Organic TV

Green living expert, author, and TV personality, Sara Snow, explains the USDA organic seal and why "natural" is not organic.

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  • Three new studies confirm that exposures to common insecticides during pregnancy can cut a child’s IQ 4% to 7%  by age 9.
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Our Projects

Organic Solutions for Citrus Greening

Citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing, threatens the citrus industry on a massive scale. It has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad, ravaging countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. The highly destructive disease can spread quickly, and once a tree is infected, it cannot be cured.  To address this issue, The Organic Center has launched a multi-year research project in collaboration with farmers, industry members, organic certifiers, and University of Florida entomologists to find holistic organic solutions to controlling citrus greening organically. This project will determine the efficacy of labeled organic pesticides for controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, develop protocols for organic growers struggling with citrus greening, and examine naturally occurring organic trees resistant to citrus greening that can be bred to create non-GMO citrus greening-resistant varieties of citrus.

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Fire Blight in Organic Apple and Pear Orchards

The Organic Center (TOC) has completed a project providing critically needed information on how to prevent fire blight from decimating apple and pear orchards without the use of antibiotics. Fire blight is a serious problem for apple and pear growers in the US.  Unlike some fruit pathogens, fire blight doesn’t just damage or destroy that season’s fruit – it can kill the entire tree.  It is caused by the bacteria Erwinia amylovora, and is easily spread among trees and orchards.  With growers now spending up to $20,000 per acre to establish an orchard, the risk of severe tree injury or loss from fire blight needs to be controlled.  This Critical Issue Report on controlling fire blight  in organic orchards is currently available for download!

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The Effects of Organic Farming Practices on Nitrogen Pollution

The Organic Center is working with Professor James Galloway, Ariel Majidi, and Allison Leach at the University of Virginia to investigate the effect of different farming systems on nitrogen pollution.  Nitrogen pollution is a problem, because it can lead to eutrophication of aquatic environments and “Dead Zones” in the coastal ocean.  It also contributes to climate change, acid rain, smog, biodiversity loss, and more.  This project focuses on how farming practices can have an impact on the amount of reactive nitrogen released into the environment.

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Decreasing Arsenic Uptake in Organic Rice Systems

The Organic Center has partnered with the  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to conduct targeted research on the factors affecting the presence of arsenic in organically grown rice.  ARS scientists are testing stored samples of organic rice grown under controlled organic conditions at USDA research facilities, and examining the factors that directly impact the rate of arsenic accumulation in rice grown organically—varietal selection, flooding and organic compliant fertilizers. The goal is to offer future strategies to the organic sector to minimize such accumulation.

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Soil Health in Organic Farms

Directed by Principal Research Scientist Elham Ghabbour and Professor Geoffrey Davies, the National Soil Project (NSP) at Northeastern University is collaborating with The Organic Center to examine some of the benefits organic agriculture may have on soil health.  We are also working with with OFRF on soil health communication.  Specifically, this project will quantify the amount of sequestered carbon in hundreds of organic farm top soil samples for comparison with corresponding conventional samples to determine differences in levels of humic acids (HA), fulvic acids (FA), and humin (HU) in the soils. These efforts will result in a reference database that will enable agronomists, farmers and environmental scientists to correlate soil health and productivity with agricultural practices, which will be an essential tool for maintaining and improving the quality of our nation’s soil through organic farming.

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Health Effects of Dietary Exposure to Pesticides

This collaborative project of The Center and Professor Lu of Harvard University will examine the health effects associated with dietary pesticide exposure through the lens of metabolomics, the study of chemical processes that involve metabolites. This research is critically needed, because while research studies are increasingly finding pesticides negatively affect human health, public awareness of these findings is low because there are few papers that look at exposure on the dietary level. This project will be directly applicable to consumers by examining levels and frequencies of exposure that are the most common for the general public.  In addition to our research, we will communicate our findings with the public to ensure understanding and increase awareness around the issue of pesticide risks.

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