A Texas team studied the diets, weight, body mass index, and diabetes risk factors for a cohort of 1,402 fourth graders composed of Mexican American (80%), African American (10%), Asian (5%), and non-Hispanic white children (5%). Nearly 75% of the children lived in households with less than $20,000 income.
Almost half lacked adequate calories in their diet, yet 33% were obese and already, in the 4th grade, 7% had high blood glucose levels. Diets were composed of energy- and calorie-dense foods like cookies, chips, and ice cream, and were low in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
The authors concluded that these children faced a high risk of developing diabetes and were in need of substantial dietary interventions, increasing in particular daily intakes of nutrient-dense foods.
Source: Roberto P. Trevino et al., "Diabetes Risk, Low Fitness, and Energy Insufficiency Levels among Children from Poor Families," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November, 2008: pages 1846-1853
Editor's Note: Consumption of organic fruits and vegetables would raise by about 30% the levels of critical antioxidants in the diets of these children. Given the difficulty in getting some children to eat fruits and vegetables, it is important to maximize the nutrient content per serving.
The difficulty in procuring ripe, tasty fresh fruits and vegetables (organic or conventional) in the winter months is a major hurdle encountered by many schools. When kids are served pears hard enough to use on the ball field, dried up oranges, or grapes that are on their way to raisin-land, it is no wonder much of the fruit winds up in the trash stream. The food industry needs to develop better ways to provide schools with well-preserved, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables that are tasty yet not over-sweetened.
Common Herbicide Increases Risk of Colon Cancer and Leukemia
A government epidemiological study has established a connection between occupational exposures to the thiocarbamate herbicide EPTC and human cancer. The research is part of the Agricultural Health Study and focused on EPTC applicators in Iowa and North Carolina between 1993 and 1997.
While the team called for further research, they found an association between EPTC exposures and colon cancer and leukemia.
Source: Dana M. van Bemmel et al., žS-Ethyl-N,N-dipropylthiocarbamate Exposure and Cancer Evidence among Male Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study: A Prospective Cohort,Ó Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 116, No. 11: pages 1541-1546.
Impressive Benefits Triggered by Organic Farming in Africa Receive Strong UN Endorsement
In the October "The Scoop," we featured a commentary by two United Nations leaders made upon the release of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD)-United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report "Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa." In this issue, we highlight a few of the report's remarkably strong - and hopeful - scientific findings.
The benefits to organic agriculture were linked to enhancement of five capital assets critical in promoting food security - natural, social, human, physical, and financial.
Multiple studies have shown that yields remain stable, and often rise after conversion to organic agriculture, a finding that "challenges the popular myth that organic agriculture cannot increase agricultural productivity."
Moreover, organic agriculture is making important, positive contributions to farm incomes and rural economic activity. These benefits could be enhanced, according to the report, by adoption of more supportive policies and development strategies.
USDA Research on the Organic Food Industry Provides Intriguing Insights
The USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) has released an October 2008 report entitled "Using Vertically Coordinated Relationships to Overcome Tight Supply in the Organic Market." The report is based on an ERS survey of handlers of organic food products in 2004.
The authors note that the growth of organic sales in conventional supermarkets and 'box stores' has created shortages in the supply of both ingredients needed to make organic food products, and in various organic product classes.
13% of handlers reported inability to meet market demand, while another 16% reported minor shortages.
44% of handlers found needed ingredients or products in short supply in 2004, especially coffee, soybeans, milk, seeds, corn, and nuts.
By volume, 20% of organic products were imported, while 22% were sourced locally (defined as within a one-hour drive of a manufacturing/processing facility).
The organic sector uses written contracts at a much higher rate than the conventional food system - 44% of volume moving through organic handlers, compared to 26% among conventional handlers. Another 27% of organic volume is based on verbal agreements and commitments.
The study concludes with a discussion of the reasons why close relationships are likely to remain common in the organic food industry as overall sales increase.
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On October 8, 2008, the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Cruz filed a major judgment in the case brought by Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo against Western Farm Service. Over the preceding three years, Western Farm Service (WFS) had sprayed organophosphate (OP) insecticides on vegetable crops near fields of organic herbs grown by Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo in the Wilder Ranch State Park.
