Three Studies Confirm Bad News About OP Insecticide Exposures
On April 21, the highly regarded journal Environmental Health Perspectives published online, ahead of print, the results of three studies carried out at three different universities, using three different methods exploring the same phenomenon – the impacts of prenatal exposures to organophosphate (OP) insecticides on the neurological development of children.
The three studies reached the same, sobering conclusion – exposure to OPs during pregnancy leads to IQ deficits in school-age children.
All three studies involved groups of pregnant women whose health status and exposures to OP insecticides were monitored during pregnancy and at the time of childbirth, for example, via testing of umbilical cord blood. The women were broken into low, moderate, and high OP exposure groups, and then the intellectual development of their children was tracked for seven to nine years.
The study carried out by a team at the Columbia University Center for Children’s Environmental Health focused on children born to a group of 265 mothers living in low-income, public housing. By age seven, children born to mothers in the highest exposure group scored 5.5% lower on a common test of working memory and 2.7% lower in terms of IQ, compared to children born to mothers in the low-exposure group. There was no evidence of a threshold in the observed adverse impact on intelligence, suggesting that even very low exposures might lead to some reduction in mental abilities.
A study carried out by U.C. Berkeley scientists, in cooperation with the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas, measured urinary metabolites of OP insecticides during pregnancy, and then from children at six months of age, and periodically through age five. A variety of intelligence and learning tests were used to measure the mental abilities of 329 children at age seven. Children born to the most heavily exposed mothers had an IQ deficit of seven points, or about 7%, compared to the low exposure quintile.
The senior author of this study, Brenda Eskenazi, told CNN.com that the impacts on intelligence found in their study were similar in magnitude to the adverse impacts associated with high lead exposures, in the 1960s and 1970s, and were comparable to a child performing six-months behind average in a school population.
While the implications of this study are most directly applicable -- and worrisome -- for the Latino farmworker community in the Salinas Valley, the research team also reported that about 25% of pregnant women in the general U.S. population are exposed to OP insecticides at levels comparable to the average Latino women included in this study.
The third study was carried out at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and measured prenatal OP metabolite levels in urine and blood samples from 404 pregnant women. This team also analysed the impact of a genetic polymorphism that reduces the level of the enzyme paraoxonase (PON1). This enzyme plays a key role in the metabolism of the OPs, including chlorpyrifos. About 30% of the women in the study population bear this genetic trait, and hence they, and especially their babies, were at higher risk following exposures to OP insecticides.
Children born to mothers bearing the PON1 genotype with impaired enzyme function suffered a 4 point decline in one measure of mental function, while children born to mothers with the normal PON1 gene showed “essentially no effect.”
Dr. Phil Landrigan, Director of the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center called the findings of the three studies “shocking” in a New York Times health blog (Tara Parker-Pope, April 21, 2011). He went on to say –
“Babies exposed to the highest levels [of OPs] had the most severe effects. It means these children are going to have problems as they go through life.”
“When we took lead out of gasoline, we reduced lead poisoning by 90 percent, and we raised the I.Q. of a whole generation of children four or fine points. I think these findings about pesticides should generate similar controversy, but I’m cautiously optimistic that they will have the effect of having the EPA sharply reduce the use of organophosphate pesticides.”
The diet is now by far the major ongoing source of exposure to OP insecticides. The Organic Center's latest comprehensive assessment of total dietary risk from pesticides relies on the most recent data from USDA's "Pesticide Data Program" (PDP), and covers OP residues found in foods tested in 2008. Across all foods and samples, just two OPs, chlorpyrifos and methamidophos, accounted for about 50% of total pesticide risk via the diet. The OPs as a class accounted for a remarkable 64% of total risk.
In 2008 (the last year for which PDP are available), chlorpyrifos was found in a total of 555 samples of 19 foods. Aggregate “Dietary Risk Index” (DRI) values for chlorpyrifos across the 19 foods was 153.6 — by far the highest of any pesticide.
