This month, October, is Non-GMO Month. I find most people are really confused about what a GMO is and where GMOs are found. Some people tend to think that GMO seeds are similar to the type of hybridization that has been going on amongst gardeners for centuries. Not true! The type of genetic modification that happens to create GMO seeds involves the forceful insertion of things like E.coli genes or genes that produce glyphosphate (an herbicide) or cause Roundup resistance (allowing farmers to dump more Roundup onto the plants) into corn and soybeans and cotton.
In Iowa, the race for Secretary of Agriculture has started attracting national attention. Two starkly different candidates are in a dead heat for the traditionally low-profile post, and the winner will be a bellwether of our national attitudes towards food and agricultural policy.
The UN top official on the right to food called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat.
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a statement to mark World Food Day that there is currently "little to rejoice about", and "worse may still be ahead".
"Current agricultural developments are... threatening the ability for our children's children to feed themselves," he said. "A fundamental shift is urgently required if we want to celebrate World Food Day next year."
De Schutter said the emphasis on chemical fertilisers and a greater mechanisation of production was "far distant from the professed commitment to fight climate change and to support small-scale, family agriculture".
Since the mid-1990s just five biotech giants - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont - have bought up more than 200 other companies between them to dominate our access to seeds.
Philip Howard from Michigan State university, who has produced a unique visual to illustrate this growing concentration of power in the hands of a few companies, says the takeover of the seed market has been 'dramatic' and that it is getting harder for farmers to find alternatives.
After more than two years of litigation, a federal court last week struck down an Ohio ban on labeling dairy products as "rbGH free," "rbST free," or "artificial hormone free" if produced by cows not treated with bovine growth hormone.
In what could prove to be a landmark case, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ohio's absolute ban on hormone-free claims violated dairy processors' First Amendment rights and was "more extensive than necessary to serve the state's interest in preventing consumer deception."
Perhaps more notable, the court also ruled that rbST-treated milk is compositionally different, disagreeing with both the lower court's ruling and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's finding that there is no significant difference between milk produced by cows treated with rbST and by those without.
Relying on evidence of compositional differences between milk from cows treated with rbST/rbGH and milk from untreated cows, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today struck down an Ohio state ban on labels pertaining to the use of artificial hormones in dairy products (IDFA et al v. Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals). The Ohio state rule in question banned statements such as “rbGH Free,” “rbST Free” and “artificial hormone free,” aimed at providing consumers with the information needed to make informed choices.
Canada's very first National Organic Week will begin on Thanksgiving Day and run until World Food Day on October 16th.
Organizers say we have a lot to celebrate - a vibrant alternative food system, a growing number of ecologically minded consumers and growers and new national Organic Products Regulations which we hope will unite Canadians behind a single national organic logo. Organic Week is organized by the Canada Organic Trade Association, Canadian Organic Growers and others. The week is intended to celebrate all things organic.
You would think that, in an economic downturn, we would see less rather than more. But it turns out our interest in organic products is stronger than ever - even in the US. Organic food, and other organic products, are showing up everywhere. Organic food is no longer the sole domain of health food stores.
Eggs from large flocks (30,000 birds or more) and caged hens have many times more salmonella bacteria than eggs from smaller, organically fed, free-range flocks.
This is a proven fact.
One study even found that while more than 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, this dropped to just over 4 percent for organic flocks. The highest prevalence of salmonella occurred in the largest flocks (30,000 birds or more), which contained over four times the average level of salmonella found in smaller flocks.
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology looked at microscopic fungi in the soil that helps plants grow.
The study of nine farms in England, published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, found that organic farms have a much more diverse range of fungi living in the soil than on conventional farms.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) has a symbiotic relationship with most plants, allowing the roots to absorb nutrients better and fighting off disease.
GustOrganics, the first certified organic restaurant in New York, today announced the launch of Organic Carts NYC, an organic street cart offering organic food on the go to New Yorkers. Organic Carts NYC is the first certified organic street cart of its kind.