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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'National Organic Standards Board/National Organic Program' Category


05
Feb

In a Landscape Context, Organic Cropland Provides Refuge to Biodiversity and Is More Profitable than Chemical-Intensive Sites

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2020) A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms that organic agriculture provides refuge for biodiversity in an increasingly toxic, chemical-intensive landscape and that organic sites are more profitable than chemical-intensive agriculture despite slightly lower average crop yields (depending on crop type). Considering the impact of landscape context, the value of organic agriculture to biodiversity increased when surrounded by large chemical-intensive fields, but profitability slightly decreased. Small, organic farms near urban centers, for example, can be more profitable than large organic farms in remote areas. Researchers conducted a global meta-analysis considering the relationship between landscape context and biotic abundance, biotic richness, crop yield, and profitability. They used landscape metrics that “reflected composition (amount of land cover types), compositional heterogeneity (diversity of land cover types), and configurational heterogeneity (spatial arrangement of land cover types).” Datasets from 148 different studies spanned 60 crops on six continents across a range of farming practices and landscape types. Profitability data only related to US crops. Organic sites had 34% higher biodiversity than chemical-intensive crops. This should come as no surprise, as mono-cultural croplands have become increasingly large and increasingly toxic to organisms such as pollinators and […]

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30
Jan

Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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14
Jan

New Method of Lyme Disease Prevention Promising, But Not Ready to Replace Personal Protective Measures

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2020) Scientists have found a new method to reduce the sources of Lyme disease, but it is uncertain whether the finding will ultimately translate into fewer cases of human infections. Research published in the journal Experimental and Applied Acarology finds that incorporating Lyme vaccines into pelletized mouse food had the effect of reducing levels of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, in both mice and ticks in a certain location. “So, the idea here is to vaccinate the mice,” study author Kirby Stafford, PhD told WBUR. “What we’ve done is incorporate a Lyme disease vaccine in an oral bait that would immunize them. That would prevent ticks feeding on those animals from becoming infected and then ultimately turn around and infect you.” To test their approach, researchers enrolled 32 homes in Redding, CT, an area where Lyme disease in endemic and several human cases are reported each year. Vaccine-incorporated mouse baiting stations were placed around 21 homes, while 11 acted as a control. Four times throughout the two year study period, mice and the ticks attached to them were trapped and tested for the disease. While there were no significant differences between the experimental […]

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07
Jan

What Happens When You Paint Zebra Stripes on a Cow? Eliminate Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2020) It may seem peculiar at first sight, but painting zebra stripes on domestic cattle has the potential to significantly reduce the livestock industry’s use of toxic pesticides, according to research published last year by Japanese scientists at the Aichi Agricultural Research Center in Nagakute, Japan. Each year, farmers spend an estimated $1.6 billion on pesticides in the livestock industry, while biting flies cause over $2 billion of economic loss. This clever example of applied ecology could change those numbers with the added benefit of a safer environment.    While long considered a mystery, the science is now generally in agreement that zebras developed their stripes in order to confuse and ward off biting flies and the various ailments that can be passed on by the pests. While some cow breeds were developed with spotted patterns that may confer some fly deterrence, researchers used mono-colored Japanese Black cows to test their hypothesis. Six cows were separated into one of three groups: white and black stripes, black stripes, and an unpainted control. Stripes were painted with a water-based lacquer. The cows were observed starting 30 minutes after the paint was applied and allowed to air out. For […]

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23
Dec

Take Action: USDA’s National Organic Program Must Protect Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2019) An unintended consequence of the National Organic Standards, the rules that govern certified organic agricultural production, actually provides an incentive for the conversion of critical ecosystems to organic cropland, fueling deforestation and biodiversity loss. Tell the National Organic Program to issue regulations that will prevent the conversion of native ecosystems to organic cropland. One National Organic Program (NOP) requirement for organic certification—a three-year waiting period during which land must be free of disallowed substances—encourages the conversion of critical ecosystems, which do not require the three-year waiting period. Conversions of native landscapes to working organic land to date include losses of: a California forest, Colorado prairies, a New Mexico wetland, and native sagebrush lands in Washington and Oregon. The Wild Farm Alliance, which provides critical leadership on the issue, points out, “These areas, that were once delivering critical ecosystem services and providing essential habitat for wildlife, are no longer performing the same functions and [it] would take hundreds of years to reverse the damage.” The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is responsible for advising the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), has been studying this problem since 2009, ultimately resulting […]

