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MOF&G Cover Spring 2008
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 Organic Matter – A Compendium of News Minimize


The Good News
Soils Research
Nutrition News
Animal Health
Genetic Engineering News
Pesticide Issues
And Now, Nanotechnology
Organic Issues
The Clones are Out There

The Good News

Percy Schmeiser, who spoke at the 2004 Common Ground Country Fair, won the 2007 Right Livelihood Award for his work on promoting seed saving and opposing Monsanto's genetically engineered varieties. English photo.

Percy and Louise Schmeiser of Bruno, Saskatchewan, won the 2007 Right Livelihood Award, an alternative Nobel prize, "for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers' rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws.” In 1998, Monsanto took the couple to court for using its genetically modified patented canola seeds without a license, seeking $400,000 in damages. The farmers denied using the seeds, saying they could have blown in from a neighbor's farm or passing trucks. The Schmeisers lost the case and the right to use seed varieties they had painstakingly adapted to their local environment for years – but they did not have to pay the damages sought. Since the lawsuit, Percy Schmeiser has campaigned widely against genetic engineering in agriculture – and in January 2008, he sued Monsanto, asking to be reimbursed for the $600 (Canadian) spent to dig and destroy Monsanto's GE canola seedlings on his land in 2005. Monsanto admitted that its GE seeds had contaminated his field but the company refused to pay unless Schemeiser signed a non-disclosure statement. "No way would we ever give that away to a corporation," Schmeiser replied. The case could set a precedent that could cost Monsanto millions in legal settlements around the world. (“Right Livelihood Award for Schmeisers,”
www.rightlivelihood.org/schmeiser.html; “Schmeiser vs. Monsanto,” Pesticide Action Network News Update, Jan. 24, 3008, www.panna.org)
Roger Doiron
Roger Doiron of Scarborough, Maine, received a Food & Society Policy Fellowship.

Closer to home, Roger Doiron of Scarborough, Maine, received a Food & Society Policy Fellowship for 2008-2009 from the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. The two-year stipend enables North American professionals in food and agriculture to use mass media to inform the public about sustainable food systems that promote health, vibrant communities and environmental stewardship. Doiron founded and directs Kitchen Gardeners International, a nonprofit network of over 4700 home gardeners promoting food self-reliance through kitchen gardening, home-cooking and sustainable local food systems. Doiron is also a freelance food writer, photographer, is the regional organizer for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and coordinates the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine. The Missouri-based nonprofit Jefferson Institute conducts agricultural education and research projects. (Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute press release, Nov. 16, 2007,
www.jeffersoninstitute.org)

We may see more of that local food as Maine’s Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program, enacted in 2007, enables towns to make annual farm support payments to farmers who grant the municipality limited 30-year easements. Payments would equal the assessed annual property taxes on the land and buildings subject to the easement. In 2008, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources will draft regulations for the program. (American Farmland Trust E-News, Jan. 3, 2008, and
www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/billtexts/LD141401.asp)

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Soils Research

Nine years of comparison in the Long-Term Agro-ecological Research Program at Iowa State University show that the longer rotations and careful management of organic systems give greater yields, profitability and soil quality than conventional practices. The study is believed to be the largest randomized, replicated comparison of organic and conventional crops in the nation. Using identical crop varieties, researchers found that organic crop yields equaled conventional in the three years of transition. In the fourth year, organic corn yields in the longest rotation outpaced those of conventional. Organic and conventional soybean yields have been similar throughout the trial. The biggest differences are in soil and water quality. More water infiltrates organic plots, which reduces soil runoff and more effectively recharges groundwater supplies. The organic soils also cycle nutrients more efficiently, making them available when and where plants need them. Soil structure remained good, despite increased tillage in organic rotations. (“Organic Practices Outpace Conventional in Long-Term Research,” Press release, Leopold Center, Nov. 13, 2007,
www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/newsreleases/2007/organic_111307.htm)

Adding nitrogen fertilizer to soils has long been thought to help build organic carbon by promoting plant growth and, thus, increasing plant residues returned to the soil. Now University of Illinois soil scientists dispute this, after analyzing soil samples from the 100-year-old Morrow Plots and studying other long-term trials. Corn growth and yields have been about 20% lower during the past 50 years in continuous corn plots than in the corn-oats-hay Morrow Plots, despite considerably greater added fertilizer N and residues.

