This afternoon, my farmed-salmon research and trip prep were rudely interrupted by an unexpected regulation-related announcement: the USDA has decided to approve the use genetically modified alfalfa without any restriction.
The decision marks a sharp reversal: USDA chief Tom Vilsack had hinted strongly that he would place geographic restrictions on the growing of GMO alfalfa, to protect organic alfalfa growers from the threat of GMO contamination. He even floated a fancy name for the policy: "coexistence," as in GMO crops and organic crops all just getting along. Even such a relatively mild restrictive policy would have broken with the longstanding USDA practice of giving GMOs a free pass.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa, setting aside a controversial compromise that had generated stiff opposition.
In making the decision, Mr. Vilsack pulled back from a novel proposal that would have restricted the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from so-called biotech contamination. That proposal drew criticism at a recent Congressional hearing and in public forums where Mr. Vilsack outlined the option.
The following article reveals the devastating and unprecedented impact that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is having on the health of our soil, plants, animals, and human population. On top of this perfect storm, the USDA now wants to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa, which will exacerbate this calamity.
If these standards come into force, they could set American children on a healthier eating track that could last a lifetime. The proposed rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the newly-passed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, could also save billions of dollars in future health care costs.
Putting this plan into action seems like a no-brainer, but its expense, which USDA estimates at almost $7 billion over five years, is a major stumbling block. Nearly half of that cost would go to put more fresh produce on school breakfast and lunch menus.
One of the most detailed of its kind, the article characterizes the extent of organic horticulture production around the world. The findings reflect dramatic increases in the global industry and outline which countries are growing what horticultural crops organically.
Granatstein said the piece helps to paint a detailed picture of organic food production around the globe. ““The data availability and detail improves every year. But we still have major organic producers such as China and India that provide no details on their crops. If they did report, our numbers might change considerably in some cases,” he said.
Vending machines that dispense snacks such as organic yogurt and granola bars, gluten-free snacks and fresh fruit will be rolling into schools, fitness clubs and office buildings. Often they will be replacing machines that have been around since the 1970s dispensing sugary sodas and snacks stuffed with trans-fats, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
Multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in items such as nonstick cookware, furniture, processed foods and beauty products, were found in the blood and urine of pregnant U.S. women, according to a UCSF study being released today.
Organic milk brands were found to be more consistent in their nutritional value, while non-organic brands were quite variable, the study found
The European Union-funded study analysed 22 brands sold in supermarkets and found that organic milk had lower levels of harmful saturated fats and more beneficial fatty acids than conventional milk.
Like produce, milk quality can vary with the season and year. Dairy cows' daily diet, much of which comes from plant forage, determines the nutritional makeup of their milk, so when their food lags in quality, so too does their output. And a new study shows that conventionally produced milk is more prone to these unfavorable seasonal shifts than organic milk.
Earlier research had shown slight benefits in organic milk's nutritional profile when it was tested on the farm. "Whereas on the farms the benefits of organic milk were proven in the summer but not in the winter, in the supermarkets it is significantly better quality year round," Gillian Butler, of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University and study co-author, said in a prepared statement.
The Soil Association has hailed a report that it claims provides ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the need to expand organic and other ‘agroecological’ farming systems.
The report by the Worldwatch Institute looks at the global food crisis, with particular emphasis on ‘global innovations that can help solve a worldwide problem’.
Produced with support from the Bill Gates Foundation, it claims to highlight innovations ‘that will allow billions of people to feed themselves, while restoring rural economies, creating livelihoods, and sustaining the natural resource base on which agriculture depends’.