Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture
9200 Edmonston Road, #117
Greenbelt, MD 20770
Web site: 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.
The factors, challenges, and obstacles in organic farmers' decision-making
are featured in the current issue (Volume 14, No. 1). Other articles cover
evaluation of farmers' perceptions of soil quality indicators, farmers'
attitudes towards sustainable agriculture issues and environmental quality
in a selected area of Bangladesh, rice and wheat production in Pakistan
with effective microorganisms, a profile of an organic farm in Sweden, and
commentary on whether precision agriculture is sustainable. For U.S.
subscribers, one volume (four issues) costs US$44 for libraries, US$24 for
individuals, and US$12 for students; foreign rates are available also. For
more information, contact the Wallace Institute, 9200 Edmonston Road, #117,
Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8777; email@example.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Consumers Union Calls for Labeling of Modified Foods, p. 1
USDA Dedicates New Henry A. Wallace Room, p. 2
Agriculture Could "Make or Break" Trade Talks -- Glickman, p. 2
OMRI Develops List of Allowed Organic Products, Seal for Farmers, p. 3
Positions, p. 3
ADM Recommends Separating Traditional, Modified Crops, p. 3
Plant Extinctions Threaten Future Food Supplies, Says New Report, p. 4
Resources, p. 4
Upcoming Events, p. 5
CONSUMERS UNION CALLS FOR LABELING OF MODIFIED FOODS
Consumers Union, in Consumer Reports magazine (September, 1999), has
recommended that "all foods containing genetically engineered ingredients
be labeled as such, including milk with recombinant bovine growth hormone,"
and that the USDA "set a single, national standard for certified-organic
food that excludes genetically engineered food from the definition." The
Consumer Reports article examined genetically modified foods, tested
"everyday groceries," and revealed that "genetically engineered foods are
already on supermarket shelves." Although "U.S. consumers are largely
unaware of the issue," its effects on them include the U.S.'s "collision
course" with the European Union over genetically modified foods, and
"environmental questions over genetically engineered crops [that] have
taken on a new urgency....What happens if a hybrid 'superweed' emerges that
Genetically engineered foods "should be subject to a mandatory federal
human-safety review before they hit the market," according to the story. It
also calls for "thorough, mandatory safety reviews of genetically
engineered plants and animals before they are released into the
environment," and recommends that EPA require "more rigorous
resistance-management plans." Innovations like 'terminator' technology,
which produces sterile seeds, should not be used until society has found a
way to carefully consider their profound environmental and societal
implications." For now, the magazine says, consumers who want to avoid
genetically modified foods "have little choice but to buy organic."
USDA DEDICATES NEW HENRY A. WALLACE ROOM
With an agency ceremony and keynote lecture by former Senator George
McGovern, the USDA on September 29 dedicated the Henry A. Wallace Room in
the USDA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. At the dedication, USDA
Secretary Dan Glickman said in praise of Wallace, the 11th Secretary of
Agriculture, "Nearly every challenge we face is one that he envisioned.
Practically everything we do and care about at USDA is an outgrowth of
something first begun or first imagined by Henry Wallace. Long before
sustainability was a buzzword, he understood that agricultural productivity
had to be balanced by a responsibility to the land." Even as Wallace
championed science and technology, Glickman said, "he also understood their
pitfalls. He understood that increased efficiency could render farmers
increasingly obsolete. He understood the dangers of agricultural
consolidation, the trend toward fewer and larger farm operations."
In his keynote speech, Senator McGovern called Wallace "a remarkable
thinker and 'doer,' a Renaissance man whose broad talents and significant
accomplishments covered the realms of art, science, economics, politics,
and the human spirit." When he became Secretary of Agriculture, Wallace
"put his keen mind to work on crafting the most innovative package of
government farm programs ever....His ingenious approach worked. It is a
prime reason that Henry A. Wallace is acknowledged as among the most
important agricultural leaders of this century." If Wallace were here
today, the Senator suggested he might want to relay these messages: "Do not
blame science....Seek policy solutions that target the plight of farmers
under stress....Be flexible; seek adaptations; embrace change....Integrate
natural resource conservation with agricultural adjustment....Pursue
technological advance for the public good."
Glickman ended the ceremony by saying, "Here's to hoping that his genius
is with us every time we set foot in that room....and in everything we do
at the Department of Agriculture."
