The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally announced plans to eliminate the five percent surcharge imposed on organic producers for certain tree crops. This partial elimination of the crop insurance surcharge was, at least in part, the result of a hard-won provision in the 2008 Farm Bill in which Congress directed the USDA to evaluate available data on risk of loss between organic and conventional systems and to determine whether the surcharge was justified. The crops for which the surcharge is now being removed are figs, pears, peppers, prunes, macadamia trees, Florida citrus fruit, Texas citrus fruit, Florida fruit trees, and Texas citrus trees. The surcharge will continue for now on all other crops.
On the 20th anniversary of the Organic Foods Production Act, organic farmers joined Micheal Sligh of Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) in testifying before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Sligh, representing the National Organic Coalition (NOC) and founding Chair of the National Organic Standards Board, explained, "We are seizing the moment of commemorating two decades of certified organic food and farming in America to publicly acknowledge the many environmental and health benefits and to call for more government funding and participation in increasing the amount of organic food produced and consumed in the U.S."
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, a panel convened by the FDA deferred recommending approval of the first genetically engineered animal for sale as food in the U.S. The agency agreed to publish an environmental assessment and open a 30-day comment period before approving "AquAdvantage" salmon, a fish engineered to grow faster on less feed. FDA had already accepted industry-supplied studies that the fish will not be "materially" different from other salmon, and thus is safe to eat. The research was submitted by AquaBounty Technologies, the Massachusetts company that's developed the animal. Still at issue is whether the fish must be labeled as genetically engineered.
Governor Schwarzenegger has before him a bill — the Farmworker Health Act (AB 1963) — that provides the state with a simple, cost-effective solution to prevent pesticide poisonings among California’s farmworkers by strengthening the current medical supervision program.
In 1974 California established Medical Supervision Program for monitoring farmworkers who handle organophosphate (OP) and carbamate pesticides in order to identify overexposure so that workers and their employers can act to eliminate the exposures BEFORE poisoning occurs. Laboratories use a readily available blood test to measure exposure. Nearly three decades after this program was enacted, it is impossible to judge its effectiveness — i.e. whether or not workers are really being protected — because the program requires no reporting of test results to state agencies responsible for worker health and workplace safety.
Bees may not qualify as charismatic megafauna, but they do, or should, attract the attention of anyone who eats fruits, vegetables or nuts, or whose livelihood depends on growing these crops.
The sudden collapse of honeybee colonies — Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) — has been reported throughout the U.S. and elsewhere since the mid-1980s. Explanations include a combination of lack of adequate nectar and pollen, disease, the stress of transporting hives over thousands of miles, and pesticides.