This week's dose of organic headlines, updates, resources, goodies, and recipes courtesy of dsnodgrass...
This news is from yesterday, but still worthy of our attention.
Today – Earth Day – is the grand opening of the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center. This facility will take food and yard waste from large waste generators like schools, hospitals, restaurants and supermarkets and turn it into usable garden compost that will be sold at retail outlets. As a Sustainability Partner with EPA, the facility will work to make its operations as “green” as possible.
Taking action to reduce greenhouse gases is one of EPA’s top priorities. Many human activities release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and we know that greenhouse gases trap heat. If human activities continue to release greenhouse gases at or above the current rate, we will continue to increase average temperatures around the globe.
When the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center (WORC) reaches its full capacity, it will reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road each year.
In welcoming Wilmington Organic Recycling Center as a Sustainability Partner, Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin pointed out that keeping waste out of landfills will significantly help reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Composting is an environmentally friendly alternative for dealing with food and yard waste. Instead of sending the waste to landfills where it will produce methane, a greenhouse gas, the waste will be transformed into a useful garden product,” said Garvin, who signed the partnership agreement with Scott Woods, CEO of the Peninsula Compost Group, one of three partners who developed and operate the composting facility.
"There is a growing interest in organic farming, particularly in the context of talks on ecosystem services", said Ladislav Miko, director at the European Commission's environment directorate, addressing a seminar on the role of organic farming in combating climate change on 20 April as reported by Euractiv.com. His comments come as the EU is preparing a major overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the post-2013 era (see GreenMed related news).According to the EU executive, only 4% of EU farmland is currently used by organic farming. However, in some countries organic farming covers up to 15-20%. Besides protecting the soil and theenvironment, restricted use of pesticides also improves water quality. Anna Barnett from the Commission's environment directorate stressed that the focus should be on reducing pollution from the 96% of farm land currently used for conventional farming. She noted that 50% of France's drinking water, for example, needs to be cleaned of pesticides before it is fit to drink. "We also need more money for rural development measures, for organic farming as well as fairer distribution of payments," Barnett said.
Organic products represents 2% of the EU food market and 2% of EU farmers have opted for this type of farming, noted Jean-François Hulot, head of the organic farming unit at the European Commission's agriculture department. There is currently no specific target at EU level for organic farming, nor is there a budget or payments, he said.
Genes may not be the only way cancer passes down the generations. Feeding pregnant rats a fatty diet puts both their daughters and granddaughters at greater risk of breast cancer.
Sonia de Assis of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC and colleagues had discovered that the daughters of pregnant rats fed an unhealthy diet are more likely to develop breast cancer. Now they have shown that even if these daughters eat healthily, their offspring are still at greater risk of disease.
Rats don't normally develop breast cancer, so de Assis had to give the granddaughters a chemical that induces tumours.
This put all the granddaughters at increased risk. Crucially, however, rats with grandmothers who ate a fatty diet were even more at risk. Twenty weeks later, half the rats whose grandmothers ate a normal diet developed breast tumours, while 80 per cent of rats with two grandmothers fed a high fat diet got tumours and 68 per cent of the rats with just did one developed cancer.
The Last year, retailers saw plenty of gardening newbies standing in front of seed racks puzzling over packets. “What’s the difference between this carrot and that one?” “What does direct sow mean?” And the very common query: “What makes these seeds organic?”
Most organic seeds come at a premium price, so it’s no wonder this question became a common refrain at garden centers. Your sales force can reassure customers that there is, indeed, a difference between conventional and organic seeds, and a good reason for the higher price point.
“There’s a tremendous amount of confusion on what organic seeds are,” said Charlie Hart of The Chas. C. Hart Seed Co., in Wethersfield, Conn. “They’re produced using specific requirements from the USDA. Selections cannot contain genetically engineered seeds. We find that people looking to buy organic seeds are really looking for non-genetically-engineered seeds.”
For seeds to be considered organic, the parent plants must be grown at an organic-certified farm, in organic soil, with only organic-approved inputs (fertilizer, pest controls, etc.). Once the seeds leave the farm, they have to be packaged by a certified facility to maintain the “organic” designation.