The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Ohio Coops Worth 3.7 Billion

Farming co-ops aggregate and market farm products, supply members with the fertilizer and other things they need in order to farm, and provide financial services.

Local farming co-ops reach into bigger towns, too, by marketing meat, grain, fruits, vegetables, fiber — and even rock salt — produced by or for member farmers to processors, retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

In addition, some of the region’s largest cooperatives that provide nonagricultural services, such as Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and Buckeye Power Inc., have their roots in the Ohio Farm Bureau.

A co-op’s main financial goal is to be profitable enough to serve its members, unlike a corporation, which aims to make as much profit as possible for its owners.

Though U.S. cooperatives date from 1752, legislation in the 1920s and 1930s helped farmers survive the Depression and encouraged future markets, the U.S. Agriculture Department said.

Ohio was home to 39 marketing co-ops and 18 farming supply and service co-ops in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the USDA said. Those co-ops did $3.7 billion worth of business that year.

You can read the full story about Ohio’s Cooperatives here.


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GMO Apple Comment Period Opens

A final, 30-day public comment period on USDA consideration of opening the United States to the growing and sales of genetically modified apples began Nov. 8 and will conclude on Dec. 9.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on its environmental assessment and plant risk assessment documents for the Arctic Golden Delicious and Arctic Granny Smith apples modified to be nonbrowning by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. of Summerland, B.C.

APHIS will only consider comments on the documents as to whether the apples are likely to pose environmental and plant pest risks, not general comments on genetically modified organisms, said Joel Brooks, marketing and communications specialist at Okanagan Specialty Fruits.

“We’re really excited. After three-and-a-half years, the assessments conclude it is safe and doesn’t pose risks. That’s very satisfying,” said Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits.

He said he expects approval within 90 days in the United States and only slightly longer in Canada.

“We are closer than ever to bringing consumers and producers safe, value-added Arctic apples, providing greater convenience and reducing food waste,” Carter said.

An orchardist, Carter has been field testing his GMO apples for 10 years. Under USDA permits, trial plots are growing in Washington state and New York, Brooks said.

The apples have been modified not to brown when sliced by switching off a gene. The sliced apple business could save costs of antioxidant treatment to prevent browning and use of sliced apples could increase, Carter has said.

Also noted in the article:

The council submitted comments during the first U.S. public comment period in 2012. There were a total of 72,745 public comments and the majority were opposed, Schlect said.
Of that, 1,939 were unique comments and the rest were form responses, Brooks noted.

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Yet Another Reason to Buy Local

This is another reason to be picky about where your meat comes from.  Better yet, stop eating meat altogether:

Raw ground beef

From the Daily Kos:

Put down your ham sandwich before you read this one, folks. The US Department of Agriculture is hoping to expand a pilot program replacing half the USDA inspectors in meat plants with inspectors employed by the companies themselves, while speeding up production lines. The pilot program has been in place in five hog plants since the late 1990s and the results aren’t comforting:

… three of these plants were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general. The plant with the worst record by far was one of the five in the pilot program.In these cases, the contaminated meat did not leave the plants because it was caught by government inspectors once it reached the end of the processing line. But federal officials consider this too late in the process and repeatedly cited the plants for serious safety failures.

There are 608 such plants in the country, so for three out of five members of the pilot program to rank in the 10 worst facilities is really saying something. And that something is “this pilot program should be abandoned, not expanded, USDA dumbasses.” Continue reading

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Organizations Urge USDA to Improve Oversight of GM Trials

The Environmental Leader reports on efforts by more than 150 organizations to urge the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of gentically engineerd crops:

Organic food manufacturer Amy’s Kitchen, Farm Aid, Clif Bar & Company, The Urban Farm, Organic Seed Alliance and the Center for Food Safety are among more than 150 farm organizations, millers, retailers, bakeries, seed businesses and food processors urging the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of genetically engineered crops.
The groups have signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that centers on their concern over the discovery this summer of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Oregon. The signatories say the contamination shows the inadequacy of US regulation of genetically engineered crop field trials. The incident also reinforces the sensitivity of export markets, all of which reject genetically engineered wheat.
The economic impacts of the genetically engineered wheat discovery were immediate, the signatories say. Shipments from Oregon wheat farmers were temporarily put on hold after the unapproved wheat was found.
The delegation has asked the USDA to halt new approvals of genetically engineered wheat field trials at least until the contamination investigation is complete. The group also says the USDA should publish a report detailing the investigation, implement recommendations that aim to improve field trial oversight, and require mandated containment protocols for all genetically engineered crop field trials.



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Certified Naturally Grown Label Tailored for Direct-Market Farmers

Mary Esch of the Associated Press writes about some organic farmers in the Northeast that are eschewing organic certification by the USDA:

Started by a group of organic farmers in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley as a backlash against federal takeover of the organic program in 2002, Certified Naturally Grown has expanded over the past decade to include more than 700 farms in 47 states, executive director Alice Varon said.
“Certified Naturally Grown is tailored for direct-market farmers producing food without any synthetic chemicals specifically for their local communities,” Varon said. “It’s a particular niche of the agricultural world. It’s not in direct competition with the national organic program.”
Many small farmers previously certified organic by an independent organization have declined to participate in the federal program. They voice a variety of objections: extensive record-keeping requirements; fees that can amount to 6 percent of a small farm’s gross sales; and philosophical objections to joining a monolithic government-run program that also certifies huge operations that ship produce across the country.
“We have noticed over time that more and more farmers — often, younger farmers — who appear to be following organic practices don’t bother to get certified,” said Jack Kittredge, co-owner of a certified organic farm in Barre, Mass., and editor of “The Natural Farmer,” journal of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. “My major concern is that sometimes, unless you’re certified you’re not even aware of some of the problems,” such as calling livestock organic even though the animals eat feed containing genetically modified crops. Continue reading