Residues of the OP insecticides diazinon, dimethoate, and chlorpyrifos were first detected in organic herbs picked and shipped to Whole Foods in 2006, as part of that retailer's routine pesticide testing program. This unexpected finding compelled Jacobs Farm to report the residues to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Since there is no tolerance covering residues of these insecticides in conventional herbs, the crop had to be destroyed, costing Jacobs Farm hundreds of thousands of dollars in crop year 2006, and then again in 2007.
If this incident had involved a major field or vegetable crop like potatoes or tomatoes, the presence of low-level residues of these OP insecticides on organic produce would not have required destruction of the crop, assuming that a legal tolerance is in place for these pesticides in conventional potatoes and tomatoes. But for many specialty crops, including most herbs, there are few tolerances in place, and hence any movement of pesticides onto an organic herb field could trigger heavy financial loses.
When extensive efforts by Jacobs Farm to work with neighboring farmers and WFS to prevent future damage failed, leading to additional loses in 2007, Jacobs Farm decided to turn to the courts to seek damages and relief from this ongoing source of chemical trespass.
A jury found WFS negligent and concluded that this negligence was a "substantial factor in causing harm to Jacobs Farm." Western Farm Service was found guilty of negligence, trespass, and causing a nuisance. Damages of $1 million dollars were awarded to Jacobs Farm, plus attorney's fees and costs associated with the case.
Western Farm Service is still exploring whether to appeal the court's decision. On the one hand, the pesticide industry and conventional growers view this as a potentially significant, precedent-setting case, suggesting that an appeal would be likely. But if unsuccessful, the decision of an appellate court to affirm the court's judgment would lend greater weight to the precedent set by this case.
While a major milestone has passed, we have almost certainly not heard the last word on the Jacobs Farm-WFS case. The issues underlying the court's judgment and damage award are of tremendous economic significance, especially in states where organic and conventional farms often exist in the same valley.
For more on what's at stake, see the commentary "Time to Deal with Pesticide Risks in California's Coastal Communities." An abbreviated version of the commentary appears later in this issue of "The Scoop", and the full commentary is on the Center's website.
"The Problem with [GE] Nutritionally Enhanced Plants"
Dr. David Schubert is a highly regarded molecular biologist focusing on neurological development. He is based at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California and has just published a provocative 'Perspective' piece on applications of genetic engineering to enhance the nutrient density of plants in the Journal of Medicinal Food (Vol. 11, No. 4).
Schubert explains why it has been difficult for the biotechnology industry to develop protein-based pharmaceuticals in plants. Problems arise with protein-based plant compounds because of their reactivity, especially their proclivity toward glycosylation. As sugars attach and are cleaved from protein compounds produced in plants, both their metabolism and bioavailability changes, making it very difficult to control doses, predict interactions with drugs or other biologically active secondary plant metabolites, or achieve consistently a desired impact on human health.
On the other hand, Schubert points out that nutritionally-enhanced plants (NEPs) are less subject to such problems and are likely to be viewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).
But NEPs face their own unique problems, according to Schubert. For example, Golden rice is genetically engineered to produce higher levels of B-carotene (precursor of Vitamin A). Many enzymes are known to alter the form and metabolism of carotenoids like B-carotene, producing the common retinoids - retinol (Vitamin A), retinal, and retinoic acid (RA). Retinal is oxidized to retinoic acid, which is far more active and toxic than Vitamin A.
While low doses of RA play an essential role in neurological development, they can bioaccumulate in fat tissues and plasma, and research has shown that multiple, low doses are more toxic than a single, high dose. Given the importance of RA, its toxicity, and the potential to alter RA levels and forms as a result of genetic engineering, Schubert warns that -
(The most common PMP (Plant-made Pharmaceuticals) crops that have been grown in U.S. field trials are corn, tobacco, and rice. Other crops being investigated include alfalfa, potato, safflower, soybean, sugarcane, and tomato.)
