tagged w/ Food Freedom
Just a reminder that October has been designated as Non GMO month and hoping you will take the opportunity to learn more about GMOs, how to avoid them and actions you can take to call for labelling and proper oversight. This is an important issue that connects to our health, economy and the biodiversity of our world as well as impacting the affects of climate change. So if you also miss the days when people participated on Current and posted pods, well now is your chance to post one to the Sustainable Agriculture Group this month on GMOS, sustainable agriculture, or your opinion about them and labelling them. More information on that can be found in the video.
Thank you, and let's work for a healthier and more biodiverse world for our children. They deserve nothing less.Just a reminder that October has been designated as Non GMO month and hoping you will... more
It's enough to make you re-think ordering that dessert next time: a new report has found that over two-thirds of the U.S. population is currently overweight.
The report, released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), says that "soaring obesity rates make the US the fattest country in the OECD." More alarmingly, the problem of obesity in the U.S. is not limited to adults: America also has the highest rate of child obesity among developed nations.
America, of course, is not alone among OECD nations in the struggle to deal with weight issues. In almost half of OECD countries, 50 percent or more of the population is now classified as overweight. Meanwhile, rates for obesity have doubled and even tripled in certain countries since 1980. Most tellingly, before 1980, the report states, rates of obesity in OECD countries were generally below 10 percent.
See which OECD nations are the world's most overweight in the slideshow below. (Note: The data in the slideshow represents the percent of the adult population that is overweight. The OECD breaks out different numbers for the percent that is obese. You can read the full OECD report here:
http://www.oecd.org/document/31/0,3343,en_2649_33929_45999775_1_1_1_37407,00.htmlIt's enough to make you re-think ordering that dessert next time: a new report... more
This October, more than 580 natural food stores nationwide will take part in the first ever Non‐GMO Month, celebrating consumers' right to choose food and products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organized by the non‐profit Non‐GMO Project, the event coincides with the launch of the "Non‐GMO Project Verified" seal on retail products.
The process of genetic modification, which takes place in a laboratory, typically merges DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Virtually all commercial GMOs are bred to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. None of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increase yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Studies, meanwhile, increasingly show a correlation between consumption of GMOs and an array of health risks. With U.S. consumer confidence shaken by ongoing food safety failures, distrust of GMOs is growing. As a result, more and more consumers are seeking non‐GMO choices, and Nielson reported in February of this year that "GMO‐free" is now the fastest growing store brand label claim.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that GMOs currently are in approximately 80% of conventional processed foods in the United States, but they are not labeled. This is in sharp contrast to most other developed nations around the world, where there are significant restrictions or outright bans on GMOs because they're not considered proven safe.
To fill the information gap, a "Non‐GMO Project Verified" seal has been created. Manufacturers earn the seal through compliance with rigorous GMO avoidance standards, including ingredient testing, as part of the nation's first third party non‐GMO verification program. Nearly 900 products have been verified to date, with thousands more in the process of becoming verified and new products joining the program every day. Non‐GMO Month celebrations will draw consumer attention to Non‐ GMO Project products, as well as educate them about the GMO issue.
"The Non‐GMO Project stays true to our mission to offer food in its most natural and unadulterated state, " said Michael Besancon, Whole Foods Market senior global vice president of purchasing, distribution and marketing. "We're committed to offering non‐GMO food and products and to educating consumers so they can make informed choices." Whole Foods Market stores nationwide will be participating in Non‐GMO Month, and Whole Foods also in the process of having its entire 365 private label brand verified to the Non‐GMO Project Standard.
