"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi
MOF&G Cover Winter 2005-2006
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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerWinter 2005/2006Letters – Winter 05-06   
 Letters – Winter 2005-2006 Minimize

More to the Biodiesel Story

To the editor:

As a biodiesel advocate I was disappointed to see the article “Not All Biofuels Are Worthwhile” included in the Common Ground Fair newspaper (p. 10) without noting that there are other studies that reached the opposite conclusion. Perhaps you were unaware of the controversial nature of Pimentel’s writings on biofuels. See [expired press release
link at www.biodiesel.org/].


Mike Briggs post at [link expired; see BioDieselNow.com].

– Jay LeGore
Montville, Maine

Editor’s response:

Also on page 10 of the Sept.-Nov. 2005 MOF&G, we ran an article about the potential to raise barley rather than corn for ethanol production in the eastern United States. However, we were unaware of the Web postings cited above and appreciate receiving them. We’ll include information from them, as well as from an Oct. 1, 2005, article in Science News about raising crops for ethanol, when we cover Pimentel’s Nov. 2005 talk at MOFGA and Cooperative Extension’s Farmer to Farmer Conference.

MOFGA Activist Recommends Northern Sky News

Dear MOF&G Readers,

I have been getting a monthly regional environmental paper for several years now, Northern Sky News, covering environmental news in the whole of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, basically our shared bioregion and watershed. The paper, edited by Murray Carpenter in Belfast, Maine, carries stories and reports on land use and sprawl, natural areas and wildlife, fisheries, pollution and toxics, water rights, climate change, the energy crisis and alternative energy sources, environmental regulations, and the lack thereof, in the different locations of the region, with accounts of citizen and government actions to deal with the problems that we largely all share.

There have been articles on local food and organic production and marketing, and, recently some definitive reporting on Lyme disease in the region. I find it very useful in keeping up with the bigger, overlapping environmental picture of the region, and as an adjunct to what I learn in the MOFGA paper. I’d really like to see all the region’s environmental organizations recommending it to their members (along with the MOF&G !), because each story applies to so much of the region. NSN is attractive (not unlike the old Maine Times ) and costs $20 a year. Contact Northern Sky News, 14 Market Street, Belfast ME 04915, tel.207-338-2012, for a subscription.

– Beedy Parker
Camden, Maine

Biotech Lobbyist Calls Organic Kettle Black

Letter to the editor:

In your editorial “Solidarity and Possibility” (Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Sept.–Nov. 2005) you write “Almost every grocery store offers foods that were grown without pesticides … ” The reference is to organic foods. Though I am not an expert on organic methods, I believe the statement is incorrect. The USDA’s National Organic Program permits the use of natural pesticides such as rotenone and pyrethrum. Though they are natural, they are, nevertheless, labeled as pesticides by the EPA. NOP standards also permit the use of certain synthetic pesticides so long as they appear on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Pesticides such as copper sulfate and tetracycline are allowed in organic culture.

I’m sure many organic growers eschew all pesticides, but to suggest that all organic food is produced without pesticides is simply untrue. When it comes to our nation’s food supply, we should strive to be as accurate and truthful as possible, lest we loose (sic) the public’s confidence as has happened in Europe.

– Douglas R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Maine Biotechnology Information Bureau
P.O. Box 499
Stonington, ME 04681
(207) 367-5902, (207) 367-2720 (fax)

Editor’s response:

The Organic Consumers Association has an excellent overview of pesticide residues in organic and conventional foods at www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/ecofarm012803.cfm. It cites a survey by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (www.ofrf.org) in which 52% of the 1045 respondents said they never use pesticides, including botanicals; 21% use them rarely; and 18% “on occasion.” Nine percent applied botanicals (mostly pyrethrins and neem) regularly.

The Fourth National Organic Farmers’ Survey Results (©2004, at www.ofrf.org) found that two top reasons tied for farming organically: land stewardship and ecological sustainability; and chemical avoidance for family and farmworker health.

As for receiving this letter from a lobbyist who has opposed labeling of genetically engineered foods (speaking of being accurate and truthful), we recall Gandhi’s words: “First they ignore you; Then they laugh at you; Then they fight you; Then you win.”


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