Since the onset of synthetic N fertilization in 1955, says Saeed Khan, one of the researchers, "What we learned is that after five decades of massive inputs of residue carbon ranging from 90 to 124 tons per acre, all of the residue carbon had disappeared, and there had been a net decrease in soil organic carbon that averaged 4.9 tons per acre. Regardless of the crop rotation, the decline became much greater with the higher nitrogen rate.”

The findings raise questions about the widespread use of yield-based N recommendations since the 1970s. "The one-size-fits-all approach was intended to minimize the risk of nitrogen deficiency as insurance for high yields. Unfortunately, the usual result is over-fertilization because of the assumption that the fertilizer supplies more nitrogen than the soil. The opposite is true in most cases, and especially for the highly productive soils of the Corn Belt that receive the highest nitrogen rates." Added Khan, "The rates have been progressively inflated over the years by yield increases from agricultural advances such as better varieties and higher [plant] populations."

Excessive N applications, say the researchers, cut profits and harm soils and the environment. The loss of soil carbon decreases water storage, releases carbon dioxide to the air, and contributes to the nitrate pollution. Nitrogen management should be site specific, they add.

In comparing USDA data for Iowa and Illinois, the two states that rank highest in corn production, they found that from 1994 to 2001, annual grain yields in Iowa averaged 1.7 billion bushels with 740 thousand tons of nitrogen, as compared with an average of 1.5 billion bushels produced in Illinois with 847 thousand tons of nitrogen. The difference, Khan said, translates into lower fertilizer efficiency that cost Illinois farmers $68 million per year. (“Study Reveals that Nitrogen Fertilizers Deplete Soil Organic Carbon,” by Debra Levey Larson, ACES News, Oct. 29, 2007, 
http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/internal/preview.cfm?NID=4185&CFID=1627523&CFTOKEN=53360267; and Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney, Tim Ellsworth and Charlie Boast, "The Myth of Nitrogen Fertilization for Soil Carbon Sequestration,” J. Environmental Quality, Nov.-Dec. 2007)

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Nutrition News

A four-year European Union (EU) study indicates that some organic foods are more nutritional than their non-organic counterparts, says Professor Carlo Leifert of the Tesco Centre for Organic Agriculture at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Preliminary results from this study, which is part of the EU-funded Quality Low Input Food Project, show organic produce has up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organically grown produce, while organic milk contains up to 80% more antioxidants than conventionally produced milk in the summer, and up to 60% more in the winter. Organic milk also had more vitamin E. Leifert said such benefits suggest that eating organic food would be equal to eating an extra portion of produce a day. The study is scheduled to run for an additional year. (“Organic Produce and Milk Rich in Antioxidants,” Organic Trade Assoc. press release, Oct. 29, 2007;
www.organicnewsroom.com/2007/10/the_organic_trade_association_2.html)

Diets rich in organic produce might benefit from garlic, as well. Research published in October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that adding garlic juice to red blood cells seemed to cause the cells to produce hydrogen sulfide, an antioxidant, and to increase blood flow. Hydrogen sulfide (at certain concentrations) may protect against breast, prostate, colon and other cancers, and may protect the heart against damage caused by a heart attack. The concentration of garlic juice used was about the same as that in an adult who ate two medium cloves per day. Researcher Dr. David Kraus of the University of Alabama said that benefits occur when garlic is crushed and held at room temperature for about 15 minutes before it’s added to food. (“Unlocking the Benefits of Garlic,” by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Oct. 15, 2007; 
www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article2753446.ece)

Add some dried beans to that diet, too. Consuming as little as one-half cup of cooked dry beans daily helped volunteers lower their total cholesterol levels. Eighty volunteers ages 18 to 55 – half healthy and half at risk for cardiovascular disease – were divided randomly into two groups. For 12 weeks, half ate one-half cup of cooked dry pinto beans daily along with their regular daily diet; others ate a replacement serving of chicken soup instead of the pinto beans. All volunteers who ate beans had reduced cholesterol. (“Eating Beans Helps Lower Cholesterol,” by Rosalie Marion Bliss, USDA Agricultural Research Service News Service, Nov. 28, 2007;
www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr)

