlights dozens of reported pesticide drift violations across the state between 2008 and 2012, with fines issued in less than 20% of the cases. Read Full Article »
January 23rd, 2015
The Washington Post
by Darryl Fears
It’s an understatement to say the Asian citrus psyllid is bugging Florida and California citrus growers.
Since its discovery a few miles south of Miami eight years ago, the critter has destroyed half of Florida’s orange groves. As they chow down on citrus trees, they carry a deadly bacteria called huanglongbing that deforms fruit and eventually leaves the trees dead.
But now a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Economic Entomology says it might finally have a straightforward answer: Get the psyllids high. No, not on drugs. Get them to higher elevations. The tiny, invasive bug from China doesn’t fare well at elevations of 500 meters to 800 meters above sea level, the study says. Read Full Article »
January 22nd, 2015
by Virginia Gewin
Image by Charles O’Rear, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Stacey Harper has never been a farmer. In wooded Alsea, Oregon, Harper is more likely to be found hunting elk than sowing seeds.
Rather, it’s Harper’s work in the laboratory that links her to the soil.
A scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Harper is doggedly researching tiny, human-made substances called nanoparticles, with the goal of identifying which will be a boon and which a bane for farmers, consumers and the environment. Nanoparticles, which are the size of molecules, are already used in everything from sunscreen to biomedical devices. Their minuscule size makes them efficient, but also unpredictable. That’s what worries Harper: The first nano-formulations of pesticides are quietly making their way onto agricultural fields, and she wants to know what happens next.
An engineer as well as a toxicologist, Harper holds a unique perspective. She believes nanotechnology could help revolutionize farming just as it has medicine. But she sees the potential as well as the risks of nanopesticides. “I think the vast majority of nanopesticides will not be toxic” — or, at least, no more toxic to non-target organisms than current pesticides, says Harper. “We just need a way to identify that handful that may be hazardous.” Read Full Article »
January 22nd, 2015
by Christopher D. Cook
In the fall of 1989, a full quarter-century before President Obama normalized US relations with Cuba, the Berlin Wall came tumbling to the ground in a flurry of sledgehammers and concrete dust. Meanwhile, an economic tsunami was brewing on the small Caribbean island. The Soviet Bloc was crumbling fast, sending shock waves across the globe that would plunge Cuba’s food and farming into years of austerity, hunger, and radical overhaul.
Earlier that year, the international socialist market terminated Cuba’s favorable trade rates—abruptly curtailing 85 percent of the tiny nation’s trade. Imports of wheat and other grains dropped by more than half; food rationing set in, and hunger widened. Soviet aid, a pillar of Cuba’s economy, evaporated as U.S. economic sanctions tightened.
Economic collapse led swiftly to agricultural crisis. Cuba’s industrialized farming system, fueled, literally, by Soviet tractors and petrochemicals, ground to a halt. Oil imports fell by 53 percent, and the supply of pesticides and fertilizers fell by 80 percent. Read Full Article »
January 21st, 2015
by John W. Roulac
|John W. Roulac|
[Editor’s note: This article is part two of a two-part series. Read part one.]
We now know that 20-30 percent of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere comes from industrial agriculture. Petrochemicals are for cars, not for the soil. By dumping ag chemicals onto our soils, we disrupt nature’s delicate balance of water, soil and air.
Carbon sequestration land practices include agriculture, forestry, wetland and range management systems that improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or organic matter in the soil. Today excess carbon is falling into our oceans and creating acidic conditions that threaten plant and animal species. If we remove carbon from the atmosphere and oceans by way of regenerative organic agriculture practices, we will sequester carbon into the soil and expand the soil’s water-holding capacity. Building organic matter into the soil’s humus layer is essential for growing the healthful foods humanity needs. Read Full Article »