Back in 1996, the year the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) was passed, OPs accounted for 80% of overall risk, largely as a result of the huge risks associated with methyl and ethyl parathion. These are the only two high-risk OPs that the EPA has strictly regulated in an attempt to remove all residues in common foods.
In 2000-2001, the EPA completed a contentious regulatory review of chlorpyrifos, the market-leader OP with significant agricultural and in-the-home uses. The agency’s risk assessment at the time showed that exposure levels were highest in people living in treated structures, and that exposures in living spaces, especially bedrooms and nurseries, were posing unacceptable developmental risks for infants and children.
Dow AgroSciences, the chlorpyrifos manufacturer, was vigorously opposing any new regulatory restrictions, but the EPA was determined to quickly end at least the home uses of chlorpyrifos, and so the agency and Dow cut a deal. In return for Dow agreeing to voluntarily cancel the home uses of chlorpyrifos (immediate risk reduction), the EPA allowed most agricultural uses to continue with little or no risk reduction measures (minimizing market disruption, here and abroad, for Dow’s major agricultural insecticide). In the EPA-Dow agreement, only one high-risk farm use was banned – tomatoes.
At the time this deal went down, I was among the people strongly critical of the compromise and EPA’s failure to impose the broader restrictions needed to sharply reduce dietary exposures in dozens of other key children’s foods. These compelling new studies provide a sober accounting of the continuing consequences of the EPA’s failure to act back in 2000-2001.
But since the EPA has pledged to base all regulatory decisions on sound science, surely the consistent findings across these three studies, and the opportunity to increase IQs 4% to 7%, will compel the agency to get OPs out of foods commonly consumed by pregnant women, infants, and children.
Would such a move make dollars and sense? I contacted Phil Landrigan and asked what scientists had concluded about the economic benefits of minimizing the early-life loss of IQ from lead exposures. Phil explained that –
“An IQ point has a monetary value over a lifetime of about $10,000. The economic gains that resulted from the removal of lead from gasoline amount to about $200 billion in each annual birth cohort since 1980. As we continue to poison America’s children with organophosphates, we are jeopardizing America’s leadership position in today’s world.”
Let’s do the math. While the three new studies suggest adverse IQ impacts from OP exposures of the same magnitude as lead (4 to 5 point decline), suppose that the average impact of OP exposures across the whole population is two IQ points, or $20,000 in lifetime earning capacity and contributions to the economy.
There were about 4.2 million babies born in 2010. The average loss of two IQ points across these children over their lives would cost the national economy $84 billion.
Fresh fruits and vegetables account for nearly all dietary exposures to OPs. Because of ample Integrated Pest Management alternatives, the cost of banning these OP uses on fruits and vegetables would be negligible (almost certainly less than $50 million annually, and the cost would decline rapidly over 2-5 years as growers adopted and refined alternatives, or converted to organic).
The cost would be zero for the approximate 12% of fruits and vegetables already grown organically.
$84 billion in annual benefits at a cost of less than $50 million. I guess we need another study.
Rauh, V., et al., “7-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Insecticide,” Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
Bouchard, M.E., et al., “Prenatal Exposure to OP Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year Old Children,” Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
Engel, S.M., et al., “Prenatal Exposure to OPs, Paraoxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Children,” Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
“Let Food be Your Epigenetic Medicine”
In a fascinating, well-referenced review article in Biochemical Pharmacology, a team of scientists in Belgium has laid out the many reasons why the nutrition and biomedical communities are rapidly focusing more attention on the role of food and nutrition in preventing and minimizing diseases with their roots in inflammation.
A huge body of evidence has proven a direct link between inflammation and chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, asthma, bowel disease, and several cancers.
When the human genome project started, scientists hoped they would discover genetic triggers for most diseases. For the most part this has not come to pass. Instead, epigenetic changes in how genes are triggered and function, rather than heritable mutations within the human genome, appear much more common and decisive in explaining why some people suffer from chronic disease, while others do not.
