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.

New Tool Helps Retailers Gauge Human Right Violations in Seafood

February 6th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Seafood Watch has published a Seafood Slavery Risk Tool to help corporate seafood buyers determine which fisheries are at higher risk for human rights abuses. Buyers are encouraged to work with those suppliers to end the troubling practices. Being able to tell your customers that the seafood sold in their store was not procured with the use of slavery and human rights abuses will encourage the patronage of those of us interested in human dignity.

Was Your Seafood Caught With Slave Labor? New Database Helps Retailers Combat Abuse
NPR – The Salt
by Clare Leschin-Hoar

Source: Hechlok

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, known best for its red, yellow and green sustainable seafood-rating scheme, is unveiling its first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool on Thursday. It’s a database designed to help corporate seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking and hazardous child labor in the seafood they purchase.

The tool’s release comes on the heels of a new report that confirms forced labor and human rights abuses remain embedded in Thailand’s fishing industry, years after global media outlets first documented the practice.

The 134-page report by Human Rights Watch shows horrific conditions continue. That’s despite promises from the Thai government to crack down on abuses suffered by mostly migrants from countries like Myanmar and Cambodia — and despite pressure from the U.S. and European countries that purchase much of Thailand’s seafood exports. (Thailand is the fourth-largest seafood exporter in the world). Read Full Article »

Neonicotinoids Found in Rivers Around Great Lakes

February 5th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: A recent study found controversial neonicotinoid insecticides in tributaries of the Great Lakes system. Neonicotinoids are harmful to wildlife and are linked to bird population declines, bee die-off, and harm to aquatic life. The Great Lakes constitute the largest freshwater system on the planet’s surface, and they are a major source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest. Neonicotinoid insecticides are not permitted in organic agriculture.

Controversial insecticides pervasive in Great Lakes tributaries
Environmental Health News
by Brian Bienkowski

Source: USDA

A variety of neonicotinoids—harmful to aquatic organisms—are reported in major Great Lakes streams

U.S. scientists found neonicotinoid insecticides in about three-quarters of samples from 10 major Great Lakes tributaries.

The study is the first to examine the insecticides—gaining notoriety in recent years as a prime suspect in bee die-offs— in the world’s largest freshwater system and suggests Great Lakes’ fish, birds and entire ecosystems might be at risk.

“This study is one of many that shows we know very little about the repercussive effects of pesticides once released into the environment,” said Ruth Kerzee, executive director of the Midwest Pesticide Action Center, who was not involved in the study. “We are told these compounds break down rapidly when exposed to sunlight and, yet, this study shows persistence in the environment long after applications.” Read Full Article »

USDA Rewrites History to Say that Hydroponics Has Always Been Allowed in Organics

February 2nd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The federal law that created ‘USDA Organic’ states that organic farming operations must submit organic plans containing “provisions designed to foster soil fertility.” Organic farming is built on caring for the soil, but the USDA recently posted a bulletin, shared below, claiming that hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations have always been eligible for organic certification. This disingenuous rewriting of history further alienates and disadvantages legitimate organic farmers while eroding consumer confidence in the organic label. Cornucopia is investigating a lawsuit over the USDA’s novel interpretation of organic law.

Status of Organic Hydroponics, Aquaponics, Aeroponics; National Organic Standards Board Fall 2017 Updates
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Hydroponic, Aquaponic and Aeroponic Production Systems

At its Fall 2017 public meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) heard significant testimony about hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations. Given the extensive debate on this topic, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is posting this notice to clarify the status of these systems.

Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began. For these products to be labeled as organic, the operation must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent, and maintain compliance with the USDA organic regulations.

The NOSB has recommended prohibiting aeroponic systems in organic production. USDA will consider this recommendation; aeroponics remains allowed during this review. Read Full Article »

Measuring Biodiversity on Organic Farms

February 1st, 2018

Legally Mandated, But Ignored

[This article was previously published in the winter issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Linley Dixon, PhD
Senior Scientist at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

Regardless of whether a farm is certified organic or not, when you step on a real organic farm, you know it. How? Biodiversity.

While surprising to many of us, biodiversity is not an esoteric, incalculable quality. In fact, it is relatively easy to quantify.

And by law, certifiers should be doing just that. Biodiversity can be measured in the soil, on the ground, or even in the air!

Lack of enforcement of the requirement to conserve biodiversity on organic farms is among the biggest failures of USDA’s National Organic Program.

The USDA regulations state that organic production “responds to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

If there is regulatory language that mandates biodiversity on organic farms, why are there so many certified organic industrial monoculture operations that so clearly violate this requirement? Read Full Article »

Ohio Co-op Offers Local Produce to Customers through SNAP

January 31st, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The higher cost of organic produce can put it out of reach of some families, and many growers are looking for avenues to get food into the hands of people who can use the help. Some donate to local food pantries. Produce Perks, a program of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is now offered by Lake to River Food Co-op to give extra fruits and vegetables to customers receiving government assistance. It’s a commendable example of a co-op grocer reaching out to those interested in wholesome food options for their families.

Some local stores now offering affordable organic food program
by Cameron O’Brien

Produce Perks is a new program from SNAP that gives extra produce to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise

Youngstown is known for having limited food options within city borders.

So, Lake to River Food Co-op on the north side of Youngstown is working to give the community access to healthy, organic foods without breaking the bank.

The Produce Perks program is part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It gives extra produce to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

The Co-op says they’re thrilled to offer this program to their clients because it’s a much-needed service in the community. Read Full Article »

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