Close to 300 independent retailers and co‐ops also are participating in Non‐GMO Month. "Retailers started the Non‐GMO Project because of consumer concern and requests for non‐GMO foods," said Corinne Shindelar, CEO of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA). "We have a responsibility to consumers to ensure the integrity of our food system, and among shoppers who value safe, healthy food, there is a strong desire to avoid GMOs. Non‐GMO Month is a fantastic opportunity to give people the information and non‐GMO choices they are looking for."This October, more than 580 natural food stores nationwide will take part in the first... more
La Via Campesina (www.viacampesina.org), a global peasant movement representing small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolk, rural women, youth and indigenous peoples, with 150 member organizations from 70 countries on five continents, has denounced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s recent acquisition of Monsanto Company shares. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994 by Microsoft founder William H. Gates, and today exerts a hegemonic influence on global agricultural development policy. The Foundation channels hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that encourage peasants and farmers to use Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) seed and agrochemicals. In August the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the $33.5 billion asset trust endowment that funds the Foundation’s philanthropic projects (and to which Bill & Melinda are trustees) disclosed that it purchased 500,000 shares of Monsanto shares for just over $23 million.(1)
According to Dena Hoff, a diversified family farmer in Glendive, Montana and North American coordinator of La Via Campesina, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s purchase of Monsanto shares indicates that the Gates Foundation’s interest in promoting the company’s seed is less about philanthropy than about profit-making. The Foundation is helping to open new markets for Monsanto, which is already the largest seed company in the world.”
Since 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has collaborated with the Rockefeller Foundation, an ardent promoter of GE crops for the world’s poor, to implement the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is opening up the continent to GE seed and chemicals sold by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. The Foundation has given $456 million to AGRA, and in 2006 hired Robert Horsch, a Monsanto executive for 25 years, to work on the project. In Kenya about 70 percent of AGRA grantees work directly with Monsanto (2) , nearly 80 percent of Gates' funding in the country involves biotech, and over $100 million in grants has been made to Kenyan organizations connected to Monsanto. In 2008, some 30 percent of the Foundation's agricultural development funds went to promoting or developing GE seed varieties (3).
In April the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and finance ministers from the US, Canada, Spain and South Korea pledged $880 million to create the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), managed by the World Bank to “tackle world hunger and poverty.”(4) In June GAFSP announced that it gave $35 million to Haiti to increase smallholder farmers’ access to “agricultural inputs, technology, and supply chains.”(5) In May Monsanto announced that it donated 475 tons of seed to Haiti, which is being distributed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The administrator of USAID is Rajiv Shah, who worked at the Gates Foundation before being appointed by the Obama administration in 2009.
According to Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Peasant Movement of Papaye and Caribbean coordinator of La Via Campesina, “It is really shocking for the peasant organizations and social movements in Haiti to learn about the decision of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to buy Monsanto shares while it is giving money for agricultural projects in Haiti that promote the company’s seed and agrochemicals. The peasant organizations in Haiti want to denounce this policy which is against the interests of 80 percent of the Haitian population, and is against peasant agriculture—the base of Haiti’s food production. ”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also funds the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, administered by the State Department. At a July 20 congressional subcommittee hearing on Feed the Future, executive vice president for Monsanto Gerald Steiner testified that “Feed the Future is exciting not least because it recognizes both the business imperatives by which Monsanto and other companies must operate… We want to do good in the world, while we also do well for our shareholders.” Steiner mentioned Monsanto’s project to develop drought resistant maize for Africa, also funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.(6)
According to Hoff, “Foundations, however well meaning, should not be setting food and agricultural policies for any nation of peoples. Democracy demands the informed participation of civil society to determine what is in the best interest of each nation's population. ‘Doing well for our shareholders’ seems an ulterior motive for meddling in the health and welfare of the planet and all its inhabitants in order to make a profit.”
Perhaps not by coincidence, in July Monsanto’s chief executive officer and president Hugh Grant purchased $2 million of company shares, and vice president and chief financial officer Carl M. Casale bought $1.6 million of shares. “Grant and Casale have pocketed nice sums from selling Monsanto shares over the years.”(7) Purchase of Monsanto shares by Gates, Grant and Casale could have been in anticipation of last week’s news that researchers published the genome for wheat, the staple grain for one-third of the world's population. “For Monsanto, a quality wheat genome map could potentially help in our efforts to bring better wheat varieties to farmers," said Monsanto. (8) In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $26.8 million to Cornell University to research wheat, and in May awarded $1.6 million to researchers at Washington State University to develop drought-resistant GE wheat varieties.(9)
The Gates Foundation continues to push Monsanto’s products on the poor, despite mounting evidence of the ecological, economic and physical dangers of producing and consuming GE crops and agrochemicals. In June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monsanto Co. vs. Geertson Seed Farms, its first case about a GE crop. The Court recognized that genetic contamination of non-GE crops from transgene flow of DNA from GE crops, which occurs through the spread of pollen by wind and bees, is harmful and onerous to the environment and farmers. According to the web site of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “AGRA and its partners have released more than 100 new varieties of improved seed across the [African] continent.”(10)La Via Campesina (www.viacampesina.org), a global peasant movement representing small... more
Today, the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit in federal district court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, challenging the issuance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of permits purporting to allow the immediate planting of a genetically engineered (GE) sugar beet seed crop. The coalition of organic seed growers and conservationists is represented by Earthjustice and attorneys from the Center for Food Safety.
