Tag: farmbill

Monsanto’s Quiet Coup: Will Congress Limit Scope and Time for GMO Reviews?

Monsanto skull- by Jill Richardson

After a series of court defeats over the past few years, Monsanto and friends are trying to use Congress to make an end-run around the courts and current law. Lawsuits brought by opponents of genetically engineered (GE) crops resulted in the temporary removal of two products — Roundup Ready Alfalfa and Roundup Ready Sugarbeets — from the market. If the biotechnology industry and the legislators they support have their way, future GE crops will not suffer the same fate. (more…)

Leave a Comment August 1, 2012

Resources to Find Out More About the Farm Bill

The Family Farm Defenders today posted a couple of good resources for understanding the Farm Bill:

  • The Farm Bill Primer website is full of statistics and graphics about the distribution of funds in the Farm Bill, including Agriculture Committee maps, with information about the committee members.
  • Path to the 2012 Farm Bill, a resource website of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, has a summary of the Senate Farm Bill’s draft and the impact on Local Food and Rural Development initiatives, as well as other regular updates and guest posts by experts.

Leave a Comment April 26, 2012

Food News You Can Use

  • Cases of Organic Fraud: From the outing of industrial-scale certified organic dairy Shamrock Farms in Arizona (Cornucopia Institute, 12/15) to the corn fraud mentioned in last week’s news roundup and a gang of alleged organic fraud conspirators recently broken up by Italian police, discovered cases of organic fraud are on the rise (Global Organic Marketing Access, 12/13).
  • Ten Percent of U.S. Sodas Contain Flame Retardant Banned in Food in Europe and Japan: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO), patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant, is “found in 10 percent of sodas in the United States” (Scientific American, 12/12), particularly “citrus-flavored sodas such as Mountain Dew. BVO has reportedly led to soda-drinkers experiencing skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders. Interestingly, these are all the symptoms of overexposure to bromine. What is most concerning is the fact that studies have found that BVO can actually build up in human tissue, accumulating in large quantities over long periods of soda consumption” (NaturalSociety, 12/16). “Reports from an industry group helped the U.S. Food and Drug Administration establish in 1977 what it considers a safe limit for BVO in sodas. But some scientists say that limit is based on data that is thin and several decades old, and they insist that the chemical deserves a fresh look” (Scientific American). (more…)

Leave a Comment December 20, 2011

Food News You Can Use

  • Wisconsin Dairy Farmer and Food Sovereignty Activist Speaks to Occupy Wall Street (12/4):

  • “How the Food Industry Eats Your Kid’s Lunch”: According to the New York Times‘ Lucy Komisar (12/3), “an increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students — a captive market — fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.” For more, read the excellent investigative report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund here.
  • “5 Lessons from the Secret Farm Bill Fight”: The Environmental Working Group shares “five lessons to keep in mind for the 2012 farm bill debate” (12/1).
  • “Monsanto Defeated by Roundup Resistant Weeds”: According to the Institute for Science in Society (12/1), “Monsanto is surrendering to glyphosate resistant weeds, according to a new briefing by UK based GM freeze. They are spreading at ‘exponential’ rates in US farms and are increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa” (the full article is available in the members-only area of the ISIS website and re-posted without footnotes on the website of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia). (more…)

Leave a Comment December 6, 2011

Food News You Can Use

  • Secret Farm Bill Fails! According to Bloomberg (11/21), “the plan, which was never publicly released, would have done away with about $5 billion in annual payments to farmers made regardless of crop prices. The subsidy would have been replaced partially with insurance against ‘shallow losses’ created by drops in revenue, according to lawmakers including Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat. Some lawmakers said the budget-cutting proposal may form the foundation of the next farm bill, due in 2012.”
  • Blue Hill, Maine, Rallies Around Farmer Brown: On Friday, November 18, Blue Hill residents and neighbors from surrounding towns rallied in support of Farmer Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Hancock County (Bangor Daily News, 11/18). Brown is being sued by the State of Maine and Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb for selling food without state licenses. Blue Hill was the first of five Maine towns to have passed a “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.” These ordinances permit the kind of sales Brown has been engaged in.

    Speakers at the rally included Dan Brown, Penobscot farmer Heather Retberg of Quill’s End Farm, and Jeff Beyea, who was was Walter Whitcomb’s herdsman for over a year before he became Agriculture Commissioner. Beyea said that Whitcomb himself was in the practice of selling raw milk from his herd on his farm without a license.

