Thursday, February 6, 2014


Another Victory for the People of Hawaii

Over the last week we’ve contacted you a couple of times about two bills introduced in Hawaii that would have stripped local control over agriculture and replaced it with a bad “one size fits all” policy dictated by the state.

Your calls and emails did the trick! Yesterday, we scored a big victory when SB 110, a bill that would have circumvented the legislative process for the so-called “Right to Farm” Act, was defeated in committee.

After a major victory on Kauai to protect citizens from the pesticides applied to genetically engineered crops, powerful interests turned to the State to preempt the right of local communities to enact laws to protect their citizens. Several Senators, including Senate Agriculture Chair Clarence Nishihara introduced an amendment to the so-called “Right to Farm” Act that would have taken away the rights of Hawaii counties to regulate their local agriculture (SB 3058). The bill was referred to three separate committees, but as a procedural deadline approached, a hearing for SB 3058 had yet to be scheduled.

In order to skirt the legislative process, Senator Clarence Nishihara took the language from his “Right to Farm” Act, and inserted it into a “short form” bill, SB 110, in an attempt to circumvent the committees tasked with protecting the health and safety of the Hawaiian people. The Agriculture committee announced it would vote on SB 110, without opportunity for public testimony, with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Within hours of receiving notification, community groups across the state were mobilizing their constituencies. By the early morning the people turned out. Senate offices were inundated with calls and the procedural hearing was packed with community members. Together we mustered a show of force.

The result? The committee was deadlocked 3-3 and the maneuver was not adopted. After the hearing, Senator Nishihara is reported to have declared both SB 110 and the original SB 3058 “dead” in this legislative session.

This is a big defeat for the chemical corporations, and shows the power of an informed community, ready to organize at a moment’s notice to protect our rights to safe food and a healthy environment. While we need to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for this kind of bill language moving forward, this is a victory that could not have happened without you!

Thanks for everything you do,
Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety
660 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, #302
Washington DC 20003
phone (202) 547-9359 | fax (202) 547-9429
Contact Us:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Take Action: Keep The Soil In Organic, Tell the USDA to Stop Dow Chemical’s “Agent Orange” Crops, Support Farmworkers Today!

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Keep The Soil In Organic

In 2010 the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) recommended to the NOP (National Organic Program) that soil-less vegetable production (crops grown hydroponically), NOT be certified as organic. The NOSB voted 12 to 1 to prohibit soilless production but three years later, the NOP continues to ALLOW hydroponic vegetable production to be certified as organic. Meanwhile, the NOP has not offered any soil-in-hands-lguidance to certifying agencies on this matter, nor any explanation. Many certifying agencies in the US are now refusing to certify hydroponic operations as organic. Presently, the vast majority of the “hydroponic organic” produce sold in this country is grown in either Mexico, Canada, or Holland. All three of these countries prohibit hydroponically produced vegetables to be sold as organic in their own countries, and because there is no labeling to announce that these vegetables are hydroponically grown, consumers are left in the dark about the growing method. While the hydroponic method works well, it is NOT organic since it does not rely on the microbial activity of the soil to provide the biological diversity that is the basis of organic growing. The old adage for organic farming has always been, “Feed the soil, not the plant.” Hydroponic growing is based on the opposite belief, “Feed the plant, not the soil.” The NOP standard emphasizes that organic growing is based on caring for the soil and their refusal to prohibit soil-less growing goes against their own standard. Now is the time for us as organic growers and/or consumers to make our position clear to the National Organic Program. Click here to sign the petition to keep the soil in organic.

Tell the USDA to Stop Dow Chemical’s “Agent Orange” Crops

Dow Chemical, the same company that brought us Dursban, Napalm, and Agent Orange, is now in the food business and is pushing for an unprecedented government approval: genetically engineered (GE) versions of corn and soybeans that are designed to survive repeated dousing with 2,4-D, half of the highly toxic chemical mixture Agent Orange. Please send in your comments to the USDA if you do not like the idea of 2, 4-D and dicamba resistant corn and soybeans on millions of acres!  2, 4-D and dicamba are linked to increased rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other diseases among farmers and farm workers, and these are prone to drifting on the wind and can settle far from where applied.  They’re extremely toxic to common fruit and vegetable crops. To learn more, click here. The comment period is open until February 24th. To make a comment today, click here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Published on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 by Common Dreams

'Corporate Welfare' Triumphs as Farm Bill Fails the Hungry
Under the guise of cutting subsidies, bipartisan bill increases subsidies to major agribusiness
- Common Dreams staff

After years of wrangling, the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 Tuesday in favor of a farm bill currently poised to be signed by President Obama.

Farmer Alan Madison fills a seed hopper with Monsanto hybrid seed corn near Arlington, Illinois, U.S. (Photo: Daniel Acker/Landov)Though the bill has some positive features including new conservation requirements for farm businesses that collect crop insurance subsidies and more funding for local and organic farmers, critics say the bad far outweighs the good.

Though not as drastic as the $40 billion in food stamp cuts that House Republicans had initially demanded, the final bill cuts food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by $8.7 billion over ten years.

Putting that figure in context, MSNBC's Ned Resnikoff writes, "It’s official: 850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits."

Following news of the passage, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he was "very disappointed" about the SNAP cuts, adding that it is "both morally and economically wrong to cut assistance to families in a very difficult economy."

"Our latest report shows that SNAP is the only defense against the wolves of hunger for 1.2 million jobless families," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, reacting to passage of the bill. "With record numbers of children in poverty, Congress should be launching a war on child poverty and strengthening the safety net for children including SNAP."

"It is shameful that Congress continues to treat poor Americans like second class citizens by cutting supports they desperately need,” she added.

In contrast to the assistance stripped from struggling families, as Environmental Work Group (EWG) reports, the final iteration of the farm bill hands "largely unlimited subsidies" to the largest and most successful farm operations "at the expense of family farmers and the environment."

Under the guise of cutting subsidies by repealing unpopular direct cash payments to farmers, the bill instead increases crop insurance subsidies by nearly $6 billion. Further, the final bill strips a provision that limited payouts to farmers that made over $750,000 in income.

As reporter David Dayen notes in the New Republic, by "referring to beneficiaries as          'farmers,' [the bill] underplays how giant agribusinesses really benefit from subsidized crop insurance."

He adds that by stripping the limits on payouts, "the richest businesses reap the most benefits" from the bill.

Dayen continues:

So the farm bill, far from “reforming” the process of well-heeled agribusinesses living off corporate welfare, actually locks that support in place through misdirection. It’s easier to denounce a farmer getting paid not to plant their field than to decry an overly generous insurance payout. Congress, particularly a Senate that over-represents rural agricultural states, knows well how to hide the ball in this fashion, keeping the focus on undeserving food stamp recipients rather than undeserving agribusinesses.

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