In short, most chronic health problems are not rooted in the inherent makeup of our genes, but in how our environments shape and drive and alter gene function and expression.
The most widely studied epigenetic change (DNA hypermethylation) silences over 600 cancer-related genes, including dozens of critical tumor-suppressor genes, as well as many genes involved in DNA repair.
For this reason, the team explains, “epigenetic changes complement genetic mutations and drive the development and progression of various diseases.”
The good news is that epigenetic changes are often reversible, both through drug therapy and diet and lifestyle modifications. But a problem arises with many drug-based therapies. It turns out that drugs developed to “turn on” tumor suppressor genes silenced as a result of epigenetic change also tend to “turn on” some cancer promoting genes. This is one reason scientists are looking for more elegant and low-risk solutions.
The generic key to unraveling potentially damaging epigenetic changes seems to be reducing inflammation, and one of the keys for anyone hoping to reduce inflammation is increasing dietary intakes of antioxidants and other phytochemicals. In the words of the team (and mindful that the original paper was not written in English) –
“As such chemoprevention by phytochemicals or nutritional compounds, the strategy to inhibit, retard, or even reverse the epigenetic stage of chronic inflammation is one of the most rational approaches to reduce the global burden of non communicable lifestyle diseases.”
Herein lies the great promise of organic farming systems that generally increase total antioxidant capacity, and/or overall phytochemical content, by about 25% on average in most food groups, but especially in fruits and vegetables.
This review offers new hope that farming system changes and dietary interventions can help in the long run, both in preserving good health and reversing epigenetic-driven damage stemming from past dietary and lifestyle “sins.”
It also raises a red flag.
One of the well-documented, side effects when plants are genetically engineered to express novel traits is alteration of the methylation status of DNA and/or certain proteins produced by plants. This review describes dozens of studies showing how altered patterns in the methylation of DNA or proteins can silence certain genes and turn others on excessively, sometimes contributing to inflammation, cancer, and a variety of other health problems.
This raises the possibility that common corn and soybean proteins in grain harvested from GE seeds, or perhaps just some GE seeds, or maybe just some GE seeds grown under certain conditions, may be incrementally triggering abnormal inflammatory responses, one epigenetic change at a time. These changes, however, can accumulate over time and exert progressively negative impacts on the functioning of the immune system, the reproductive system, and in cancer prevention and neurobiology.
The dizzying complexity of these epigenetic-driven processes make them very difficult to fully understand, and virtually impossible to track in populations eating all sorts of different diets and experiencing vastly different exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Like a blindfold, the absence of GE labeling on foods harvested from GE seeds dramatically impairs the ability of science to even see around the next corner.
It is encouraging, however, that scientists are at least beginning to unravel these nutrition-epigenetic changes-health connections, because the light at the end of this tunnel might point the way to deeper understanding of both the true roots of good health and how changes in plant genomes can sever those roots or otherwise throw them off course.
vel Szic, K.S., et al., “Nature or nurture: Let food be your epigenetic medicine in chronic inflammatory disease,” Biochemical Pharmacology, Vol. 80, pages 1816-1832, 2010
Diversified Organic Systems Cut Energy Use by Up to One-half
Canadian scientists conducted a complex study comparing energy use on high-input conventional farms compared to reduced input conservation farming systems and organic systems. Detailed records of energy use were recorded for these three systems across three crop rotations.
Total energy use was highest on the farms using high levels of inputs, averaging about 3,780 MJ per hectare per year, while energy use was 50% lower under organic management. According to the team, most of the energy savings came from the non-use of conventional fertilizers on the organic farms.
Energy use efficiency was measured as yield of grain plus forage produced per unit of energy input, and this key performance metric was also highest in the organic systems. Under organic management, there were 8.8 units of food energy harvested for each unit of energy needed to produce the crop. On the conventional, high-input farms, each unit of energy embodied in production inputs yielded 7.1 units of food energy.