In the case of plants genetically-engineered to produce higher levels of fatty acids like omega 3s or conjugated linoleic acid, Schubert points out that GE-plant transformations can lead to the formation of slightly altered forms of fatty acids, which in turn can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
In other cases, plants expressing markedly elevated levels of certain nutrients, or forms of nutrients, might push periodic intake into the possibly toxic zone. (Recall from past stories in "The Scoop" that most beneficial antioxidants become pro-oxidants at excessively high doses).
While minimally necessary intake levels have been carefully studied for many nutrients, possibly damaging high levels of consumption have received much less attention.
GE Soybeans with Elevated Omega 3 Fatty Acids in the Pipeline
Monsanto has genetically engineered soybeans to increase the level of omega 3 fatty acid. A small, preliminary study carried out at the University of South Dakota found that consumption of the GE-soybeans increased blood omega 3 levels by 4 to 5 percent, enough to reduce the risk of heart attacks by as much as 50%.
Monsanto hopes the new soybeans will be approved for commercial planting by 2011, leading to consumer products in the supermarket by 2012.
Source: Graham Tibbetts, "GM Soya Bean Could Prevent Heart Attacks and Save Fish Stocks," The Telegraph, November 3, 2008
Nutritionally Enhanced GE-Foods Still "Years Away"
A story in the November 3rd Washington Post by Marc Kaufman surveys the prospects for nutritionally enhanced, GE-foods and concludes that such foods are still "years away."
The piece begins with an overview of the generally optimistic, but unfulfilled hopes for nutritionally enhanced GE-foods. Kaufman then describes a purple tomato that has been engineered to express high levels of anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds that give many fruits and vegetables their deep, rich colors. Genes from snapdragon plants were used to create the purple tomatoes.
Cathie Martin, one of the scientists working on the purple tomato, acknowledges that there are several conventional foods with elevated levels of anthocyanins, in particular dark raspberries and blackberries. The goal, however, is to create a common food like tomatoes with elevated anthocyanins levels so that more people might someday increase their daily intakes of antioxidants. Martin argues that a person could get enough antioxidants for a day by eating one purple tomato, compared to five servings of conventional fruits and vegetables.
Other teams are working to boost the level of resveratrol in grapes and wine, an antioxidant known to help protect heart health and trigger a sense of fullness (often referred to as satiety).
Typically, two or more genes, and/or transcription factors, must be engineered into a food crop to enhance nutritional quality. These more complex genetic modifications can lead to a diversity of unanticipated outcomes, and will require careful study before approval by regulators.
Margaret Mellon, a molecular biologist working for the Union of Concerned Scientists, expresses skepticism that the biotechnology industry will be able to deliver on its promise to create nutritionally-enhanced foods. She states that - "Clearly, genetically engineered fruits and vegetables for nutritional benefits has proven far more difficult than the industry expected."
Editor's Note: Consumers hoping to boost their antioxidant intakes do not have to wait for purple tomatoes, nor does the food industry need GE-technology to dramatically boost antioxidant nutrient density in common, conventional fruits and vegetables.
Our research shows that a well-managed, long-term organic farm will produce fruits and vegetables that are, on average, about 30% higher in total antioxidants. By choosing from the dozens of fruits and vegetables that are naturally high in antioxidants, and then buying organic, consumers can easily meet and exceed their daily need for around 3,500 ORAC units, a goal for daily antioxidant intakes put forth by scientists at Tufts University.
See our antioxidant žState of Science Review," and especially Table 2, where 37 foods are listed that deliver 1,000 or more ORAC units per serving. Wild blackberries, a super-rich source of anthocyanins, contain 13,353 ORAC units per 1 cup serving - more than three-times a person's daily needs.
Check out the table to learn which ten foods deliver 100 or more ORAC units per calorie consumed. Just a 35 calorie portion of these foods delivers a person's daily dose of antioxidants.
One other important point is relevant to the notion of a single purple tomato meeting one's daily needs for antioxidants. Scientists agree that everyone should consume several antioxidant rich foods every day.