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Organic food more expensive because federal government uses your tax dollars to subsidize GMOs, junk food

One of the biggest complaints among ordinary families trying to eat healthy is that clean, organic food is simply too expensive, and thus out of reach for the average budget. But eating right does not have to break the bank, especially when you know what to look for and how to shop for it. Here are some helpful tips for maximizing your food budget while still being able to afford the best foods for your family:

1) Buy local. Though not always certified organic by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), many of the foods sold at your local farmers market are likely grown using organic methods. In fact, many local farmers and backyard gardeners employ growing methods that exceed certified organic standards, and yet are able to sell their goods for less as a result of not having to pay for official USDA organic certification. Continue reading

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Cracks in GMO Empire Beginning to Appear

When it comes to food policy, Monsanto always seems to be at the fore.  Will Fantle tells us why in EcoWatch:

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to foreign policy, Congress, state governments, elections and the courts, the feverish politics of genetically modified foods (GMOs) have infected decision making and dramatically tilted policies towards the desires of Monsanto and the biotech industry.

The suppression of dissent in the fertile ground of Washington, D.C., yielded another reward for Monsanto when they snuck a policy rider into an essential appropriations bill earlier this year. Dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act, it swatted down the ability of Monsanto’s pesky critics to use judicial review as a brake on questionable regulatory decisions. It allows full speed ahead on the unrestricted sale and planting of genetically modified seeds even when a court finds that they were not properly examined for their impact on farmers, the environment, and human health. Continue reading

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GM Seafood to be Discussed at 2013 BioMarine Business Convention

CANADA – The 2013 BioMarine Business Convention, which will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 9-12 September, in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada, will focus on Aquaculture and Aquafeed, among the three themes of the event.

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing source of food production. With the world’s population set to rise by 2.6 billion in the next 45 years, more food will be consumed in the next 50 years than in the whole of world history. Feeding the world will become our most important and pressing global priority.

Meeting this challenge will require a Blue Revolution to produce food from the worlds’ waters.

One company that is proposing a concrete solution is AquaBounty Technologies, a biotech company focused on developing productivity enhancements for the commercial aquacultural industry.

They will be present at BioMarine in Halifax to discuss their lead product, AquAdvantage Salmon, a pioneering, genetically modified, fast growing Atlantic salmon that is currently undergoing regulatory review.

According to Henry C. Clifford, V.P., Marketing & Sales, AquaBounty Technologies, (USA, Canada): “A central objective to our primary mission is to demonstrate to seafood consumers and the general public that AquAdvantage Salmon is safe to consume and safe for the environment, especially when deployed under the conditions of use proposed by the FDA.” Continue reading

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The Truth About Organic Foods from China

The information provided by Dr. Josh Axe in his post  The Truth About Organic Foods from China is disturbing but not surprising.  There has been one scandal after another regarding the substandard quality of products imported from China.  Why should organic foods be any different? As long as shoddy standards, little regulation and rampant corruption exist, these scandals will continue.  I’ve posted Dr. Axe’s entire article and links to his sources:

There are articles all over the Internet right now about “fake organic” food from China. Wanting to keep you informed, I read through many of them. The problem was, they all seemed to quote other sources and reading on, I found that these sources quoted other sources and so on. There didn’t seem to be any credible first-hand sources for this information. Was this all just rumor run rampant, as Whole Foods claims?

Whole Foods has been accused of selling these “fake organic” foods from China but they claim that “any product sold as organic in the US, regardless of where it’s grown, must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard by a USDA-accredited certifier.”

Well, I wanted to know more about this USDA certification of imported organics. It took quite a bit of digging but what I eventually found was more disturbing than any of those copycat articles.

I found frightening information about all food from China, frightening lack of regulation concerning organic food from China, and, worst of all, shocking information about our National Organic Program (NOP).

Before I go on, I want to reassure you about your options. You don’t have to break the bank buying all of your foods organic. Read which foods are commonly pesticide-ridden and those that usually aren’t in How to Buy Organic. I’ll tell you about the “beyond organic” movement that has arisen in response to NOP problems. Check out this source here to learn more, What is Beyond Organic? Continue reading

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GMO Crops Mean More Herbicide, Not Less

By Beth Hoffman: Forbes

Over the past 15 years, farmers around the world have planted ever larger tracts of genetically engineered crops.

According to the USDA, in 2012 more than 93 percent of soy planted was “herbicide tolerant,” engineered to withstand herbicides (sold by the same companies who patent and sell the seeds).  Likewise, 73 percent of all corn now is also genetically modified to withstand chemicals produced to kill competing weeds.

One of the main arguments behind creating these engineered crops is that farmers then need to use less herbicide and pesticide.  This makes farms more eco-friendly, say proponents of genetically modified (GM) crops, and GM seeds also allow farmers to spend less on “inputs” (chemicals), thereby making a greater profit.

But a new study released by Food & Water Watch yesterday finds the goal of reduced chemical use has not panned out as planned.  In fact, according to the USDA and EPA data used in the report, the quick adoption of genetically engineered crops by farmers has increased herbicide use over the past 9 years in the U.S.  The report follows on the heels of another such study  by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook just last year. Continue reading