Henry A. Wallace Institute for
9200 Edmonston Road, #117
Greenbelt, MD 20770
World Wide Web: http://www.hawiaa.org
* * *
If You Are Interested in Sustainable Agriculture...
In addition to this monthly newsletter, the Henry A. Wallace
Institute for Alternative Agriculture publishes the American Journal of
Alternative Agriculture, a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of research on
alternative agriculture. It is a scientific forum for disseminating
technical, economic, and social research findings about the character and
requirements of alternative agriculture systems.
A comparison of alternative pest and soil management strategies for
Maine potato production systems is featured in the new issue (Volume 13, No.
4). Other articles cover a comparison of conventional and organic apple
production systems during three years of conversion to organic management in
coastal California, and the response of corn, soybean, and wheat crops to
fertilizer and herbicides in Ohio compared with low-input production
practices. Subscriptions to AJAA are $44 for libraries; $24 for
individuals; and $12 for students; contact the Wallace Institute, 9200
Edmonston Road, #117, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777; e-mail
Table of Contents
Consumers Union Finds "Unacceptable" Pesticide Levels for Children, p. 1
N.Y. Times Labels Avery "Anti-Organic, and Flawed", p. 2
Proposed Budget Would Increase Some Sustainable Ag Funding, p. 2
Controversial EPA Pesticide Brochure Is Now Available, p. 3
Organic Farmers Plan to Expand, According to Survey, p. 3
"Terminator" Seed System Sparks a "Grass-Roots Protest", p. 4
Resources, p. 4
Positions, p. 4
Upcoming Events, p. 5
CONSUMERS UNION FINDS "UNACCEPTABLE" PESTICIDE LEVELS FOR CHILDREN
In a first-of-its-kind study of USDA data, Consumers Union analyzed
the amount of pesticides on produce and found "unacceptable levels of some
especially toxic pesticides" for children. "With some fruits and
vegetables, kids who eat a single serving can exceed the safe daily limit of
certain pesticides," concluded the report, released last month and featured
in Consumer Reports (March, 1999). The study also analyzed how toxic those
pesticides are, and devised a "toxicity index" that integrates health risks
and the actual amounts of pesticides on produce. Though the pesticide
levels on all tested produce are within legal limits, many of those limits
are at odds with what the government now deems safe for children, according
to the report.
Of the 27 foods Consumers Union tested, seven had a toxicity index
up to hundreds of times higher than the others: apples, grapes, green beans,
peaches, pears, spinach, and winter squash. These products "are typically
treated with more toxic pesticides and are often eaten unpeeled." The study
also found that methyl parathion accounts for the "lion's share of the total
toxicity of the foods we analyzed, and that domestic produce had more, or
more toxic, pesticides than imported produce in two-thirds of the cases.
Consumers Union "has asked the EPA to restrict or ban specific
pesticide uses that expose children to residues above safe limits." It also
recommends that the government provide financial and educational support for
farmers making the transition to "less toxic ways of controlling pests."
The government should also "direct more research toward finding safer ways
of managing pests now controlled by the most toxic pesticides."
The study, "Do You Know What You're Eating? An Analysis of U.S.
Government Data on Pesticide Residues on Foods," is available on the
Internet at http://www.consunion.org
N.Y. TIMES LABELS AVERY "ANTI-ORGANIC, AND FLAWED"
"Dennis T. Avery wants organic food to go away. And he doesn't care
what it takes," wrote Marian Burros in her "Eating Well" column entitled
"Anti-Organic, and Flawed" in The New York Times (February 17, 1999). "Four
years ago, he said that organic food could not feed the world without
destroying the environment. Now, he says it's lethal."
In Avery's recent article in American Outlook, he charged that
people who eat organic and "natural" food are more likely to "be attacked by
a deadly new strain of E. Coli bacteria (0157:H7)." He wrote that organic
farms use animal manure, do not use chemicals, or permit pasteurization.
But according to The New York Times, "The last assertion is untrue,
as were several other statements in the article....The simplest definition
of 'organic' is food grown without hormones, pesticides or synthetic
fertilizers. But Mr. Avery, whose work is financed by agribusiness, used
the terms 'organic,' 'free range,' 'natural,' and 'unpasteurized'
interchangeably....Mr. Avery said he had never 'bothered that much about
consumer safety aspects of organic food until [E. coli] 0157:H7.' His goal,
he continued, is to prevent organic agriculture from becoming the norm. 'My
big concern is that we do not have room on the planet to feed ourselves
organically,' he said.
