This week's dose of organic headlines, updates, resources, goodies, and recipes courtesy of dsnodgrass...
Writer April Davilia decided to try living without Monsanto for a month. She set up a blog to chronicle the experience, and it's a fascinating read. She describes her motivation:
It all started in January when a friend posted a link on her Facebook page to an article in the Huffington Post: “Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure, Study Reveals”
After reading the article, my instinct to stick it to the man compelled me to swear off all things
Monsanto for good. How hard could it be? [...]
I turned to my training as a scientist. I received my undergraduate degree in biology from Scripps College. I know how to navigate my way around scientific reports and I should certainly be able to take control of what foods I put into my body.I’m not doing this as a political statement, at least, that’s not how I’m starting out. I am simply fascinated by the fact that one company can have such a profound grasp on the human species and I’m ultimately curious - if we decide, as individuals, we don’t want Monsanto products to be a part of our lives, is it even possible to live without them?
USDA deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan was interviewed this week in the Washington Post, the topic of focus being the agency's National Organics Program. Here's one of the money quotes.
I like to call this the age of enforcement. . . . There is always that period of time when people are adjusting to a new rule. What are the laws of the land? How do I comply? It is 2010. There is no longer any question about what the rules are, and there is no longer any forgiveness of any significant amount in the system for lax enforcement, for failure to comply. Among the things that the inspector general report pointed out was that we need to upgrade our enforcement mechanisms, and we are very much doing so.
And there's this exchange with the interviewer on the agency's organic labeling rules, which Merrigan was involved in creating during the years 1999-2001, the end of the Clinton administration.
A: I left a pretty long to-do list when we published the final rule. Case in point: pasture. . . . What does it mean when we say "access to pasture," for ruminants, particularly dairy cows? . . . Well, that was on the list when I left in 2001. . . . There were a lot of things on that to-do list. I inherited that list right back.
Q: The problems with the organics program cited in the IG report took place during the Bush administration. What happened? Was it a lack of will? A lack of resources? Were they too friendly to big organic producers?
A: I assume it was not a priority.
And speaking of the above-mentioned age of enforcement...
The Department of Agriculture said on Friday that it would begin enforcing rules requiring the spot testing of organically grown foods for traces of pesticides, after an auditor exposed major gaps in federal oversight of the organic food industry.
Spot testing is required by a 1990 law that established the basis for national organic standards, but in a report released on Thursday by the office of Phyllis K. Fong, the inspector general of agriculture, investigators wrote that regulators never made sure the testing was being carried out.
The report pointed to numerous shortcomings at the agriculture department’s National Organic Program, which regulates the industry, including poor oversight of some organic operations overseas and a lack of urgency in cracking down on marketers of bogus organic products.
The audit did not name growers or processors that marketed products falsely labeled organic or say where any such products had been sold.
The head of the National Organic Program, Miles McEvoy, said on Friday that enforcing testing rules was one of several steps the agency was taking to improve oversight of the industry. It will also require unannounced inspections of organic producers and processors and start regular reviews of organic products in stores to make sure they are correctly labeled and meet federal regulations, he said.
I don't want to come off as exclusionary, but reading this somehow just makes me want to take a shower.
7-Eleven® stores across the country are the first retail outlets to offer on its Big Gulp fountain beverage machine USDA-certified organic iced tea... [...]
(E)arlier this year, the tea blend was converted to organic tea and received USDA organic certification. 7-Eleven made the switch on their fountains and now serves the new organic tea in its stores that offer B.W. Cooper's unsweetened tea. In April, stores will replace the old fountain decals with new ones carrying the USDA organic seal. [...]
Close to 70 percent of 7-Eleven, Inc.'s U.S. stores are carrying the product.