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12
Nov

Tell USDA to Stop “Organic” Factories from Milking Conventional Dairy Cows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2019) Current USDA regulations clearly state that after a dairy farmer takes advantage of a one-time exemption to convert an existing “distinct” herd to organic production—all animals brought onto the farm must have been managed organically from the last third of gestation—in the case of cows, from three months prior to birth. However, USDA has interpreted the prohibition to mean that dairies could purchase animals, on an ongoing basis, who were born and raised on conventional dairies. These calves receive medicated milk replacer (formula laced with antibiotics) and, after weaning, are fed conventional GMO crops generally sprayed with Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup.ÂŽ Now, as livestock factories are taking over a good share of the organic market and pushing family-scale farmers off the land, USDA has finally, only after being forced by Congress, written additional regulatory language intending to close a loophole created by USDA’s negligence. Tell the USDA to follow the will of Congress and close its own loophole. The National Organic Program should enforce both the spirit and letter of the law. Organic farmers are mandated to provide healthy living conditions where livestock can exhibit their natural instinctive behaviors. When they do that—and for dairy cattle, that means […]

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07
Nov

Minneapolis Park Board Investigates Pesticide Contamination; On Nov. 11, Attend Film and Join with Advocates to Advance Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2018) A former employee of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board claims that other staff members misused and disposed of pesticides in protected areas next to Lake Harriet. The controversy comes at a pivotal moment for Minneapolis, as Minneapolis Public School District and the Park and Recreation Board are beginning a demonstration organic land management project on a number of properties. Advocates are pushing for organic land management as an alternative to chemical-intensive practices. Minneapolis gardener Angee Ohmah Siegal says she was at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden when she saw parks staff spraying herbicides on a windy day. According to Russ Henry, a local advocate who she told her story to, Siegal had to head to the hospital due to “uncontrollable vomiting.” What more, Siegal claims that the same employees would dump unused or leftover pesticides into a pond beside the Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Mr. Henry and Ms. Siegal issued their complaint with Park Board commissioners on October 2, carrying a large poster of a mutated frog with six legs that Ms. Siegal says she had photographed near the area. Commissioners are investigating further into the allegations but say they need more specific evidence. Volunteers […]

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04
Nov

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to Promote Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2019) In recognition of the harm that climate change is causing to communities, the U.S. House of Representatives formed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.” Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to promote organic agriculture and land care. Regenerative organic agriculture reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In nonorganic, chemical-intensive agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of nitrogen fertilizer, synthetic herbicides and insecticides, fossil fuel consumption associated with farm equipment, and the transportation of materials and products to and from the farm. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major source of energy use in chemical-intensive agriculture–the manufacture and use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers alone are responsible for as much as 10 percent of direct global agricultural emissions. This is important because pound-for-pound, nitrous oxide is 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the planet. Besides reducing energy use, organic […]

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27
Oct

Take Action: Tell University of California to Stop Hazardous Pesticide Use and Adopt Organic Land Management

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2019) The spraying of toxic herbicides for weed control on campuses exposes students, workers and the general public to chemicals linked to health problems such as cancer and reproductive issues. Any day now, the University of California system will decide whether or not to continue using glyphosate and other toxic herbicides — including Roundup — on their campuses. The University of California temporarily banned the use of cancer-causing glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, but the ban doesn’t stop the UC system from using other dangerous herbicides. Student activists are asking UC to commit to transitioning to all organic land care maintenance on all University of California campuses by 2025. This could be an opportunity for the University of California, which prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, to join other universities such as Harvard, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and others as a national leader in the field. Tell University of California President Napolitano to issue a full, permanent ban on toxic herbicides and shift the UC land care system to organic! Message to University of California President First of all, I would like to thank you for temporarily suspending the use of glyphosate-based herbicides on […]

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24
Oct

Study Adds to Evidence that Organic Fruit Consumption Leads to Lowers Levels of Pesticide Contamination in Children, Pregnant Women