Watch the B vitamins, though: Cereal grain products in the United States have been fortified with the synthetic form of folate (folic acid, a B vitamin) since 1998, and folate levels have become extremely high in the U.S. population since then. On the other hand, aging and taking stomach-acid blockers can gradually reduce vitamin B12 absorption in the body. Now researchers have found that people with high folate and low B12 status have more anemia and cognitive impairment than those with normal folate and low B12. (“When It Comes to Vitamins, More Is Not Always Better,” by Rosalie Marion Bliss, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Agricultural Research, Nov./Dec. 2007;
www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov07/brain1107.htm)

And watch the calcium. Today's recommended adequate intake (AI) for calcium, 1,000 mg per day for those aged 19 to 50 years, and 1,200 mg per day for those 51 or older, may be too high. The body's skeleton needs adequate dietary calcium to reach its full potential bone mass, but calcium alone does not protect against bone loss, especially during menopause. When USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists analyzed data on 155 male and female volunteers, ages 19 to 75, who participated in controlled feeding studies, resulting models suggest that the average AI calcium needed to maintain a neutral calcium balance is about 741 mg per day. Calcium balance means that the amount of calcium consumed equals the amount eliminated. Volunteers received 415 to 1,740 mg of calcium. When they were fed the lower amounts, their bodies kept more calcium; when fed higher amounts, the extra calcium was eliminated. (“Calcium Requirements May Be Overstated, by Rosalie Marion Bliss, Agricultural Research Service News Service, USDA – Rosalie Marion Bliss;
www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr)

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Animal Health

Cows Unite, an initiative of Organic Valley Family of Farms, has a "Bovine Bill of Rights" that demands pasturing for cows and the end of the use of synthetic hormones and pesticides, antibiotics and genetically engineered feed for cattle. The campaign aims to raise awareness and build grassroots public support for organic dairying. (ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, Oct. 31, 2007, and
cowsunite.org)

Hold the ethanol byproducts, too? Feedlot cattle, often located next to ethanol plants and fed distiller’s grain, a byproduct of ethanol production, have about twice as much E. coli O157:H7 in their hindgut as cattle who didn’t consume the grain, according to Kansas State University researchers. This type of E. coli is a health risk to humans exposed to undercooked meat, raw dairy products and produce contaminated with cattle manure. (“Cattle Fed Byproducts of Ethanol Production Harbor Dangerous E. Coli Bacteria,” ScienceDaily. December 12, 2007;
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204091851.htm)

Meanwhile, University of Liverpool scientists hypothesize that a bacterium that causes Johne’s disease, a wasting disease in cattle, may also cause Crohn's disease (chronic intestinal inflammation) in humans. Mycobacterium paratuberculosis releases a molecule that keeps macrophages (a type of white blood cell) from killing E. coli bacteria in the body. Crohn’s patients, who have increased E. coli in their tissue, may ingest the Mycobacterium when consuming dairy products. The researchers will see whether an antibiotic combination can target bacteria in white blood cells and treat Crohn’s disease. (“How Bacteria In Cows' Milk May Cause Crohn's Disease,” ScienceDaily. Dec. 13, 2007;
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210104002.htm)

Researchers have identified a new strain of swine influenza – H2N3 – which belongs to the group of H2 influenza viruses that last infected humans during the 1957 pandemic. This new strain has a molecular twist: It is composed of avian and swine influenza genes. An Agricultural Research Service team identified the pathogen that in 2006 infected two groups of pigs at separate production facilities. Both groups of pigs consumed water from ponds frequented by migrating waterfowl. The new pathogen is an H2N3 influenza virus that is closely related to an H2N3 strain found in mallard ducks. This is the first time it has been observed in mammals.

These findings show that swine can serve as a "mixing vessel" for influenza viruses carried by birds, pigs and humans and supports the need to monitor swine--and livestock workers--for H2-subtype viruses and other influenza strains. (“New Swine Flu Has Avian Flu Genes,” by Ann Perry, USDA Agricultural Research Service News Service, Dec. 19, 2007;
www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr)

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Genetic Engineering News

Last fall, the Pennsylvania Agriculture Department, under pressure from Monsanto, moved to ban labeling that said dairy products came from cows that were not treated with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). After public outcry, however, Penn. Governor Ed Rendell delayed implementing the rule in order to review its impact and legality, and in January 2008, the Penn. Dept. of Agriculture ruled that producers could label their milk as coming from cows that were not treated with rBGH. Also, in December 2007, more than 70 organizations wrote to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland urging that state not to prohibit farmers from telling consumers that they do not treat their cows with artificial hormones.

