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Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 20th, 2017

Many Americans dutifully recycle their plastic bottles and newspapers, but when it comes to food and yard waste may toss them directly in the trash. While it may seem like a banana peel here and pile of spoiled greens there would do little in the way of environmental harm, food waste is actually the second largest component of waste sent to U.S. landfills, making up 18 percent of the waste stream, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).1 Yard trimmings make up another 7 percent. When combined, this organic waste makes up the largest share of U.S. trash, more than any other material, including paper and plastic. In all, the food waste alone amounts to more than 30 million tons of waste entering U.S. landfills every year. This is particularly tragic since food and yard waste is easily recycled, though not by placing it in a recycling bin at your curb. It's actually quite simple to "recycle" these types of organic materials right in your own backyard. It's called composting, and it's being taken up on a large scale slowly but surely across the U.S.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 20th, 2017

Ahead of World Bank’s release of the 2017 “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” (EBA) report this month, 157 organizations and academics from around the world denounce the Bank’s scheme to hijack farmers’ right to seeds, attack on food sovereignty and the environment. In a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA’s five Western donors, the group demands the immediate end of the project, originally requested by the G8 to support its industry-co-opted New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. “The EBA dictates so-called ‘good practices’ to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they implement its prescriptions,” said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute. “But the EBA has become the latest tool, to push pro-corporate agricultural policies, notably in the seed sector—where it promotes industrial seeds, that benefit a handful of agrochemical companies,” he continued.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 20th, 2017

A decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deregulate a genetically modified grass seed has raised concerns about contamination in Oregon’s billion-dollar grass seed industry. Genetically modified creeping bentgrass was created by Scotts Miracle-Gro as a product for golf courses. But the grass escaped from its test plots, and has continued to spread across Southeast and Central Oregon – despite eradication efforts. The USDA published its final decision on Wednesday, approving a request from Scotts to deregulate the company’s bentgrass seed after determining that the plant is “unlikely to pose a plant pest risk.” Jerry Erstrom chairs the weed board in Malheur County, where the grass has taken root after crossing the Snake River from Idaho. He’s seen firsthand how fast the grass can spread and how hard it is to wipe out because it’s resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in most herbicides.

 

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 19th, 2017

By: Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Oliver De Schutter and Ricardo Salvador. If the recent election had an upside, it’s this: It demonstrated that the good food movement is real. Four jurisdictions—Boulder, Oakland, San Francisco, and Albany (California)—approved taxes on soda, which will benefit both public health and public finances. (Two days later, lawmakers in Cook County, Illinois, also approved a soda tax, becoming the largest jurisdiction to do so.) In Oklahoma, an initiative to shield animal factory farms from regulation was defeated. Massachusetts voters passed a measure outlawing the sale of products from animals raised inhumanely. And four states voted to raise their minimum wage above the anemic $7.25/hour federal standard. Meanwhile, the national reality has turned Orwellian: In a matter of days we will have an attorney general who is hostile to civil rights, an EPA chief who doesn’t believe in climate change or environmental protection, a Health and Human Services Secretary hostile to public support for health care, an anti-worker Labor Secretary, and an anti-democracy Congress which will rubber stamp an increasingly anti-individual rights Supreme Court. Not to mention a president who evinces little respect for democratic institutions and is already regarded the world over as, shall we say, sui generis.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 19th, 2017

Next week, Monsanto and California's Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) will face off over the agency's plan to list the herbicide glyphosate as a carcinogen. The outcome of this legal battle could have major ramifications to California's long-established regulatory program. It all started back in Sept. 2015 when the OEHHA issued a notice of intent to list the chemical as known to the state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. The OEHHA determined that glyphosate met the criteria under the "Labor Code" listing mechanism, which directs the office to add a chemical or substance to the Prop 65 list of known carcinogens if it meets certain classifications by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The France-based IARC concluded that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)" in March 2015.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 19th, 2017

Monsanto Co. and officials within the Environmental Protection Agency are fighting legal efforts aimed at exploring Monsanto’s influence over regulatory assessments of the key chemical in the company’s Roundup herbicide, new federal court filings show. The revelations are contained in a series of filings made within the last few days in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California as part of litigation brought by more than 50 people suing Monsanto. The plaintiffs claim they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after exposure to Roundup herbicide, and that Monsanto has spent decades covering up cancer risks linked to the chemical. 

