---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: 26 Jun 93 09:27 PDT
From: Michelle Thom <email@example.com>
To: "Recipients of conference susag.news" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Sustainable Ag News - 6/25/93
Sustainable Agriculture News Bulletin
Volume 2, Number 7
June 25, 1993
NRDC CALLS PESTICIDE REGULATION INEFFECTIVE
A report released earlier this week by the environmental
organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), concludes
that federal regulation of pesticides is ineffective. The groups says
that carcinogenic chemicals routinely find their way into the nation's
food and water supplies. Results of their study shows that pesticide
use in the United States has doubled since 1964 , amounting to eight
pounds per every man, woman and child in the country each year.
Other findings include: 10% of public wells and 440,000 rural
private wells contain pesticide residues; over 1/3 of foods tested by
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed pesticide residues;
and 300,000 farmworkers suffer from the effects of pesticide use
every year. In addition, at least 107 active ingredients found in
pesticides were carcinogenic; 83 are still in use today and 71 are
used in agricultural production. "The government's seeming devotion
to pesticides has resulted in the systematic contamination of our
environment, our wildlife, our drinking water, our food supply and
the poisoning of farmers and farmworkers," said Jennifer Curtis of
The group has called on the government to phase out pesticides
linked to cancer within seven years of being identified. "Weak
federal laws and regulations, bureaucratic delay and a suspect
system of environmental health effects assessment have conspired to
render pesticide oversight inadequate," said Eric Olson, an attorney
for NRDC. A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) said the recommendations will be evaluated by an inter-
agency team of people from EPA, USDA and FDA. "We want to look at
all of these recommendations from all the interested parties
involved. We believe that the public is very well protected and that
the food that we eat is safe," said Loretta Ucelli. "Where's the
evidence? There is not an unreasonable risk," said Mark Maslyn of
the American Farm Bureau Federation. Maslyn maintains that
farmers would like to give up pesticides but there needs to be
adequate alternatives. "We all have to eat. There has to be a
practical and economical and effective alternative."
Source: Rita Beamish, "Pesticides," AP, June 21, 1993; "Report Says
Pesticide Regulation Ineffective," Farming Today, UPI, June 22, 1993;
"Report: Pesticide Regulation Ineffective," UPI, June 21, 1993; "NRDC
Report Calls for Pesticide Phase Outs and Overhaul of Pesticide Laws,"
PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK UPDATES SERVICE, June 25, 1993.
WET SPRING LEADS TO TOP SOIL LOSSES
This spring's heavy rains and flooding in the Midwest are causing an
increase in topsoil erosion, according to the USDA's Soil Conservation
Service (SCS). Erosion from the heavy rains that have affected the
states of Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and other states is causing local
rivers to run high and muddy. And with soil erosion comes fertilizer
and pesticide residues, according to SCS agronomist Bob Dayton.
Even farmers using conservation tillage methods, which are supposed
to be the most effective way of protecting farmland soil, have
experienced topsoil loss. "When we, for instance, had four inches of
rain in a day and a half even in fields that have been no-tilled, the
water does tend to congregate and come together and go through the
field at one place in a rolling farm," said Illinois farmer Gary Haub.
"It would be much worse if I wasn't no-tilling," he added. The SCS
said that the heavy rains have forced some farmers to adopt no-till
methods. On the other hand, many farmers practicing conservation
tillage have had to give up because of excessive weeds and the
crusting of the soil. "That's not real widespread but it's happened,"
confirms Dayton. The USDA also said it will permit haying and
grazing on some setaside land in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and
Wisconsin due to the heavy rains.
Source: Robert Greene, "Losing Soil," AP, June 20, 1993.
SHELL CONSIDERING SALE TO AMERICAN CYANAMID
In business news, the Royal Dutch/Shell company said last week that
it is considering selling its crop protection enterprises to American
Cyanamid. Reduced production by farmers has resulted in falling
agricultural chemical sales on a worldwide level thereby prompting
the oil company to consider the sale. A Shell company statement
said the sale would allow the company to continue focusing on the
core areas of its chemical businesses.
Shell recently donated an insecticide to Hungarian farmers who are
expecting considerable crop damage this year as the result of an
approaching swarm of locusts. The chief executive of Shell-Interag
Kft, said the unnamed insecticide "was very efficient in north Africa
and we have it in stock here, so we give it to them (the Hungarian
farmers) free of charge." The approaching swarm will be the first to
plague Hungary in 60 years. No date has been set for aerial spraying
of the locusts.
Source: "Sale of Shell Pesticide Businesses to American Cyanamid
Considered," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, June 17, 1993; "Company
Donates Pesticide to Fight Locust Swarm," REUTER, June 22, 1993.
CALIFORNIA COMPANY INDICTED ON PESTICIDE DUMPING
Agri-Empire, a California-based agribusiness, was indicted earlier
this month on charges that it used treated sewage water to grow
potatoes and buried pesticide containers under a cattle pen. Agri-
Empire is the second largest potato grower in the country. The
partly treated sewage water was supposed to be used on seed
potatoes or crops fed to animals. Federal prosecutors Adam Schiff
and Bryan Daly said the water was used to grow potatoes that were
then sold to fast food chains around the country. The pesticide
dumping charges include storing DDT and other banned pesticides
and burying unrinsed pesticide containers. "If this case is proven
true, it shows a flagrant lack of regard for what it could do to
humans. It puts greed above concern for human welfare and safety,"
said FBI agent Thomas Parker. Xavier Hermosillo, a spokesperson for
Agri-Empire called the charges "precipitous and hollow, and a
colossal waste of tax dollars." In sum, the charges included 33
federal counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and the illegal handling of
Source: "Agribusiness Firm Charged in Major Environmental Case,"
AGRI NEWS, June 17, 1993.