"The attack on organic food by a well-financed research organization
suggests that, though organic food accounts for only 1 percent of food sales
in the United States, the conventional food industry is worried," the
PROPOSED BUDGET WOULD INCREASE SOME SUSTAINABLE AG FUNDING
The USDA budget proposed by President Clinton for Fiscal Year 2000,
which begins in October, contains increases for several sustainable
agriculture programs. Here are the proposed appropriations for several
sustainable agriculture discretionary programs:
SARE: An $8.5 million appropriation is requested for the Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education program, an increase from the FY99
appropriation of $8 million. SAPDP: A $3.3 million appropriation is
requested for the SARE (Chapter 3) Professional Development Program, the
same as the FY99 appropriation. ATTRA: A $2 million appropriation is
requested for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, an
increase from the FY99 appropriation of $1.3 million. OFPA: A $1.4 million
appropriation is requested for the Organic Foods Production Act, an almost
three-fold increase from the FY99 appropriation of $500,000.
In addition, the following appropriations were requested for
mandatory programs: CFO: No funds are requested for the Conservation Farm
Option, which also received no funding in the FY99 budget. EQIP: A $300
million appropriation is requested for the Environmental Quality Incentives
Program, an increase from the FY99 appropriation of $174 million. WRP: A
$209 million appropriation is requested for the Wetlands Reserve Program, an
increase from the FY99 appropriation of $90 million. CFSA: A $2.5 million
appropriation is requested for the Community Food Security Act, the same as
the FY99 appropriation. FRA: A $60 million appropriation is requested for
the Fund for Rural America, which received no funding in the FY99 budget.
The Farm Bill did not authorize any FRA funds for FY98. IFAFS: A $120
million appropriation is requested for the new Initiative for Future
Agriculture and Food Systems, a competitive grants program which was
proposed and then deleted from the final FY99 budget.
CONTROVERSIAL EPA PESTICIDE BROCHURE IS NOW AVAILABLE
A controversial EPA brochure about pesticides on food, attacked in
its draft form by both industry and environmentalists, is now available in
40,000 supermarkets and on the Internet. Of the brochure's seven topics,
only one deals with organic food: "What's "organically grown" mean?"
According to Mark Keating of the Wallace Institute, "The food safety
pamphlet undervalues the role that organic and IPM produced food can play in
a healthy diet. The brief mention of organic and IPM practices makes no
reference to their safety relative to conventionally produced foods." The
brochure, "Pesticides and Food," is available on the Internet at
ORGANIC FARMERS PLAN TO EXPAND, ACCORDING TO SURVEY
"Exploding consumer support for organic products" is encouraging 56
percent of organic farmers surveyed by the Organic Farming Research
Foundation to increase their organic acreage and the number of crops they
grow. According to the Foundation's "Third Biennial National Organic
Farmers' Survey," which surveyed 1,200 certified organic farmers in 44
states, 63 percent of those surveyed plan to increase their number of
markets and buyers. Nearly 87 percent of the respondents are single-family
operations or family partnerships, and 62 percent farm full-time.
The farmers' top research priority was weed management, and their
most useful resource for information was other farmers. Asked to name
current constraints to organic production, the farmers responded, in order,
uncooperative or uninformed extension agents, cost of organically allowable
inputs, and distance or transport of organically allowable inputs. Current
constraints to organic marketing included lack of consumer understanding
about organic food, lack of organic marketing networks, and the distance
between producer and market or delivery point.
"Third Biennial National Organic Farmers' Survey" is $10 from OFRF,
P.O. Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA 95061; (831) 426-6606. The Executive Summary
of survey results is available on the Internet at http://www.ofrf.org
"TERMINATOR" SEED SYSTEM SPARKS A "GRASS-ROOTS PROTEST"
Monsanto's seed-killing gene system, dubbed "Terminator" by critics,
"has become the focus of a grass-roots protest," according to Time (February
1, 1999), and has also been the subject of several articles in national
publications. "Farmers pay a premium for Monsanto seeds, and to make sure
they keep paying, the company requires them to sign an agreement promising
not to plant seeds their crops produce," Time wrote. "With the help of
clever genes currently in development, future Monsanto crops may be designed
with a new feature in mind: sterility. No sooner will the company's plants
mature than the seeds they carry will lose the ability to reproduce."