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2019) Fish and fruit are undoubtedly healthy foods, but modern-day contamination is leading scientists to caution pregnant mothers and young children to stick within current dietary guidelines, or switch to organic, in order to avoid adverse health effects. This new public health message is based on research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists from University of Southern California (USC) and several European Countries, finding that overconsumption of fish and fruits leads to higher levels of contamination with toxic persistent chemicals. “During gestation and early development, the fetus and the child, respectively, are vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, said Lida Chatzi, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A balanced diet during these periods is also critical for optimal nutritional status, but what to eat, and how much, are critical questions.” Scientists studied a cohort of 1,288 children (between 6 and 11 years) and 818 pregnant mothers from six European countries, who were provided questionnaires to assess their weekly diet. Blood levels of a range of environmental toxicants, including organochlorine compounds like PCB, PFHSs, PFOS, PFOA, pesticides like DDT and DDE, and heavy metals including […]

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20
Oct

Take Action: Remove Known Carcinogens from Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2019) USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) should remove nonorganic celery powder from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for use in organic food production. It has been long-established that nitrates and nitrites, used to prevent bacterial growth in processed meats, react with protein to create nitrosamines, which are widely considered to be possible carcinogens. The World Health Organization considers processed meat “a known carcinogen.” Tell NOSB to remove carcinogenic nonorganic celery powder from organic processed meat. For too long the meat industry, including organic processors, have engaged in a form of subterfuge by being able, and in fact required, to label meat preserved with celery powder as “no nitrates or no nitrites added” or “uncured.” The use of conventional celery powder, with amped up applications of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, creates the same functional and biological impacts as synthetic nitrates/nitrates as a meat preservative. The federal laws governing organics are clear. To legally use a synthetic compound, or a natural or agricultural material that is not certified organic, in the production of certified organic product, it must appear on the list of approved substances. And to do so, proposed materials must not damage the environment or […]

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16
Oct

Organic Poultry Significantly Less Likely than Chemical-Intensive to Contain Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, But Improvements Still Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2019) Organic poultry is far less likely than conventionally raised meats to contain antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, according to research presented last week at a conference for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. With bacterial resistance to common antibiotics on the rise, in large part due to misuse in agriculture, consumers are looking for the best choice to feed themselves and their families. While researchers did find organic poultry production to result in fewer instances of antibiotic resistance, there are still improvements that must be made in organic to further reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat of bacterial resistance and align organic standards with consumer expectations. “Although contamination of retail poultry was found in both conventionally raised and antibiotic-free samples, our results show that Salmonella in poultry produced without antibiotics – based on packaging claims – were significantly less resistant to antibiotics compared with poultry raised using conventional methods,” said Xin Yin, MPH, lead author of the study and DrPH candidate at Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Consumers should read production labels and make informed choices based on the evidence about the risk of poultry contamination with drug-resistant Salmonella.” For the study, researchers analyzed samples conducted […]

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30
Sep

Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting: Last Chance to Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2019) A warm thank you to all who have sent in comments for the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. We are sending out a second reminder so that those who have not commented can take this opportunity to do so. If you have already submitted, we encourage you to make a second round of comments to make sure your voice is heard! Public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics […]

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26
Sep

Fall is Here, and It’s a Great Time to Transition Your Lawn to Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, September 26, 2019) While the leaves are beginning to turn and the world is inundated with all things pumpkin spice, remember that fall is the best time to start transitioning your lawn to organic management practices. The key to a healthy lawn is feeding soil biology (soil organisms) in tandem with proper cultural practices (mowing height, water management, aeration, and overseeding). Healthy soil contains high organic matter content and is teeming with biological life. Healthy soil supports the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds, insects, and fungal disease. In a healthy and well-maintained lawn, diseases, and pest problems are rare. “But doesn’t it cost more?” If your lawn is currently chemically‐dependent, initially it may be more expensive to restore the biological life. But, in the long term, it will actually cost you less money. Once established, an organic lawn cycles nutrients naturally, uses fewer materials, such as water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance. Most importantly, your lawn will be safe for children, pets, and your local drinking water supply. Getting Started‐ Late September‐ Early October 1. Mow High Until the Season Ends – Bad mowing practices cause more problems than […]