AGRICULTURE COULD "MAKE OR BREAK" TRADE TALKS -- GLICKMAN
Agriculture could "make or break" the upcoming world trade negotiations
which begin in Seattle on November 30, USDA Secretary Dan Glickman told the
President's Export Council last month, according to Reuters. Protectionist
feelings "are so high" in the agricultural sector that they could "thwart
progress in other areas," Glickman said of the World Trade Organization
talks, which cover trade in several service areas and are expected to last
U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky told the group that the
United States's main agenda will be to increase foreign market access for
U.S. goods and services. According to Reuters, "In the agriculture sector,
that means pushing for the elimination of export subsidies, reductions in
trade-distorting domestic subsidies and strengthening rules for
'state-trading enterprises'....The United States also wants to reduce
tariffs and regulatory barriers that impede U.S. farm exports and ensure
that science-based rules govern trade in genetically modified crops and
other products of biotechnology, Barshefsky said....U.S. trade negotiators
will face strong opposition from the European Union on issues such as
genetically modified crops, which have sparked European consumer concerns."
OMRI DEVELOPS LIST OF ALLOWED ORGANIC PRODUCTS, SEAL FOR FARMERS
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) has developed a catalog of
allowed and regulated products in organic agriculture, and a new seal for
organic farmers and processors that identifies the OMRI-approved products
that they use in their organic operations. Manufacturers of organic inputs
may also use the seal to identify products that have gone through the OMRI
review process. OMRI provides professional and independent review of
materials and compatible processes allowed to produce, process, and handle
organic food and fiber. After a comprehensive review by OMRI technical
staff, a review panel of experts from the organic industry votes on a
product's status. The "OMRI Brand Name Products List" lists the allowed and
regulated products; the "OMRI Generic Materials List" offers
recommendations regarding the acceptability of generic materials used in
organic production, processing, and handling. For more information, contact
OMRI, P.O. Box 11558 Eugene, OR 97440-3758; (541) 343-7600; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington State University seeks a Dryland Farming Systems Specialist,
Integrated, Sustainable Systems; contact Rebecca Armstrong, WSU Cooperative
Extension, P.O. Box 646230, Pullman, WA 99164; (509) 335-2822;
Evergreen State College seeks an environmental scientist to teach
sustainable agriculture; contact Faculty Hiring Coordinator, ESC, Olympia,
WA 98505; email@example.com.
University of British Columbia seeks an Agroecology Instructor; send
letter, curriculum vitae, three references, and research sample to Dr. Art
Bomke, Chair, Agroecology Search Committee, c/o Faculty of Agricultural
Sciences, University of BC, 248-2357 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4.
International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia, seeks a
senior scientist and project manager for its project on sustainable
production systems in the tropics; send letter, curriculum vitae, and three
references to International Recruitment Officer, CIAT, A.A. 67-13, Cali,
ADM RECOMMENDS SEPARATING TRADITIONAL, MODIFIED CROPS
Archer Daniels Midland last month sparked controversy by recommending that
its grain suppliers "begin segregating genetically modified crops from
conventional crops," according to The Wall Street Journal (September 2,
1999). The move, which "could dent farmer interest in biotechnology," is
"the clearest sign yet that the consumer backlash over genetically modified
crops in Europe and Asia is rattling American exporters....But farmer
groups reacted angrily yesterday because they fear the move could lead to
an industry-wide two-tier pricing system that would penalize their members
for growing the new crops."
According to Newsweek (September 13, 1999), "It didn't matter that GM
[genetically modified] crops are widely grown by U.S. farmers, and that
there's no evidence that the taco chips and soda you're enjoying right now
are anything worse than fattening. ADM had noticed something new sprouting
under the bright, warm sun of economic interdependence: a strange hybrid of
cultural and economic fears. So it decided to act before the problem got
any bigger." The announcement, made because of heightened demand for
conventional varieties both domestically and abroad, "left many farmers
feeling angry and betrayed," according to The Washington Post (September
12, 1999). Though consumer protests against genetically modified crops have
been most prevalent in Europe, the announcement from Archer Daniels Midland
"really brought the debate home to the American farmer."
