Archives – January, 2012

Food News You Can Use

  • More Damning Evidence Points to Pesticide as Cause of Mass Bee DeathsBayer-produced imidacloprid harmful to bees even at very low levels” (Common Dreams, 1/30)
  • “Dishonest Fox Chart: Food Stamps Edition”: According to Media Matters for America (1/30), a Fox News show run on Monday, January 30, “features mismatched data that does not answer the question of whether ‘more people have gotten on food stamps’ under Obama than any under other president (spoiler alert: they haven’t).”
  • Climate Change Affects Agriculture, and Vice Versa (Who Knew?!): According to Greenwire (1/30 – subscribers only), “The World Bank’s proposed agriculture-based carbon market got preliminary approval today [Monday 1/30] from a third-party carbon credit accreditation system based on the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. . . . The approval brought the bank’s efforts to remunerate smallholder farmers for practicing agricultural techniques that sequester carbon in soil — such as no-till farming, crop-residue management and agroforestry — closer to reality. With the approval, carbon credits can be sold on voluntary carbon markets globally.” However, as Carbon Trade Watch‘s Kevin Smith has said, “Effective action on climate change involves demanding, adopting and supporting policies that reduce emissions at the source as opposed to offsetting or trading. Carbon trading isn’t an effective response; emissions have to be reduced across the board without elaborate get-out clauses for the biggest polluters.” The Food Rights Network supports no-till farming, using crop residues to boost soil fertility, and agroforestry without the use of toxic herbicides and other unsustainable practices, particularly for small farmers, but believes that corporations shouldn’t be allowed to buy carbon credits from small farmers instead of reducing their own emissions. Meanwhile, Public Radio International reports (1/29) that “farmers in Mozambique [are] trying to adapt farming to climate change” by diversifying the crops grown and installing irrigation, with help from the organization Save the Children. And in the United States, climate change may be threatening cranberry production in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Spotlight (1/26). Some scientists propose “geoengineering,” or “fill[ing] the upper atmosphere with tiny particles that could scatter sunlight before it reaches, and warms, the Earth’s surface,” as a solution to the effect of climate change on agriculture and to boost crop yields, according to NPR (1/23). Scientists working on the proposal caution, however, “Even if the global average remained the same, some regions might get hotter while others get colder. That could cause drastic local or regional changes in climate and weather patterns.” And the New York Times Green blog also published an article about agriculture and climate change, on January 19. (more…)

Leave a Comment January 31, 2012

Raw Milk in the News

  • Raw Milk Rally and Court Hearing for Wisconsin Dairy Farmer Vernon Hershberger Friday, January 27 at 12:00 pm in Baraboo: Vernon Hershberger has a court appearance scheduled tomorrow, Friday, January 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm at the Baraboo Courthouse, which is located on 515 Oak Street in Baraboo. Vernon is facing criminal charges for allegedly violating state food and dairy laws, including several counts for not having the proper permits. He has contended that he was not required to have the licenses because his store was a members-only club, in which people leased farm animals and were provided dairy products from those animals. Wisconsin farmers and Hershberger’s farm club members have scheduled a Rally at 12:00 pm in front of the Baraboo Courthouse preceding the 1:00 pm court appearance. The Jefferson/Waukesha chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation recently published a related commentary on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP’s) “war on raw milk.”
  • “Local Food Movement Gets Verbal Support from El Dorado County Officials” (Sacramento Bee, 1/25): “The grass-roots (and grass-fed) agriculture revolution that Patty Chelseth,” whom the Food Rights Network interviewed last month, “started last summer is picking up steam. Chelseth, of My Sisters’ Farm in Shingle Springs, has launched a campaign to get a ‘Local Food and Community Self-Governance’ ordinance. Her effort got a warm reception Tuesday from the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.” (more…)

Leave a Comment January 26, 2012

Sewage Sludge in the News

Updated on Thursday, January 26, to add a late-breaking research article:

  • “Measurement of Flame Retardants and Triclosan in Municipal Sewage Sludge and Biosolids” (Environment International, April 2012 volume): “The biosolids [from California and North Carolina] and SRM 2781 were analyzed for PBDEs, hexabromobenzene (HBB), 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE), 2-ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB), di(2-ethylhexyl)-2,3,4,5-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), the chlorinated flame retardant Dechlorane Plus (syn- and anti-isomers), and the antimicrobial agent 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol (triclosan). PBDEs were detected in every sample analyzed, and ΣPBDE concentrations ranged from 1750 to 6358 ng/g dry weight. Additionally, the PBDE replacement chemicals TBB and TBPH were detected at concentrations ranging from 120 to 3749 ng/g dry weight and from 206 to 1631 ng/g dry weight, respectively. Triclosan concentrations ranged from 490 to 13,866 ng/g dry weight. The detection of these contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids suggests that these chemicals have the potential to migrate out of consumer products and enter the outdoor environment” (from article abstract, with emphasis added). For more on sewage sludge contaminants, see SourceWatch.
  • Pennsylvania’s William Bispels Runs for the State House of Representatives on Anti-Sewage Sludge Spreading Platform (BCTV, 1/25)
  • “Cadmium Stress” from Sludge Spreading Negatively Affects Plant Growth and Development (CO2 Science, 1/25): For more on the presence of cadmium in sewage sludge, see SourceWatch.
  • Sludge Pelletizing Plant Explodes in Florida, Worker Injured (Palm Beach Post, 1/24, and Waste & Recycling News, 1/24)
  • Pennsylvania Compost Program Stench Causes Outcry: According to the MarpleNewtown Patch (1/24) and HaverfordHavertown Patch (1/20), the program composts local leaves, but the unholy stench has neighbors upset enough to demand the program be ended. The two neighboring townships, Havertown and Marple, Pennsylvania, hired well-known sewage sludge consultant Craig Coker, to help reduce the odor. Coker is on the Board of the sludge front group the U.S. Composting Council and a former member of the sludge industry trade group the Water Environment Federation‘s (WEF’s) “Biosolids” Management Committee and, in 2008, wrote an editorial (or “advertorial,” in PR jargon) for the Roanoke Times in which he advocated the safety of treated, minimally regulated sewage sludge as fertilizer. Are the townships “composting” human and industrial waste sludge with their leaves? (more…)

Leave a Comment January 25, 2012

Food News You Can Use

  • Senator Feinstein Calls on FDA to Ban Bisphenol A (BPA) From Food and Drink Containers (E&E News (subscription only), 1/24): Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. 136, the “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011,” last January, which would ban BPA from baby bottles, children’s sippy cups, baby food and infant formula. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 to ban BPA from all food containers. When the FDA didn’t respond, NRDC sued in 2010. A settlement reached in December requires the FDA to respond to the petition by March 31.
  • “Largest Corporate Dairy, Biotech Firm and USDA Accused of Conspiring to Corrupt Rulemaking and Pollute Organics”: According to a press release (1/23), the Cornucopia Institute “has formally requested the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate corruption at its National Organic Program (NOP) resulting in the use of illegal synthetics in organic food and then allowing powerful corporations to ‘game the system’ for approval ‘after the fact.’ The controversy surrounds products developed by Martek Biosciences Corporation. Martek, part of a $12 billion Dutch-based conglomerate, recently petitioned for approval of its genetically modified soil fungus and algae as nutritional supplements in organic food.” In a January 9 press release, the NOP announced a proposed rule “addressing the use of vitamins and minerals in organic foods and infant formula” to “increase consumer confidence that organic foods are consistent both with FDA rules and the principles of organic production.”
  • Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) Asks EPA to Finalize Dioxin Study: CHEJ Executive Director Lois Gibbs sent a letter (1/20) to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson ”strongly urging EPA to finalize the Dioxin Reassessment once and for all” (CHEJ, 1/21). This reassessment of the risks of dioxin exposure has been delayed for over 25 years. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters also sent a letter, as it represents many of the workers likely to be exposed to dioxins on the job. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, also sent a letter urging EPA to finalize. The Washington Post recently reported that air releases of dioxins, rose 10 percent from 2009 to 2010 (1/5). Stay tuned for more on this from CMD’s Food Rights Network. (more…)