  • USDA Proposes “Organic” Use of Tetracycline, Formic Acid and AttapulgitePesticide & Toxic Chemical News reports (11/15) that “USDA‘s National Organic Program on Nov. 8 proposed allowing the use in organic agriculture of tetracycline, formic acid and attapulgite.” What’s next? Will sewage sludge from industrial and human waste be allowed to be spread on organic farms as well? Tetracycline is one of many toxic contaminants found in sludge.

Leave a Comment November 22, 2011

Breaking Secret Farm Bill News

  • “‘Secret Farm Bill’ Primed for Passage in Debt Deal”: According to The Hill (11/15), “Lawmakers on the House and Senate Agriculture committees are trying to write a new five-year farm bill through the supercommittee process.
    “The legislators are using the supercommittee to avoid what would be a more public, election-year debate in 2012, when the current farm bill expires and new legislation would be scheduled for writing, according to critics of the effort. . . . [T]he secrecy of the process has even some farm lobbyists raising questions. . . .
    “Environmental and international poverty advocates are against the whole process.
    “The groups believe higher price-based payments promote overproduction and distort world trade, hurting farmers in the Third World and causing them to cut down rainforest in search of more income.” For more details, see the original article here.

Leave a Comment November 16, 2011

Food News You Can Use

  • First Local Food and Self Governance Ordinance Violated: According to Food for Maine’s Future (11/14), “On Wednesday, November 9, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine for selling food and milk without State licenses. Blue Hill is one of five Maine towns to have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, a local law that permits the types of sales Brown was engaged in. By filing the lawsuit, the State of Maine and Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agricultural Commissioner, are disregarding the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance passed nearly unanimously by the citizens of Blue Hill at their town meeting on April 4. . . . A rally and press conference will take place Friday at the Blue Hill Town Hall.” Food for Maine’s Future requests public support by following the Facebook page, “We Are Farmer Brown.” Ordinances and resolutions based on the original four passed in Maine towns have passed in other towns and counties across the country.

  • “Marketing to Kids: Collateral Damage in Big Food’s Profit Hunt”: Whistleblower Bruce Bradley, who has been called the “Wendell Potter of Big Food, Inc.,” exposes (11/14) how sweetened breakfast cereals are marketed to kids using characters that “tell a brand’s story through imagery vs. facts,” just like Joe Camel.
  • Young Farmers Find Huge Obstacles to Getting Started: Sunday’s New York Times (11/13) published Isolde Raftery’s article on beginning farmers’ obstacles. The article quotes Lindsey Lusher Shute, wife of Benjamin Shute of Hearty Roots Farm in Red Hook, NY. “Everyone wants young farmers to succeed — we all know that,” Shute says, “But no one was addressing this big elephant in the room, which was capital and land access.” Agriculture secretary and Monsanto buddy Tom Vilsack “appears to have championed their cause,” and “[l]ast spring, his deputy, Kathleen A. Merrigan, toured colleges and cities to encourage young people to farm,” but neither the “2008 Farm Bill. . . program for beginning farmers and ranchers, . . . [which] allotted $18 million to universities and extension programs to educate beginning farmers,” nor the PR tour have done much to address these barriers. (more…)

Leave a Comment November 15, 2011

Food News You Can Use

These weekly news roundups will now be published every Tuesday rather than every Monday. Check back each week– or subscribe to our RSS feed– to stay in the loop!

  • How to Start a School Garden in Less than Two Weeks, without “Donations” from Sludge-Slingers: Pattie Baker writes about how she worked with a middle school P.E. teacher and a local parks director to get school kids gardening in record time (FoodShed Planet, 11/6).
  • “Why the Most Important Fish We Need to Save Is One You’ve Never Heard Of”: “Menhaden might be the most important fish you’ve never heard of. As far back as the 1860s, the U.S. caught more tons of menhaden than any other fish — and in many years, more menhaden than the combined commercial catch of all other finned fish put together. You don’t hear about them because they don’t show up in fish markets or on dinner menus. Rather, they go into animal feed, cosmetics, health food supplements, linoleum, lubricants, margarine, soap, insecticide, and paint. . . . Just as Michael Pollan makes the case that Americans eat mostly corn, eating it indirectly in processed foods and corn-fed animal products, more than a century ago, ichthyologist G. Brown Goode said that people who dine on Atlantic saltwater fish eat ‘nothing but menhaden.’” (AlterNet, 11/6)
  • Agriculture that Looks Like War: A transcript of a speech by Vandana Shiva published in The Age (11/4) reads: “The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars. The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war.” (more…)

Leave a Comment November 8, 2011



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