European Journal of Agronomy, Vol. 34, pages 113-123 (2011)
Organic Production Extends Celery Shelf Life
Celery grown using organic sources of nitrogen extended the shelf life of packaged celery from 30 to 37 days, or by about 23%, in a study by Italian scientists.
A large body of research shows that organic production systems increase total antioxidant activity in fruits and vegetables as a result of higher levels of various phytochemicals. Many of these biologically active chemicals also have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, one of the possible reasons why organic vegetables and fruit typically have longer shelf-life than conventionally grown produce.
Rizzo, V., et al., “Shelf Life Study of Fresh Celery Grown Under Different Nitrogen Fertilization Treatments,” Journal of Food Science, published online April 7, 2011
Nitrogen Efficient Corn – “The Single Most Important Trait…”
Last month we reported the big news from the corn seed industry -- Syngenta Seeds is winning the race with Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred in bringing drought-tolerant corn varieties to the market. Syngenta’s new varieties for 2011 are called “Agrisure Artesian,” and were developed using molecular markets and classical breeding – but not transgenic methods needed to move genes from one organism to another.
This month, Bloomberg ran another major corn genetics story entitled “Search for Super Corn Seeks to Limit Nitrogen Use, Pollution" (April 15, 2011). This time, it is DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred that appears well ahead of its only two serious competitors (Syngenta and Monsanto).
Several scientists quoted in the story say that genetically engineering corn to more efficiently use nitrogen (N) is “the big one,” the “…single most important trait…” that will create what some people are calling “clean corn.”
Why the enthusiasm over nitrogen-efficient corn? The story drives home four clear explanations:
- Nitrogen fertilizer costs the average corn farmer approximately $450 a ton, or $90 an acre, and other than GE seed prices, is the production input on the steepest upward cost trajectory,
- “More than half of the fertilizer American farmers apply to corn gets wasted,”
- The production of each ton of N fertilizer releases 3.6 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and each corn acre treated releases significant quantities of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310-times more potent than carbon dioxide, and
- Nitrogen runoff plays an undisputed role in the steady growth in the size of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the world’s second largest dead zone.
Pioneer Hi-Bred scientists project that the new trait might allow farmers to reduce their N fertilizer levels by 30%, with no sacrifice in yields. This would dramatically increase the efficiency of N uptake, from around 35% on average across the conventional corn industry to over 50%, and as a result also markedly lessen corn production’s adverse impacts on water quality and climate change.
Several scientists and corn industry leaders wax eloquent in the story about the potential to reduce N applications and the long list of fully-documented adverse environmental impacts stemming from excessively wasteful N use in corn production systems. But then, Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, the head of biotechnology R&D at Syngenta, is quoted as saying:
“The three most important traits in agriculture are yield, yield and more yield.”
Next, Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, “concedes that the primary goal of Monsanto’s nitrogen research is not to reduce fertilizer use but to boost production to 300 bushels an acre by 2030 – nearly double the current U.S. average.” Fraley is quoted directly saying –
“The real goal is to drive yields.”
Some people wonder why, with all the new technology and scientific advances in recent years, the environmental performance and safety of the conventional food supply in the United States seems stuck in an inexorable march south. This story by Jon Birger provides a stunningly sharp look at the goals driving American agribusiness, and in the course of doing so explains why new technology so often causes more problems than it solves.
So what might it take to increase average corn yields from today’s average of ~150 bushels per acre to a nationwide average of 300 bushels per acre, Monsanto’s stated goal for 2030?
It will take a miracle, and indeed a number of them strung together just perfectly.
Monsanto is among the technology-driven companies that repeatedly assert that some new technology, essentially by itself, is capable of doubling, or at least markedly increasing yields. What they usually fail to mention is that corn does not grow by nitrogen alone. Alas, for example, corn production also takes water, and not just the right amount, but the right amounts at each stage of the growing cycle.
Even a casual observer of data on climate trends and rainfall patterns in the Corn Belt is aware that corn farmers can take nothing for granted when it comes to water, except of course the reality that in the years ahead there will be:
- More, and more severe droughts,
- More, and more severe spring flooding and delays in planting, thereby reducing yields; and
- More, and more severe late season weather-related depression of corn yields and difficulties in harvest operations, also reducing harvested yields.
