Daily News Archive
Discourage Environmental Farm Programs
For years, processors have put pressure on farmers to practice “clean farming techniques,” which preclude the use of grassy corridors because of fears that these habitat zones might attract animals that carry bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. Instead of grassy habitats, processors promote “clean” bare earth around agricultural fields to discourage wildlife, though this type of farming promotes erosion and chemical runoff pollution, as well as disrupting carbon sequestration. Alternatively, if farmers demand to keep their hedgerows, processors now require they set out baited traps to kill rodents and other potential carriers of bacteria.
As one Salinas valley
grower described, "When we plant hedgerows now, we have to use
the bait stations or we lose our contracts," he said. "Later,
you see birds of prey perched over the bait. They eat mice sluggish
from the poison and get poisoned themselves. It kind of defeats the
whole purpose of putting in the habitat."
Now processors are visiting farms and producing food safety field-audits, which University of California, Davis agricultural extension research specialist Trevor Suslow says have a chilling effect on habitat programs. “[A processor representative] will come out and look at a field and possibly give a certain [area] a negative score because environmental projects such as wetlands or filter strips were nearby," Suslow said. "So the message is, if you want to sell to Company X, you'll take out the projects."
indicate that processors are misdirecting their efforts to curb contamination
by focusing on wildlife habitat programs. An analysis from University
of California, Santa Cruz concludes that the strain of bacterium associated
with the recent spinach poisonings -- E. coli 0157:H7 -- is rare in
wild birds and mammals, and resides most abundantly in the digestive
tracts of grain-fed cattle. Instead of targeting farm wildlife programs,
these studies indicate that addressing the conditions of animal feedlot
operations, whose runoff contaminates the irrigation systems of farms
downstream, would be a more effective means of reducing bacterial contamination.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
TAKE ACTION: NBC’s Today Show ran a segment recently that paints organic food as unsafe, leaving the impression that conventional chemically grown food is better. Help set the record straight on misperceptions over organic farming practices and food by asking the Today Show to get the facts right.