For optimal health benefits, choose fruits and vegetables with multiple colors and flavors. Spread out the consumption of these nutrient-rich foods throughout the day. A greater portion of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are likely to be taken up by your body when consumed in this way.
A diverse pattern of consumption of nutrient-dense foods throughout the day, encompassing multiple colors, will help assure stable levels of antioxidants in your bloodstream, where they are needed to protect against cell damage triggered by reactive oxygen species, otherwise known as free radicals.
New Research Raises Questions about Bt Corn and Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
While the two Bt toxins engineered into Bt corn are not directly toxic to bees, scientists have begun to explore the indirect impacts of exposure to these toxins. One team has found that exposure to the Cry 1Ab endotoxin in Bt corn can alter the learning behavior of bees, as they associate odors with nectar sources.
Source: R. Ramierez-Romeo et al., "Does Cry1Ab protein affect learning performances of the honey bee Apis mellifera L.," Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Vol. 70: 327-333.
Editor's Note: For several months the Center has been working on the potential for organic farming to enhance bee health. We hope to release later this fall our first report on this subject. Look for some surprising insights into the likely causes of colony collapse disorder.
Marsh Supermarkets Switching to 100% Organic Apples and Pears
The Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets chain has shifted its entire bulk apple and pear categories to certified organic fruit. March operates 99 markets, plus five O'Malia's Food Markets in Indiana and Ohio.
The organic fruit will be offered at the same price as conventional fruit. Much of the organic fruit will be sourced in Washington State.
Source: Sustainable Food News, October 23, 2008
Editor's Note: Great strides have been made in Washington State in building up the acreage and efficiencies in organic tree fruit production. Several new and/or expanded packing sheds are now 100% dedicated to organic.
One of the positive outcomes brought about by recent industry growth is the ability of a regional chain like Marsh to offer organic apples and pears at prices comparable to conventional fruit.
The number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased 20% since 1990. One-third of Kenyans were undernourished in 2000-2002.
In Uganda and Tanzania, less than one kilogram of fertilizer is applied on the average hectare of cropland.
The first $300 bag of seed corn will be sold this winter, for planting in 2009. The approximate 80,000 seeds in the bag will plant about three acres of corn, at a cost of roughly $100 per acre.
The seed corn will contain four to eight traits added through genetic engineering: two or more to make the corn herbicide-tolerant, and two or more to combat insects. Plus, the corn will be treated with a systemic insecticide seed treatment posing risks to bees.
In the 1970s farmers spent $15.00 to $20.00 per acre for seed corn.
An estimated one-half of the water used for irrigated agriculture worldwide is drawn from non-renewable resources.
It is common for water tables to fall 10 feet per year in areas with extensive irrigation.
Dow AgroSciences created 350 new research, development, and commercialization positions in 2008 to support aggressive goals for growth in seeds and pesticides.
California has adopted a new State-wide program designed to cut CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The program will create 400,000 new jobs and increase the California economy by an estimated $76 billion per year, through greater economic efficiencies.
The EPA has approved methyl iodide as a replacement for methyl bromide, despite clear evidence that it is neurotoxic, irritates lungs, suppresses thyroid hormones, alters gene expression and damages DNA, and is a possible human carcinogen.
Fifty-four scientists, including five Nobel laureates and dozens of members of the National Academy of Sciences, sent the EPA a letter in 2007 arguing against approval of methyl iodide because of significant risks to farm workers and those living near treated fields.
Comments on the 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs and WIC
Excerpts of the Center's October 13, 2008 comments to the USDA on the reauthorization of the WIC program.
The full comments are posted on the Center's website
We strongly support reauthorization and strengthening of the Child Nutrition Programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These programs have met a vital need and will no doubt continue to provide essential assistance to some of the nation's most vulnerable, especially if the current recession proves deep and long-lasting.
In the reauthorization process, we urge the Department to continue moving toward more flexibility and choice, as well as a more significant role for state and local agencies involved in program implementation...
The general nutritional goals and requirements of WIC and other nutrition programs should be established at the federal level. We strongly support the already announced decision to include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains in the 2009 WIC program. Many states are already working on how to incorporate these critical food groups in the WIC program in the most cost-effective way.