In 1994, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of Monsanto's rBGH (also known as rBST), the FDA also said that the following label statement, in proper context, is acceptable: "from cows not treated with rBST." Earlier this year, Monsanto asked the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to declare these labels to be misleading. In late August, the FTC wrote to Monsanto: "The FTC staff agrees with FDA that food companies may inform consumers in advertising, as in labeling, that they do not use rBST."

"Since the FDA's controversial decision to approve the use of rBGH, questions have only grown about its safety for humans," said Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Food Safety for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "Consumers should have the ability to buy milk from untreated cows if they want to." (Organic Consumers Assoc., Organic Bytes, Nov. 30, 2007,
www.organicconsumers.org; Consumers Union Press Release, Dec. 18, 2007, www.consumersunion.org)

Genetically engineered (GE) crops continue to be planted, promoted, banned and studied. Farmers in the upper Midwest and West are expected to begin planting GE Roundup Ready sugar beets this spring in order to save on fuel and labor costs. About half of the U.S. sugar supply comes from beets; the rest comes from sugar cane, which is not genetically engineered.

Kellogg’s spokeswoman Kris Charles told The New York Times that the company “would not have any issues” buying such sugar for its products sold in the United States, where “most consumers are not concerned about biotech.” Kellogg’s also has a line of organic cereals, for consumers who are concerned… Hershey’s and Mars would not comment to the Times.

Refined sugar does not contain DNA or proteins, so biotech sugar is the same as nonbiotech, says Luther Markwart of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and of the Sugar Industry Biotech Council. As with other foods made from GE crops, those containing sugar from biotech beets will not have to be labeled as such for U.S. markets.

Biotech sugar beets may not be innocuous, though. On Jan. 23, 2008, farmers, food safety advocates and conservation groups filed suit in federal court challenging the deregulation of GE beets, which could contaminate beets and related crops grown for seed. (“Round 2 for Biotech Beets,” by Andrew Pollack, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2007; Press release, Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, Jan. 23, 2008)

Environmental officials from the European Food Safety Authority, citing the precautionary principle, have proposed banning cultivation of two kinds of GE corn that may harm butterflies and aquatic life and the food chain it feeds. The EU has not approved planting any GE crops since 1998, but it has not banned them, either. (“Proposed Ban on Genetically Modified Corn in Europe,” by James Kanter, The New York Times, Nov. 23, 2007)

In October 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, also citing the precautionary principle, said that he would suspend planting of GE, pest-resistant crops until a government authority on such crops evaluated them. The only GE crop that the EU grows is a borer-resistant corn. Hungary, one of the largest grain producers in the EU, and Austria have banned the variety. (“France Suspends Planting of GMO Crops,” by Sybille de La Hamaide, Reuters, Oct. 26, 2007)

Australia is going the other way. On November 27, 2007, Victoria Premier
John Brumby announced that he would end a four-year moratorium on growing GE crops in his state. New South Wales earlier announced that it planned to allow farmers to start growing GE canola. Australia's Network of Concerned Farmers warns that introducing GE canola could cost Australian canola farmers more than $143 million, with organic farmers "carrying an unjust burden of over $65 million a year." (Pesticide Action Network News Update, Dec. 6, 2007, www.panna.org)

Japan’s experience could prove those concerned farmers right: Seed of GE canola has spread from a factory that extracts oil from the seeds in Chiba prefecture in Japan, and the citizens’ No!GMO Campaign says that the engineered crop has been found in 43 of Japan's 47 prefectures and has spread to ports, factories and roadways. (Pesticide Action Network News Update, Dec. 6, 2007,
www.panna.org)

The GE canola found near the oil extraction factory tolerated both Roundup and Basta. No commercially available GE canola variety has transgenes for tolerance to both herbicides, so the cross must have occurred when the crop was cultivated or near where it was spilled. Another concern is that GE canola is becoming perennial in Japan’s relatively warm winters, where the plant can grow for several years into a bush, continuing to spread pollen to wild mustards and conventionally cultivated canola, as well as other cruciferous vegetables, such as Japanese radish and Chinese cabbage. (“Spilled GM canola keeps on contaminating,”
www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8179; “Spilled GM Canola Growing in Japan - Citizens' Survey Results 2007,” Environmental News Network, Nov. 30, 2007, www.enn.com/top_stories/article/26199)

