Promoting Economic Justice for Family-Scale Farming

NEWS FROM THE CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE

News From the Cornucopia Institute

July 9, 2016

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Toothless GMO Labeling Passes Senate

Source: John Griffiths

Source: John Griffiths

The Senate, in a major gift to Monsanto, voted 63-30 for a bill that would allow the use of words, pictures, or QR codes to “label” GMO ingredients. The USDA will decide which ingredients are considered genetically modified, and will not include ingredients like beet sugar and soybean oil because food processing removes most of the genetic material. The bill takes away the right of states to fully label food and seeds, like Vermont’s GMO food labeling law.  It passed after the Organic Trade Association and a few major companies involved in the organic industry broke ranks and sided with the biotech industry, fracturing the previously strong and united group of organizations and companies supporting your right to know what is in your food.It will now go to the House for a vote. Contact your Representatives by Tuesday to tell them you want mandatory GMO labeling in plain language on the package, and that you support the state laws voted on by the people. And contact the White House at 202-456-1111 (9-5 EST) or email and tweet the President and ask him to veto any GMO labeling legislation that denies up to 100 million Americans the right to know what is in their food.

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Call Us “Organic Hooligans”

Mark Kastel

Mark Kastel

At the April National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, the NOSB institutionalized controversial changes to Sunset and gave the USDA authority over the NOSB’s Policy Development Subcommittee. In the wake of the meeting, Melody Meyer of UNFI blogged about the impassioned “organic disciples (and hooligans)” who assembled to stand up for organic integrity. Cornucopia, the Agrarian Elders, and several public interest groups, including Beyond Pesticides and Consumer Reports, were at the meeting to recommend that the NOSB not “rubber stamp” the hijacking of organic policy. These groups are, undoubtedly, some of the “hooligans” she was referring to.

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Ancient Wheat the Next New Thing?

Source: Steve Tomlin

Source: Steve Tomlin

Most wheat farmers now grow Triticum aestivum, a hulless variety bred to prevent falling over and fungal infection, which yields three times more wheat per acre than its predecessors. Ancient wheat varieties, like einkorn and emmer, are more expensive than modern wheat, but they are higher in carotenoids and contain less gluten. Some ancient grains will grow in challenging conditions and are more resilient to pests and changing weather patterns. Consumer and national chain store interest in healthy grains may lead to increased sales of ancient bread and pasta flour, which will increase farm biodiversity.

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No Organic Check-off Coalition Petitions USDA

Source: jirotrom

Source: jirotrom

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) submitted a revised check-off proposal, which is effectively a new tax on organic farmers, to the USDA in May. Many organic farmers are concerned that it will act as other commodity check-off programs have, using taxes on all farmers to benefit large corporate producers. Last month the No Organic Checkoff coalition submitted a petition against the check-off to the USDA, representing more than 6,000 farmers across the nation. The organic checkoff has “been universally panned by the farmers that we work with,” says Will Fantle of The Cornucopia Institute, which is part of the No Organic Checkoff coalition.

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Food Safety Modernization Act Regulations for Exempt Farmers

Source: Mariano Mantel

Source: Mariano Mantel

The expensive Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations are now in effect, and the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has posted flow charts to help farmers, artisan producers, and food businesses determine whether they are exempt. The charts are not a substitute for legal advice and cover only the two main rules under FSMA. Facilities and farms with a qualified exemption must still meet certain modified requirements, and must have begun keeping the necessary records as of January 2016. Consider attending a workshop on the new FSMA requirements to ensure your farm or facility is in compliance.

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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