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 18th, 2017

More than 500 national, state, and local organizations on Tuesday announced their opposition to Donald Trump's fossil-fuel soaked nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott PruittIn a letter (pdf) to U.S. senators sent one day before Pruitt's confirmation hearing before the Environment and Public Works committee on Wednesday, the groups urge lawmakers "to not only vote against Pruitt's nomination, but actively use all the power of your office and position to block it. We urge you to lobby your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose his nomination, to speak out in the media highlighting his egregious environmental record, and use all procedural means at your disposal to block Scott Pruitt from becoming EPA administrator."


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 18th, 2017

Industrial agriculture plays a significant role in Iowa’s water quality crisis. This includes pollution from manure application, runoff and spills that contaminate waterways with bacteria, nitrates, phosphorus, antibiotics, and heavy metals. Since 2000, there have been over 787 manure violations reported by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).1 Those are just the ones that are documented. Some of these releases result in fish kills. The Des Moines Register reports that 75% of the state’s rivers, streams and lakes that have been tested are impaired. Only 12% of its 72,000 miles of rivers and streams and approximately 50% of its 202,200 acres of lakes have actually been tested, so Iowa’s water pollution problem is likely more extensive.2

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 18th, 2017

The European Commission has confirmed that it is planning a vote on Friday 27 January where it will push for the first GMO cultivation authorisations since 1998. The crops in question include two new strains of GM maize — Syngenta’s Bt11 and DuPont Pioneer’s 1507 — as well as the re-approval for Monsanto’s MON810, which is already grown in Spain and Portugal. Please share this information with all your contacts and get in touch with officials to ask them to oppose cultivation.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 17th, 2017

Farmers in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, China's top grain producer, will be prohibited from growing Genetically Modified(GM) crops, according to a provincial regulation passed on Friday. The regulation will become effective on May 1, 2017. Growing of GM corn, rice and soybean will be banned, while illegal production and sales of GM crops and supply of their seeds will also be prohibited. The new regulation also bans illegal production, processing, sale and imports of edible GM farm produce or edible farm products that contain GM ingredients. It requires all GM food be sold in a special zone, clearly indicated in stores. The decision comes after 91.5 percent of responses in a survey in the province in October raised objections to GM crops. "We support the research and development of transgenetic technology, but we should be cautious in applying the techniques in crop production," said Yao Dawei, director of the provincial legislature.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 17th, 2017

Burkina Faso estimates it will produce 750,000 tonnes of raw cotton in the 2016/17 season, up from the previous harvest of 600,000 tonnes, the country's agriculture minister said on Monday. Jacob Ouedraogo told reporters in Paris that good production had been helped by good rain, but that quality was also better compared with previous genetically modified (GM) crops. He added that Burkina growers had reverted 100 percent to non-GM cotton for the 2016/2017 crop, and that talks were underway with U.S. seed maker Monsanto over compensation for crop quality problems blamed on GM cotton.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 17th, 2017

Bermuda’s Environment Minister Cole Simons is not prepared to lift the ban on weedkillers containing glyphosate “at this point in time”, he stated Thursday. The announcement, made at a stakeholder consultation meeting on Thursday on the Glyphosate Monitoring Study Draft Report, was applauded by the public and welcomed by Greenrock. The environmental watchdog and farmer Tom Wadson spoke out this week in support of the ban after the Government report, written by environmental engineer Geoff Smith, who was tasked to look into the risks of the weed control glyphosate from road spraying, found that there were no significant adverse health effects detected from the chemical’s use and recommended that the ban be lifted. “As far as the minister is concerned, a decision has not been made and it will not be made until I am comfortable that our environment is safe, our people are safe and that we can effectively manage our environment and do minimal damage to it,” Mr Simons said. Adding that the report was not finished and that he would need more convincing, he said: “I am at this point in time not prepared to lift the ban”.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Jan 13th, 2017

The most significant event in food and agriculture over the past year did not take place on our farms. Nor did it occur in our factories, in our restaurants or on our kitchen tables. It happened in the voting booth. Rural voters turned out in overwhelming support of Donald Trump, throwing a Hail Mary pass against the growing economic hardship felt by these communities. Caught in a toxic cycle of depressed commodity prices, rising debt and plummeting income, it comes as no surprise that American farmers voted en masse for change and the hope of different leadership with new ideas. Trump struck a chord with farmers and other rural voterswho were eager for change and desperate to recapture economic opportunity in their industries and communities. Sadly, the inconsistencies of Trump’s agenda are poised to inflict the greatest damage in these pockets of the country that most faithfully supported him.


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