ADM CHAIR SAYS SEND SEED, NOT SOLDIERS TO THIRD
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) chair Dwayne Andreas told a meeting
of the Business Council for the United Nations 1993 World Congress
that the agency should be sending seeds, not soldiers, to developing
countries. Andreas urged the world body to use agricultural
resources and technology to combat violence and civil unrest
resulting from hunger and poverty in many developing parts of the
world. "We could see the launch of a Second Green Revolution in the
developing world -- one that heals a wounded earth and makes it
productive again," said Andreas. He said top priorities should include
ending top soil erosion in both the developing and industrialized
Source: "Andreas Calls for Seeds, Not Soldiers, for Third World,"
Farming Today, UPI, June 18, 1993.
NEW LABELS REACHING GROCER'S SHELVES
New labels that were approved by the FDA and former President
Bush last year are beginning to show up on grocer's shelves. This
week, FDA Commissioner David Kessler launched a campaign to
educate consumers about the new labels. The new labels will list fat,
carbohydrate and protein content as a percentage of your daily diet
whereas labels used to simply list them in grams. In cooperation
with the USDA and the National Food Processors Association, the FDA
has produced a brochure that consumers can pick up at local stores
explaining the new regulations.
In other FDA news, the agency proposed a total ban on lead-soldered
cans this week. Lead-soldered cans pose a health risk to consumers
as the lead can bleed into the food in the can. Currently, only 10% of
all cans are lead-soldered. The technique is not used by U.S.
companies and only 1% of Canadian companies still use it. If
approved, the ban would go into effect in December 1994.
Source: "New Labels Reaching Store Shelves," Farming Today, UPI,
June 22, 1993; "FDA to Ban Lead-Soldered Imported Food Cans,"
Farming Today, UPI, June 22, 1993.
BANGLADESH PROMOTING USE OF BIOPESTICIDE
The government of Bangladesh has launched a campaign promoting
the use of the biopesticide neem, or margosa, instead of chemical
pesticides. Pests and rodents ruin more than one million tons of
grain each year, according to agriculture officials. Scientists have
determined that flakes of the neem as well as cakes made from its
seeds are effective in combating pests. The use of neem oil could
also save the country $15 million annually in imported pesticides as
well as create new jobs, said agriculture ministry officials. "Oil from
one tree could provide adequate crop protection for over three
hectares of rice and a further 610,000 hectares would be saved by
using the cake," said Bangladeshi entomologist Manjur Ahmed
Source: "Bangladesh Promotes Home-Grown Herbal Pesticide,"
REUTER, June 17, 1993.
BRITISH AID GROUP TARGETING WOMEN IN AFRICA
The British aid organization Farm Africa is targeting its aid efforts
toward Tanzanian women -- the primary caretakers of the land,
according to a recent article in the FINANCIAL TIMES. David
Richardson writes that Farm Africa is convinced that if the women
can be persuaded to adopt more efficient methods of agricultural
production, the effects on the well-being of their children and entire
community will be overwhelming. The organization works by
beginning at the grassroots. They attempt to establish what the
women need first rather than imposing development schemes on
them. For instance, aid workers help them build huts for sheep and
goats which are often the cause of tree and vegetation loss in rural
African communities. The group has also introduced a British-bred
goat that gives five to six pints of milk a day -- three to four times
more than native goats. Tree planting and stoves that don't require
the use of precious firewood have also been introduced. Given the
size of the poverty and hunger problems facing Tanzania, Richardson
says Farm Africa's efforts seem small. "But at least it is starting at
the right level and the tiny area in which it operates is already
beginning to benefit from its efforts," Richardson concludes.
Source: David Richardson, "Giving African Farm Aid a Feminine
Touch," FINANCIAL TIMES, June 22, 1993.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently released
testimony by Peter Guerrero in a report entitled PESTICIDES: U.S.
AND MEXICAN FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PROGRAMS DIFFER.
In his testimony, Guerrero concludes that there are several
differences between pesticide tolerance levels required by the U.S.
and Mexico and those differences will need to be addressed with or
without the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For a
copy of the testimony, contact GAO, (report # GAO/T-RCED-93-9),
Washington D.C. 20548.
The March 1993 issue of the USDA Economic Research Service's
FARMLINE contains a headline article on conservation tillage. The
article says that even though more farmers are turning to no-till
methods, many are still using conventional tillage systems. No-till and
mulch-till systems have provided the most gains for corn and
soybean growers. While this was the last issue of FARMLINE, back
copies may be available from USDA, 1301 New York Avenue NW,
Washington D.C. 20005.
NATIONAL FAMILY FARM TRANSITION NETWORK MEETING,
July 18-20, 1993, Northfield, MN. FFI, contact: LaVonne Nicolai,
Minnesota Farm Connection, (612) 297-3395.
4TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DESERT
DEVELOPMENT, July 25-30, 1993, Mexico City, Mexico. FFI, contact:
Manuel Anaya Garduna, Scientific IV ICDD, Colegio de Post-
graduados, Montecillo, Edo. 1 de Mexico.
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Library and Information Coordinator,
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy , 1313 5th Street SE, Suite
303, Minneapolis, MN 55414. Telephone: (612) 379-5980 Fax:
(612) 379-5982 EMail: email@example.com
In addition to this twice-weekly news summary bulletin, the
Institute offers a variety of other information services on EcoNet for
farmers, educators, researchers and policymakers. These include:
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bulletins on international trade issues; Agri.farmbill: Participatory
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1995 Farm Bill