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.

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
GreenBiz
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 »

Danish Government Financially Supports Organic Food Production

May 8th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Ten percent of the food in Denmark is organic, and organic farmers cannot meet the demands of the domestic market and export needs. In response, the Danish government has created a large financial stimulus package to help farmers convert more land to organic production. In contrast, the U.S. government has largely been indifferent to the needs of the organic marketplace and watered down this country’s organic standards, while allowing suspect imports and factory farms in organic to meet growing consumer demand.


Denmark’s government to spend a billion on organic farming
The Local

Source: Gideon Mendel, WSPA

A new financial growth plan for organic agriculture worth 1.1 billion kroner (147 million euros) is to be presented by Denmark’s government on Friday.

A key element in the stimulus package is to increase the number of farmers opting to go organic, reports Finans.

As such, a total of 1.1 billion kroner in total will be spent in 2018 and 2019 in order to help farmers to convert to organic production.

The coalition government is supported by parliamentary ally the Danish People’s Party in the agricultural initiative. Read Full Article »

Bacteria Shows Promise for Increasing Drought Tolerance in Crops

May 7th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Initial trials of microbe coatings on cotton and wheat seeds have shown impressive yield improvements for both crops. This new technology bypasses genetic modification in favor of studying and employing the bacteria found naturally on plants in the field that demonstrate drought tolerance.


Scientists Want to Replace Pesticides With Bacteria
Bloomberg News
by Elizabeth G Dunn

Indigo’s microbes could change Big Agriculture forever.

Geoffrey von Maltzahn,
Co-founder
Source: Indigo

Fresh snow coats the sidewalks outside Indigo Ag Inc.’s Boston offices, but inside the temperature is calibrated to mimic spring in the Midwest. Hundreds of almost identical soy seedlings sit beneath high-intensity arc lamps, basking in the artificially sunny 60F weather.

The plants aren’t destined to stay identical for long. “We haven’t imposed the stress yet,” says Geoffrey von Maltzahn, the company’s lanky 37-year-old co-founder. The MIT-trained microbiologist gestures toward photos showing what happens when you apply Indigo’s signature product—a coating of carefully chosen microbes—to some seeds but not others before planting, then dial back the water supply: One shows a tall, flourishing stalk; the other, what looks like a tangle of shriveled leaves. Read Full Article »

Court Rules Against Monsanto’s Challenge to California listing Glyphosate as Probable Carcinogen

May 4th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: In the wake of the International Agency for Research on Cancer deeming glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, a probable carcinogen in 2015, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced its intention to add glyphosate to its list of known and probable carcinogens. Monsanto has been fighting this in court, and the courts recently ruled in favor of the state of California. This is a victory for the public’s right to know when it is being exposed to toxins.


CFS and State of California Win Appeal Affirming Listing of Glyphosate Pesticide as Probable Carcinogen Under Proposition 65
Center for Food Safety

Ruling rejects Monsanto’s latest attempt to keep consumers in the dark about the hazards of glyphosate

Source: Chafer Machinery

[On April 19, 2018], a California Appellate Court sided with the State of California and Center for Food Safety (CFS) affirming that Monsanto’s glyphosate pesticide can be listed as a probable carcinogen under Proposition 65. Monsanto’s lawsuit challenged the 2015 announcement by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that it intended to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, under California’s landmark Proposition 65. Proposition 65 requires notification and labeling of all chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and prohibits their discharge into drinking waters of the state. CFS intervened in the case, defending the listing of glyphosate as a carcinogen and the public’s right to know when it is being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. Read Full Article »

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