Opinion/Editorial Archive

No More Exposés in North Carolina

Monday, February 8th, 2016

The New York Times
by The Editorial Board

Source: Mike Licht

Factory farm operators believe that the less Americans know about what goes on behind their closed doors, the better for the industry. That’s because the animals sent through those factories often endure an unimaginable amount of mistreatment and abuse.

Cows too sick to walk are dragged by the neck across cement floors. Pigs are stabbed and beaten with sledgehammers. Chickens are thrown against walls and stomped to death. And accepted industry practices, like confining animals in impossibly small cages, are just as brutal.

Nearly always, this treatment comes to light only because courageous employees — or those posing as employees — take undercover video and release it to the public. The industry should welcome such scrutiny as a way to expose the worst operators. Instead, the industry’s lobbyists have taken the opposite approach, pushing for the passage of so-called “ag-gag” laws, which ban undercover recordings on farms and in slaughterhouses. Read Full Article »

Going Back to the Future: Is Biodynamic Agriculture the “Newest” Trend in Organic?

Monday, February 1st, 2016

by Elizabeth Candelario, Demeter Co-Director

Source: Harmony Farm in Tipp City, OH

In the early 1920’s a growing group of European farmers were increasingly concerned about what they were witnessing on their farms.  Their soil was depleted, their seeds weren’t germinating, their crops’ quality was declining, and their animals were suffering.  The overall life and vitality of their farms was markedly changing.  Seeking the causes behind their observations, the farmers approached Dr. Rudolf Steiner-a well-know scientist and social advocate, who is now best known as the founder of Waldorf education- for guidance.

It’s helpful to place this story in the context of the times.  Prior to the advent of industrialization, our communities were agrarian and people lived on their farms.  They grew food for themselves and their farm animals.  Lots of different crops grew and the farm itself existed in a larger ecological context of forests, plains, and watersheds.  People lived in tune with the seasons and the celestial rhythms.  But by the turn of the last century, people moved from their farms to the cities.  Factories were built focused on increased production based on the increased utilization of our natural resources.

It’s not surprising that farms began to resemble factories.  Read Full Article »

Why is Cornell University Hosting a GMO Propaganda Campaign?

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Ecologist
by Stacy Malkan

Source: Erik Jaeger

Cornell, one of the world’s leading academic institutions, has abandoned scientific objectivity, writes Stacy Malkan – and instead made itself a global hub for the promotion of GM crops and food. Working with selected journalists and industry-supported academics, Cornell’s so-called ‘Alliance for Science’ is an aggressive propaganda tool for corporate biotech and agribusiness.

The founders of Cornell University, Andrew D. White and Ezra Cornell, dreamed of creating a great university that took a radical approach to learning.

Their revolutionary spirit, and the promise to pursue knowledge for the greater good, is said to be at the heart of the Ivy League school their dream became.

It is difficult to understand how these ideals are served by a unit of Cornell operating as a public relations arm for the agrichemical industry.

Yet that is what seems to be going on at the Cornell Alliance for Science (CAS), a program launched in 2014 with a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a goal to “depolarize the charged debate” about GMOs. Read Full Article »

The Facts About The USDA’s AMS Grassfed Marketing Claim Recission

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

American Grassfed Association

AGA-LogoOn January 12, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service rescinded the standards for the grassfed marketing claim. These were the minimal standards behind the grassfed label found on meat sold wholesale or retail. The reasons for the rescission are somewhat unclear, but according to AMS representatives, they have reinterpreted their authority and decided that developing and maintaining marketing standards does not fit within their agency.

Some Background

After a lengthy public process that lasted several years, AMS introduced the grassfed standard in 2006. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the regulatory arm that approves meat labels, was charged with enforcing the standard for those who chose to use it. But because FSIS required no audit or other verification other than a producer-signed affidavit, the term was sometimes misused and was often confusing, both for producers and consumers. The growth of grassfed demand in the marketplace only fueled the misperceptions.

Going forward, FSIS will continue to approve the grassfed label claim, but producers will each define their own standards. FSIS is only considering the feeding protocol in their label approvals — other issues such as confinement; use of antibiotics and hormones; and the source of the animals, meat, and dairy products will be left up to the producer. Read Full Article »

Final NOP’s Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance is Raising the Bar to a Higher Level, but Did Not Go Far Enough

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Wild Farm Alliance
by Jo Ann Baumgartner

NOP guidance did not clearly stop degradation
of lands with Conservation Reserve Program
improvements when converted to organic crop
production, although there is an example of
best practices regarding this issue.
Image source: Penn State

On January 15, 2016 the National Organic Program (NOP) released the final version of their Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance. It comes after Wild Farm Alliance and partners wrote the initial text and subsequently led comments from the organic community on the NOP’s draft.

“We applaud NOP for clearly stating that certified operations are required to implement measures that support natural resources and biodiversity conservation, not just soil and water quality, which was the problematic misconception from the start,” said Wild Farm Alliance Executive Director Jo Ann Baumgartner. “Soil and water regulations have been addressed consistently by most operations and certifiers in the past, and now with this final guidance, there will be a uniform method for implementation of the natural resources and biodiversity conservation regulations by all.” Read Full Article »