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Archive for the ‘Organic Foods’ Category

The pro-biotech web site “Truth About Trade & Technology” published an article written by a farmer named Noel Kjesbo, who is a sugar beet producer in the Red River Valley (North Dakota and Minnesota – he doesn’t say specifically which state he farms). Noel was responding to the lawsuit brought by OSA and others against USDA-APHIS for the improper deregulation of a Roundup Ready sugar beet. Noel accused Organic Seed Alliance and the co-plaintiffs of being ”fraudulent”, “dishonest”, “selfish”,  and of using “misleading names”. He believes that we are using “global terrorism and food scares” to cause anxiety around food safety, and specifically the safety of genetically modified foods. While we at OSA do have concerns about the human and environmental health impacts of industrial biotech agriculture, we also have concerns about the impact of biotech crops on organic farmers freedom to operate – their ability to produce organic food with integrity and compete in the marketplace .

The following was a response written by Frank Morton – farmer, plant breeder, and owner of Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon:

As a farmer, seedsman, plant breeder, member of the Isolation Pinning Rules Committee of Oregon’s Willamette Valley Specialty Seeds Association, and director on the boards of both Organic Seed Alliance and the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, I want to offer agricultural perspective on the deregulation and planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready sugar beets.

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After nearly five years of legal and regulatory battles, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has fully deregulated Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa that is genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to Roundup herbicide.

The decision squashed a proposed compromise between the biotech industry and its opponents that would have placed geographic restrictions on Roundup Ready alfalfa to prevent organic and traditional alfalfa from being contaminated by herbicide sprays and transgenes spread by cross-pollination and other factors.

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Last week President Obama and Secretary Vilsack approved Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa despite overwhelming public protest. This move fundamentally undermines the organic industry, especially organic meat and dairy. In approving GMO alfalfa the Obama administration has caved to Monsanto and made it harder for family farmers to make a living and for consumers wanting to eat safe, healthy foods.

This decision is a devastating blow to our democracy and the basic rights of farmers to choose how they want to grow food on their land and protect the rights of consumers who are increasingly buying organic and sustainably grown food for its positive health and environmental impacts. Please join us in telling President Obama that you’re deeply disappointed in his decision and want a ban on GMO alfalfa.

 

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The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must.”   –  Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods MarketOrganic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

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Our search for rootedness has brought us back to the Philippines, back to communities in the south where Robin spent a year over three decades ago.

We spend time with the family of a rice farmer, Delia, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Delia, her husband Romulo, two daughters, one son, and three grandchildren live in a simple but roomy house on the edge of their rice field. Behind the house is a tilapia-filled fish pond with papaya trees growing on one side. A few pigs are housed by the fish pond, and fifteen chickens have free range of the property. Vitamin-rich greens grow at the far edge of the pond, and two towering jackfruit trees provide shade as well as ingredients for delicious meals. Theirs is an example of what we call a “rooted” life; among other things, they eat mainly what they grow and raise.

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California’s Sixth Appellate District Court upheld the right of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo to sue Western Farm Service for damages caused four years ago when organophosphate residues moved via fog from nearby conventional vegetable fields onto Jacobs Farm organic herbs destined for Whole Foods.

This precedent-setting decision has significant ramifications for all organic farmers, nearby conventional farmers, and both the seed and biotechnology industries. In short, the court upheld the right of an organic farmer to sue and win damages to cover economic losses even when a conventional production input (in this case, insecticides) is applied legally and in accord with all requirements.

In short, when an applicator applies a pesticide, the applicator henceforth owns responsibility for any adverse impacts associated with the application. In many similar cases involving pesticide drift or off-target movement, applicators and/or farmers have successfully used the defence that they followed the label, and hence should not be held accountable.

The agrichemical industry hired top-notch attorneys and submitted amicus briefs before the appellate court in the hope of overturning the decision. They were unsuccessful, and must now decide whether to appeal the case to the California Supreme Court.

Source: Kurtis Alexander, “Appeals court: Organic farm can seek damages from pesticide company,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 22, 2010

 

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“Paul Hawken: The High Cost of Che…” from blip.tv: Excerpted from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s, Cooking For Solutions 2010 media conference, Paul Hawken eloquently explains how the price of food is divorced from its true costs, and what this really means for society at large.

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THE TRUE COST OF FOOD video is part of the Sierra Club True Cost of Food campaign which  is spreading the word about hidden costs in mass-produced food and about alternatives that are kinder to the planet and better for us.

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Learn more about The True Cost of Food campaign.

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Preserving the health in the soil while eliminating weeds.

Jeff Moyer has been farm manager/director at the Rodale Institute for more than 28 years, has served as chair of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, and is a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic. He has also been working on perfecting an organic no-till system that reduces and even eliminates both tillage and the herbicides on which most no-till systems are dependent.

We’ve shared the challenges and successes of the experiences of Jeff and our research team on the website and at conferences nationwide, including free plans for the cover crop crimper/roller we use here at the Institute. But, Jeff has received so many questions over the years, he decided to write a book, Organic No-Till Farming. We cornered Jeff in his office here at the Institute and talked to him about the book, the system, and the state of agriculture in general.

“As a human being, you can hold your breath for 2 or 3 minutes, but that is not a sustainable respiratory system. For the last 100 years, ag has been holding its breath.”

~ Jeff Moyer
Tell me about organic no-till and how you came to write the book.

Well, you really need to read the book for the whole story but there are some simple nuts and bolts of organic no-till. Tillage is the primary tool organic farmers have to manage weeds in their production systems. But, we have known for a long time that we can use mulch to eliminate annual weeds from our gardens. So, the question became how can we use this technology on a field scale? The trick is to grow the mulch right in the field. So, the system is based on the use of cover crops and biology to manage weeds without tillage. With the invention of some unique equipment to mount on tractors we can manage the cover crops to create a mulch.

 


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The Director of Food Services at Rodale, Inc. talks about the challenges of sourcing sustainably, what every farmer should know about selling direct to chefs, and serendipity.

By Amanda Kimble-Evans

 

“In the last two years especially there have been tremendous strides in sustainable commercial kitchen equipment, environmentally friendly disposables, availability of organic foods and so on.”

~ Leah Nichols

How did you get into the food service industry and what led you to Rodale, Inc.?

I grew up on farms and had a grandmother who was a queen in the kitchen. Her extended family used to get together to make German sausage and other things, so food was always a big part of family life and something I loved. My aunt and Mum worked for a food service company when I was young and I started out with a temp job in food service when I was in high school. It just got in my blood and I could never escape the kitchen no matter how hard I tried.

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