Media/News Archive

Neonicotinoids Found in Rivers Around Great Lakes

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: A recent study found controversial neonicotinoid insecticides in tributaries of the Great Lakes system. Neonicotinoids are harmful to wildlife and are linked to bird population declines, bee die-off, and harm to aquatic life. The Great Lakes constitute the largest freshwater system on the planet’s surface, and they are a major source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest. Neonicotinoid insecticides are not permitted in organic agriculture.

Controversial insecticides pervasive in Great Lakes tributaries
Environmental Health News
by Brian Bienkowski

Source: USDA

A variety of neonicotinoids—harmful to aquatic organisms—are reported in major Great Lakes streams

U.S. scientists found neonicotinoid insecticides in about three-quarters of samples from 10 major Great Lakes tributaries.

The study is the first to examine the insecticides—gaining notoriety in recent years as a prime suspect in bee die-offs— in the world’s largest freshwater system and suggests Great Lakes’ fish, birds and entire ecosystems might be at risk.

“This study is one of many that shows we know very little about the repercussive effects of pesticides once released into the environment,” said Ruth Kerzee, executive director of the Midwest Pesticide Action Center, who was not involved in the study. “We are told these compounds break down rapidly when exposed to sunlight and, yet, this study shows persistence in the environment long after applications.” Read Full Article »

USDA Rewrites History to Say that Hydroponics Has Always Been Allowed in Organics

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The federal law that created ‘USDA Organic’ states that organic farming operations must submit organic plans containing “provisions designed to foster soil fertility.” Organic farming is built on caring for the soil, but the USDA recently posted a bulletin, shared below, claiming that hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations have always been eligible for organic certification. This disingenuous rewriting of history further alienates and disadvantages legitimate organic farmers while eroding consumer confidence in the organic label. Cornucopia is investigating a lawsuit over the USDA’s novel interpretation of organic law.

Status of Organic Hydroponics, Aquaponics, Aeroponics; National Organic Standards Board Fall 2017 Updates
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Hydroponic, Aquaponic and Aeroponic Production Systems

At its Fall 2017 public meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) heard significant testimony about hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations. Given the extensive debate on this topic, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is posting this notice to clarify the status of these systems.

Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began. For these products to be labeled as organic, the operation must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent, and maintain compliance with the USDA organic regulations.

The NOSB has recommended prohibiting aeroponic systems in organic production. USDA will consider this recommendation; aeroponics remains allowed during this review. Read Full Article »

Ohio Co-op Offers Local Produce to Customers through SNAP

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The higher cost of organic produce can put it out of reach of some families, and many growers are looking for avenues to get food into the hands of people who can use the help. Some donate to local food pantries. Produce Perks, a program of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is now offered by Lake to River Food Co-op to give extra fruits and vegetables to customers receiving government assistance. It’s a commendable example of a co-op grocer reaching out to those interested in wholesome food options for their families.

Some local stores now offering affordable organic food program
by Cameron O’Brien

Produce Perks is a new program from SNAP that gives extra produce to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise

Youngstown is known for having limited food options within city borders.

So, Lake to River Food Co-op on the north side of Youngstown is working to give the community access to healthy, organic foods without breaking the bank.

The Produce Perks program is part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It gives extra produce to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

The Co-op says they’re thrilled to offer this program to their clients because it’s a much-needed service in the community. Read Full Article »

Organizing Efforts Help Farmers Make a Living in Montana – Organically

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The Montana Organic Association‘s (MOA) mission is to advocate and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state’s economy. Because organic market prices are higher than conventional, and the cost of inputs for organic farming is often far below that for conventional, MOA finds that organic farming is often more viable for new farmers. As these farms face increasing competition from cheap “organic” imports and industrial domestic supply, organizations like MOA in communities across the country are increasingly vital to ensure long-term sustainability of organic producers and their local food economies.

Organic farming oftentimes most viable for new producers
Great Falls Tribune
by Amy Grisak

The Montana Organic Association is a valuable resource in this burgeoning realm of agriculture providing information and support for growers and conscientious consumers. This vibrant organization is there to help producers by cultivating networks to sell their products, assist those transitioning from conventional systems, and continue to work on the regulation aspect of organic production, along with offering educational opportunities for everyone.

“We represent, educate, and support organic growers and interested citizens,” said Doug Crabtree, board chairperson of the Montana Organic Association.

Conventional agricultural undoubtedly dominates the Montana landscape, yet according to Crabtree, “The market for organic has been growing in double digits for years.”  Read Full Article »

Nutrients Come from Healthy Soil – So What About Hydroponics?

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Organic tomato farmer Dave Chapman discusses the co-evolution of fungi and plants in the soil, the corporate profit motive that is changing organic regulations, and the absurdity of thinking farmers can recreate soil conditions with water and a few bags of fertilizer.

How the Hydroponics Industry Is Undermining Everything the Organic Farming Movement Stands For
In These Times
by Dan Bensonoff

Dave Chapman discusses the past, present, and future of organic certification in the United States, and efforts to keep organic farming based on healthy soil rather than hydroponic solutions at the 11th Annual Organic Producers Conference in England. (Video: TheNOFAVT / YouTube)

Editor’s note: In the 1990s, when the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was drafting what it would mean to be “certified organic,” they defined organic agriculture, in part, as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.” In other words, USDA set legal standards for a system of food production that, unlike the ecologically destructive, tremendously profitable industrial model, focused on the long-term health of the land (i.e. soil) and water on which hard-working farmers cultivate food. In theory, at least, the USDA’s “organic seal” would allow consumers to identify the goods produced by those farmers willing to put in the extra work—forgo the use of synthetic inputs, steer clear of genetic engineering, implement crop and grazing rotations etc.—and focus on sustainable growing practices. Read Full Article »