The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

A Way Out of the Two Crop Cycle

July 19th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: The 2018 Farm Bill presents an opportunity for improving sustainability for farmers – both environmentally and financially. Read the story below to hear what a fourth-generation Iowa farmer has to say.

Editorial: To clean up our water, go ‘nuts’ like this Iowa farmer
The Des Moines Register

Source: Rich Herrmann

Shifting from two-crop cycle can produce profits and environmental benefits

Seth Watkins has impressive Iowa agriculture bona fides: He’s a fourth-generation farmer. He raises 600 cows and tends 3,200 acres east of Clarinda in southwest Iowa. His grandmother, Jessie Field Shambaugh, founded 4-H.

Yet some Iowans have called him “nuts” for sowing grass where he could plant more corn, he told the Register.

Watkins has broken out of the two-crop cycle in which so many farmers are caught. He grows corn but also oats, alfalfa and cover crops. He grazes his cattle on pastureland, and about 400 acres of his land have been restored to prairie or set aside for ponds and protection of wildlife and streams. And he’s seen better financial returns as a result, he said, even if it comes at the cost of huge corn yields. Read Full Article »

Give Your Input to USDA on GMO Labeling

July 19th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: USDA is asking for stakeholder input on key issues of the GMO labeling law set to go into effect in 2018. We believe the most important issue here is to ensure that the USDA includes all gene-editing technologies in this labeling law.

All Forms of Genetic Engineering Must Require Labels
Organic Insider by Living Maxwell
by Max Goldberg

Source: Alexis Baden-Mayer

(Please note: Even though I have tried to simplify it as much as I could, today’s email is more technical than all of my other weekly emails. However, GMO-labeling is an extremely important issue and one that organic food companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on.)

As the USDA prepares to roll out its GMO-labeling law, which goes into effect in 2018, it is seeking input from stakeholders and has posed 30 questions regarding key issues of this bill.

This input will provide valuable guidance as the agency writes a formal draft of the law, which the public will be able to comment on as well.

Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at Consumers Union and arguably the preeminent expert in our industry when it comes to GMOs, genetics and all things labeling, released Consumers Union’s official comments on Friday, and I believe its key points below are the ones that organic advocates should focus on when submitting their own opinions to the USDA. Read Full Article »

Choosing the Best Eggs

July 18th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Codirector Mark Kastel was interviewed for this brief video on choosing eggs in the marketplace. He has traveled the country visiting various sized organic egg laying operations.  Be sure to check out Cornucopia’s organic egg scorecard to find the best options in your local market.


Not all eggs are created equal. Similar to how a fetus is affected by the health and diet of its mother, the health and diet of a hen very much affects the quality of her eggs. If you’re an egg eater, you’ll agree that all the terms on egg cartons are confusing— how do you tell if you’re buying high- or low-quality eggs? We investigated to figure out which terms really affect our health— and which are totally nonsense. We also talked to Mark Kastel, the co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group, for the inside info on why hen health affects our health. Here’s our WellBe education on eggs. Ready? Go. Read Full Article »

Scientist Speaks Out About Pesticide Companies’ Criticism of Study

July 18th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: As has become the industry standard when any research uncovers pesticide harm to pollinators, Syngenta and Bayer have accused the authors of bias, despite providing funding for this particular study. Lead study researcher Dr. Ben Woodcock noted that both Syngenta and Bayer have put out “statistically flawed” studies in recent years. In response to pesticide manufacturers’ accusations, he says “We just present the results we get.”

Bee Study Author Fights Back Against Bayer and Syngenta Accusations
by Joe Sandler Clarke

Dr. Ben Woodcock

The lead author of a major study which found that neonicotinoid pesticides harm honey bees has hit back against criticism from the chemical companies that part-funded the work.

Dr. Ben Woodcock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), said Bayer and Syngenta, which produce the controversial pesticides, had looked to undermine his work after it was published, despite providing $3 million in funding.

Speaking exclusively to Energydesk, he said:

“From a personal perspective, I don’t really appreciate having them accuse me of being a liar. And accusing me of falsifying results by cherry-picking data. That’s not what we’ve done. I’ve got little to gain from this and it’s been a major headache. We just present the results we get.” Read Full Article »

New Documentary on Sewage Sludge

July 17th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: The disposal of society’s wastes is frequently met with an “out of sight out of mind” approach. Everything that goes down the drains in our homes, industries, and institutions ends up in waterways and as sewage sludge from water treatment plants. According to the EPA more than 50 percent of the seven million dry tons of sewage sludge produced nationally ends up on farmland. Using sewage sludge on organic farms is prohibited by federal law.

While recycling the nutrients in human waste is key to ultimate sustainability, there is concern over chemical uptake into the food chain from potential unregulated contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals. Some European countries have created closed loops for industrial wastes and are composting residential sewage in response to sewage contamination.

Watch the documentary below for more on this important issue.

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes
National Film Board

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes, Jeff McKay, provided by the National Film Board of Canada Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000