So what is likely to happen 10 to 20 years from now if corn farmers buy into the notion that they should be able to achieve average yields of 300 bushels per acre?
Their production costs will keep rising; yield volatility will increase even further; and, the efficiency of nitrogen uptake will probably decline from today’s dismal level, thereby worsening all the environmental problems linked to inefficient N applications – the very problems nitrogen-efficient corn was supposed to solve.
No doubt in response, if it still exists, Monsanto will be at the front of the line with a set of new, proprietary technologies “sure to solve” all of the above problems.
Technological progress ideally solves problems, but this is becoming an increasingly rare outcome in the world of biotech-driven, seed industry R+D priorities. Refusal to honestly assess and rationally confront problems, however, opens the door to innovation in the wrong direction and is becoming a hallmark of U.S. agriculture.
And last, recall Dr. van Lookeren Campagne’s candid comment –
“The three most important traits in agriculture are yield, yield and more yield.”
This view encapsulates well what is wrong with America’s technology-driven seed companies and, in general, the research and policy infrastructure sustaining “conventional” agriculture.
Yield is not the three most important traits, it is just one of them. On this point, the organic farming community has got it right – the three most important traits for plant breeders, and goals for all farmers, should be food safety, nutritional quality, and then yield.
While pursuing these three core goals, there are two others we ignore at our peril – keeping independent farmers on the land, and second, helping them enhance the quality of soil, water, and animal resources, and the environment we all share and depend on.
Jon Birger, “Search for Super Corn Seeks to Limit Nitrogen Use, Pollution," Bloomberg, April 15, 2011
“The Race to Market Drought-tough Corn,” www.newsobserver.com, December 21, 2010
Boise Weekly – “Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?”
Tensions in the dairy and beef industry over illegal drug residues in meat and milk have been building for several months as a result of new testing being done by various government agencies and research groups.
An April 6, 2011 feature article in the Boise Weekly provided a rare look inside the conventional dairy industry in Idaho and covered the steps being taken by dairy farmers, dairy organizations, the State Department of Agriculture, and the State legislature to deal with what is obviously regarded in Idaho has an explosive situation threatening consumer confidence in milk from the Gem state.
The reason for concern is that spent dairy cattle, plus veal calves from dairy farms, accounted for 94% of cattle industry-wide drug residue violations recently reported by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), despite the fact that beef from dairy animals accounts for well less than 10% of the total bovine meat supply. Meat from dairy animals shipped to slaughter from Idaho dairy farms was well represented in the list of FSIS residue violations.
Clearly, some conventional dairy farmers are heavily reliant on antibiotic use in the final weeks and months of the life of many cows suffering from mastitis. The drugs are used to first extend production as long as possible, and then to keep cows healthy enough, long enough to ship them to slaughter. The apparent increase in antibiotic drug residue violations has arisen in part because of the conflict between food safety requirements and economic realities.
After administering a drug, farmers sometimes face a choice between adhering to mandatory time delays before shipping an animal to slaughter, and getting the cow to the slaughter plant before she becomes a downer and cannot be sold for meat. This dilemma arises in cases when drug treatments are started too late or are ineffective in turning around an infection. In such cases, cows can go downhill quickly, and may soon be too sick and weak to remain standing as they are moved off the farm and to slaughter plants. Some of the most gut-wrenching “hidden camera” videos of animal abuse have captured the steps taken on some farms in an effort to get cows back on their feet and onto the truck.
The Boise Weekly story focuses on a number of farms involved with multiple residue violations over the last few years, and efforts by the industry and government to more tightly enforce safe and legal drug use, as well as enhance compliance with mandatory drug withdrawal periods.
A key passage in the Boise Weekly story reports an exchange during a hearing between Idaho State Senator Tim Corder, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and his colleague on the Committee, Senator Les Bock. The two Senators are discussing dairy farms in Idaho responsible for multiple residue violations –
"A repeat offender? That's a problem," said Corder. "They don't get a pass. Not from the department. Not from the industry."
