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.
May 20th, 2015
Organic Farmers and Seed Companies Make Clear They Reject Proposed Mandatory Tax on Organic Producers
Washington, ME, May 19, 2015 – A just-concluded major referendum by the membership of the organic seed industry leader, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), was unanimously opposed to the “Organic Check-off” proposed by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Significantly, not a single vote was cast in favor of the Organic Check-off and America’s organic farmers and seed growers reject the OTA’s mandatory tax on organics.
The OSGATA membership, comprised of certified organic farmers, seed companies, seed professionals, and affiliate organizations, is concerned that the proposed Organic Check-off will follow suit of other check-off programs in favoring large corporate businesses instead of small-scale family farmers and ranchers. Read Full Article »
May 19th, 2015
by Patrick van Zwanenberg
Controversy over a new evaluation of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, lifts the lid on aspects of chemical safety regulation that often remain hidden from public view.
Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, hit the headlines in March after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that it is a “probable human carcinogen”.
The IARC, which is responsible for providing an evidence base for the cancer control policies of the World Health Organisation and its members, had completed a year long review of the scientific literature on the herbicide. It found “convincing evidence” that glyphosate causes cancer in laboratory animals, “limited evidence” that it does so in agricultural workers, and evidence that it causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.
The IARC’s evaluation is hugely important because it is sharply at odds with the views of the world’s major regulatory agencies. Last year, an evaluation by German government regulators, on behalf of the European Commission, concluded that there was no evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic or mutagenic, or that the herbicide posed any other serious hazard to health. All other regulatory agencies have reached similar conclusions. Read Full Article »
May 19th, 2015
The New York Times
by Andrew Pollack and Chad Bray
Over the last two decades Monsanto has cast off its century-long history as a chemical company and refashioned itself as an agricultural life sciences company, led by its genetically engineered seeds.
But with its $45 billion bid to acquire the agricultural chemical giant Syngenta — a bid Syngenta rejected on Friday as inadequate — Monsanto appears to be trying to get back into a business it largely abandoned. That is a possible acknowledgment, some analysts say, that the biotech seeds might not be the engine to carry the company forward much longer. Read Full Article »
May 18th, 2015
by Leah Zerbe
Some food-safety groups warn of potential toxic contamination.
The U.S. Department of Agricluture (USDA) has given the green light for the U.S. to import fresh apples from China, a move that has triggered worry among some food-safety watchdog groups.
“[The USDA’s] approval of imported fresh apples from China could threaten American consumers and apple growers. Thanks to China’s widespread pollution and food-safety problems, we could see apples with dangerous chemical residues imported into the United States,” says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “A 2014 survey by the Chinese government found that one-fifth of the country’s farmland was polluted with inorganic chemicals and heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, and nickel.” (Health concerns around these pollutants is huge. The heavy metal cadmium, for instance, is linked to breast cancer and has been shown to trigger accelerated aging.) Read Full Article »
May 18th, 2015
by Leah Douglas
Is a national fund to promote organic produce a good idea? Organic farmers don’t think so.
“Got Milk?” “Pork: The Other White Meat.” “The Incredible Edible Egg.” “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”
For years, these familiar slogans have highlighted the importance of American kitchen staples. What better represents the American way of eating than a glass of milk with your cookies or a hamburger on the grill? On billboards and television, these ubiquitous marketing campaigns have long shaped public perception of which foods constitute a wholesome diet. But consumers are often unaware of who, exactly, writes, produces, and pays for these ads.
Such marketing campaigns are funded by what is known in the food business as “checkoff” programs. These are in essence taxes that farmers pay to a national fund, the revenue from which is used to promote the consumption of commodities like pork, beef, eggs, and milk. The current beef checkoff, for instance, requires ranchers to pay $1 per head of cattle into the national fund. Checkoff programs’ activities can take the form of generic advertising campaigns, or they can look more like political lobbying.
Soon, this tax may extend to the organic industry. The Organic Trade Association, the largest trade group for organic agriculture, petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to begin the process of establishing an organic checkoff. Read Full Article »