Furthermore, a European study has confirmed that grazing wild animals can spread GE canola seed. Fallow deer fed a varied diet of weeds, herbs, GE maize and GE canola spread viable GE canola seed through their feces. (P. Guertler, B. Lutz, R. Kuehn, H. H. D. Meyer, R. Einspanier, B. Killermann and C. Albrecht, 2007, "Fate of recombinant DNA and Cry1Ab protein after ingestion and dispersal of genetically modified maize in comparison to rapeseed by fallow deer (Dama dama)", European Journal of Wildlife Research, 11 April 2007;
www.springerlink.com/content/g8463t7n5424x888/)

Jeffrey Smith warns that Australians’ health as well as the country’s economy is at risk from GE crops, which can cause toxic or allergic-type reactions in humans and livestock. “Government safety assessments, including those of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), do not identify many of the dangers, and analysis reveals that industry studies submitted to FSANZ are designed to avoid finding them,” he notes. “The process of inserting a foreign gene into a plant cell and cloning that cell into a GE crop produces hundreds of thousands of mutations throughout the DNA. Natural plant genes may be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds can change their function. This is why GE soy has less protein, an unexpected new allergen and up to seven times higher levels of a known soy allergen.”

Genes from GE foods can be transferred into the DNA of human gut bacteria and continue to produce proteins inside our intestines, continues Smith.

“Lab animals fed GM crops had altered sperm cells and embryos, a five-fold increase in infant mortality, smaller brains, and a host of other problems.” He adds that a growing number of North American doctors are prescribing non-GE diets. (“Abundant Evidence to Warn People Against GE Crops,” by Jeffrey M. Smith, Institute for Responsible Technology, Iowa; Environmental News Network, Nov. 30, 2007;
www.enn.com/top_stories/article/26199)

An article in the December 2005 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener described research into GE trees and its potential problems. Now The New York Times writer Andrew Pollack says that researchers want to reduce the amount of lignin in trees, or change its composition, since lignin covers cellulose in cell walls, making it difficult for enzymes to turn that cellulose into such biofuels as ethanol. However, lignin also gives trees strength and pest resistance. Currently, acids and steam break down lignin in pulp and papermaking.

Silencing a gene that makes lignin by inserting a reverse copy of the gene that codes for the process has cut lignin production by up to 50% in experiments.

ArborGen of Summerville, S.C., a company owned by International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon, is developing low-lignin eucalyptus, potentially to be grown in South America for pulp and papermaking, and a hardier eucalyptus for the United States.

The USDA has already approved two GE trees for other traits – a papaya that resists ringspot virus and a plum that resists plum pox virus. China grows GE insect-resistant poplars.

Because tree pollen can travel hundreds of miles, the reduced lignin trait may spread widely. (“Through Genetics, Tapping a Tree’s Potential as a Source of Energy,” by Andrew Pollack, The New York Times, Nov. 20, 2007)

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Pesticide Issues

The pesticide industry's use of humans to test its products was halted by Congress in 1998, after it was revealed that poor women, children and minority Americans were being paid to swallow pesticides – sometimes being told they were taking "vitamins." The chemical industry sued and overturned the moratorium in 2003. In 2005, Congress made it illegal to test pesticides on children and pregnant women, but an EPA loophole allowed the practice to continue. So a coalition of environmental, farmworker and health groups challenged human testing as a violation of the 1947 Nuremburg Code. The case, NRDC vs. EPA, went before a Federal Appellate Court on January 17, 2008. (Pesticide Action Network News Update, Jan. 24, 2008)

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And Now, Nanotechnology

The Soil Association, the largest U.K. certifier of organic products ranging from cosmetics to food, has banned inclusion of manufactured nanoparticles in products it certifies as organic. The Soil Association notes that nanotechnology “poses a serious new threat to human health” and cites the government’s failure to follow scientific advice and regulate nanotech products as a reason for its action. Nanotechnology – manipulating material at the molecular level – can be unpredictable. (Press release, Friends of the Earth, Jan. 15, 2008; “Soil Association bans nanomaterials from organic products, by Rebecca Smithers,
www.guardian.co.uk/, Jan. 15, 2008)