Less than one month ago, on August 13, 2010, Judge Jeffrey White vacated APHIS’s deregulation of the GE sugar beet variety, making it illegal to plant, and required APHIS to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, after finding that APHIS had ignored the requirements for assessing the crop’s environmental impacts. The patented sugar beet variety, known as "Roundup Ready" because it has been engineered by Monsanto to tolerate applications of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, allows farmers to douse their fields with the chemical without concern for the crop itself, leading to greater use of the herbicide. Constant application of the herbicide also accelerates development of Roundup-resistant "super weeds," now found on millions of acres of U.S. farmlands, leading to further increased use of the chemical and of other, even more toxic herbicides.
"The Court has already found that the approval of this engineered crop was illegal," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "Rather than complying with the court's order, the USDA is once again acting as a rogue agency in illegally allowing these crops to be planted without the required hard look at their environmental and economic dangers."
The sugar beet seed crop will be grown in and around Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where farmers also grow seed for other crops. Judge White had found that the GE sugar beets, which can cross-pollinate table beets and Swiss chard, may contaminate organic and conventional crops and threaten these farmers’ livelihoods, and deprive farmers and consumers of the choice to grow and consume non-genetically engineered food.
Unwilling to await preparation of the court-ordered EIS and a new, public process on whether to again deregulate and allow for commercialization, APHIS responded to the urgings of the sugar beet industry by issuing permits purporting to allow the industry to plant their Roundup Ready sugar beet seed crop this fall, without any environmental review or public notice and comment, to create seed for a future Roundup Ready sugar beet crop that is still illegal. The unprecedented permitting process for a commercially grown genetically engineered crop violates, among other laws, the National Environmental Policy Act. Although APHIS claims the permits do not allow the crop to flower and spread pollen, the seed crop is expressly intended to flower and create seed next summer. NEPA requires APHIS to first examine the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the seed crop together with the impacts of the rest of the sugar beet production cycle the seed crop is intended to facilitate.
The plaintiffs have asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction enjoining the issuance of the permits and any planting pursuant to them.
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented: "APHIS's issuance of these permits blatantly violates well established law and flouts the Court's recent rulings. It has become Monsanto’s puppet.”Today, the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds,... more
"The SOYA MODEL implies a war against the population, the emptying of the countryside, and the elimination of our collective memory in order to shoehorn people into towns and convert them into faithful consumers of whatever the market provides. The impacts of this model go beyond the borders of the new Soya Republics. The dehumanisation of agriculture and the depopulation of rural areas for the benefit of the corporations is increasing in the North and in the South." - Javiera Ruli in United Soya Republics. The Truth about Soya Production in Latin America
Read the Press Release here...
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a new project to develop the soya value chain in Africa in partnership with American NGO, TechnoServe and agricultural commodity trading giant Cargill. The US$8 million project will be implemented as a four year pilot in Mozambique and Zambia with the intention of spreading the model to other regions in the future.
The Gates Foundation continues to back agricultural strategies that open new markets for strong corporate interests while assisting in the creation of policy environments to support foreign agribusiness’ interests. The programme will yoke African farmers into the soya value chain and open the door for major agribusiness players such as Cargill, while displacing African agricultural practices and traditional crops. In addition, there is a very real threat that this project could be a foot in the door for the introduction of genetically modified soya onto the Continent.
