Thursday, July 29, 2010


A National Petition: The Organic Solution to the Climate Crisis
Sign the Food Agenda Petition Now!

Given the fact that the direct (CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane) and indirect (deforestation, draining of wetlands) greenhouse gas emissions from factory farms and chemical and energy-intensive industrial agriculture constitute the majority of greenhouse gases,
We call on U.S. elected officials, political candidates, and regulatory agencies to support and implement the following three public policies:

1: Implement Truth in Labeling
Give consumers the opportunity to freely choose sustainable, climate-friendly, humane, and healthy products by requiring GMO, pesticide, antibiotic, hormone, CAFO, GHG, and country-of-origin labels on foods and products sold in grocery stores and restaurants. At the same time we must safeguard consumer choice by maintaining strict certification and labeling standards for products which are organic, Fair Trade, or genuinely healthy and sustainable.

2: Stop Subsidizing Destructive Policies
Stop subsidizing industrial food and farm production, fossil fuels, and resource wars, and instead use these funds to promote and qualitatively fast-track clean energy, a green jobs economy, and organic farming. It is currently estimated that U.S. taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel and industrial food and farm sectors amounts to $60 billion a year, while wars for oil and strategic resources in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing us $200 billion annually. The money wasted on wars and industrial agriculture by the U.S. alone is enough to fast-track the conversion of the U.S. and global economy to organic agriculture and clean energy and save the world from climate catastrophe.

3: Build an Organic and Green Economy
Begin the phase-out of industrial agriculture's most energy, GHG-intensive, and hazardous practices. These practices include the massive over-production of livestock and animal products, Genetically Modified (GM) crops and biofuels, toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, sewage sludge on farm lands, and slaughterhouse waste in animal feed. Ban factory farm CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) and all inhumane confinement of farm animals.

Background Notes to the Food Agenda Petition:
* To stabilize our already chaotic climate and to avoid catastrophic global warming of 2-7 degrees centigrade or more, we must reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution from our current unsustainable global level of 389 parts CO2 per million to 350 ppm or below. Otherwise, we face massive crop failures, starvation, water shortages, pestilence, and unending wars for dwindling natural resources.
* In practical terms, this means reducing current fossil fuel use (especially in the food, transport, housing, military, and utilities sectors) by 90% by 2050; while sequestering or storing as much CO2 as possible in the soil through organic soil management and reforestation.
* By the year 2020, the U.S. needs to generate at least 30% of its energy from solar, wind, and other renewable sources (currently at 6%, while Denmark is at 20%).
* By 2020, 25% of our food needs to be certified organic (currently it is 4%), while drastically reducing the most-devastating greenhouse gases spewed out by industrial food and farming, methane and nitrous oxide.
* Only 1% of the U.S.'s 435 million acres of cultivated farmland are currently certified organic. In addition to drastically reducing fossil fuel energy use and slashing GHG emissions, each acre of farm, pasture, or range land brought under organic cultivation or management can safely sequester or store the equivalent of 7,000 pounds of climate-destabilizing CO2 per year.
* If all of U.S. farmland (not to mention pasture) were managed organically, we would be able to sequester almost 25% of all current GHG emissions, while significantly reducing fossil fuel use.


Washington, D.C. - The spread of weeds resistant to Roundup herbicide is bringing new scrutiny to the government's regulation of biotech crops.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a longtime critic of the biotech industry, said the U.S. Agriculture Department has been too quick to approve new varieties of herbicide-tolerant crops and other biotech products.

"Now, more than ever, farmers need to have a Department of Agriculture that takes care to preserve and protect the farming environment for generations to come," Kucinich said during a House hearing he chaired Wednesday on the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds.

One weed scientist, David Mortensen at Penn State University, said the government should restrict the use of herbicide-tolerant crops and impose a tax on biotech seeds to fund research and education programs.

The resistant weeds cannot be killed by the sole use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, which has become broadly popular with farmers with the advent more than a decade ago of soybeans, cotton, corn and other crops that are immune to the chemical. The weeds now infest about 11 million acres, a fivefold increase in three years, Mortensen said.

The problem is most prevalent in cotton and soybean fields in the South but is spreading to other regions. And it will get worse if farmers don't take measures to control for the weeds, including spraying additional herbicides and alternating chemicals and crop varieties, he and other scientists told a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Investigations Committee.

The Environmental Protection Agency already requires farmers to limit their use of insect-resistant corn and cotton to avoid the development of pests immune to the pesticide the crops contain. Mortensen suggested the government set controls for herbicide-tolerant crops.

Michael Owen, an Iowa State University weed scientist, thinks Iowa is only two years away from a serious problem with glyphosate-resistant weeds. He said farmers have to quit relying so heavily on Roundup to control weeds.

Farmers "value the convenience and simplicity of these crops without appreciating the long-term ecological and economic risks," he said.

Biotech companies are trying to deal with the problem by engineering new crop varieties that will be immune to more than one herbicide, but even those products will eventually run into resistance problems if farmers aren't careful, Owen said.

Use of Roundup-resistant crops has provided some environmental benefits by allowing farmers to reduce tillage and avoid soil erosion. But a National Research Council panel of scientists that included Owen warned this spring that those gains could be lost if the resistance problem worsens.

Ninety-three percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn planted this year were of herbicide-tolerant varieties. The USDA has been tied up in court over its approval of similar types of alfalfa and sugar beets. Critics say the department inadequately reviewed the impacts on the environment and other farmers.

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., expressed concern that increased regulation of biotech crops could threaten advances in crop production. "The market controls already in place are more than enough to ensure that farmers are employing the best practices to control herbicide-resistant weeds in their fields," he said.

Kucinich said a second hearing will listen to USDA officials.

His influence over regulation of biotech foods is limited. While hearings such as Wednesday's can draw attention to issues, other committees oversee the agencies and write their budgets and legal authority.

Regulation of biotech crops is shared among the USDA, EPA and the Food and Drug Administration. Herbicide-tolerant crops are largely within the USDA's purview, as long as the FDA considers them safe for food. The EPA regulates herbicides but not the crops designed to be used with them.

Full Text:


Full Text:


Please...Urge your representatives to support the Toxic Chemical Safety Act (HB 5820), recently introduced by Representatives Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman
Last week, leaders in Congress proposed a new law that will protect children from persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs), now and for generations to come. To keep this strong bill moving forward, lawmakers from across the country need to hear from you today

PBTs are toxic, build up in our bodies and are nearly impossible to control. A strong new law on toxics will move us one step closer to protecting future generations. Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Toxic Chemical Safety Act.