Cornucopia News Archive

USDA Rejects Advice of Expert Panel

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Inflammatory/carcinogenic food additive carrageenan reapproved
for use in organics

Report Exposes Food Industry Cover-up:
Widespread Contamination Present in the Common Food-Grade Ingredient

A highly controversial natural food substance, carrageenan, a seaweed derivative used in conventional, “natural,” and some organic foods, was just reapproved by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.  This move overrides the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board, an expert industry panel set up by Congress.

After hearing from medical and scientific experts describing carrageenan’s link to intestinal inflammation, cancer, and other human health risks, the NOSB voted to remove carrageenan from the list of approved synthetic and non-organic substances for use in organic food production.

In a move unprecedented during the last quarter century of organic industry rulemaking, the USDA ignored the NOSB vote in the Federal Register without an opportunity for the public to comment on their decision before it goes into effect.

“This is the latest instance of the Trump/Purdue administration siding with powerful agribusiness interests. They are running roughshod over the will of Congress that established the NOSB as a buffer to insulate organic regulations from corrupt corporate lobbyists,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that acts as an organic industry watchdog. Read Full Article »

Come Join Us! You are Cordially Invited to a March 24 Event

Monday, March 5th, 2018

The Cornucopia Institute board and staff enthusiastically invite you to an
evening of organic stakeholder networking and organic food advocacy.
Join us for farmer-sourced, organic wine and appetizers.

Cross-Pollination of Organic Farmers and Their Urban Allies

Saturday, March 24 from 5:00-7:00pm
Bentley Wheeler House
950 Cass Street in La Crosse, WI

Come for just the evening, the whole day, or stay the night in La Crosse
and make it a weekend affair!  

The event will include a reception, followed by an introduction to some of the organic pioneers who lead The Cornucopia Institute. Cornucopia’s cofounder and senior farm policy analyst, Mark Kastel, will share “Protecting What We Have All Built Together,” a plenary describing how to protect organic farms from corporate agribusiness/factory farming and how, together, we can defend the authenticity of our food supply.

If you are still hungry after the reception, downtown La Crosse offers some wonderful dining and entertainment options, some serving organic and/or local food.

Read Full Article »

Slower-Growing Chickens

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Will the USDA Heed the Call for More Stringent Regulations?

[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: Adobe Stock

The trend in the meat chicken industry is to produce more chicken meat from less feed in less time. The most common chicken breed used in commercial enterprises today, the Cornish Cross, can put on weight twice as fast as domestic chickens could a century ago.

Consumers will recognize this bird by its huge breast and white feathering. Most Cornish Cross industry chickens reach market weight sometime between four and eight weeks, depending on the desired weight for slaughter.

Unfortunately, fast-growing breeds of chicken are associated with a host of issues; both producers and consumers are becoming more concerned. Read Full Article »

USDA Accused of Disseminating “Corporate Propaganda” Backing Agribusiness Switch of Organics to (Soil-less) Hydroponic Production

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

[Read Cornucopia’s formal request to the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate whether the agency willfully attempted to misinform the public.]

Regulators Bypass Expert Panel, Endorse Organic Practices Banned Worldwide

FOIA Documents, Witnesses Indicate Collusion, USDA Organic Program in Turmoil: Formal Complaint Filed with Office of Inspector General 

Hydroponic operations, like this one,
need only change the fertilizer solution to
become certified organic
Image source: Horticulture Group

In an affront to the farming pioneers who launched the organic movement, today a $50 billion industry, the USDA announced late last month that the “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program (NOP) began.”

Much of the hydroponic production entering the organic market takes place in large, industrial-scale greenhouses using liquid fertilizers, mostly produced from conventional, hydrolyzed soybeans. Hydroponic produce under the organic label is rapidly displacing fruit and vegetables grown in soil, which is carefully nurtured to improve fertility, by diversified farms.  The founders within the organic farming community contend that hydroponics’ cheaper production techniques, employed by huge growers in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, where hydroponics cannot be legally labeled as “organic,” is crushing legitimate soil-based farmers in the U.S.

There is no legal requirement for conventional or organic produce to be labeled as grown hydroponically, so consumers are likely unaware that the production methods, and corresponding nutrient levels, used in the fruits and vegetables they are purchasing have radically changed. Read Full Article »

Measuring Biodiversity on Organic Farms

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Legally Mandated, But Ignored

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

by Linley Dixon, PhD
Senior Scientist at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

Regardless of whether a farm is certified organic or not, when you step on a real organic farm, you know it. How? Biodiversity.

While surprising to many of us, biodiversity is not an esoteric, incalculable quality. In fact, it is relatively easy to quantify.

And by law, certifiers should be doing just that. Biodiversity can be measured in the soil, on the ground, or even in the air!

Lack of enforcement of the requirement to conserve biodiversity on organic farms is among the biggest failures of USDA’s National Organic Program.

The USDA regulations state that organic production “responds to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

If there is regulatory language that mandates biodiversity on organic farms, why are there so many certified organic industrial monoculture operations that so clearly violate this requirement? Read Full Article »