Since the green revolution of the 1960s, the soya bean has become the number one forage crop on the international market. About 85% of the world’s soybeans are processed into soya bean meal and oil, about 98% of that meal is further processed into animal feed, the balance is used to make soya flour and proteins. Approximately 95% of the oil is consumed as edible oil with the rest being used for industrial products such as fatty acids, soaps and agrofuel. In the last 40 years, production of soya bean has increased by over 500%, driven by the growing affluence of Chinese consumers, who are now eating more meat than ever before, as well as a significant increase in demand for soya beans as feedstock for biodiesel. In addition, soya beans fix nitrogen in the soil, thereby improving soil fertility and making it an excellent rotation crop.
The United States, Argentina and Brazil are the three major producers of soya in the world. The aggressive expansion of soya monocrops in Latin America has wreaked socio-economic and environmental disaster - in 2008 over 30 million hectares of soya was grown in Brazil and Argentina, where soya monocrops are notorious for displacing rural populations and causing mass deforestation. In April 2006, Greenpeace announced that in the 2004/2005 growing season, 1.2 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest was deforested as a consequence of soya expansion.
The vast majority of global soya crops are genetically modified to withstand applications of herbicides. (Approximately 93% of soya production in the USA is GM, 98.9% in Argentina and 70.7% in Brazil). The introduction of herbicide tolerant soya has created a sharp increase in the use of highly toxic herbicides – in the USA the use of herbicides has increased by 382.6 million pounds over the past 13 years, with herbicide tolerant soya beans accounting for 92% of that increase.
No multinational on the planet has greater interests in soya production and trade than the American corporation Cargill. Cargill’s business operations include purchasing, processing and distributing grain and agricultural commodities, the manufacture and sale of livestock feed and ingredients for processed foods and pharmaceuticals. Their assets and business operations in Latin America are staggering; it is responsible for over 75% of Argentina’s grain and oilseed production. It also has great interest in fertiliser production, having a two-thirds stake in one of the world’s leading fertiliser companies, Mosaic. Their business interests in Africa are scant in contrast. It has now partnered with the Gates Foundation to introduce a soya value chain in Africa.
cont."The SOYA MODEL implies a war against the population, the emptying of the... more
Jeffrey Smith was just interviewed about GMOs by Alex Bogusky. Anything you want to know about the science backing up the threat of GMOs to health and environment is in this interview. As Mr. Smith stated here, we are close in this country to the tipping point needed to cause a shift in how our food is grown and its ingredients disclosed. In the past twelve months alone GMO activism via the Internet has skyrocketed, so it is great to know that all of the work and research has done some good. And we can't stop now, because we are close to to the demand needed to see Obama keep his campaign pledge to label foods with GMOs.
And remember, 10. 02.10 is NO GMO day. More on that coming.Jeffrey Smith was just interviewed about GMOs by Alex Bogusky. Anything you want to... more
Early Sunday morning, French police stood helpless as sixty people, locked inside an open-air field of genetically modified grapevines, uprooted all the plants. In Spain last month, dozens of people destroyed two GMO fields. On the millennial cusp, Indian farmers burned Bt cotton in their Cremate Monsanto campaign. Ignored by multinational corporations and corrupt public policy makers, citizens act to protect the food supply and the planet.
The French vineyard is the same field attacked last year when the plants were only cut. But the security features installed after that incident kept authorities at bay while the group accomplished its mission yesterday.
Speaking for the group, Olivier Florent told Le Figero that they condemned the use of public funds for open-field testing of GMOs “that we do not want.”
Pitching tents in the rain near France’s National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) site in Colmar the night before, the group waited until 5 AM before converging on the site and locking the gates behind them. They uprooted all 70 plants, then submitted to arrest.
This is the second attack on GMO crops to make international news this year. In July dozens of people destroyed two experimental corn crops in Spain. In an anonymous press release, they wrote, “This kind of direct action is the best way to respond to the fait accompli policy through which the Generalitat, the State and the biotech multinationals have been unilaterally imposing genetically modified organisms.”
In the late 1990s, Indian farmers burnt Bt cotton fields in their Cremate Monsanto campaign. Monsanto did not disclose to farmers that the GM seeds were experimental. “Despite the heavy use of chemical fertiliser, traces of which still can be observed in the field, the Bt plants grew miserably, less than half the size of the traditional cotton plants in the adjacent fields.”