Sen. Les Bock agreed with his Ag committee colleague.
"Idaho's dairy industry has been trying to clean up its act, and we want to believe that," said Bock. "But if it begins to look like they're not, it's going to hurt their credibility with the committee."
Bock stared at the FSIS violation report.
"I don't buy anything other than organic anyway," said Bock, pointing at the list. "This is why."
At the end of the story, the Senators turn their attention to how consumers might react if information started surfacing about antibiotics in milk. They note that the FDA has been considering plans to increase the frequency and sensitivity of drug residue testing in milk.
The new data on residue violations in meat has stirred interest in other government agencies and some private organizations to take a closer look at residues in milk. More information is bound to surface in the near future.
Problems with drug use and residues in meat and milk are likely to get more acute in the United States because of soon-to-be-implemented changes in U.S. milk quality standards.
Mastitis is the most common udder disease afflicting lactating cows. It results in elevated somatic cell counts (SCC) in milk. Current U.S. government standards allow milk to contain SCC levels up to 750,000 cells per milliliter (ml) of milk. The European Union, however, has established a SCC ceiling of 400,000 cells/ml in milk and dairy products, and is imposing that standard on dairy product imports, including those from the U.S.
In response, the dairy industry is moving forward with plans to incrementally reduce the allowed SCC limit in milk from 750,000 to 400,000 over the next few years.
USDA scientists studied detailed SCC data for all herds enrolled in the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) SCC testing program in 2010 (Norman, H.D., et al., 2011). They report that nationwide, over one-third of the herd test days, out of a total of almost 200,000, resulted in SCCs over 400,000, possibly triggering milk marketing problems in the future. In several southern states, over 80% of herd days in 2010 produced milk with SCCs over 400,000. A Cornell milk quality specialist has been quoted in the dairy press predicting that 90% of New York dairy farms will have trouble meeting the 400,000 SCC limit during at least one period each year.
So how can the dairy industry respond? For high-production conventional dairy farms using free stall barns (most of the industry), the most commonly discussed options in dairy sector publications are limited and costly:
- More aggressive culling of high SCC cows,
- Earlier and more aggressive drug treatments to reduce the incidence and severity of mastitis,
- Drying up permanently more effected quarters, and
- Diverting more high-SCC milk from cows while they are being actively treated with antibiotics to combat mastitis infections.
Mastitis management and minimizing SCC is also an ongoing challenge on organic farms, although most organic farmers ship to companies already imposing stricter SCC quality standards. Some processors base premium incentive payments on meeting markedly lower than average SCCs.
The keys to management of mastitis – and minimizing SCCs – on organic farms is the promotion of cow health through lower levels of production, access to pasture and greater reliance on forage-based feeds, and animal care practices focused on sustaining udder health, coupled with disciplined attention to cow cleanliness and proper milking procedures.
George Prentice, “Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?: State Responds After Idaho Dairy Cattle Test Positive in Food Safety Tests,” Boise Weekly, April 6, 2011.
Norman, H.D., et al., “Somatic cell counts of Milk from DHI herds during 2010,” USDA AIPL Research report SCC12 (2-11).
Unexpected Contamination Found in Non-GE Canola
A research project in Oregon was set up to explore the potential of canola as a new rotational crop in Oregon. While the team never settled whether canola might fit into Oregon production systems, it was surprised to find that the non-GE canola seed it had planted was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene.
As a major seed producing area for multiple speciality crops, the region’s access to many overseas markets depends on the ability to grow and export non-GE seed. This is why this finding, and the prospect of substantial RR sugar beet acreage in the coming years, has farmers so nervous, especially now that USDA has determined it is essentially powerless to impose conditions on new biotech crops, even when clearly needed to prevent gene flow and cross-contamination.
