The Cornucopia Institute

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.

GMO Companies May Soon Regulate Themselves: Comment by August 6

July 12th, 2019

New rules put agriculture and the public at risk

The USDA has recently proposed a set of rules that would allow chemical companies such as Dow and Bayer/Monsanto to determine the safety of their own products. The proposed rules, now open for public comment, would further deregulate an untrustworthy industry.

Source: Flickr, UGA CAES/Extension

If the rules are enacted, manufacturers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will decide for themselves whether or not to report experimental testing of their genetically engineered (GE) crops to the USDA. This move will sanction a glaring conflict of interest and allow GMOs to go directly from the lab to the market for consumption.

Chemical companies have repeatedly attempted to bury evidence of harm caused by their products, including Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate. GE crops cannot be contained and often cross-pollinate organic crops and wild species. When organic crops are contaminated, organic farmers must dump their harvest into far-less-profitable non-organic markets.

Allowing GMO manufacturers to forego evaluation under federal health and environmental laws would encourage the introduction of untested GE crops, increase the likelihood of contamination on organic farms and in the wild, and embolden the reckless use of pesticides which these crops are typically engineered to withstand.

Your public comments matter. Let the USDA know that self-regulation is not regulation at all!

Read the proposed rules and submit your comments (Docket No. APHIS-2018-0034-0037) by 11:59 pm ET on August 6. Read Full Article »

Farmer Blows the Whistle on Fraudulent Imports

July 11th, 2019

Cornucopia continues to investigate organic grain imports and monitor USDA efforts to stop the flow of fraudulent organic grain into the U.S.

John Bobbe and Cornucopia’s Anne Ross

The article below features the impactful work of John Bobbe, the former executive director of OFARM, the largest organic grain cooperative in the U.S. Bobbe has worked tirelessly to stop fraudulent organic grain from crossing U.S. borders.

Cornucopia, OFARM, and others have collaborated in calling on the USDA to close loopholes, inspect high-risk shipments, and investigate foreign companies and certifiers that engage in questionable certification practices.

The article references Cornucopia’s work, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market, which chronicles how a small number of multibillion dollar agribusinesses came to dominate the U.S. organic grain industry.

Bobbe, who is also a farmer, points out how fraudulent grain imports depress the market for U.S. farmers, discourage the transition of conventional land to organic, and erode consumer confidence in the authenticity of organic food.

Cornucopia acknowledged Bobbe’s work in our report, Against the Grain, which documents the struggles faced by U.S. farmers as suspicious organic grain imports increased in recent years.

While the USDA continues to cite limited resources and insufficient evidence to conduct routine inspections of incoming shipments, private citizens like Bobbe and organizations like Cornucopia are committed to safeguarding the integrity of organic agriculture.


Organics detective
U.S. farmers stalk fraudulent imports to save their markets
Star Tribune
by Adam Belz

The massive freighter left a port on the coast of Turkey in April, bound for the United States with a cargo of grain for farmers to feed to organic livestock.

From a desk at his farm in rural Wisconsin, John Bobbe was suspicious. Read Full Article »

Cornucopia’s Domestic Policy Director on Plant-Based Beverages

July 9th, 2019

Welcome to the live chat about Cornucopia's recent report and scorecard on plant-based beverages.

Posted by The Cornucopia Institute on Monday, July 8, 2019

To unmute, click on the sound icon in the lower right corner of the video.

Cornucopia’s domestic policy director Marie Burcham recently offered a live Q&A on the Cornucopia Institute’s newest report “Pouring” Over Plant-Based Beverages. Read Full Article »

Add-On Label Identifies Real Organic Food

July 3rd, 2019

The USDA’s National Organic Program has failed consumers and true organic farmers by refusing to enforce pasture requirements for organic livestock and by allowing hydroponic produce to bear the organic label. As such, add-on labels are emerging to help consumers differentiate between industrial and authentic organic. Cornucopia supports the efforts of the Real Organic Project to verify ethical farming practices.

The Real Organic Project (ROP) is a grassroots, farmer-led movement created to distinguish soil-grown and pasture-raised products. ROP has created an add-on label to assure consumers that what they are buying is authentic organic food from family farms.

In 2019, certified organic farms are eligible to apply for this add-on label, free of charge.

As a follow up to the 60 ROP-certified pilot farms across the country in 2018, ROP has begun their 2019 certification program.

Real certified organic farmers can be part of the pilot program! Apply online for free Real Organic Project certification–or call ROP Associate Director Linley Dixon at 970-317-0309 to apply by phone. Read Full Article »

Impossible Burger Poses as Environmentally Responsible

June 28th, 2019

The Cornucopia Institute is neutral in terms of people’s dietary choices. Our supporters’ dietary choices range from omnivores, vegetarians who consume dairy and eggs, vegans, to 100% raw.

Source: Jon Fisher, Flickr

But we are not neutral in terms of the quality of the food we recommend. The Impossible Burger is a plant-based and vegan burger alternative, now available in many Burger King chains in the U.S. To meet the volume requirements for such a roll-out, Impossible Foods produces its beef alternative with Roundup Ready soybeans.

GMO and conventional soy is implicated in deforestation and destruction of habitat to a great degree. Soy of this kind is extremely toxic to produce, using large amounts of pesticides.

Perhaps to take the focus off this controversial reformulation, the company’s 2019 Impact Report referred to regenerative grazing as “the ‘clean coal’ of meat.”

As Cornucopia has addressed in other work, one has to look at the whole picture when comparing the total environmental effect of food: land-use, chemical and pharmaceutical use, implications for biodiversity, and so on. The article below offers further considerations regarding the meaning of food.

Monoculture fields have taken over great tracts of land in the U.S., and so-called “efficiencies of scale,” coupled with government crop subsidies, make this kind of agriculture profitable–despite significant health costs to the environment, wildlife, and humans.

Unlike the Impossible Burger, organic, grass-based livestock are raised entirely without the use of synthetic pesticides or GMOs of any kind. Regenerative agriculture is premised on soil health, and livestock are typically only one aspect of a holistic farm system.

It is true that one could not “feed the world” at the current rates of meat consumption using regenerative grazing techniques. What Impossible Foods fails to state is that this is okay: for many individuals, eating less but higher quality meat is a positive choice.

Whatever your dietary choices, it’s important to look beyond marketing schemes. We encourage eaters with a plant-based diet to look into making homemade vegan and vegetarian burgers—they can be delicious, nutritious, and transparent in all their ingredients.


Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Independent Science News
by Dr. Vandana Shiva

Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life. Read Full Article »

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