After the Haiti earthquake this year, Monsanto offered 475 tons of hybrid corn and terminator vegetable seeds in partnership with USAID. In June, 10,000 Haitian farmers marched in protest of the “poison gift” which produces no viable seeds for future plantings and requires heavy chemical inputs. Haitian farm leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste observed that the biotech plan makes farmers dependent on multinational corporations.
In the US, GMOs were secretly foisted on the public in the mid-1990s, and only now is the US Supreme Court addressing the scourge. In June, the high court upheld partial deregulation of GM alfalfa, which permits limited planting while the USDA prepares an Environmental Impact Statement. Natural and organic alfalfa supply is threatened by the very real potential of GM contamination. This would destroy the organic meat and dairy industry.
Last Friday, a federal court took a tougher position on GM sugar beets. Judge Jeffrey S. White revoked USDA approval of the GM beet, while allowing for its planting this year only.
Also this month, a British farmer exposed that milk and meat from cloned animals had secretly entered the food supply.
Public opposition to GM crops has grown in recent years as more evidence surfaces that DNA-altered crops:
■Require massive chemical inputs which destroy local biodiversity and poison the water tables;
■Cross-pollinate with natural and weedy crops;
■Create superweeds; and
■Have been shown to cause organ damage, sterility, and diabetes and obesity in mammals.
cont.Early Sunday morning, French police stood helpless as sixty people, locked inside an... more
In 1992, Monsanto toppled regulatory hurtles facing its new transgenic crops by convincing the George H.W. Bush Administration to go along with the ruse that genetically engineered foods are "substantially equivalent" to normal foods and therefore don't need to be safety tested or labeled.
This was a terrible trick to play on the public, especially considering that 85% of consumers polled at the time thought it was "very important" to label genetically engineered foods. Since then, poll after poll has showed overwhelming support for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. But, because genetically engineered foods haven't been labeled, currently only 26% of the public know what they're eating.
FDA scientists knew that genetically engineered foods were different in 1992. They described genetically engineered foods as "an entirely new adventure," acknowledging that genetic engineering endows plants with novel material never before found in them, including "new proteins in the human diet."
Eighteen years later, investigations of genetically engineered foods are confirming scientists' suspicions that biotech's scattershot technique of spraying plant cells with a buckshot of foreign genes that hit chromozomes in random spots would trigger the expression of new allergens, change the character of plant proteins, and ultimately prove to be toxic to mammals' vital organs.
President Obama's Food & Drug Administration needs to admit that, in the Bush-Quayle era of deregulation, they took the wrong approach to genetically engineered foods. On the campaign trail, Obama professed support for mandatory labeling. Now is the time for him to fulfill his promise to support consumers' right to know.In 1992, Monsanto toppled regulatory hurtles facing its new transgenic crops by... more
Starting tomorrow and Sunday July 4th, the Sustainable Agriculture Group will feature articles, information, and videos about agriculture in Colonial America as well as the current fight for food sovereignty. It is the spirit of this movement today that exemplifies the spirit that birthed our nation. To plant our natural seeds, to save them, to cultivate them, and to use them in a way that cherishes our soil and provides healthy food for our citizens is what freedom is all about. Our country is now on the cusp of a new Revolution, the Healthy Food Urban Agriculture Revolution and I think Jefferson, Adams, Washington and those who fought for freedom then would approve. Industrial agriculture deems to subject us to the slavery of monoculture seeds and thought. It deems to leave us subervient to the corporate agriculture kings who do not respect freedom. In that spirit we must fight as hard now as we did then to preserve our freedom to plant our seeds in this good Earth to preserve our environment, our soil, and our future.
Join us in celebrating that spirit:
Picture is of Thomas Jefferson's farm at Monticello.Starting tomorrow and Sunday July 4th, the Sustainable Agriculture Group will feature... more
This is beautiful to watch! Haitian farmers (approx. 10,000 protesters in all) protested on June 4 for World Environment Day by burning seeds sent to Haiti by Monsanto. The video is not in English, but words are not necessary. The symbolism of this action is profound and the message is clear :
MONSANTO OUT OF OUR FOOD!
