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.

Dropping Flies: Over 30% of Insects Now Endangered

February 21st, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: Insect mass is declining by 2.5% annually. They pollinate plants, recycle waste, and provide food for many species, and humans cannot live without their various ecosystem services. More insects can be observed on organic farms than conventional or GMO farms. Deforestation, pesticide use, and other changes to ecosystems are thought to be major contributors to the catastrophic species loss.


Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’
The Guardian
by Damian Carrington

Source: LadyDragonflyCC, Flickr

Exclusive: Insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline, says global review

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. Read Full Article »

Organic Farmers Improve Ecosystem Services

February 20th, 2019

Benefiting Communities and the Planet

This article was previously published in the winter issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Marie Burcham, JD
Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: AdobeStock

The benefits that a healthy, functioning environment provides for humanity are called ecosystem services. For example, forest ecosystems provide the service of oxygen production. These benefits are often taken for granted, although these services are finite in nature and tied directly to the vitality of the ecosystem itself.

In the early 2000s, the United Nations sponsored the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), an effort to understand the impact of human actions on ecosystems and human well-being. The assessment popularized the concept of ecosystem services, discussed in scientific and economic circles for decades prior.

The MA ultimately identified four major categories of ecosystem services: 1.Provisioning (production of food and water); 2.Regulating (controlling climate and disease); 3.Cultural (spiritual and recreational benefits); and, 4.Supporting Services (oxygen production and nutrient cycling). Read Full Article »

New Research Analysis Finds Glyphosate Linked to Cancer

February 19th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: According to a new meta-analysis, people with prolonged or high-level exposure to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup) are 41% more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The study’s authors focused on the most extreme cases of glyphosate exposure, reasoning that those would be the most likely individuals to develop cancer if glyphosate is a factor. The EPA continues to assert that the herbicide is safe when applied per Bayer/Monsanto’s instruction. Glyphosate is prohibited from use in organic agriculture.


Weedkiller ‘raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%’
The Guardian
by Carey Gillam

Study says evidence ‘supports link’ between exposure to glyphosate and increased risk

Source: Alex Proimos, Flickr

A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution.

The findings by five US scientists contradict the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assurances of safety over the weed killer and come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming. Read Full Article »

Your Pesticide Levels Can Drop Dramatically by Eating All Organic

February 13th, 2019

Cornucopia’s Take: In a new study, 16 children and adults who ate only organic food for six days experienced a 60.5% reduction in the levels of common pesticides in their bodies. Although the sample was very small, the study confirms similar previous research. Criticisms of those previous studies included the small sample size, drawing attention to the need for more funding for independent research.


Eating an organic diet for one week is enough to lower toxin levels, study finds
PhillyVoice
by Bailey King

Source: Larry Grubbs, Flickr

While most people know they “should” be eating organic because, well, that’s what the health world tells us, the price tag for organic items is often a huge deterrent for many healthy eaters.

With the knowledge that pesticides cover nearly every inch of conventional produce, many studies have backed the benefits of eating an organic diet — some going as far as to say it can prevent cancer.

new study published Tuesday by researchers out of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco found that after less than one week of eating organic, toxin levels in the body were dramatically lowered.

Researchers examined four families from different backgrounds who ate a conventional diet for six days, then an organic diet for another six. By testing their urine before and after going organic, researchers found huge drops in bodily pesticides — pesky chemicals that have been linked to cancer, hormonal imbalance, and neurological disorders and more, MindBodyGreen reports.

After six days on the organic diet, overall pesticide levels dropped 60.5 percent in both the adults and children, Civil Eats reports. Though the most notable statistic was a 95 percent drop in malathion, which is a toxin linked to brain damage in children. Read Full Article »

Healthy, Nutritious, or Hype?

February 13th, 2019

Evaluating the Hot Market for Plant-Based Beverages

[This article was previously published in the winter issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Anne Ross, JD
Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

Sales of non-dairy, plant-based beverages are burgeoning. In 2010, only one-fifth of U.S. households purchased or consumed plant-based beverages. By 2017, these beverages, commonly referred to as “milk,” had posted a 9% gain and reached a whopping $1.6 billion in annual sales.

Supermarket shelves are stocked full of plant-based beverage options, derived from a variety of sources, including nuts, seeds, legumes, and cereal grains. These products can be found in an assortment of flavors in both refrigerated and shelf-stable packaging. As plant-based beverages take over grocery store displays, it’s important for consumers to have the information they need to evaluate which, if any, of these beverages are right for them.

Cornucopia’s upcoming report and the accompanying scorecard will help consumers compare nutritional profiles of plant-based beverages, while also comparing them to that of dairy milk. Cornucopia’s report rates over 300 products from 49 brands, making it the most comprehensive examination of plant-based beverages available. Read Full Article »

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