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Organic Issues

Lawsuits were filed in December 2007 accusing Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway and Wild Oats of consumer fraud for marketing suspect organic milk. The legal filings in federal courts in Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis came soon after class action lawsuits against Aurora Dairy Corporation, based in Boulder, Colorado, alleging consumer fraud, negligence and unjust enrichment from the sale of organic milk. USDA investigators concluded in 2007 that Aurora – with five dairy facilities in Colorado and Texas, each milking thousands of cows – had 14 “willful” violations of federal organic regulations, including labeling some milk as organically produced when it was not produced and handled according to National Organic Program regulations. The organic watchdog group Cornucopia Institute found that Aurora was confining cows in feedlots rather than grazing them, and Aurora brought conventional animals into its organic milking operation in a manner prohibited by the Organic Food Production Act. (“Nation’s Largest Retailers Accused of Organic Fraud,” Cornucopia Institute press release, Dec. 13, 2007)

In December 2007, the U.S. Senate approved its version of the Farm Bill that included funding and direction for key organic priorities. The Senate version of the Farm Bill:

• recognizes that increased funding is essential for the National Organic Program at the USDA at the full authorized level;

• includes $5 million for organic data collection to help provide better price and yield information for organically-grown crops;

• includes $22 million in new money for certification cost share to aid organic farmers;

• bars USDA from charging a premium surcharge on organic crop insurance, unless validated by loss history on a crop-by-crop basis;

• adds organic production as an eligible activity in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;

• adds to the Soil and Water Conservation Protection Loans a priority for those converting to organic farming practices and adds conversion to organic production as an eligible loan purpose;

• provides $80 million over the life of the bill for organic agriculture research and extension; and

• includes a sense of the Senate resolution that funding for organic research should be commensurate with organic agriculture's share of the market, currently about 3 percent.

(“U.S. Senate approves Farm Bill with provisions for Organic Agriculture,” Organic Trade Assoc. press release, Dec. 14, 2007;
www.ota.com)

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The Clones are Out There

The Senate's Farm Bill also included a provision to delay the FDA’s endorsement of food from cloned animals and called for a rigorous and careful review by the National Academy of Sciences of the human health and economic impacts of bringing cloned food into the U.S. food supply. "The FDA risk assessment ignored the fact that most clones never make it to adulthood because they die in gestation or shortly after birth, and also failed to consider whether clones might need more drug treatments," said Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist, Consumers Union. A 2007 national survey conducted by Consumers Union found that 89% of Americans want cloned foods labeled, and 69% are concerned about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply. A Gallup Poll reported that more than 60% of Americans believe that cloning animals is immoral. (“FDA Approval of Clones Stalled by Passage of Mikulski-Specter Amendment in Farm Bill,” Center for Food Safety press release, Dec. 14, 2007,
www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/FDA_Cloning_RAreview_Report_FINAL.pdf)

Despite the Senate provision, on Jan. 15 the FDA announced its final approval of meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs and goats and their offspring. Such products would not be labeled as coming from cloned animals. In addition to concerns about the safety of eating such food, the Organic Consumers Association says that a healthy population of any animal or plant requires genetic diversity; and, regarding animal welfare, most cloned animals are born with painful birth defects.

Organic standards ban cloned animal products in organic foods. (Organic Bytes, Jan. 18, 2008, Organic Consumers Assoc.,
www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9699.cfm)

Also on Jan. 15, the USDA asked farmers to voluntarily keep cloned animals off the market for now, due to the emotional nature of the issue. The request could be too little, too late. Rick Weiss reports that people may already be eating meat from clones’ progeny, since cattle cloning companies say they have not tracked how many clone offspring have entered the food supply, and a Kansas farmer said he has already sold semen from clones to many producers. (“USDA Recommends That Food From Clones Stay Off the Market,” by Rick Weiss, Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2008,
www.washingtonpost.com)

On Jan. 24, California State Sen. Carol Migden introduced a bill requiring all food products from cloned animals and their offspring to display clear and prominent labeling. The Center for Food Safety and Consumers Union cosponsored the bill. In 2007, Sen. Migden authored a similar bill that was passed by the California legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. (Press release, Consumers Union, Jan. 24, 2008;
www.consumersunion.org)

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