Thank you Haiti, and there are organizations working to make sure Haitian farmers receive natural seeds and methods to return their soil to health and to provide true sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty to their country. The way it SHOULD be.This is beautiful to watch! Haitian farmers (approx. 10,000 protesters in all)... more
In the USSC case Monsanto vs. Geertson Seed lies the future of food as we know it. In this case lies the environmental effects of transgenic contamination of land, water, soil, and the food we eat. In this case rests the future of food freedom and sovereignty not just for the U.S but for the world. This is the case that will set the precedent for domestic and foreign seed markets as well as the fate of organic farming.
That is why the Sustainable Agriculture Group is going to be keeping track of this case until its conclusion. I will do my best to keep up with current news on this landmark trial that more than likely will get no play in our national media.
And just as a sidenote: Some say Current has gone flat of late, well, I say that may well be true to a point, but the site and station are only as good as the people who stay here and report the news. So I hope others will discuss this and join in disseminating the important information we need to know regarding this important issue for our environment, biodiversity, sustainability, economy, and health.
http://current.com/groups/sustainable-agricultureIn the USSC case Monsanto vs. Geertson Seed lies the future of food as we know it. In... more
Small-scale food producers and farmers have been vocal about their concerns that the Senate will pass highly burdensome food-safety legislation.
Equally worried, but much less vocal, is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It frets over major gains by its arch-rival, the U.S. food and Drug Administration, over local food producers and small farms. USDA is so worried it has even had its Senate allies include language that "prohibited the FDA from 'impeding, minimizing, or affecting' USDA authority on meat, poultry, and eggs," according to Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety.
The legislation, if it passes as expected (and is signed into law, as President Obama has already vowed to do), will represent a major coup for FDA, and in the process, a loss in influence for USDA. The bill wouldn't so much take power from USDA as give FDA new power, and in the process providing FDA a leg up on its rival.
USDA had for more than a decade pinned its hopes on gaining the upper hand in food safety through the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), but when that bombed earlier this year, FDA had a clear opportunity, which it has expertly exploited through the pending legislation.
The FDA's growing authority over the American food system will likely include the power to quarantine large sections of the country if it decides there's a food safety emergency and to randomly inspect virtually all food producers, including roadside stands, and monitor and approve their preparation of detailed, and costly, hazard-control plans. Moreover, the legislation gives the FDA a new foothold among farmers via the authority establish safety standards (about use of compost, application of fertilizers, etc.) under the euphemistically titled United Nations program, "Good Agricultural Practices".
With power, of course, comes money--in this case, lots more money, for inspectors to carry out all those random inspections of thousands of tiny food producers.
"We are seeking better controls at the point of production," crowed FDA's commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, in a February speech about food safety. One main "point of (food) production"--the farm-- has of course been USDA's turf.
The FDA and USDA have long participated in an uneasy alliance overseeing the food supply, with confusing responsibilities (USDA oversees animal slaughtering, FDA oversees dairy production). The loss of influence for USDA that will come via the food safety legislation is merely the latest failure for USDA. A few months ago, it suffered a major setback when farmer ire forced Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to trash, at least temporarily, its own version of a food safety program--the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The program would have allowed the USDA to oversee the registration of hundreds of thousands of farms, and the RFID-chip tagging of literally billions of animals (including chickens, goats, sheep, cattle, and so forth)--ostensibly to protect America's meat supply from the ravages of quickly-spreading animal disease.
Why should anyone care about which bureaucratic behemoth comes out on top in this kind of rivalry?
For one very good reason: For all its coddling of Big Ag, the USDA has shown itself to be increasingly supportive of the growing local-food movement in recent years, while the FDA has long been very tough on small food companies, and shows no sign of wanting to encourage the move to locally-grown food.
And while Michael Taylor, the FDA's food safety czar, talks in speeches about approving of "sustainable" food production, the agency's actions toward those involved in promoting sustainable agriculture have long been the opposite. Any food company that even begins to suggest its food might provide health benefits becomes a target of the agency's knee-jerk reaction that it is positioning food as a drug. Back in 2006, the FDA sent warning letters--threats of court action and possible shutdown--to 29 Michigan cherry growers, for citing studies suggesting health benefits in concentrated cherry juice.