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18
Sep

Study Finds that Regenerative Agriculture Is Undermined by Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2019) A new report published by Friends of the Earth (FOE), “Pesticides and Soil Health” highlights healthy soil as a key pillar of regenerative, organic agriculture. There are numerous methods that regenerative agriculture utilizes to maximize soil health such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and compost applications. FOE focuses in on an often-overlooked aspect to soil health, “that eliminating or greatly reducing toxic pesticides is key to building healthy soils and ecosystems for a healthy planet.” Beyond Pesticides has long believed that toxic pesticide use has no place in organic and regenerative land management practices and that they can and should be eliminated. According to Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and former member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) said, “Pesticide reduction strategies that allow continued use of toxic substances undermine the soil biology and biodiversity that is critical to healthy plants and  unnecessary to achieving pest management goals.” “It’s past time to talk elimination of toxic pesticides and nothing short of that.” Toxic pesticides have a diverse range of unintended impacts, including  cancer and other diseases to those exposed via usage or drift, and crop loss. Lesser known is the impact that pesticides […]

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16
Sep

Take Action: Support Strong Organic Standards, Submit Your Comments to the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2019) The Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 3, 2019. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Written comments may be submitted through Regulations.gov until 11:59 pm ET October 3, 2010. Reservations for in-person and webinar comments close at the same time. The proposals of the NOSB, as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment.  Beyond Pesticides/OrganicEye is providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration by the Board when it meets in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23 – 25, 2019. You can view USDA’s announcement of the NOSB’s meeting and proposals here. Issues before the NOSB include materials allowed in organic production as well as some policy issues. Materials are either being considered for initial use in organics or the subject of a five-year Sunset Review. To be allowed, materials must have evidence demonstrating that they meet Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requirements of essentiality, no adverse effects on humans and the environment, and compatibility with organic practices. Major issues before the NOSB at the […]

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05
Sep

Veteran Policy Experts Form Organic Industry Watchdog Agency

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2019) USDA Failures Necessitate Independent Corporate and Governmental Oversight WASHINGTON, DC, Beyond Pesticides, a Washington, DC-based public interest organization founded in 1981 to advocate for healthy air, water, land, and food by eliminating the use of toxic pesticides and advancing organic practices, has announced the formation of its new investigative arm, OrganicEye. The watchdog agency will focus on defending the time-honored philosophy and legal definition of organic farming and food production. “Trusted certified organic production must continue to offer a healthier marketplace alternative and critical environmental protection,” stated Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides and former National Organic Standards Board member. As organic agriculture and food marketing has grown into an over $50 billion industry, corporate agribusiness has influenced USDA to shift primary organic production from family-scale farms to large livestock factories, and allow massive hydroponic/soilless greenhouses and fraudulent imports – all devastating to ethical farmers, businesses, and consumers. “We are happy to announce the hiring of Mark Kastel to serve as the Director of OrganicEye,” Mr. Feldman said. Mr. Kastel, one of the founders of The Cornucopia Institute, a venerable organic farm-policy research group, brings over 30 years of diverse involvement in the organic […]

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29
Aug

USDA “People’s Garden” Turned Over to Agrichemical Corporations to Promote Pesticides and GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2019) The Peoples Garden, located on the grounds on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the national mall, has been renamed and remodeled to highlight genetically engineered (GE) crops and farming techniques that directly counter the organic movement. The new exhibit, entitled “Voice of the Farmer,” is part of the “Trust in Food” initiative of Farm Journal magazine. This marks a continuation of trends in the Trump administration: pushing for GE/GMOs and pesticides. Since 2009, the USDA Peoples Garden has highlighted organic agriculture. It was originally envisioned by the Obama administration as a place where visitors could learn about what differentiates organic from conventional chemical-intensive food production, and the practices used in organic land management. The garden had several different exhibits: the Three Sisters Garden, the People’s Garden Apiary, three green roofs, a certified organic vegetable garden, a tool shed with a rain barrel and green roof, wildlife and pollinator friendly landscaping, and a bat house. With an emphasis on sustainable gardening practices such as cover cropping, storm water collection, and composting, the garden served as a headquarters for numerous Peoples Gardens founded between 2009 and 2016. The People’s Garden and other projects of the […]

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26
Aug

Take Action: Help Organic Farmers Save the Planet—Support the Climate Stewardship Act

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2019) U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently released draft legislation that will – among other initiatives – promote carbon-sequestering practices in agriculture. The draft Climate Stewardship Act includes farmers as a critical component in the response to the climate crisis by encouraging “carbon farming” through incentives, training, and research. U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is championing companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will likely be introduced in September when Congress reconvenes. Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to Co-sponsor the Climate Stewardship Act and Help Farmers Save the Planet. July of 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high (over 415 ppm) was during the Pliocene period – between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago. The best time to have addressed global warming was 20 years ago, but the second-best time is now. Organic, regenerative agricultural practices help mend the earth from the ground up. In addition to incentivizing soil health practices that organic farmers already employ, the bill adds $75,000,000 to the organic research and extension initiative (OREI). The bill contains a requirement that no less than 50% of these funds apply to reducing […]

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05
Aug

Remind USDA that Genetic Engineering Is NOT Acceptable in Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appears to have forgotten the lesson learned 20 years ago when it was forced to ban genetic engineering (GE) in organic regulations. At a July 17 hearing called by the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research on “Assessing the Effectiveness of the National Organic Program,” Greg Ibach, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, stated, “There is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies, including gene editing, to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production.” In 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a draft rule that would have allowed GE, irradiation, and sewage sludge (the “Big Three”) in organic production, which was met by the second largest number of comments the agency had ever received—well before the days of internet advocacy—overwhelmingly opposing the inclusion of the “Big Three.”  The prohibition of gene editing falls under the “excluded methods” provision of the organic regulations. The law prohibits “a variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions […]

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19
Jul

Report Calls for Radical Transformation of Food and Agricultural Production System

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2019) A high-level, nongovernmental commission in the United Kingdom (UK) — the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission — has just released an important report: Our Future in the Land. As reported by The Guardian, “The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction.” The commission’s report calls for radical transformation of the UK food and agricultural system, by 2030, to sustainable, agroecological farming, and establishes steps to launch the process. A notable one of those steps is the creation of a nonprofit National Agroecology Development Bank to hasten and enable a fair and sustainable transition of a complex system. The commission also published a Field Guide to the Future, which it describes as a “practical guide, with interviews and stories from the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s work across the UK, [including] case studies of good practice and stories of change [that] hint at a better future.” Our Future in the Land declares, “Our future depends on the land. The land nourishes and supports us. It provides for our nutrition, our health and our wellbeing. Food and […]

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05
Jun

Responding to Pressure from Advocates, USDA’s National Organic Program Announces Stricter Enforcement for Organic Container Systems

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2019) Earlier this week, the National Organic Program (NOP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a memo that will put a stop to the practice of allowing organic certification for container systems produced on land managed with substances, such as the herbicide glyphosate, which are not permitted in organic production. The decision comes after broad opposition to this NOP allowance was vociferously expressed by a cross section of commenters at the April meeting of the National Organic Standards Board. The head of NOP, Jenny Tucker, in response to questions, attempted to clarify her previous comment to farmers indicating that the practice met organic standards, but instead incited outrage at the NOSB meeting by refusing to reject the use glyphosate in container growing operations. The NOP decision is not retroactive for operations earlier allowed to use the chemicals. The NOP memo clarifies and establishes stricter adherence to a pre-existing rule written into the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. While this clarification represents a victory for those fighting to keep organic strong, the certification of hydroponic and other container systems as organic continues to present a major challenge for the integrity of a system whose […]

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31
May

Organic Animal Farms Improve Bird Abundance

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2019) Research from Finland provides clear evidence that there is a positive relationship between organic animal farms and bird abundance. While chemical-intensive agriculture is currently a major driver of biodiversity loss worldwide, organic practices can, conversely, bolster wild populations. Furthermore, the research points to the value of scientific analysis to inform policy. Researchers questioned whether agri-environment-climate schemes (AES), policy elements in the EU where farmers are rewarded for various practices that support biodiversity, are having an impact on the abundance of 46 bird species associated with farmland. They studied the effect of various AES measures related to bird species traits (e.g. diet, migration ecology, Red List status). Using citizen science data from local bird watchers and land use assessments, researchers utilized ArcGIS mapping tools and statistical analysis to quantify relationships among factors. Organic livestock farming was the only AES measure that had a significant effect on bird abundance. Insectivorous birds as well as long-distance migrant species had the highest positive relationship to organic animal farms. In the discussion, the authors reason that organic animal farms with nutrient-rich, antibiotic-free manure likely increases insect abundance which in turn supports insectivorous and, to a lesser degree, omnivorous birds. Previous […]

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