The Buzz – March 2016

The Buzz


Go out and vote, NC!

Today is election day in North Carolina! Vote!!

And, something for all of our friends in South Carolina: Take action to Keep SC Small Food Makers Open for Business.

After you’ve done your civic duty, read the Buzz to catch up on all of the most important sustainable ag. news this month


Rochelle signature_cropped

Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director

P.S. Let’s get a buzz going!  Recommend the Buzz to a friend.


March’s Must-Read Sustainable Ag. Stories

Black River Pollution and Hog Farming

The Waterkeepers Alliance says the Black River, nestled deep in hog country with headwaters in Sampson County, NC, has exceedingly high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Concentrated animal feedlots store vast amounts of animal waste in open pits, and the Waterkeepers say that the waste runs off into nearby streams or seep into groundwater. Meanwhile, a court case in Iowa brings water pollution into a broader conversation, by demanding that farmers pay for the water pollution they create. CFSA’s farmers work hard to raise animals in ways that enhance the environment, rather than placing it at risk.


Response to last month’s Article: Can Organic Farmers Actually Make A Living?

An opinion piece we shared in in last month’s buzz described the Food Movement as vibrant, dynamic, and growing. But we can’t ignore the reality that most small and intermediate farmers struggle to get by. This is because most government resources, including research funding and subsidies, are targeted to large monoculture farms that use GMOs, harmful pesticides and herbicides. CFSA is always fighting to change the balance- pushing the government to build a food system that will sustain the vibrant farmers our food movement depends on. You can do your part – by buying from a sustainable or organic farm in your area. You’ll be investing in a local farmer, a clean environment, and a healthier future for you and your community.


Organic Meat and Dairy has More Omega Fatty Acids than Conventional

A new scientific study finds that organic meat and milk has up to 50% more healthy omega 3-fatty acids than conventional meat and dairy, which are found to reduce risk of heart disease. Scientists attribute this difference to the time organic animals spend outdoors, grazing on grass, whereas conventional cows are fed on a corn-diet, and kept indoors (a harsh, unnatural life for a ruminant!). Milk and meat from local, organic, or sustainable farm that grazes their animals outside has more of what you need!


Here are 6 Key Questions to Ask Presidential Candidates about Food and Agriculture

The presidential race is picking up steam as candidates debate on topics from immigration to healthcare reform. But presidential hopefuls continue to ignore the critical topics of food and agriculture, and their connection to environmental contamination, diabetes, and poverty. CFSA noticed years ago that it isn’t just candidates for the highest office in the land who avoid talking agriculture. So we developed Questions For Candidates you can ask the folks running for local, state and federal office about food and ag issues. Use them to help elect politicians who will support a food system that is equitable, healthy, and supportive to farmers across the nation.


Senators Introduce a GMO Labeling Bill to Rival the Dark Act

Senators proposed a new bill that would require mandatory labeling of all foods that contain genetically modified ingredients (GMO), as an alternative to what consumers and environmentalists call the DARK Act (or Deny Americans the Right to Know Act). Unlike the DARK Act, this bill would require manufacturers to clearly label food products that contain GMOs. Over 90% of consumers want to know if their food contains GMOs, and the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack agrees that labeling should be mandatory. CFSA strongly believes that consumers have this right. We continue to advocate for laws that promote transparency and consumer awareness in food labeling.


Bees and Butterflies are Facing Extinction. What Does this Mean for Farmers?

A UN Report shows that 2 out of every 5 species of insect pollinators are facing extinction, which has serious implications for our global food supply. A combination of factors has led to this decline, including a simplified farming system that relies heavily on pesticides, reduced biodiversity worldwide due to development and urbanization, disease and pathogens, and climate change. At CFSA, we recognize that healthy farming systems lead to healthy ecosystems, and continue to support farmers whose diversified operations, conservation stewardship and organic practices produce safe havens for pollinators.


Monsanto’s Glyphosphate is Most Heavily Used Weed Killer in History

Also known as Roundup, glyphosate application has risen 15 times since the introduction of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) 20 years ago. Widespread use of the herbicide is paired with a rise in the use herbicide-resistant, genetically engineered seed.  The rampant use of glyphosate has led to the evolution of superweeds that are resistant to weed-killers; such weeds have also been found on North Carolina farms. Recognizing the potential danger of glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer, the Food and Drug Administration is now testing for it in food. We at CFSA continue to advocate for transparency around GMO labeling, and for protections for our organic farmers that are threatened by GMO contamination.


FDA Tries to Pull a Pesticide from the Market

The Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to pull a pesticide from the market has environmental advocates on the edge of their seats, and chemical companies (like Bayer CropScience) worried. This chemical is just one of thousands that have  conditional approval from FDA, a process that allows the FDA to give companies the go-ahead with new pesticides before sufficient study on their safety has been conducted. We at CFSA are pleased that the FDA is taking a harder look at this process, as we believe strongly that no chemical should be applied to food which has not been proven safe for the public and the environment.


Does Drinking Grape Juice Make you a Better Driver? Welch’s Seems to Think So…

No reasonable scientist would attempt to claim that drinking a sugary, grape juice would make you a better driver, yet scientists are doing just that. Industry-funded scientists, that is. Food companies continue to fund studies that show the amazing health benefits of the specific food they are producing, in fact, over 90% of the studies show a positive effect of the food in question (that’s what biased research dollars will buy you). But it’s not just food companies, this conflict-of-interest in research funding is also commonly seen among pesticide and GMO research. That’s why increasing publicly-funded research on nutrition and sustainable farming is so important- and why CFSA is fighting for just that.


Updates from Last Month’s Buzz 

Hemp: Last month we told you the government was planning to allow certified organic hemp. It seems they’ve done a complete 180 – learn more here.


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