the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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A NEW ASSOCIATION FOR ORGANIC FARMERS

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Last week the Rodale Institute announced that it was launching the Organic Farmers’ Association, headed up by Elizabeth Kucinich, Board Policy Chair for Rodale Institute.

From the regional organic farmer associations to the Organic Trade Association to NYFC to your humble Greenhorns here, there sure are a lot of associations composed of or supposedly representing farmers. So maybe you’re asking, do we really need another one?

Well, first thing to consider here is that there is actually no national organization that represents only organic farmers. The second thing to consider might be the recent failures to pass adequate GMO labeling legislation in congress. We’re wondering if the entry of another national player might change the field of agricultural policy. Does this mark a shift in the organic/sustainable ag movement in which organic farmers more seriously set their sights on federal policy?

Use the comments section to weight in! And maybe consider joining.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring organic farmers’ voices and their experience with agriculture to policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” said Kucinich. “Policymakers have not yet grasped the significance of organic agriculture for resilient, reliable, non-toxic food production, and its ability to mitigate climate change while restoring our nation’s soil health. We have an opportunity to benefit organic farmers, while positively impacting our nation’s health and mitigating our climate crisis.”


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DARK Act Comeback

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This just in from the Organic Consumers Association newsletter:

DARK Act Comeback?

Everybody loves a Comeback Kid—unless that “kid” is the DARK Act.

In March, the Senate voted down the DARK Act, the bill that would Deny Americans our Right to Know about GMOs.

Since then, Monsanto and its front groups, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) have been using their power, influence and, most of all, money to ram some version of the DARK Act through Congress before Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law takes effect on July 1.

Reliable sources say that the DARK Act will soon be up for another vote.

Last time, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) didn’t have the votes to pass his bill to take away states’ rights to label GMOs. Many of those who voted against the bill were pro-GMO Senators who take campaign contributions (and their talking points) from companies like Monsanto. But realizing they would take a lot of heat from their constituents, they voted no in the hope that a more palatable “compromise” bill might come along.

The Senators who voted against the DARK Act last time could easily flip their votes to support a “compromise” (capitulation) to block Vermont’s law and replace it with a weak federal standard, because of—what else?—pressure from the big corporations who profit from toxic pesticides and GMO foods.

TAKE ACTION: Stop the DARK Act Comeback! Tell your Senators: Protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law. 

Dial 888-897-0174 to tell your Senators to vote against any compromise that would block or delay Vermont’s bill from taking effect.

Help us protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law


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did you watch hillary and bernie debate?

Time to pay attention. You can stream the debate here: https://youtu.be/RVHmox70vbI

One thing we noticed: ZERO mention food, farmers, or agriculture –  not in the context of public health or climate change.

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We are also not sure why CNN isn’t hosting a easy-to-find full length debate video and lively comment section! The media prefers to offer you the soundbytes – instead of the discussion (“the debate in 2 minutes”), but don’t fall for this.
Watch the whole thing, FORM YOUR OWN OPINION.
(Oh, our opinion you ask? Well, you can really learn just as much from the CNN moderated questions (or lack thereof) as you can from the answers from the candidates. We might, for instance, scold CNN for the lack of framework to really discuss the urgency of climate change (Anderson Cooper: “we will get to climate change and environmental issues later . . .”). If it weren’t for Bernie Sanders, I’m not sure when the debate would have turned to ecology at all. )


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this month in food justice: peanut butter CEO sentenced to 29 years in prison

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Before it was over, the Salmonella outbreak of 2008-2009 infected hundreds of people, killed nine, and was traced to peanut butter from the Peanut Butter Corporation of America. Seven years later, the CEO of the company, Stewart Parnell, has been sentenced to 29 years in prison for his role in the outbreak. Parnell, his brother, and another executive of PCA knew about Salmonela contamination in their peanut butter and still continued to ship it to consumers. In an email to a plant manager awaiting Salmonella tests, Parnell wrote, “Just ship it anyway.”

The CEO was found guilty of a whopping total of 72 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and other federal charges and his sentence is the most severe punishment ever given to anyone in a food illness outbreak in this country. Personally, we have to ask, nine people died and he only got 29 years?! That’s only nine more years than this guy got.


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EPA (finally) updates (antediluvian) standards to protect farm workers from pesticides

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Seeing as the the USDA’s worker-training about pesticide safety still (very necessarily) includes the above image and instructions, we couldn’t welcome these development more.

The new revisions to EPA standards “give farmworkers health protections under the law similar to those already afforded to workers in other industries.” You can read the full list of revisions on the EPA fact sheet, some highlights include:

  • children under 18 are no longer allowed to handle pesticides
  • mandatory yearly training for farm workers about pesticides (as opposed to every five years)
  • equirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets – centrally-posted, or by requesting records
  • mandatory record-keeping of pesticide application

Great! But if news of the revisions leaves you feeling… I don’t know… a little angry about what they imply about conditions for workers on industrial farms, The United Farmworkers have a number of ongoing actions and campaigns to improve health, life, immigration, and economic conditions for workers on American farms.

Their reaction to the updated standards? “Is it ever too late to do the right thing? It’s been a long time coming, but it has come today.”