In 2008, FDA filed suit against a small seller of herbs, coconut oil and other health foods for allegedly making similar food-as-drug claims. To avoid legal bills that would have bankrupted it, Wilderness Family Naturals signed a consent decree with the FDA that allows the FDA to conduct twice yearly examinations over a three-year period of its labeling and advertising--that the company has to pay for to the turn of $100 an hour.
When the FDA tried to impose the same kind of burden on Organic Pastures Dairy Co., a California producer of unpasteurized milk, as part of a settlement of an FDA suit for, in part, suggesting that raw milk helps alleviate symptoms of asthma (which has been demonstrated in large-scale European studies), the dairy fought back. Just a few weeks ago, a federal judge, Oliver Wanger, castigated the FDA lawyer arguing for the sanctions.
cont.Small-scale food producers and farmers have been vocal about their concerns that the... more
Despite fundamental differences in what they represent, there are occasional calls to allow the use of genetic engineering (which produces genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs) within the USDA National Organic Program. GMO varieties are currently most widespread in corn, soybean, canola and cotton crops, in dairy production, and in minor ingredients, such as dairy cultures, used in food processing, but new products are being introduced and commercialized.
Here are 10 essential points that I believe show why GMOs are incompatible with organic production:
1. Basic science. Humans have a complex digestive system, populated with flora, fauna, and enzymes that have evolved over millennia to recognize and break down foods found in nature to make nutrients available to feed the human body. GMO crops and foods are comprised of novel genetic constructs which have never before been part of the human diet and may not be recognized by the intestinal system as digestible food, leading to the possible relationship between genetic engineering and a dramatic increase in food allergies, obesity, diabetes, and other food-related diseases, which have all dramatically increased correlated to the introduction of GMO crops and foods.
2. Ecological impact. Organic agriculture is based on the fundamental principle of building and maintaining healthy soil, aquatic, and terrestrial ecosystems. Since the introduction of GMOs, there has been a dramatic decline in the populations of Monarch butterflies, black swallowtails, lacewings, and caddisflies, and there may be a relationship between genetic engineering and colony collapse in honeybees. GMO crops, including toxic Bt corn residues, have been shown to persist in soils and negatively impact soil ecosystems. Genetically modified rBST (recombinant bovine somatrotropin, injected to enhance a cow’s milk output) has documented negative impacts on the health and well being of dairy cattle, which is a direct contradiction to organic livestock requirements.
3. Control vs harmony. Organic agriculture is based on the establishment of a harmonious relationship with the agricultural ecosystem by farming in harmony with nature. Genetic engineering is based on the exact opposite -- an attempt to control nature at its most intimate level - the genetic code, creating organisms that have never previously existed in nature.
4. Unpredictable consequences. Organic ag is based on a precautionary approach - know the ecological and human health consequences, as best possible, before allowing the use of a practice or input in organic production. Since introduction, genetic modification of agricultural crops has been shown to have numerous unpredicted consequences, at the macro level, and at the genetic level. Altered genetic sequences have now been shown to be unstable, producing unpredicted and unknown outcomes.
continuedDespite fundamental differences in what they represent, there are occasional calls to... more
I recently had the good fortune to travel to Cuba as part of trip organized by the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance and the IATP Food and Society Fellows program. The organic and urgan agriculture revolution that is under way there is nothing short of amazing, but what a lot of people don't know is the amount of hardship Cubans have been through to get to where they are. Unlike with most people in the US and other wealthy countries, growing their own and doing it organically were not really choices for Cubans: they did it to survive. Or to put it more flippantly, when life gave the Cubans limes (mint and rum), they decided to make mojitos.
I'm sharing some of my own reflections on what I saw through the video above. Although the gardens and farms we saw were picture perfect, Cuba's food system is far from perfect, but even in its imperfection it offers much food for thought about gardening's role in our societies and how that role may change as we move more into the post-carbon world that Cuba has been acclimating itself to over the past 20 years.
In the end, each city will have to make its own path to sustainable food security for its residents and what works in tropical Havana may not translate to Hartford, Connecticut or Hamburg, Germany. The road is going to be long and bumpy, but as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu so famously said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the most important thing is getting started on that journey.I recently had the good fortune to travel to Cuba as part of trip organized by the... more
Every meal offers an opportunity to connect with our food. Whether we're munching on a tart apple, dousing fries in ketchup or gobbling up a spring salad, an extra second can remind us that what we're eating grows in the ground, is harvested by a worker and brought to our homes, restaurants and coffee shops every day. What we tend to forget in our quest for fast and cheap (or slow and sustainable) foods are the people who plant and harvest the produce for us.
