Promoting Economic Justice for Family-Scale Farming

NEWS FROM THE CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE

News From the Cornucopia Institute

May 7, 2016

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Kastel on Organics, Policy, and Consumer Choice

Max Goldberg & Mark Kastel

Max Goldberg & Mark Kastel

Max Goldberg of Living Maxwell interviewed Cornucopia Cofounder Mark Kastel during last week’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Washington, D.C. Kastel and Goldberg discuss the origin and purpose of the NOSB, the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, changes to Sunset, and other controversial policy issues in organics. Kastel explains why organic certification continues to be relevant for and benefit consumers and farmers. You can follow these stories and find Cornucopia’s scorecards rating organic dairy, eggs, and more at www.cornucopia.org.

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Soil Scientists Help Farmers Eliminate Synthetic Fertilizers

Rick Haney; Source: USDA

Rick Haney; Source: USDA

Dr. Rick Haney, a USDA Agricultural Research Service soil scientist, works closely with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to teach farmers about soil as a biological system. With help from Haney and NRCS, many conventional farmers have eliminated or reduced their fertilizer inputs while reaping higher yields and building healthy soil. Cover crops and no-till agriculture encourage the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms which feed and are fed by plant roots while fixing atmospheric carbon in the soil. This article explains soil biology for the novice. You can learn more on the NRCS website.

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Watch Your Language!

Source: Adobe Stock

Source: Adobe Stock

Words rise up to describe the work of farmers caring for the land and livestock. Corporations commonly co-opt many of these words if they don’t have legal definitions: green, natural, farm fresh. Some food packaging claims do have legal definitions, including organic, free-range, grass-fed, cage-free, pasture-raised, non-GMO, Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved, and American Humane Certified. Consumers can ensure they get what they pay for by knowing what these labels mean. You might be surprised that free-range, USDA grass-fed, and cage-free may not mean what you think. Chicken labeled Certified Humane or American Humane Certified may have never been outside. Cornucopia’s news and scorecards can help you decide which brands to support.

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CRISPR: Unregulated and Wildly Overhyped

Source: Georgios Karamanis

Source: Georgios Karamanis

CRISPR is a new tool for “gene editing,” a combination of a guide RNA and a protein that can cut DNA. The USDA has declined to regulate CRISPR modified crops as GMOs because they do not contain foreign DNA, leaving them outside the USDA’s definition of GMO. However, the EPA and FDA must also review CRISPR crops before they reach the market. CRISPR is touted as a precise tool for genome editing. But how precise is it? And do scientists even understand DNA well enough to perform intentional and predictable edits without unintended consequences? Jonathan Latham, Ph.D. investigates the hype around CRISPR.

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New Communications and Development Director at Cornucopia

Jenn Hayden, PhD

Jenn Hayden, PhD

Join us in welcoming Jennifer Hayden to Cornucopia’s team! Hayden holds a Ph.D. in rural sociology from Penn State, as well as an MSc from Oxford University in human geography, where she studied the interconnection between local and global food systems as well as how consumer-members experience CSAs. “I’m excited to be working with Cornucopia because they work to unite solid research with farmer and consumer action to uphold the original spirit and intent of organic agriculture as a true alternative to the conventional model that has devastated landscapes and rural economies,” Hayden says.

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The Cornucopia Institute

is a nonprofit organization engaged in research and educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, The Cornucopia Institute provides needed information to family farmers, consumers, stakeholders involved in the good food movement, and the media.

P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
TEL: 608-625-2000 | FAX: 866-861-2214 | www.cornucopia.org