PLANT EXTINCTIONS THREATEN FUTURE FOOD SUPPLIES, SAYS NEW REPORT
Widespread plant extinctions are "eroding the foundations of agricultural
productivity and threatening other plant-based products used by billions of
people worldwide," according to a new Worldwatch report, "Nature's
Cornucopia: Our Stake in Plant Diversity." Loss of habitat, pressure from
non-native species, and overharvesting have put one out of every eight
plant species at risk of extinction, the report says. "With changes in
agriculture," the genetic diversity of cultivated plants, which is
essential to breeding more productive and disease-resistant crop varieties,
"is slipping away." According to the Associated Press, more than 30,000
plant species are threatened worldwide; more plant species are threatened
in the United States than any other country -- 4,669, or 29 percent of all
varieties. "Less than 20 percent of vegetable seed varieties listed in a
1904 U.S. national inventory are available commercially today," the AP
story said. More information about the report is available on the Internet
"Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing" is available from
University of Minnesota Extension Service, 1-800-876-8636.
"Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing" is $20 plus $2 shipping from
Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, 27th and Carpenter, Des Moines,
IA 50311; (515) 271-2947.
"Sharing the Harvest: A Guide to Community-Supported Agriculture" is
$24.95 from Chelsea Green Publishing, P.O. Box 428, White River Junction,
VT 05001; 1-800-639-4099.
"Environmental Factors to Consider When Expanding Dairies," $9 plus $3.75
shipping; "Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market," $42
plus $5.50 shipping, are both available from Natural Resource, Agriculture,
and Engineering Service, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853; (607)
"Pest Management in U.S. Agriculture" is available on the USDA Economic
Research Service's Web site at www.econ.ag.gov/epubs/pdf/ah717/, or while
copies last, from (202) 694- 5050.
"Put Your Ideas to the Test: How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or
Ranch" and "Diversify Crops for Profit and Stewardship" are both free from
USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Network at (301) 504-6422; or on the
Internet at www.sare.org/htdocs/pubs/.
October 25-27, "Utilizing Organics and Recyclables: Waste Management for
the Millennium" will be held in Cedar Rapids, IA; contact BioCycle,
November 2-5, Wetlands Regulatory Workshop, sponsored by the EPA, will be
held in Atlantic City, NJ.; contact Ralph J. Spagnolo, EPA Environmental
Services Division, Philadelphia, PA; (215) 814-2718.
November 5-6, National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference will be held
in Columbia, MO; contact Ron Macher, Small Farm Today, 1-800-633-2535.
November 5-7, "Introduction to Permaculture" will be held in Occidental,
CA; contact Philip Tymon, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, (707)
November 7-9, "Cultivating the Farm-City Connection," the 15th California
Farm Conference, will be held in Berkeley, CA; contact Community Alliance
with Family Farmers; (510) 222-5091; firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 8, "Cutting Through Red Tape," an institutional change workshop,
will be held in Spokane, WA; contact Kim Leval, Center for Rural Affairs,
454 Willamette St. #204, Eugene, OR 97401; (541) 687-1490;
November 12-13, "Delmarva Coastal Bays Conference III: Tri-State
Approaches to Preserving Aquatic Resources" will be held in Ocean City, MD;
contact Assateague Coastal Trust, P.O. Box 731, Berlin, MD 21811; (410)
November 11-13, "Just Food," the Northeast Community Supported Agriculture
Conference II, will be held in Tamiment, PA; contact Just Food, P.O. Box
1151, New York, NY 10013; (212) 677-1602; email@example.com.
November 13, Center for Rural Affairs' Annual Meeting will be held in
South Sioux City, NE; contact CFRA, P.O. Box 406, Walthill, NE 68967; (402)
November 12-14, "Planting Local Seeds, Renewing Local Communities," the
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's 14th Annual Sustainable Agriculture
Conference, will be held in High Point, NC; contact Tony Kleese, CFSA, P.O.
Box 448, Pittsboro, NC 27312; (919) 542- 2402; firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 13-18, "Introduction to Holistic Grazing and Land Planning" will
be held in Sunrise Springs, NM; contact Center for Holistic Management,
1010 Tijeras NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102; (505) 842-5252.
November 19 is the deadline for papers and posters for "Gateway to the
Future -- Conserving Private Land," the Soil and Water Conservation
Society's Annual Conference, on July 8-11, 2000; information is available
on the Internet at www.swcs.org.
November 19-20, "Developing Alternative Agricultural Marketing Skills for
the New Millennium," the North Central SARE's Marketing Conference, will be
held in Lincoln, NE; contact Lisa Bauer, SARE, (402) 472-0265;
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