Mitch Lies, “GMO traits found in non-GMO canola,” Capital Press, April 22, 2011
Justice Department Announces Profound Change in Gene Patent Policy
The Obama administration has declared that the U.S. government no longer supports the patenting of human and other genes. This dramatic reversal of U.S. government policy was declared in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in a lawsuit involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.
Under the new policy, genes from humans, animals, or plants that have been altered via biotechnology would still be eligible for patents, but genes in their natural form would not be.
This change in policy will trigger a protracted debate in Congress and likely lead to litigation ultimately bound for the Supreme Court.
Andrew Pollack, “U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents,” New York Times, October 29, 2010
Interesting factoids about food, farming and the environment
$29 billion – organic food sales in 2010, up almost 8% from 2009.
Less than 1% -- growth in total U.S. food sales from 2009-2010
12% -- organic share of total fruit and vegetables sales
~ 6% -- organic dairy product share of total sales
13% -- projected growth rate in organic food sales from 2010 to 2014
First three facts -- OTA Press Release, “U.S. organic industry valued at nearly $29 billion in 2010,” April 21, 2011
13% projected growth – www.rncos.com/Report/IM283.htm
Grasses high in sugar content can reduce a cow’s methane emissions by 20% for every pound of grain fed.
Feeding lactating cows crushed rapeseed (canola) can reduce methane emissions per gallon of milk by 20%.
David Boderke, “Changing diets could reduce livestock emissions,” Farmers Guardian, March 30, 2011
90% -- Share of drinking water wells contaminated with atrazine in 139 community water systems in the Midwest.
Kim McGuire, “Common weed killer atrazine is showing up in public water supply,” St Louis Post-Dispatch, August 25, 2011
April 18, 2011 corn futures price -- $7.59 per bushel
2009 average corn price -- $3.50
2006 average corn price -- $3.04
2003 average corn price -- $2.42
2000 average corn price -- $1.85
1970-2000 typical range of corn prices per bushel -- $1.75 to $3.00
USDA data and Jon Birger, “Search for Super Corn Seeks to Limit Nitrogen Use, Pollution," Bloomberg, April 15, 2011
$1.02 billion – Monsanto net income in just the first quarter of 2011.
$4.13 billion – Monsanto gross revenue in the first quarter, 2011, including
$2.4 billion in corn seed sales.
24.7% -- Monsanto profit margin in first quarter, 2011.
“Corn seed gains propel Monsanto 2Q profit,” Associated Press, April 6, 2011.
Farmers in Thailand are hoping one day to meet a significant share of the nation’s protein needs by raising crickets and other insects fed, among other things, wastes from beer production.
Center Launches “Generations of Organic” Website
To meet the growing needs for consumer friendly information about all things organic, the Center is pleased to announce the new “Generations of Organic” website (www.generationsoforganic.org). “Generations of Organic” serves as a “sister” site to The Organic Center’s existing website, www.organic-center.org. “Generations of Organic” will provide insight, information, and inspiration for generations of health-conscious people seeking deeper understanding of how organic food and farming promotes human health and animal well being, while also enhancing our natural environment.
Please explore the site for news, easy-to-make recipes, organic food trends, interviews with organic luminaries, shopping tips, farmer profiles, and condensed information from the Center’s technical reports on pesticide risks, nutrition, organic farming and the environment.
Core Truths on the Major Benefits of Organic Food and Farming
Core Truths is a ground-breaking compilation of the most current research on organic agriculture. This highly readable and graphically stunning 108-page coffee table book documents the verifiable health and environmental benefits of organic products.
For more information
The Organic Center Features Jerry Garcia Artwork
Do you or someone you know love The Grateful Dead? Do you enjoy beautiful original works of art? If so, select a giclee of Jerry Garcia original artwork and benefit The Organic Center. This unique fundraising initiative to benefit The Organic Center is made possible through the generosity of filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia and features the series, "In the Garden," by the late Jerry Garcia. Individual prints are $250, or get the full series for $1,000. To order your Jerry Garcia art, click here.
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