We are aware that hundreds of mothers in many states have participated in focus groups discussing changes in the WIC program. We are told that somewhere between a quarter and two-thirds of the mothers at most focus groups expressed a need for, and support the opportunity to choose organic foods and beverages bearing the USDA National Organic Program seal, especially for dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Why Organic Food Belongs in the WIC Program
In the 1980s concern emerged among toxicologists and pesticide regulatory scientists over the human developmental risks posed by pesticides. At that time, nearly all aspects of pesticide regulation were based on laboratory experiments carried out with healthy, adult rats and mice. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to carry out a thorough assessment of the risks posed by pesticide to pregnant women, infants, and children, and the adequacy of then-current pesticide regulatory policies. In 1993 the NAS released the widely acclaimed report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children.
The report explained that infants and children are not just little adults, and that they face unique risks when exposed to certain pesticides, especially during critical windows of development...
While most WIC mothers do not know which foods or pesticides pose the greatest risk, or why, their desire to avoid exposures for themselves and their families is easy to understand, as is their interest in purchasing organic food through the WIC program.
Compelling research carried out by Dr. Chensheng (Alex) Lu and colleagues at the University of Washington and Emory University over the past six years shows that serving organic food and beverages to children, especially fruit and vegetable-based products, is the surest way to essentially eliminate risky dietary exposures. Their research has focused on the high-risk class of insecticides called the organophosphates, and their findings are published in three seminal research reports in Environmental Health Perspectives (Lu et al., "Dietary Intake and Its Contribution to Longitudinal Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure in Urban/Suburban Children," published online 1/15/2008; Lu, et al., žOrganic Diets Significantly Lower Children's Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides,Ó Vol. 114, No. 2, 2005; and Curl et al., "Organophosphorus pesticide exposure of urban and suburban preschool children with organic and conventional diets," Vol. 111, No. 3, March, 2003).
In an analysis encompassing most major children's foods, we reached essentially the same conclusion by analyzing the impact of an organic diet on pesticide dietary risk levels... Switching to organic food reduces pesticide risks, as measured by the Dietary Risk Index, by over 95%.
"We have issued reports in the last two years drawing on the growing number of published studies comparing organic and conventional foods that conclude that organic production systems, on average, produce food that is more nutrient and antioxidant-dense. The typically higher level of plant secondary metabolites and polyphenols in organic fruits and vegetables helps explain why organic produce is, on average, tastier than conventionally grown produce."
The case for including organic milk and dairy products in the WIC and other nutrition programs is particularly compelling. Milk is obviously the most important single food in the diets of most infants and children. Organic dairy farmers are required by NOP regulations to provide access to pasture for their cows during the months of the year when weather supports pasture growth. Numerous studies have shown consistently and conclusively that cows consuming 30% or more of their daily dry matter intake from pasture produce milk that is higher in protein and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a heart-healthy fat that plays important roles in development.
A recent study published in the biomedical literature found that mothers with a high proportion of dairy intake from an organic origin (>90 percent organic dairy) have higher levels of rumenic acid in their breast milk. Rumenic acid is responsible for most of the health benefits of CLA from pasture-produced milk. Another recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that consumption of organic dairy products was associated with lower risk of eczema in the first two years of life (Kummeling et al., Consumption of organic foods and risk of atopic disease during the first 2 years of life in the Netherlands," British Journal of Nutrition, 2007).
"mothers are on solid ground in expecting over time a nutritional premium from the routine purchase of organic milk and dairy products."
In addition to the nutrition premium associated with organic dairy products, cows on organic farms are not administered supplemental hormones to increase production. They are not given antibiotics to treat mastitis and other common infections, nor antimicrobial feed supplements to help them tolerate high-energy, high-grain rations deficient in fiber and forages (the žnaturalÓ feed of ruminant animals). They are not given reproductive hormones to increase the success rate when artificial insemination is used for breeding...