According to The Washington Post (February 8, 1999), "The quest is
either a sincere effort to solve the world hunger crisis or a corporate plot
to impose economic slavery on the world's farmers....The debate over the
technology has already become so polarized and emotional that farmers in
India recently went on a rampage and burned several fields of crops rumored
to harbor the deadly genes." A separate article in The Post (February 3,
1999) describes farmers "who stand accused by Monsanto of replanting the
company's patented, gene-altered seeds fresh every year....Besides sending
Pinkerton detectives into farmers' fields, the company sponsors a toll-free
'tip line' to help farmers blow the whistle on their neighbors."
"Adding Value for Sustainability" is $8.50 plus $3 shipping from
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, ATTN: Kristen Markley,
P.O. Box 419, 114 West Main St., Millheim, PA 16854; (814) 349-9856; e-mail
"Agricultural and Conservation Policies: 2002 and Beyond,"
proceedings from a workshop in honor of Norman A. Berg, is available from
Center for Agriculture in the Environment, American Farmland Trust, P.O. Box
987, DeKalb, IL 60115; 1-800-370-4879, or (815) 753-9347.
"Regional Trade Agreements and U.S. Agriculture" is available on the
USDA's Economic Research Service Website at http://www/econ.ag.gov, or from
the USDA, 1-800-999-6779.
"Statewide IPM Project/University of California," the 1998 annual
report, is available from the University of California Statewide IPM Project
at (530) 752-7691.
"1999 National Organic Directory" is $47.95 plus $3 shipping from
Community Alliance with Family Farmers, P.O. Box 363, Davis, CA 95617;
Community Alliance with Family Farmers seeks an Executive Director
responsible for all major management areas among staff and Board of
Directors; a Development Director; and a Grants Assistant; for application
packets, contact CAFF, P.O. Box 363, Davis, CA 95617; (530) 756-8518; e-mail
Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association seeks applicants for
its apprenticeship program; contact MOFGA, Dept. H, P.O. Box 2176, Augusta,
ME 04338-2176; (207) 622-3118.
Center for Rural Affairs seeks a Leader for its Marketing Alliance
Project; for applicant packet, contact the Center, P.O. Box 406, Walthill,
NE 68067; (402) 846-5428; e-mail info@CRA.org
Good Earth Farm School seeks applicants for five internships from
March to December; for application, contact GEFS, 1702 Mountain View Road,
Buena Vista, VA 24416; (540) 261-8775; e-mail email@example.com
University of Minnesota seeks a temporary (two-year) Assistant
Scientist for Organic Conversion Project at the Southwest Research and
Outreach Center; contact Southwest Experiment Station, Lamberton, MN; (507)
March 20-25, "Holistic Management for Natural Resource Managers"
will be held in Sunrise Springs, N.M.; contact Center for Holistic
Management, 1010 Tijeras NW, Albuquerque, N.M. 87102; (505) 842-5252.
March 27-28, "Enhancing Organic Dairy Operations" will be held in
South Royalton, VT; contact Lisa McCrory, Northeast Organic Farming
Association of Vermont, (802) 434-4122, or (802) 728-4416.
April 1, "Frontiers of Biology: The Future of Agricultural
Biotechnology" will be held in Madison, WI; contact College of Agricultural
and Life Sciences Outreach Services, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 620
Babcock Drive, Madison, WI 53706; (608) 263-1672.
April 1 is the deadline for abstracts for "Sustaining Agriculture in
the 21st Century: Thinking 'Outside the Box,'" to be held October 20-23 in
Guelph, Ontario; contact Ellen Wall, Farming Systems Research, University of
Guelph, (519) 824-4120; e-mail ewall@firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2-4, "Design and Create a Profitable, Organic Garden and
Permaculture Greenhouse" will be held in Buena Vista, VA; contact Andy Lee,
Good Earth Farm School, (540) 261-8775.
April 15-18, Draft Horse, Mule, and Horsedrawn Equipment Auction and
Swap Meet will be held in Redmond, OR; contact Small Farmer's Journal
Auction, P.O. Box 1627, Sisters, OR 97759; (541) 549-2064.
April 19, "First Asia-Pacific Conference and Trade Exposition on
Ground and Water Bioengineering for Erosion Control and Slope Stabilization"
will be held in Manila, the Philippines; contact International Erosion
Control Association, 1-800-455-4322; e-mail email@example.com
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: