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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Hydroponics' Category


13
Jul

Take Action: Demand to Keep the Soil in Organic, Reject the Labeling of Hydroponic Crops as Organic!

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2020) Soil is central to organic production. Therefore, hydroponic operations should not be considered eligible for organic certification, and the National Organic Program (NOP) must take a clear position in opposition to hydroponics and other non-soil-based methods in organic production, including containers. Organic farmers and consumers strongly agree that organic production must be soil-based.  Tell NOP hydroponics is not organic! Educate your congressional representatives and senators. NOP authorizes the certification of hydroponic operations as organic. This undermines the authenticity of organic farming and creates unequal competition, market instability, and consumer distrust in organic certification. Organic farming and soil are inextricably linked. The microorganisms in healthy soils interact in a symbiotic manner with plant roots, strengthening the plant, enabling it to resist diseases and facilitating water and mineral uptake. The essence of organic production is maintaining and enhancing the organic matter content of soil by relying on environmentally beneficial methods such as green manure, crop rotation, and biological pest management. On March 3, 2020, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s decision to allow hydroponics operations to be certified organic. Organic farmers and consumers believe that the organic label means two things: […]

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04
Mar

Soil-Based Organic Agriculture Takes on the Climate Crisis, Economic Insecurity, and Health Inequity

  (Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2020) California produces the most food of any state in the U.S. – more than half of all domestic fruits and vegetables – but only 4% of its agriculture is organic. After releasing a report on the benefits of organic agriculture last year, the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation is continuing to offer a “Roadmap to an Organic California” with an extensive policy report. The document proposes a wealth of concrete strategies for California lawmakers to employ. Organic agriculture, the authors skillfully reason, can respond to three pressing issues in California: climate resilience, economic security, and health equity. Additionally, the report highlights the need for focus on organic integrity in order to sustain positive change away from toxic practices. Climate Resilience The climate crisis is already impacting California; heat waves, droughts, and devastating wildfires are occurring more frequently and severely. Organic agriculture is often forgotten as politicians consider solutions. CCOF proposes that policy makers help combat the climate crisis through supporting healthy, carbon-sequestering soil practices that are federally mandated in organic agriculture. In addition to building farm resilience, healthy soil secures some of the state’s water supply. Because it is porous and sponge-like, well-maintained […]

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28
Jun

Swiss Government Challenged by United Nations for Human Rights Violations Associated with Pesticide Use and Actions of Pesticide Companies

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019) As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companies’ behavior is “seriously deficient” regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss government should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity, and more. In 2017, a UN […]

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31
Jan

USDA Challenged for Flood of “Organic” Hydroponics

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2019) On January 16, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a new rulemaking petition demanding that USDA explicitly prohibit hydroponics from the organic label and revoke all existing organic certifications on hydroponic operations. CFS and more than a dozen co-signing organizations grounded their demands in the failure of hydroponic production to increase soil fertility, conserve biodiversity, and build soil organic matter, all legally required to achieve certification under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). Hydroponic plants are grown without soil and fed entirely through manufactured nutrient solutions. Hydroponic operations rely on nutrient inputs that do not return to the system. Whether or not these inputs are organic products, the hydroponic practices themselves, CFS notes, fulfill zero out of the three core requirements that define “organic production” in OFPA: to “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The central principle of the legal argument is that soil is integral to organic production. Citing OFPA, to be called organic, producers must engage in practices that actively support the rich, living biodiversity of the soil that sustains future production. The prohibition of hydroponics from organic certification has been the position of organic regulators and the […]

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27
Apr

European Parliament Sets Stronger Organic Regulations than U.S., Rejects Labeling Hydroponic as Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2018)  After more than five years of intensive negotiations, European Members of Parliament (MEP) overwhelmingly passed the long-anticipated, new organic certification and labeling regulations, with 466 voting in favor, 124 against and 50 abstentions. While the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers, must formally adopt the regulations, their easy passage is expected. Regulations will take effect in January 2021. The new organic regulations are purported to provide more clarity to organic producers and consumers and to harmonize organic regulation across the EU. But, they also are likely to fuel disharmony with the U.S. National Organic Program (NOP) by failing to act swiftly to curtail fraudulent organic exports and by prohibiting hydroponics systems of production in organic, which the US currently allows. “The development of organic production is a political objective of the EU,” According to the EP’s background document on the regulations. As a strategy for increasing organic agriculture, which now encompasses 6.7% of EU agricultural land, MEPs intend for the new regulations to encourage more farmers to go organic, enhance consumer trust in the EU organic logo, and improve the quality of organic food. According to the European Parliament’s press release, “Strict, risk-based checks will take […]

