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The Elections: What it Means for Organic

The Elections: What it Means for Organic

I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but the reality is this – we just don’t know yet. I got an email this afternoon from Will Telligman, the Legislative & Advocacy Manager at the Organic Trade Association. He provided the following two bits of information that I wanted to pass on. 1) […]

Organic Regulation
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I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but the reality is this – we just don’t know yet.

I got an email this afternoon from Will Telligman, the Legislative & Advocacy Manager at the Organic Trade Association. He provided the following two bits of information that I wanted to pass on.

1) We don’t know the impact that the elections will have just yet. This is what he said:

In the coming weeks, OTA will be conferring with outside consultants and other organic/sustainable agriculture groups to analyze what impact the new Congress will have on the organic industry.  We will continue to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and will educate the plethora of new staff that will be coming to Washington on the many benefits that organic provides to human health, environmental health, and rural economies.  The 2011 Policy Conference Hill visits will be a very important tool to educate new Members and their staff, especially those who are not from traditional agriculture areas.

It sounds like lots of lobbying and educating will be going on in the coming months. Hopefully, the newly elected politicians already understand how critical organics are to the health of our country.

2) Will Telligman also believes that the Food Safety Bill will not be finished in the lame duck session and it will be introduced when the new Congress convenes next year.

When I have more information, I’ll be sure to update you all.


Organic Food in Paris and in France

Organic Food in Paris and in France

(This is the first of two posts written by Lora Krulak, a vegetable expert, nutritionist and recipe re-creator who is currently living in Paris.) Paris has always been synonymous with luscious outdoor markets bursting with fresh produce, breads, cheese, flowers and local goods from around France. The question of whether something is “organic,” or “bio” […]

Organics Abroad USDA
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(This is the first of two posts written by Lora Krulak, a vegetable expert, nutritionist and recipe re-creator who is currently living in Paris.)

Paris has always been synonymous with luscious outdoor markets bursting with fresh produce, breads, cheese, flowers and local goods from around France. The question of whether something is “organic,” or “bio” as it’s known here, almost never comes up.

Often we assume that just because we’re in the land of gastronomic delights, the food we’re buying and eating is organic by nature. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

However, the situation is rapidly changing. During the short year that I’ve been living in Paris, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Franco-organic world bloom.

The seal used in the U.S. to designate something “organic” (USDA Certified Organic) is under government control. The European government seal for organic products is “AB,” an acronym for Agricultural Biologique and is used throughout most of Europe. The French seal or marking for local agricultural is BioCert and for cosmetics is Cosméobio.


Any organic product should have at least one of these three markings and must have at least 95% organic ingredients, with no genetic modifications.


You’ll find these products in most local chain grocery shops and at all bio markets. They can even be found in some of the tiny Arab markets that are open all night.

There is speculation, as there always is with new systems like this, that once a farm receives a stamp, they slack off in adherence. Or, that if an AB farm is next to a non-AB farm, the chemicals spill over from one to the other, as the plots of land are practically on top of one another. Read more »


Federal Court Overturns Ohio Ban on rBGH Milk Labels, A Win for Organics and Consumers

Federal Court Overturns Ohio Ban on rBGH Milk Labels, A Win for Organics and Consumers

Until recently, the State of Ohio had a ban on all milk labels which contained statements saying that the milk inside did not contain bovine growth hormones. So, a milk that did not have growth hormones COULD NOT SAY that it did not have growth hormones. That was completely illegal. More precisely, the phrases “rbGH […]

FDA Milk
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Until recently, the State of Ohio had a ban on all milk labels which contained statements saying that the milk inside did not contain bovine growth hormones. So, a milk that did not have growth hormones COULD NOT SAY that it did not have growth hormones. That was completely illegal.

More precisely, the phrases “rbGH Free,” “rbST Free” and “artificial hormone free” were banned.

rBGH and rBST are commonly known as recombinant bovine growth hormones.  Approved by the FDA in 1993, they are given to cows to make the animals grow faster and produce more milk.

rGBH elevates the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a naturally-occurring hormone that in high levels is linked to several types of cancers, among other things. European nations and Canada have banned rGBH milk because of the dangerous side effects of IGF-1. As I have written about before, organic milk is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, a federal court recently overturned a district court’s ruling, which said the labels could not be used. The district court concluded that consumers would somehow be misled and consumers would get confused.

The only thing consumers would get confused about was how and why the growth hormones were in there in the first place. Read more »


URGENT: Update on Food Safety Bill – Take Further Action to Protect Organics

URGENT: Update on Food Safety Bill - Take Further Action to Protect Organics

I know that lately I have been writing a lot about legislative events in Washington D.C., as it relates to organic food, but the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. Based on information that I received this afternoon, several improvements have been made to the bill […]

Organic Regulation
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I know that lately I have been writing a lot about legislative events in Washington D.C., as it relates to organic food, but the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.

Based on information that I received this afternoon, several improvements have been made to the bill but more are needed to protect local and small farms and processing facilities who sell to restaurants, food co-ops, groceries, schools and wholesalers.

