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.

Hawaii Moves Toward Chlorpyrifos Ban and Ending Pesticide Use Near Schools

May 3rd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: A bill currently headed for a final vote by the Hawaii House and Senate would restrict pesticide use within 100 feet of schools and ban chlorpyrifos outright. Chlorpyrifos, used widely in conventional agriculture, was slated for a national ban due to its demonstrated toxicity to humans – particularly children and their cognitive development.  But President Trump’s EPA continues to permit its use, apparently kowtowing to corporate interests. None of the pesticides in question are allowed in organic agriculture. Cornucopia will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.


Pesticide bill on verge of taking root
Hawaii Tribune Herald
by Max Dible

Hawaii is one step closer to buffering the use of several pesticides around schools, while outright banning the use of another throughout the state.

Source: John Colby

The Legislature on Friday afternoon passed out of conference committee Senate Bill 3095 SD1 HD1 CD1, sending the measure to final votes on the House and Senate floors.

The bill would prohibit the use of all pesticides within 100 feet of any public, private or home school between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on school days. It also would ban the use of chlorpyrifos beginning Jan. 1, 2019, making Hawaii the first state to do so. Read Full Article »

Hydroponic Producer Calls Soil “Inert,” Soil Farmers Know Better

May 2nd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Hydroponic growers in the interview below claim that soil is just another “inert” medium. Real organic farmers know better. Soil is teeming with microbiological activity, fungus, and other tiny life forms that exist in beautiful symbiosis with plants. Real organic farmers care for the biodiversity around them, grow humus, and build soil fertility to trap carbon and water in the earth. Plants grown in soil receive micronutrients that cannot be replaced by liquid fertilizer in water. Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel explains that the organic certification of hydroponic produce is not just confusing for consumers, it is against the law that created organic certification in the first place.


Farmers Disagree On Whether Soil-Free Growing Can Be Organic
CBS SF Bay Area

If you are an organic shopper this might come as a surprise: a growing number of organic fruits and vegetables are grown hydroponically, aquaponically or in containers, all techniques that do not use soil.

So are they really organic? It’s a loaded question that has polarized the $50 billion a year industry

Soil. That’s what Dru Rivers says organic farming is all about.

“It’s just really the foundation of what it means to be an organic farmer, is healthy soil makes healthy food,” said Rivers.

She co-owns Full Belly Farm, a certified organic farm northeast of Sacramento. Eighty varieties of organic vegetables, fruits and nuts grow there, along with a cover crop, whose only purpose is to put nitrogen back into the earth. Read Full Article »

GE Salmon Caught, Temporarily, in a Net of Regulation

May 2nd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Genetically engineered (GE) salmon by AquaBounty have yet to hit U.S. markets, in part because the FDA has yet to come out with their GE labeling law. Funding behind the GE salmon appears to be nearly infinite, and AquaBounty is determined to wait out legislators and policies. While it is likely that these fish will make it to U.S. markets at some point, many retailers have already stated they will not carry the controversial fish, and modern salmon breeding has already produced fish that mature as quickly as the AqaBounty fish. We will continue to monitor this story as it unfolds.


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The Fight to Keep GE-Salmon Off of Our Dinner Plates is a Complicated and Uncertain One
Organic Insider

Source: AquaBounty

As many of you may remember, President Obama’s Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the highly controversial genetically-engineered salmon in 2015, against the vocal opposition from millions of Americans, 40 members of Congress, and more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs, and restaurants.

Yet, here we are more than two years later, and GE-salmon is still not available in the U.S., a fortunate reality but one that may not last forever. Read Full Article »

Honoring the Life and Work of Dr. Samuel Epstein

May 1st, 2018

When I first met Doctor Epstein, I was fighting Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) as a lobbyist for the Farmers Union, on behalf of dairy producers. To say that Doctor Epstein was “no nonsense” might’ve been an understatement. If he felt that a commercial interest was aiding and abetting introducing carcinogens into the human bloodstream, he did not mince words.

He’s one of those people about whom I’ve always said, “I’m sure as heck glad he’s on my side. I wouldn’t want to be fighting him.”

– Mark Kastel


Dr. Samuel Epstein, 91, Cassandra of Cancer Prevention, Dies
The New York Times
by Sam Roberts

Published by Dr. Epstein
in 1978

In 1926, when Samuel S. Epstein was born in Yorkshire, an English baby boy’s estimated life span was about 60 years. Dr. Epstein lived to be 91, after devoting his career to preventing cancer and heeding his own advice. He died of cardiac arrest on March 18 in Chicago.

In his own way, Dr. Epstein seemed to be getting the last word in an argument he first ignited four decades ago, when he blamed greedy manufacturers, lax regulators, misguided researchers and complicit charitable groups for what he saw as a coming cancer epidemic.

A widely read author and widely heard lecturer, Dr. Epstein was venerated by some as an environmental prophet and reviled by others as an overzealous toxin avenger. He outlived many of his critics, perhaps because he had practiced what he preached about prevention in his own life. Read Full Article »

Unreleased FDA Testing Reveals Glyphosate in Common Household Foods

May 1st, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: As glyphosate is sprayed on corn, soy, wheat, and oat crops in rising amounts, it is finding its way into cereals, crackers, and many other products on grocery store shelves. Unfortunately, the FDA is under no obligation to share their full findings with public, unless the public files a freedom of information request, as The Guardian has done. The FDA official report will be released in late 2018 or early 2019. Glyphosate is not allowed in organic agriculture, although its ubiquitous use in conventional and GMO agriculture has caused widespread contamination of soil and water.


Weedkiller found in granola and crackers, internal FDA emails show
The Guardian
by Carey Gillam

The FDA has been testing food samples for traces of glyphosate for two years, but the agency has not yet released any official results

Source: Les DeFoor

US government scientists have detected a weedkiller linked to cancer in an array of commonly consumed foods, emails obtained through a freedom of information request show.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing food samples for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in hundreds of widely used herbicide products, for two years, but has not yet released any official results.

But the internal documents obtained by the Guardian show the FDA has had trouble finding any food that does not carry traces of the pesticide.

“I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson wrote to colleagues in an email last year regarding glyphosate. Thompson, who is based in an FDA regional laboratory in Arkansas, wrote that broccoli was the only food he had “on hand” that he found to be glyphosate-free. Read Full Article »

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