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19
Jan

Trump Administration Set to Slash EPA Staff in Half

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2018) Scientists, public health managers, and others charged with protecting the health of the public and the environment at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are being encouraged to exit the agency. This, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to meet his goal of cutting agency staff and programs by 50 percent. Aides to Mr. Pruitt confirmed to the Washington Examiner that by the end of President Trump’s first term, the agency’s staff will be cut by nearly half. Administrator Pruitt told the Washington Examiner he was “proud” of his efforts to dismantle, some say cripple, the very agency he leads, which is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the pesticide registration program the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, among others. By early 2021, Mr. Pruitt and his team are aiming to reduce the staff of what was nearly 15,000 to below 8,000. Among the people who are being encouraged to “retire” are more than 200 scientists and nearly 100 environmental protection specialists. According to the Washington Examiner, as of January 3, 2018, the EPA has 14,162 employees. The last time EPA was at […]

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11
Jul

Doctor in South Florida Sues to Block Hazardous Mosquito Spray

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2017) South Florida resident Michael Hall, M.D., filed an emergency request in federal court last week to block Miami-Dade County’s continued use of the organophosphate insecticide naled to control mosquito populations. There have been two rounds of aerial naled applications in Miami-Dade this year. Widespread use of the chemical in efforts to control the transmission of Zika last year prompted protests from residents complaining of health effects from the spraying, and calls to focus on less toxic, alternative methods of mosquito breeding prevention and control. The present use of naled in Miami-Dade is not focused on Zika control, but addressing the native salt marsh mosquito, which does not transmit human diseases, but can be a significant nuisance in shoreline areas. According to WLRN, officials are no longer using naled for Zika control as the mosquito species that carries it, Aedes aegypti, usually stays well hidden under vegetation and shrubbery. A study released last year confirmed that the county’s use of naled did little to reduce mosquito populations. “Naled, a potent organophosphate adulticide applied aerially, produced a transitory suppression in Wynwood but lost efficacy after two or three applications. In Miami Beach, aerial application of naled produced […]

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26
Apr

NOSB Decides on Organic Livestock, Delays Hydroponics Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2017) Last week, at its spring meeting in Denver, Colorado, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted unanimously to recommend that the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule become effective immediately. This recommendation was originally made by the NOSB in 2011, and requires organic meat and poultry producers to allow animals to “exhibit natural behavior, such as the ability to sit, walk, stretch and stand without touching other animals or the sides of their pen, as well as having free and clear access to the outside.” Decisions were also made regarding a wide range of materials and practices, including synthetic additives in infant formula, mulch, sanitizers, and disinfectants. A decision on hydroponic growing methods and their eligibility for organic certification ultimately ended up being delayed again at the spring meeting, with no formal vote or action being taken. At the meeting, Beyond Pesticides maintained its position on hydroponics, aeroponics, bioponics and aquaponics methods, stating that it should not be considered eligible for organic certification. Organic production depends upon the “Law of Return,” which together with the rule “Feed the soil, not the plant,” and the promotion of biodiversity, provide the ecological basis for organic systems. These hydroponic […]

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10
Jan

More Evidence Neonics Inhibit Social Behavior and Pollination Skills in Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2017) Exposure to neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leads to a decrease in pollination frequency and fewer social interactions in bumblebees, according to research published by scientists from Harvard University and University of California, Davis. The study, released last year but presented this week at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting, underscores the need for regulators and policy makers to eliminate use of these chemicals, not only to protect honey bees, but also wild pollinators like the bumblebee. While worker bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) divide their tasks within the colony in a similar manner to honey bees, their nests appear quite different than their more structured cousins. “Bumblebee nests are not the organized, beautiful geometry of the honeybee,” said James Crall, PhD candidate in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Instead, “They’re more a hodge-podge of food and larvae in a pile in the middle of the nest space.” For their study, researchers placed four bumblebee colonies in a mesh enclosed area, tagged each bee, and observed them foraging on tomato flowers grown in a pollinator-excluding greenhouse (to ensure bees had freshly-opened flowers for pollination each day). After observing normal behavior, bees within each colony […]

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17
Nov

NOSB Meets This Week, as Hydroponic Farmers Seek Formal Allowance to Use Organic Seal

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2016) This week, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is meeting in St. Louis to hear public comments on organic agricultural issues that will ultimately influence standards and processes. One major issue before the board is a motion on whether hydroponic and aquaponics operations can be certified organic. Farmers that practice hydroponic growing techniques are hoping to get the attention of the NOSB as they make an argument for their place in the certified organic industry, while others will be there to reject these arguments and uphold organic as soil-based agriculture. Despite a 2010 recommendation from the NOSB to prohibit allowing hydroponic production to quality as organic, USDA’s National Organic Program allowed organic labeling of the sector, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Typically, consumers have no way of knowing that the organic labeled prodeucts they are buying were grown organically. The NOSB is an advisory group, made up of 15 public experts, that makes direct recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on organic production, handling, and processing. In 2010, the NOSB recommended that farmers using hydroponic systems be ineligible for the organic certification. However, the National Organic Program (NOP) decided to ignore […]

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