Leave a Comment January 24, 2012

Raw Milk in the News

  • Wisconsin Farmer Vernon Herschberger Jailed and Released For Providing Unlicensed Raw Milk to Private Club Members: Herschberger appeared in court on January 11 (NBC 15, 1/11/12) on four misdemeanor charges. According toWKOW (1/10/12), “The court allowed Hershberger to go home on a $500 dollar bond, but he had to go through the jail booking process. ‘I object your honor,’ Herschberger said in court. He’s also required to abide by the law. ‘No sale of food without a food establishment license,’ said Assistant Attorney General Eric Defort. His supporters hope Hershberger continues his business as usual. Hershberger faces four criminal counts, 2.5 years in prison and more than $13,000 dollars in fines.
    He’s due back in court on January 30.” A crowd Herschberger’s supporters and co-owners of the private food club to which the raw milk is distributed came out for a rally on the court steps.
    Steve Ingham of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently told conventional agriculture publication AgriView (1/5) that raw milk is one of the most visible issues the food safety division deals with. “At present there are between five and 10 cases where we know there may be a problem. The cases are in different stages of review and information has been shared with FDA and with county district attorneys. There are other cases where we are still in the data collection process,” he said.
    DATCP secretary Ben Brancel told Agriview, “The interstate movement of raw milk is an FDA issue. . . We’ve discussed this with FDA and we feel it should be the topic for a regional meeting. We enforce according to information available to us. The information we receive is shared with district attorneys because they are the ones who have to proceed with the cases. In the most recent Sauk County case, information was shared with the Department of Justice.”
    Wisconsin dairy farmer and John Kinsman, whom the Food Rights Network profiled last year as a “Food & Farm Hero,”commented about the case in an article in Common Dreams (1/10/12): “This government crackdown on family farmers is absurd given the current sordid state of our food/farm system and the urgent need to relocalize agriculture for the sake of our health, as well as that of the planet. Study after study has shown that the most dangerous food is usually that which has endured the most processing and traveled the furthest. . . . If people in Wisconsin want to enjoy access to fresh local food from family farmers in the future they may need to pass similar ordinances here.  Otherwise, corrupt government under the sway of corporate agribusiness will make sure they have no choice at all.” (more…)

Leave a Comment January 19, 2012

Sewage Sludge in the News

  • Paragould Light, Water and Cable Required to Enclose Sewage Sludge Discharge Area (Arkansas) (Paragould Daily Press, 1/17/12)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina Spins Sludge Spreading as “Resource Recovery” and “Nutrient Recycling” (Charlotte, NC, 2011)
  • Union City, Indiana to Pay Fine for Arsenic Pollution from Spreading Sludge (Star Press, 1/14/12)
  • Culpeper County, Virginia Denies Permit for ReCyc Systems Storage Facility (more…)

Leave a Comment January 18, 2012

Food News You Can Use

Hello again, Food Rights Network, and happy new year! There’s been a lot of food news in the last two weeks, more than can fit in one post, so here are the highlights of what’s been happening:

Leave a Comment January 17, 2012

Neighbors Occupy Road, Blockade Sludge Trucks

Recently, a group of farmers and neighbors in Salmon Valley, near Prince George, British Columbia, successfully blockaded Wright Creek Road and turned back a truck full of sewage sludge headed for a 117 acre parcel of farm land contracted as a dump site by the City of Prince George. One neighbor brought a snow mobile towing a portable fire pit on a sled so that they were able to keep warm while they blocked the road. As of this writing, the trucks have not returned.

Dumping Sludge on Farmland

Andy Angele's sign on Wright Creek Road (Source: 250 News)

Andy Angele's sign on Wright Creek Road (Source: 250 News)

The Center for Media and Democracy’s Food Rights Network (FRN) spoke with Andreas Angele, whose land adjoins the contracted land at Arnette Ranch on Wright Creek Road. He gardens and grows hay for horses on his land. He says he first heard about the plan to dump processed human and industrial waste near his property in May, from a neighbor (the private company that drafted the sludge application plan for the City of Prince George, Sylvis, claims it has been in touch with Angele since February). He says that although the City of Prince George application indicated that all neighbors within one kilometer would be notified in advance, that didn’t happen. One of his neighbors received notification at work, and he and two others received none.

Angele and others in the area circulated a petition this summer and collected 1,000 signatures of area residents opposed to the dumping of toxic sludge on farmland. (more…)

Leave a Comment January 2, 2012



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