Closing Comments of Francis Thicke at End of NOSB Term

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on November 10, 2017 - 1:42pm

Originally published: The Cornucopia Institute There are two important things that I have learned during my five years on the NOSB. First, I learned that the NOSB review process for materials petitioned for inclusion on the National List is quite rigorous, with Technical Reviews of petitioned materials and careful scrutiny by both NOSB subcommittees and the full board. The second thing I learned, over time, is that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the growing value of organic sales. As organic is becoming a $50 billion business, the industry not only wants a bigger piece of the pie, they seem to want the whole pie. We now have “organic” chicken CAFOs with 200,000 birds crammed into a building with no real access to the outdoors, and a chicken industry working behind the scenes to make sure that the animal welfare standards—weak as they were—never see the light of day, just like their chickens. The image consumers have of organic chickens ranging outside has been relegated to pictures on egg cartoons. We have “organic” dairy CAFOs with 15,000 cows in a feedlot in a desert, with compelling evidence by an investigative reporter that the CAFO is not meeting the grazing rule—by a long shot. But when USDA does its obligatory “investigation,” instead of a surprise visit to the facility, USDA gives them a heads up by making an appointment, so the CAFO can move cows from feedlots to pasture on the day of inspection. This gives a green light to that dairy CAFO owner to move forward with its plans to establish a 30,000-cow facility in the Midwest. We have large grain shipments coming into the US that are being sold as organic but that lack organic documentation. Some shipments have been proven to be fraudulent. The USDA has been slow to take action to stop this, and organic crop farmers in the US are suffering financially as a result. I spoke with the reporter who broke the story on fraudulent “organic” grain imports. I asked him how he was able to document the fraud of grain shipments when USDA said it was very difficult to do so. He replied “it was easy.” We have a rapidly growing percentage of the organic fruits and vegetables on grocery store shelves being produced hydroponically, without soil, and mostly in huge industrial-scale facilities. And we have a hydroponics industry that has deceptively renamed “hydroponic” production—even with 100% liquid feeding—as “container” production. With their clever deception they have been able to bamboozle even the majority of NOSB members into complicity with their goal of taking over the organic fruit and vegetable market with their hydroponic products. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find that big business is taking over the USDA organic program because the influence of money is corroding all levels of our government. At this point, I can see only one way to bring the organic label back in line with the original vision of organic farmers and consumers. We need an add-on organic label for organic farmers who are willing to meet the expectations of discerning consumers who are demanding real organic food. A year ago I wouldn’t have supported the idea of an add-on organic label because I, like many others, had seen the USDA organic label as the gold standard, and had hoped that through our vision of the process of continuous improvement we could really make it into that gold standard. Now I can see that the influence of big business is not going to let that happen. The USDA is increasingly exerting control over the NOSB, and big business is tightening its grip on the USDA and Congress. Recently industry representatives have publicly called on the US Senate to weaken the NOSB and give industry a stronger role in the National Organic Program. And sympathetic Senators promised to do just that. I now support the establishment of an add-on organic label that will enable real organic farmers and discerning organic consumers to support one another through a label that represents real organic food. I support the creation of a label, such as the proposed Regenerative Organic Certification, that will ensure organic integrity; for example, that animals have real access to the outdoors to be able to express their natural behaviors, and that food is grown in soil. My hopes are that this add-on certification can be seamlessly integrated with the NOP certification, so that a single farm organic system plan and inspection can serve to verify both NOP and the higher level organic certification, by certifiers that are accredited by both certification systems. I also am pleased that organic farmers have recently organized themselves into the Organic Farmers Association (OFA), to better represent themselves in the arena of public policy. Too often in the past the interests of big business have overruled the interests of organic farmers—and consumers—when organic policies are being established in Washington. I hope this will allow organic farmers to gain equal footing with industry on issues that affect the organic community. In summary, organic is at a crossroads. Either we can continue to allow industry interests to bend and dilute the organic rules to their benefit, or organic farmers—working with organic consumers–can step up and take action to ensure organic integrity into the future.

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Closing Comments of Francis Thicke at End of NOSB Term

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on November 10, 2017 - 1:42pm

