the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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yeah baby! cover cropping makes the NYT front page

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David Kasnic for the New York Times

I can almost hear organic farmers across the country rolling their eyes, cover cropping: this is news? And, I know, I know, you’ve been doing this for years— but, yes, actually there’s some real good news here: New York Times writer Stephanie Strom’s report, “Cover Cropping: A Farming Revolution with Deep Roots in the Past,” indicates that the tide of mainstream agriculture may be moving towards more sustainable practices.

Case-in-point #1: Some large-scale midwestern grain growers are actively working cover crops into their rotation.
Case-in-point #2: In Maryland, “the state reimburses farmers for the cost of cover crop seed and has been informing them about the impact that fertilizer runoff has on Chesapeake Bay.”
Case-in-point #3: Even Monsanto is investigating cover crops. “Monsanto, together with the Walton Family Foundation, recently put up the money to support the Soil Health Partnership, a five-year project of the National Corn Growers Association to identify, test and measure the impact of cover cropping and other practices to improve soil health.”

We were skeptical of a few of the articles claims– namely that “new” no-till technology contributes to erosion and degrade microbiology in the soil– but we’re still ready to count this article as a victory for all the extension agents and small-scale farmers who have been championing this technology from the beginning.

“We’ve never seen anything taken up as rapidly as using cover crops,” said Barry Fisher, a soil health specialist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the Agriculture Department.


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the year that ended dangerously: the ETC’s ireverant, snarky, and spot-on end of year review

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The ETC’s Report also contains this fabulous comic.

Every year, our friends at the ETC (stands for Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration) puts out an, as they say, “irreverent,” year-end recap– and this year’s is out now! We’ve compiled a brief list of the highlights from the 2015 edition of the ETC’s yearly End of Year Review:

  • Comparing itself to the Grinch that Stole Christmas when complaining about the Paris attacks, the ETC explains how in the proceedings the Climate Activists “lost time and ground that we can’t recover.”
  • Turns out phytoplankton are carbon sequesters.
  • The Good and the Bad news coming out of the tech sphere (gene drives, AI, Ben and Jerry’s, Technology Bank…)
  • Whimsical historical anecdotes from the year (good moral boosters)
  • And this favorite quote: ““Let’s be clear about this, our company was dishonest. And in my German words, we have totally screwed up.”
  • A not-to-be-missed reading list!
  • Clairvoyant prophecies regarding 2016.

Read it here!


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for your pod bud ears

CREAR1985

“And one of those farmer’s said, ‘you know we can do this work. This is our lives. We have pride in what we do, this is hard work: building these terraces year after year for a thousand years. This is a part of our culture and that’s why we can do it.’ Now, the whole world is going to have to do that pretty soon. Where are we going to  build these resources? So those resources are only going to come out of people who are accustomed, only going to come from farmers, farming families, people accustomed, campesinos, people who work, the small farmers, the millions and millions of small farmers all over the work. The farmers are going to have to reshape the earth and we are going to have to support those farmers to do that.”

-Mark Freeeman, found of CREAR on the Agricultural Innovations podcast. A fascinating conversation about climate change, rural infrastructure in the Dominican Republic and New Mexico, skepticism of new technology, distrust of institutions, and the difficulty of finding hope.


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federal action on insecticides harmful to bees

imidacloprid-4sc-box-jugEPA is making moves again on neonicotinoid insecticides with report saying— in a dramatic understatement typical of the agency that has rarely regulated agricultural chemicals with any rigor —-that the insecticide in question (imidacloprid): “Potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.”
You have 60 days to read the “risk assessment” and all interested members of the public are invited to comment—
Did you know that, by law, the agency has to read every single comment from The Public? And each letter becomes part of the permanent public record. If the EPA ignores important evidence in the public record; its decisions can be invalidated in court.
If you have any experience or knowledge of risks of neonicotinoids:
WRITE IT DOWN AND SEND IT IN.
Check out EPA press release HERE!
* * * *


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protect our babies

Glyphosate_USA_2011

We’re reposting this message from Michelle in California, as sent by Mom’s Across America. It’s powerful and important. Please take the time to visit, read, and consider signing and sharing the petition at the bottom.

Trigger warning: content about birth defects, miscarriage, and infant death.

“I lost my baby due to anencephaly.  I was exposed to Roundup (glyphosate) when a family member sprayed our yard early in my pregnancy. My baby was born without a brain, took a few breaths, and died. When I heard about the increased birth defects in HawaiiWashington State, and now the UK, and learned that glyphosate and atrazine have been linked to these birth defects, I knew I had to speak up.  People don’t know that these toxic chemicals we are spraying in our yards, on farms and orchards, city parks, county roads, and water ways could be killing our babies.

This has to stop.

I am starting this petition to raise awareness and to ask the EPA to do 3 things:

  1. Test the affected area resident’s water, urine and breast milk for glyphosate, atrazine, lead and other toxins to prevent further deaths.
  2. Require proof of safety via tests of the COMBINATIONS, all the ingredients in the products together, not just one “active chemical ingredient”. If the entire product is not proven safe it should not be permitted anywhere.
  3. Ban toxic chemicals from products that can be used in gardens, school yards, trees, public spaces on feed and food crops.

I am asking moms in America to speak up too, go to www.momsacrossamerica.com/action and apply for free glyphosate and pesticide water and urine testing if you have had multiple miscarriages or a baby with anencephalygastrochisis or other birth defects. If you know of a childhood cancer cluster, please also ask those parents to come forward and also apply to get their children tested.

When we know better, we do better. It is time to face the fear of knowing so we can take action and save lives.

Please sign and share this petition!
Thank you.”


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global agribusiness mergers not a done deal

Agribusiness Merger

The $130 billion Dow-DuPont merger announced last week has rekindled ChemChina’s $44.6 billion bid for Syngenta which, in turn, may provoke a fourth takeover try by Monsanto. If ChemChina prevails, Monsanto is likely to look for a deal with either BASF or Bayer. If they get their way, the world’s Big Six agricultural input companies controlling 75% of global agricultural R&D may be reduced to three or four. Even if only the Dow-DuPont deal gets past competition regulators, the new enterprise will control 25% of global commercial seed sales and 16% of world pesticide sales, meaning that, together with Monsanto, just two companies would control 51% of seed sales and one quarter of the pesticide market.

But regulatory acceptance is far from a done deal according to a new 20-page report issued today by ETC Group.[1] Continue reading

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