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.

Organic Grass-fed Beef is Better for the Environment

May 15th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: A recent Japanese study looked at the production methods used for beef cattle, generally considered to have higher environmental impacts than other livestock production. Researchers studied the impacts of feed production, transportation, processing, animal management, enteric fermentation, and manure and its management. While this study had a very small sample, it provides consumers and farmers food for thought.

Organic grass-fed beef has less environmental impact than non-organic grass-fed beef
The Organic Center

Source: USDA

A recent study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production assessed the environmental impacts of organic grass-fed beef and non-organic grass-fed beef production. Researchers used a lifecycle analysis to analyze data collected from one grass-fed farm prior to conversion to organic and then after its conversion to organic, as well as data from conventional non-grass-fed farms. They found that organic and non-organic grass-fed beef production practices were more environmentally friendly than conventional production, with reduced impact on acidification, eutrophication (over-growth of algae and decrease of oxygen in bodies of water due to nutrient runoff), and energy consumption. The global warming potential for organic grass-fed beef and conventional beef was not statistically different, although both out-performed non-organic grass-fed beef production. Overall, the study found that organic grass-fed beef production has fewer environmental impacts than both conventional beef and non-organic grass-fed beef production. Read Full Article »

Proposed USDA GMO Labels are Biotech Propaganda

May 14th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, USDA’s proposed GMO labeling law, is open for public comment until July 3, 2018. It does not require any foods that have been genetically modified using CRISPR to be labeled GMO, as the USDA contends these modifications could have been produced using traditional plant breeding. The proposed GMO labels, pictured below, look more like biotech propaganda than a consumer awareness label.

US will label GMO foods with smiley faces and sunshine
MIT Technology Review
by Antonio Regalado

Source: USDA

The USDA says consumers don’t need to know if food has been modified using CRISPR.

Why now: A 2016 law gave the agricultural agency the job of deciding how to label foods that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), so that consumers know about them.

The document: On May 3, the agency released a 106-page National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The public has two months to comment on the proposal. Read Full Article »

USDA Rejects Organic Checkoff Proposal

May 11th, 2018

The No Organic Checkoff coalition has prevailed in their fight to prevent the creation of a tax on organic farmers and other organic entities through a USDA administered commodity checkoff program.  The controversial proposal had been long sought by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and was scuttled today in an announcement by the USDA.

“We are delighted that this poorly thought out proposal was rejected by the USDA,” said Will Fantle of The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy organization and organic industry watchdog.   “This is a win for organic farmers and their allies,” Fantle added.

Many farmers are familiar with checkoff programs from commodities they have grown or raised in the past (dairy, beef, eggs, etc.).  Almost uniformly, farmers have viewed checkoffs as a tax on their income, from which they have seen little benefit from any dollars spent for promoting the commodity they grow or raise.  Any corresponding sales increases have typically gone into the pockets of processors and marketers and not trickled down to farmers. Read Full Article »

The Lengthy History of GE Salmon in the U.S.

May 9th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Genetically engineered salmon were first bred over 25 years ago, and public opinion has played a major role in their not receiving regulatory approval for sale in the U.S. Tribes in the Pacific Northwest that rely on wild salmon for fishing and as an important piece of their cultural heritage have joined a lawsuit led by the Center for Food Safety which claims that the FDA has not adequately assessed the environmental and ecological outcomes posed by the fish.

How genetically engineered salmon swims onto our plates
by Richard Martin

Source: Melissa Doroquez

This story first appeared in bioGraphic, an online magazine from the California Academy of Sciences.

One day in 1992, a technology entrepreneur sat down for a meeting with two biologists studying the genes of fish. The scientists, Choy Hew and Garth Fletcher, were working on a method of purifying “antifreeze proteins” that would help Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) survive so-called superchill events in the North Atlantic. Normally these salmon migrate out of the sub-zero ice-laden seawater of the far North Atlantic to overwinter in less frigid waters. Increasingly, though, such fish were being farmed, penned year-round in offshore cages, in near-Arctic waters to which they were not adapted. Fish farmers were looking for a way to keep the fish alive through the winter, and the antifreeze protein seemed like a possible solution.

As the meeting drew to a close, Fletcher and Hew showed Elliot Entis, the entrepreneur, a photo of two fish of equal age. One dwarfed the other. “I sat back down,” Entis recalled recently. Read Full Article »

National Organic Standards Board Meeting Report — Tucson, April 2018

May 9th, 2018

Expert Advisory Panel Addresses Imports Fraud and Biodiversity Conservation

  • Fraudulent organic imports and the industrial model of production under the organic seal is hurting the profitability of organic family farmers. Two panels focused on options for better oversight.
  • Despite increased documentation of fraud, the National Organic Program is still lacking systems to monitor imports.
  • The National Organic Standards Board made a formal recommendation to protect native ecosystems from conversion into organic production, a project Cornucopia has been supporting for years.
  • Like Cornucopia’s mobile-friendly, organic brand scorecards, the need for add-on labels illustrates the failure of the NOP to assure compliance with the spirit and letter of the law as written in the Organic Foods Production Act.
National Organic Standards Board at the spring meeting

The spring 2018 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting was held the last week of April in Tucson, Arizona. Cornucopia’s policy experts spoke to the organic community about the struggles facing organic family farmers due to fraudulent imports and the increasing representation of the industrial model of production under the organic seal. In many cases, farm prices for organic milk, eggs, meat, and produce are below the cost of production for family farmers, and contracts with wholesale buyers are not being renewed. Organic family farmers are forced to switch to direct marketing, revert back to conventional production, or, in some cases, close their operations. Read Full Article »

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