Originally published: The Cornucopia Institute There are two important things that I have learned during my five years on the NOSB. First, I learned that the NOSB review process for materials petitioned for inclusion on the National List is quite rigorous, with Technical Reviews of petitioned materials and careful scrutiny by both NOSB subcommittees and the full board. The second thing I learned, over time, is that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the growing value of organic sales. As organic is becoming a $50 billion business, the industry not only wants a bigger piece of the pie, they seem to want the whole pie. We now have “organic” chicken CAFOs with 200,000 birds crammed into a building with no real access to the outdoors, and a chicken industry working behind the scenes to make sure that the animal welfare standards—weak as they were—never see the light of day, just like their chickens. The image consumers have of organic chickens ranging outside has been relegated to pictures on egg cartoons. We have “organic” dairy CAFOs with 15,000 cows in a feedlot in a desert, with compelling evidence by an investigative reporter that the CAFO is not meeting the grazing rule—by a long shot. But when USDA does its obligatory “investigation,” instead of a surprise visit to the facility, USDA gives them a heads up by making an appointment, so the CAFO can move cows from feedlots to pasture on the day of inspection. This gives a green light to that dairy CAFO owner to move forward with its plans to establish a 30,000-cow facility in the Midwest. We have large grain shipments coming into the US that are being sold as organic but that lack organic documentation. Some shipments have been proven to be fraudulent. The USDA has been slow to take action to stop this, and organic crop farmers in the US are suffering financially as a result. I spoke with the reporter who broke the story on fraudulent “organic” grain imports. I asked him how he was able to document the fraud of grain shipments when USDA said it was very difficult to do so. He replied “it was easy.” We have a rapidly growing percentage of the organic fruits and vegetables on grocery store shelves being produced hydroponically, without soil, and mostly in huge industrial-scale facilities. And we have a hydroponics industry that has deceptively renamed “hydroponic” production—even with 100% liquid feeding—as “container” production. With their clever deception they have been able to bamboozle even the majority of NOSB members into complicity with their goal of taking over the organic fruit and vegetable market with their hydroponic products. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find that big business is taking over the USDA organic program because the influence of money is corroding all levels of our government. At this point, I can see only one way to bring the organic label back in line with the original vision of organic farmers and consumers. We need an add-on organic label for organic farmers who are willing to meet the expectations of discerning consumers who are demanding real organic food. A year ago I wouldn’t have supported the idea of an add-on organic label because I, like many others, had seen the USDA organic label as the gold standard, and had hoped that through our vision of the process of continuous improvement we could really make it into that gold standard. Now I can see that the influence of big business is not going to let that happen. The USDA is increasingly exerting control over the NOSB, and big business is tightening its grip on the USDA and Congress. Recently industry representatives have publicly called on the US Senate to weaken the NOSB and give industry a stronger role in the National Organic Program. And sympathetic Senators promised to do just that. I now support the establishment of an add-on organic label that will enable real organic farmers and discerning organic consumers to support one another through a label that represents real organic food. I support the creation of a label, such as the proposed Regenerative Organic Certification, that will ensure organic integrity; for example, that animals have real access to the outdoors to be able to express their natural behaviors, and that food is grown in soil. My hopes are that this add-on certification can be seamlessly integrated with the NOP certification, so that a single farm organic system plan and inspection can serve to verify both NOP and the higher level organic certification, by certifiers that are accredited by both certification systems. I also am pleased that organic farmers have recently organized themselves into the Organic Farmers Association (OFA), to better represent themselves in the arena of public policy. Too often in the past the interests of big business have overruled the interests of organic farmers—and consumers—when organic policies are being established in Washington. I hope this will allow organic farmers to gain equal footing with industry on issues that affect the organic community. In summary, organic is at a crossroads. Either we can continue to allow industry interests to bend and dilute the organic rules to their benefit, or organic farmers—working with organic consumers–can step up and take action to ensure organic integrity into the future.

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Monsanto Faces Class Action Suit Over Allegedly Violating Two Federal Labor Laws

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 21, 2017 - 6:47pm

Originally published: EcoWatch

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has completed a two-year investigation into 10 years of labor complaints against some of the biggest seed production companies in the world.

The report, released by Laird Townsend, outlines repeated allegations of labor violations made by migrant farm workers against seed giants Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer for work completed under the supervision of farm labor contractors (FLCs). Townsend reviews government documents, Monsanto records and lawsuits in conjunction with expert interviews to show "allegations including broken recruiting promises, minimum-wage violations, improperly withheld pay and substandard living conditions in seed-corn production."

The day after publication in late June, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against Monsanto on behalf of two migrant laborers.

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Monsanto Faces Class Action Suit Over Allegedly Violating Two Federal Labor Laws

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 21, 2017 - 6:47pm

Originally published: EcoWatch

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has completed a two-year investigation into 10 years of labor complaints against some of the biggest seed production companies in the world.

The report, released by Laird Townsend, outlines repeated allegations of labor violations made by migrant farm workers against seed giants Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer for work completed under the supervision of farm labor contractors (FLCs). Townsend reviews government documents, Monsanto records and lawsuits in conjunction with expert interviews to show "allegations including broken recruiting promises, minimum-wage violations, improperly withheld pay and substandard living conditions in seed-corn production."

The day after publication in late June, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against Monsanto on behalf of two migrant laborers.

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Geneticists Are Developing Heat-Resistant 'Cows Of The Future' To Deal With Earth's Rising Climate

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 3, 2017 - 6:34pm

Originally published: Digital Trends 

 

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you: Researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences really are trying to genetic engineer heat-resistant cows of the future — and they received a three-year, $733,000 federal grant to help them achieve their goal.

