Vermont last week took a key step towards becoming the first state to require labeling of genetically modified foods. The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved labeling legislation without a trigger requiring other states to act, a signal that lawmakers and the state’s attorney general are prepared to battle litigation if the bill is signed into law.
The following article by Paul Hanley in Saskatoon’s The Star Phoenix succinctly lays out the benefits of organic farming and the issues with industrial farming. To summarize it in a nutshell, “We need to start paying farmers for ecological services, not just food. The money can come from repurposing perverse subsidies on fossil fuels and farming, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be over $2 trillion a year worldwide.”
It’s been a good year for Saskatchewan’s organic farmers. First, prices for some organic crops are quadruple those of conventional grains. Second, due to the vagaries of the rail transportation system, organic growers have had more success getting their crop to market this year than conventional farmers. And since they do not use chemical inputs, costs are lower, resulting in higher net income. Actually, it’s been a good year for organic agriculture worldwide. The organic approach is gradually shedding the “it can’t feed the world” myth. In fact, report after report came out this year saying it may be the only way to feed the world, even as the population rises by 50 per cent over the course of this century.
Internationally renowned eco-feminist, philosopher, and activist Vandana Shiva will be paying a visit to Winnipeg this weekend, and while her ticketed event is now sold out, local organizers have arranged an alternate, free live-streamed teach-in.
Shiva will be speaking to a group of paying attendees on the evening of March 28 as part of the “Fragile Freedoms” lecture series, presented by the University of Manitoba’s centre for professional and applied ethics, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the CBC.
On March 29, Shiva will be giving a lecture about Earth democracy from 90 Sinclair Street, which will be broadcast as a live-streamed teach-in to other locations across Canada, including a secondary location in Winnipeg.
The organizers of this event state that “there is no lecture hall or community centre with the capacity to hold everyone who should hear her inspirational and empowering message,” which is why they are offering this free, live-streamed event “in the spirit of decentralized knowledge-sharing and radical self-education.”
The notion of radical education, and radical self-education, is part of a larger movement to create spaces of knowledge-sharing outside of formal educational structures.
British scholar David Hicks believes that in its current form education “inevitably reproduces the social, political and economic norms of the dominant ideology. In the west this is capitalist, technocratic, individualistic, materialist, and patriarchal.”
In contrast to the Fragile Freedoms event, the teach-in on March 29 is free, and organizers of the second Winnipeg location—the University of Winnipeg Womyn’s Centre and the Women’s and Gender Studies Students’ Association—are attempting to make it as accessible as possible.
Free snacks, coffee, tea, bus tickets, and childminding are all offered as part of the event. It’s also being offered in a wheelchair accessible room in proximity to accessible washrooms.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept of Earth democracy, organizers of the teach-in provide a definition to use as a starting point before hearing Shiva’s thoughts: “Earth democracy is the worldview that we as humans can be part of a healthy planet, but we must take action to protect peace and swaraj (sovereignty) for all living beings: Let us learn about our right to water, our right to seed and to food, and our right to life.”
Join in the live-streamed teach-in at 7:00 p.m. on March 29 at room 2M70 at the University of Winnipeg.
A child’s experiment turns into a lesson on the toxins in our food supply.
Dayna McDaniel, co-founder of Seed-Savers, KC, shares with reporter Cindy Hoedel of the Kansas City Star Magazine her reason for starting Seed-Savers, KC and the first seed she ever saved.
It was a tomato presented to me by a neighbor, back in the 1970s. I had just moved into the neighborhood and I noticed this yard, and I was just flabbergasted. It was a paradise yard. It was one of those yards where you just want to meet whoever is gardening there. It was hard to figure out if somebody really lived there because I never saw anybody there. But I knew somebody had to live there or there wouldn’t be this beautiful garden. And then one weekend there was a woman outside. She was this ancient, ancient, ancient person. I thought, “Oh, my goodness gracious!” and I went up to her, and she started taking me around her yard. The tomatoes were coming ripe, and she said, “I’m going to share these tomatoes with you that I brought from Arkansas back in the ’50s, and I have to ask you to pass them on. It’s very important.” Continue reading
My Google Alerts is ablaze with articles about pesticide residue found on organic produce. Paul Hanley’s level-headed piece in the Star Phoenix explains why this finding “drives home the importance of expanding pesticide-free organic farming practices.”
Providing food free from chemical residues is just one goal of organic farming and perhaps not the most important. As the CFIA and other studies show, organic food is not necessarily pesticide free, but is much more likely to be pesticide-free or have lower chemical residues because chemicals are not applied directly to organic crops. Residues come mainly from spray drift from surrounding farms. Do some farmers who call themselves organic cheat and spray their crops? Of course there are always a few cheaters. Still, the CFIA information confirms that consumers who buy organic, especially Canadian or locally grown options, are buying food with substantially reduced contaminants. The more important goal of organic farming, however, is to reduce the chemical load in the environment, which has negative impacts on all life forms, including people. Continue reading
In keeping with the general theme of a new “gift” economy, Colin Tudge and Graham Harvey’s article in the Ecologist focuses on “a sustainable, people-centered agriculture.”
…we are launching our ‘Manifesto for a new agriculture’ at the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2014. A key theme is ‘agroecology’ – farming that takes its lead from nature. It conceives each farm as a mini-ecosystem, and agriculture as a whole as a key player in the global biosphere. Physiology is a vital science in agroecology – how plants and animals function – and psychology too in the case of livestock, for farm animals are sentient and to keep them without cruelty we need to understand what keeps them content. Overall, though, we need ecology – often still seen as a woolly pursuit but in truth the most intricate and the most ‘modern’ of all biological sciences. Continue reading