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.
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AUGUSTA — Maine is on track to join several other states attempting to require food producers to label food containing genetically modified ingredients, following a landslide vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The House voted to support L.D. 718, a bill sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, sets the stage for a legal entanglement between the state and agribusiness and biotech industry giant Monsanto, which has already threatened to sue states that pass similar labeling laws. The political battle between industry interests and the well-organized supporters of L.D. 718 has raged behind the scenes for several months at the State House, as the biotech industry fights to blunt a popular movement that has taken the GMO fight to at least 18 other state legislatures following failed attempts to pass labeling legislation in Congress.
The House voted 141-4 in favor of a amendment that would trigger the labeling requirement once four other contiguous states, including Maine, pass similar labeling legislation.
Supporters of L.D. 718, a bill co-sponsored by 120 lawmakers, including Democrats, independents and Republicans, relished the looming fight with Monsanto, the litigious international company widely vilified by supporters of the organic food movement. Harvell blasted the company, saying lawmakers should not give the industry “veto power” over a bill that tells people what’s in their food. Read Full Article »
Replacing Mother – Imitating Human Breast Milk in the Laboratory, details research questioning the benefits and safety of DHA oil from algae and ARA oil from fungus.
DHA algal oil is added to nearly all brands of infant formula, and is often found in other foods and beverages, such as milk and soy milk. It is listed as “DHA from algal oil” and sometimes accompanied by the “LifesDHA” logo.
Due to a backroom deal between corporate lobbyists and USDA officials, the USDA has looked the other way and failed to take enforcement action against organic food manufacturers that have added DHA algal oil to organic foods and beverages. Learn more about how DHA algal oil made its way into organic foods and organic infant formula.
Cornucopia has been tracking the organic infant formula market, and has for years pressured the USDA to remove all synthetic, unapproved nutrients from organic infant formula.
A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that a group of organic and otherwise non-GMO farmer and seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents “because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).’”
In the ruling issued today in the case Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto, the Court of Appeals judges affirmed the Southern District of New York’s previous decision that the plaintiffs did not present a sufficient controversy to warrant adjudication by the courts.
However, it did so only because Monsanto made repeated commitments during the lawsuit to not sue farmers with “trace amounts” of contamination of crops containing their patented genes.
Plaintiffs’ attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), views the decision as a partial victory. “Before this suit, the Organic Seed plaintiffs were forced to take expensive precautions and avoid full use of their land in order to not be falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto,” said Ravicher. “The decision today means that the farmers did have the right to bring the suit to protect themselves, but now that Monsanto has bound itself to not suing the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals believes the suit should not move forward.” Read Full Article »
Willamette Valley seed producers have seized upon the discovery of genetically modified wheat in an eastern Oregon farm field as one more reason to ban canola production.
Producers of “specialty seed” — a term for a wide variety of vegetable and flower seeds — deem it a $50 million Willamette Valley crop. Fearing contamination of their seeds from canola, they’ve been seeking to overturn an Oregon Department of Agriculture rule allowing canola production in parts of the valley.
Japan and other countries expressing deep concern over the purity of the Northwest’s soft white wheat crop are just as likely to turn up their noses at specialty seed grown anywhere near canola, much of which is genetically modified, said Nick Tichinin, owner of Universal Seed Co., located in Independence. That’s especially true for cabbage, broccoli and kale, which hail from the same family as canola.
Tichinin said he testified before the state Agriculture Board on Wednesday that the Department of Agriculture should stick to its previous boundaries for growing canola.
“Our situation with canola is absolutely no different than the discovery of GMO wheat,” Tichinin said. Read Full Article »
After hearing from scores of concerned organic stakeholders about his scheduled show with Mischa Popoff, radio host Michael Olson of the syndicated show Food Chain Radio asked Mark Kastel to join Popoff in the interest of providing balance. The result was an impromptu debate challenging Popoff’s credibility and his scheme for replacing certification with wholesale testing.Mischa Popoff is a self-published author and ideologue who has spent the last few years attempting to undermine the credibility of the organic label.
Kastel is the Codirector and Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. The national organization, based in Wisconsin, acts as a corporate and governmental watchdog in the organic industry.Michael Olson’s hour-long show, Food Chain Radio, airs live and is syndicated on a number of commercial stations nationwide. A podcast, just over a half hour long without most of the advertising, is available at http://metrofarm.com/mf_Food_Chain_Radio.php. (Please note that you should not click on this link if you have iTunes installed on your device. It has caused problems for iTunes users only.)
For many years, The Cornucopia Institute has monitored and responded to attacks on organics by a handful of “think tanks” that have received funding from corporate agribusiness and biotechnology (Monsanto, DuPont and others). These groups include the Hudson Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution and the Heartland Institute, which Mr. Popoff is presently affiliated with.