 

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Geneticists Are Developing Heat-Resistant 'Cows Of The Future' To Deal With Earth's Rising Climate

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 3, 2017 - 6:34pm

Originally published: Digital Trends 

 

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you: Researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences really are trying to genetic engineer heat-resistant cows of the future — and they received a three-year, $733,000 federal grant to help them achieve their goal.

 

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Seed Saving as an Act of Resilience

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 3, 2017 - 6:27pm

Originally published: Civil Eats 

 

On February 26, 2008, a $9-million underground seed vault began operating deep in the permafrost on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, just 810 miles from the North Pole. This high-tech Noah’s Ark for the world’s food varieties was intended to assure that, even in a worst-case scenario, our irreplaceable heritage of food seeds would remain safely frozen.

 

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Seed Saving as an Act of Resilience

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 3, 2017 - 6:27pm

Originally published: Civil Eats 

 

On February 26, 2008, a $9-million underground seed vault began operating deep in the permafrost on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, just 810 miles from the North Pole. This high-tech Noah’s Ark for the world’s food varieties was intended to assure that, even in a worst-case scenario, our irreplaceable heritage of food seeds would remain safely frozen.

 

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  326 Hits
  0 Comments
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Seed Saving as an Act of Resilience

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 3, 2017 - 6:27pm

Originally published: Civil Eats 

 

On February 26, 2008, a $9-million underground seed vault began operating deep in the permafrost on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, just 810 miles from the North Pole. This high-tech Noah’s Ark for the world’s food varieties was intended to assure that, even in a worst-case scenario, our irreplaceable heritage of food seeds would remain safely frozen.

 

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Monsanto’s Latest PR Blitz on Roundup is More Fake News

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:17pm

Originally published: Food & Water Watch 

 

Last week, Reuters reported on an alleged conspiracy to cover up data showing that there is no relationship between glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller) and cancer after all. The piece triggered a frenzy of media coverage and fresh attacks on the credibility of World Health Organization’s classification of glyphosate’s cancer risk. However, after the original documents that the article relied on surfaced, it was clear that the sensational headline doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

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Monsanto’s Latest PR Blitz on Roundup is More Fake News

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:17pm

Originally published: Food & Water Watch 

 

Last week, Reuters reported on an alleged conspiracy to cover up data showing that there is no relationship between glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller) and cancer after all. The piece triggered a frenzy of media coverage and fresh attacks on the credibility of World Health Organization’s classification of glyphosate’s cancer risk. However, after the original documents that the article relied on surfaced, it was clear that the sensational headline doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

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  0 Comments
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Monsanto’s Latest PR Blitz on Roundup is More Fake News

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:17pm

Originally published: Food & Water Watch 

 

Last week, Reuters reported on an alleged conspiracy to cover up data showing that there is no relationship between glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller) and cancer after all. The piece triggered a frenzy of media coverage and fresh attacks on the credibility of World Health Organization’s classification of glyphosate’s cancer risk. However, after the original documents that the article relied on surfaced, it was clear that the sensational headline doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

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EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:02pm

Originally published: EcoWatch 

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company's toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

 

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EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:02pm

Originally published: EcoWatch 

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company's toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

 

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EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on July 1, 2017 - 12:02pm

Originally published: EcoWatch 

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company's toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

 

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  0 Comments
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New Claims Against Monsanto In Consumer Lawsuit Over Roundup Herbicide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on June 28, 2017 - 1:49pm

Originally published: Huffington Post 

 

Another day, another lawsuit against global seed and chemical giant Monsanto Co. In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Wisconsin, six consumers alleged that the company’s top-selling Roundup herbicide has been falsely promoted as uniquely safe when it actually can have profound harmful impacts on human gut bacteria critical to good health.

 

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  0 Comments
388 Hits
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New Claims Against Monsanto In Consumer Lawsuit Over Roundup Herbicide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on June 28, 2017 - 1:49pm

Originally published: Huffington Post 

 

Another day, another lawsuit against global seed and chemical giant Monsanto Co. In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Wisconsin, six consumers alleged that the company’s top-selling Roundup herbicide has been falsely promoted as uniquely safe when it actually can have profound harmful impacts on human gut bacteria critical to good health.

 

Continue reading
  408 Hits
  0 Comments
408 Hits
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New Claims Against Monsanto In Consumer Lawsuit Over Roundup Herbicide

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on June 28, 2017 - 1:49pm

Originally published: Huffington Post 

 

Another day, another lawsuit against global seed and chemical giant Monsanto Co. In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Wisconsin, six consumers alleged that the company’s top-selling Roundup herbicide has been falsely promoted as uniquely safe when it actually can have profound harmful impacts on human gut bacteria critical to good health.

 

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  0 Comments
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Arkansas Tries To Stop An Epidemic Of Herbicide Damage

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on June 28, 2017 - 1:36pm

Originally published: WBUR News

 

Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

 

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Arkansas Tries To Stop An Epidemic Of Herbicide Damage

Submitted by FoodDemocracyNo... on June 28, 2017 - 1:36pm

Originally published: WBUR News

 

Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

 

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  0 Comments
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