Today is Cesar Chavez Day. Our nation’s horrendous slave legacy continues to thrive today in our modern agricultural system.Every meal offers an opportunity to connect with our food. Whether we're munching... more
This is something else we can all do. Write your legislatures to have your state introduce initiatives to require GMOs in food to be labelled to give consumers a democratic choice about what they consume and buy!This is something else we can all do. Write your legislatures to have your state... more
'A way to feed the soul one garden at a time.'
Permaculture works with the rhythm of nature and from it we get abundance. We have forgotten this rule in our industrialzed, globalized profit means everything world. This will be the time when returning to nature will not only save our soil, but our economy, and our balance with Earth.
Geoff Lawton is helping to bring that back.'A way to feed the soul one garden at a time.'
Permaculture works with... more
The Kerala Agriculture-Environmental Collective has called for a State-wide Fast on Martyrs Day January 30th 2010, with the message of Remembering the Mahatma, Stopping Bt brinjal and Protecting Food and National Sovereignty.
The Call for the Fast was given today at a Press Conference by the Minister for Agriculture, Sri Mullakara Rathnakaran, Smt Sugathakumari, Poet and Environmentalist and Dr V S Vijayan, Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board. Members of the Collective also attended the meeting. A notice of the fast and a poster was also distributed to the media persons.
The Minister asked "people from all walks of life to join the fast. The main venue will be the Martyrs Square in trivandrum, and there will be venues in other districts as well. But those who cannot make it to the venue should take this call and undertake the fast, wherever they are". He also added that "kerala and many other states, following kerala's position have not decided not to allow Bt Brinjal. This vindicates Kerala's stand.". Welcoming the move by the Agriculture Ministry to join the fast Smt Sugathakumari said "that it is time to re-think on all these technologies that for years have enslaved and poisoned us, now they want to capture all our rights over the food, and keep us poisoned for ever. How can we allow these MNCs to decide the future of our food". Dr V S Vijayan explained in detail how the MNCs are trying to mislead the Governments and the common public by their propaganda. "If Bt Cotton was such a success, then why did farmers in Bt Cotton areas suicide ?" he asked. He also talked about the total genetic diversity loss that can happen when GM crops are introduced.
Sugathakumari, who had earlier talked to Prof M S Swaminathan, before attending the press conference, shared what the Father of Green revolution wanted her to share with the media. He had said that Bt Brinjal should not be introduced for three reasons - that an independent government owned testing facility has not done the tests, and it was based on only privately generated data ( he reminded Sugathakumari of his own recommendations in 2004 of setting up an internationally qualified lab for this purpose), secondly he said that consumption of thoroughly untested Bt Brinjal is like the case of tobacco - a chronic dosage issue, and thirdly, he said this should not be introduced in any agro-biodiversity hotspots, as it will destroy the indigenous varieties. He also shared that he has spoken about this to the Minister of Environment and Forests , Sri Jairam Ramesh on this matter.
Sri Mullakara Rathnakaran finally asked the support of the media to reach out the message to all, so as to ensure wide participation and success. Members of the Collective, S Usha and Sridhar R were also present in the press conference.The Kerala Agriculture-Environmental Collective has called for a State-wide Fast on... more
I will answer that question with a resounding YES. GMOs are the greatest scam foisted upon the people of this world. It is the most crucial environmental and social issue of this century and encompasses health, economy, environment (climate change), soil health, biodiversity, and our very lives, as well as our freedom. And the word is getting out and more people are fighting back. This year is the year to say NO MORE GMOs and fight for true food freedom and sovereignty! We do have the power to take back our food with our votes, with our voices, and most importantly with our dollars.
Take that Monsanto!
BTW, this is a great informative video explaining it in three minutes.
Too bad the US media is so complicit in keeping people ignorant to the real threats to their health and freedom. Thankfully there are organizations picking up the slack for their irresponsibility.I will answer that question with a resounding YES. GMOs are the greatest scam foisted... more