Avoiding exposures to food additives and artificial colors is another reason to provide WIC mothers the option to purchase certified organic food and beverages. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the artificial food dyes approved for use in food by the Food and Drug Administration are exacerbating behavioral problems, especially hyperactivity, among children and adolescents. The U.K. Food Standards Agency has asked food companies to voluntarily end use of the six artificial food colorings approved for use in the U.K., because of the evidence that removal of the colors reduces the severity of behavioral problems in many children.
By choosing to serve children organic foods, mothers and school systems can dramatically reduce the daily intake of food additives, a clearly positive, preventive step that will help reduce the number of school-age children afflicted with hyperactivity and other behavioral problems. It turns out that teachers are right -- good nutrition is, in fact, a pillar of sound education policy.
The Organic Price Premium
The generally higher nutrient density in organic foods, coupled with the near-absence of pesticide, hormone, and food additive risks, justify a higher price for organic food. But how much? No one can say with certainty because we lack the science and methods needed to estimate the magnitude of the economic benefits from consumption of organic food. Plus, such calculations will be highly circumstantial and variable, and require lifelong and indeed multi-generational health monitoring and data collection.
Despite uncertainty about the magnitude of the benefits stemming from consumption of organic food, some mothers have decided that organic food is a worthwhile investment in their children's well-being. The conscious choice to seek out organic food, even when it costs more, reflects a commitment by mothers to provide their children with the highest quality food possible and the safest path through the critical early years of development.
Given the breadth of evidence in support of a range of benefits from consumption of organic food, the Department would need compelling reasons to prohibit mothers from purchasing organic foods through the WIC program. In particular, the Department would need to explain why mothers should not be free to choose a somewhat smaller quantity of what they regard as higher-quality food.
We believe the USDA should work to cultivate in Americans an appreciation of and desire for high quality food, coupled with the need for a more balanced diet. The WIC and other nutrition programs can do both through its educational activities and outreach services and by providing freedom to choose organic products for those who wish to purchase them.
žTime to Deal with Pesticide Risks in California's Coastal CommunitiesÓ
[Excerpts of the full commentary follow]
A Santa Cruz jury recently returned a verdict that secures a brighter future for organic farming in California, and perhaps over time, if adopted as precedent, throughout the United States. The jury found that a commercial pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service, had an obligation to prevent toxic pesticides from drifting after application with wind and fog onto Jacobs Farm's organic crops in Wilder Ranch State Park. While Jacobs Farm was the clear winner in this case, press coverage of the trial and its conclusions missed the main significance of the jury's decision.
This case was about the Golden Rule. Federal pesticide law and regulations place considerable burden on pesticide applicators - whether a farmer or a commercial company like WFS - to prevent off target movement of applied pesticides. One of the goals in setting forth this clear-cut responsibility is to prevent "economic damage" to surrounding personal property, including crops on nearby farms (whether organic or conventional), trees and shrubs in a homeowner's yard, or other property, such as honey bees used as pollinators.
Applicators of pesticides need to assume responsibility when using toxic materials to prevent such damage. In this case, Western Farm Service was told that their use of organophosphate insecticides was unintentionally damaging the crops on Jacobs Farm by rendering them unmarketable. Whether intentional or not, if a pesticide applicator becomes aware that a particular use of a pesticide is damaging a neighbor's crop, the applicator must take steps to understand why and prevent future damage. In this case, the applicator failed this test...
"Western Farm Service knew that the fog was moving its chemicals off of the crops it treated, and it did nothing to prevent or address that movement onto nearby organic crops.
The company clearly did not meet its obligations in this case. The legal defense put forth by attorneys for Western Farm Service points to a hole in pesticide regulatory law and polices - ignoring the well-known fact that coastal fog can carry pesticides off target and deposit them where they do not belong. This hole exposes both people and crops in coastal California to serious risk of harm from fog-borne pesticides"
The pesticides in question here are some of the most toxic known to man. If state and county government agencies are going to allow the ongoing use of organophosphates, regulators and applicators must find a way to do so that does not endanger the general public or contaminate neighboring crops. As established in this lawsuit, the State code governing lawful applications of pesticides must be changed to encompass off target movement caused by volatization and fog.