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has put forth a VERY IMPORTANT amendment that would exempt small farm and small food processing facilities, as well as small and mid-sized farmers, who primarily direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants within their region. Getting the Tester Amendment included in this bill is of paramount importance.

Please call your senator and tell them: I am a constituent of ________ and I urge him/her to support the Tester Amendment and Tester Language in the Food Safety Bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt small farm and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores and restaurants. We need a food safety bill that will crack down on the corporate food giants without creating unnecessary restrictions and red tape on small family and mid-sized farms. The health of our country depends on this.

Click HERE for a list of all senators and their phone numbers.

This was a press release from last April from Senator Tester’s website regarding the food safety bill.


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Delays Food Safety Bill — Thankfully

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Delays Food Safety Bill -- Thankfully

While I am all for improved food safety in this country, especially with the recent egg salmonella scare , the current food safety bill that has been working its way through Congress is a step in the wrong direction. Why? – It has the potential to kill organic, local and community food production. The rules […]

FDA Food Safety Organic Regulation
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While I am all for improved food safety in this country, especially with the recent egg salmonella scare , the current food safety bill that has been working its way through Congress is a step in the wrong direction.

Why?

– It has the potential to kill organic, local and community food production. The rules and bureaucracy would make it impossible for the little guys to compete.

As it is now, many small organic farmers choose to avoid or unable to afford the certification process because of the cost and red tape.

– It is endorsed by “industry”.  Anything that is endorsed by industry is something that I am very wary of. After you watch the movie Food, Inc., you’ll see that the industry is the problem.

– There is a section of the bill that allows the Secretary to keep provisions of the bill secret. Yes, secret! This is due to national security reasons.

– After the debacle with genetically-engineered salmon, I don’t trust the FDA to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the integrity of organic. Read more »


USDA Ignores Federal Judge's Ruling Regarding GE-Sugar Beets

USDA Ignores Federal Judge's Ruling Regarding GE-Sugar Beets

Be clear about one thing: The current administration is about as “anti-organic” as you can get and don’t let Michelle Obama’s token organic garden (which wasn’t even organic since the soil was tested as very toxic) fool you. Recent developments in Washington D.C. are nothing short of infuriating and disheartening for people who love organic […]

GMO The Center for Food Safety USDA
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USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack - Courtesy: USDA

Be clear about one thing: The current administration is about as “anti-organic” as you can get and don’t let Michelle Obama’s token organic garden (which wasn’t even organic since the soil was tested as very toxic) fool you.

Recent developments in Washington D.C. are nothing short of infuriating and disheartening for people who love organic food.  Just within the past month, this has happened:

Evidence #1

The FDA declared genetically-engineered salmon to be safe, and approval of this fish appears to be imminent.

This is an absolute disaster. Why? Well, there are many reasons and expect the flood-gates to open to other genetically-engineered animals. Cattle and pigs are sure to be next.

In the U.S., genetically-modified food does not have to be labeled as such. So, when you go to a market and order salmon, you will have no idea if what you are buying has been manipulated in a laboratory or not.

PLEASE send in your email protesting this.

Evidence #2

On August 13, 2010, a federal judge ruled that the USDA could not approve the planting of genetically-engineered sugar beets after this specific date because the agency had failed to deliver an environmental review. The agency needs to prove that GE-sugar beets do not contaminate organic sugar beet farms and don’t cause superweeds.

Proving this will be very, very difficult because we know that GMO crops do cause superweeds and do contaminate similar organic crops. Read more »


FDA Declares Genetically-Modified Salmon is Safe — Really?????

FDA Declares Genetically-Modified Salmon is Safe -- Really?????

Just when you thought it would be an uneventful time to go away on a holiday weekend, the FDA conveniently declared on Friday (when most people are not paying attention to the news) that genetically-modified salmon is safe and doesn’t pose an environmental risk. The timing in all of this was calculated to perfection and […]

GMO Organic Regulation USDA
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Source: AquaBounty

Just when you thought it would be an uneventful time to go away on a holiday weekend, the FDA conveniently declared on Friday (when most people are not paying attention to the news) that genetically-modified salmon is safe and doesn’t pose an environmental risk.

The timing in all of this was calculated to perfection and displays a real agenda within the government.  After all, with the naming of Islam Siddiqui to a key trade post and other high level nominations, should we be in the least bit surprised at this announcement?  I’m not.

The skinny: A company in Boston named AquaBounty Technologies has genetically altered a salmon so that it grows to its market size in 16 to 18 months instead of three years. They have been working with the FDA for nearly a decade to get approval and now a decision appears very close.

How do they get it to grow so fast? In the cold weather, salmon normally turn off their growth hormone. So, AquaBounty has inserted a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic on-switch from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon. As a result, the salmon never stops growing.

The company says that the chances of mixing with wild fish and contaminating real fish is close to nothing because it will only be grown inland on fish farms.  Read more »