"This case will likely trigger a series of legal maneuvers and attempts to change pesticide regulatory policy. The underlying question, however, is whether our laws and public policies should turn a blind eye to a recurrent problem, or confront and solve the problem head on. As the process unfolds, hopefully the general public, especially those living in coastal communities, will have a chance to weigh in on this central question.
"The Science of Organics" Session Draws a Big Crowd at the ADA Meeting
The annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association drew over 10,000 people to Chicago in late October. A session held October 27th was entitled "The Science of Organics: Nourishing the Land, Animals, and People." Dr. Chris McCullum-Gomex moderated the session and presentations were made by the Center's Chief Scientist Chuck Benbrook and by Helen Costello, an organic farmer and registered dietitian (RD).
Despite dozens of competing sessions and an active trade floor, over 500 people filled the meeting room to the point the fire marshal closed the doors. Some 200 people listened from out in the hall. Helen Costello asked the audience to raise their hand if a patient had asked them a question about organic food in the last few months. Over 75% of the hands went up in the room.
A lively and positive Q&A session reflected a high level of interest in learning more about what organic food and farming has to contribute to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
A fact-filled "Organic Q&A" brochure done by Organic Valley was distributed during the meeting and was the focus of many interesting exchanges.
The Center would like to extend a "thank you" to Susan Roberts, Director of the Food and Society Policy Fellowship, for organizing and proposing the session to the ADA.
Mark your calendar for a gala evening in Hollywood when The Organic Center presents its West Coast fundraiser and gourmet organic reception on Dec. 9, 2008, 6:30 - 9:30 pm, at the Hilton Los Angeles Hotel in Universal City. Tickets to the evening fundraiser and reception are $125 per person. Visit www.organic-center.org or call 303.499.1840 to purchase tickets. The Organic Center will also present a seminar on organic and the influence of Hollywood during the Hollywood Goes Green Conference, held Dec. 8-9, 2008 at the Hilton Los Angeles Hotel. For information, visit www.hollywoodgoesgreen.com.
"Living Soil, Food Quality, and the Future of Food" Session at the AAAS Annual Meeting
The Center organized with Preston Andrews of Washington State University a 90-minute symposium that will be part of the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The session will be held February 13, 2009 at 8:30am. The focus will be on the impacts of long-term organic management on soil quality and food nutrient density. The AAAS meeting will be held February 12-16, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Jerry Glover of The Land Institute will present a paper entitled "Crops, Roots, and Soil Biological Processes: Synergistic Interactions." Preston Andrews will cover fruit and vegetable crop responses to soil management. Alyson Mitchell of U.C. Davis will present on the topic žNutrient Dense Foods: Phytochemicals and Health Benefits.Ó
The Organic Center Sponsors Two Sessions at the 2009 EcoFarm Conference
The Center helped organize two sessions at the January 22-24, 2008 EcoFarm conference at Asilomar, in Monterey, California. During the "War on Bugs" workshop on Friday, 10:30am-12:30, Will Allen will address the evolution of the war on bugs over the last century. Chuck Benbrook will discuss the impacts and implications of the contemporary trend toward systematic pesticides and genetic engineering technology that strives to get pesticide toxins inside of plants.
On Saturday from 8:30am to 10:00, Dr. John Reganold of Washington State University will join with Chuck Benbrook in a workshop entitled "Why the Science is Starting to Show Benefits for Organic." Dr. Reganold will present results of recent studies at WSU comparing the performance of organic and conventional farming systems, and Chuck will provide an update of recent Organic Center research.
Keep Up with Events by Visiting the Organic Center Blog
Managing Director Steven Hoffman has started an Organic Center blog that will help readers of "The Scoop" stay current on the activities of the Center, events, and other breaking developments.
Core Truths on the Major Benefits of Organic Food and Farming
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© 2008, The Organic Center. All rights reserved. Permission for reproduction of these materials for educational purposes will be granted by contacting The Organic Center at email@example.com.
Editor: Chuck Benbrook, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, The Organic Center
Design: Karen Lutz Benbrook
Circulation: Matthue DeYarus
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