The MOF&G Online
Guaranteed Loan Program for Western Maine Farmers
The Western Maine Farm Fund is a guaranteed, low-interest loan program of the Western Mountains Alliance working in tandem with Bangor Savings, Franklin Savings, Skowhegan Savings and UnitedKingfield Bank. It targets farmers in Oxford, Franklin, Somerset and Piscataquis Counties who have "reasonable" credit histories, guaranteeing loans ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 at a fixed rate of four and one-half percent. For more information, visit www.westernmountainsalliance.org or stop at a participating bank for a brochure.
National Organic Standards Are a Success at One-Year Mark
As of last October, the national organic program had met and exceeded its one-year goals, according to the Organic Trade Association, the business organization representing the $13 billion organic industry in North America. The organic standards were implemented nationwide on October 21, 2002.
"At the one-year point of the organic standards, we can clearly proclaim them a success for consumers and the international community. The foundation has been set for the development of a strong and vibrant organic industry, both at home and around the world," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director, Organic Trade Association.
DiMatteo emphasized the following accomplishments:
(1) Integrity Maintained -- Over the last year, the quality of the organic standards -- among the most stringent in the world -- were maintained, despite being challenged by proposed legislation (Section 771) that would have eliminated the organic livestock feed requirement. "The defeat of Section 771 showed that the system works. Special interests were not able to make exceptions to the rule," said DiMatteo.
(2) Consumer Choice Increased -- The implementation of the organic standards gave birth to entire new food categories, such as organic meat, that had never been available to consumers. Additionally, they provided consumers with a tool to use when shopping for foods made without the use of genetic engineering, which is forbidden by the standards.
(3) Legislative Progress Achieved -- Significant progress was achieved in both the House and Senate. An Organic Caucus was formed in the House, and an informal organic working group started in the Senate. "The organic industry is grateful for the increasing awareness and support of Congress, especially Senators Patrick Leahy and Olympia Snowe, and Congressmen Ron Kind and Sam Farr," said DiMatteo.
(4) International Relations Forged -- "The European Union and other countries are in serious negotiations with the U.S. about equivalencies of organic programs and other organic trade issues," said DiMatteo. "While other international trade talks are at a standstill, the positive framework established by the international organic community delivers a message of hope for the world community."
(5) Organic Industry Growing -- Spurred by the implementation of the standards, additional major food companies are entering the organic marketplace.
(6) Tracking System Model Works -- The intensive food traceability and tracking systems modeled by the national organic program can serve as a model for other sectors of the food industry, especially in light of increasing concerns about food safety and the world political situation.
The national organic regulations: prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production; reflect National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations concerning items on the National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Natural Substances; prohibit the use of antibiotics in organic meat and poultry production; and require 100% organic feed for organic livestock. They allow four labeling options based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product: 100 percent organic; Organic (contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients by weight, excluding water and salt); Made with organic (contains between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients); Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients list the organic items in the ingredient panel. To assist consumers, USDA has designed a seal that may be used on products labeled as "100 percent organic" or "Organic." Use of the seal is voluntary.
Organic Beef is a Smart Choice
The discovery of Mad Cow disease in the United States has prompted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider revising conventional beef production and handling procedures. These could take years to implement nationally, and even longer to ensure compliance by all producers. In the meantime, consumers can purchase certified organic beef that already meets tougher safety standards.
"The green and white 'USDA Organic' seal may be little, but it carries a big message: The organic product being purchased is fully traceable, has passed rigorous inspections, and, in the case of organic beef, has never been fed any animal byproducts in any form," says Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, the business association representing the $11 billion organic industry in North America.
DiMatteo helped develop USDA's National Organic Standards, which were implemented on October 21, 2002, and include rigorous standards for organic beef production. Organic practices, which are in effect for an animal’s entire life, prohibit feeding animal parts of any kind to any animals that, by nature, eat plants. While the practice of feeding mammalian protein in feed intended for cows and other cud-chewing animals was banned by the USDA in 1997, enforcement of the ban has lagged. Furthermore, byproducts of chickens and pigs that are fed mammalian protein are allowed in feed for conventionally raised cows. Beef sold as organic must come from animals raised organically from three months prior to birth. In other words, organic beef is born from animals that have received organic feed from at least the last third of gestation.
The organic production system provides traceability of each animal from birth to sale of the resulting meat. Each cut of organic meat and meat byproduct can be traced back to its origin. If the safety of an organic meat product were ever questioned, removal from the food supply would be swift and efficient.
National organic standards require federal government oversight of all production and handling systems. All production and handling operations must undergo onsite inspections and have documented farm and operating plans in place in order to be certified organic. The standards specify all feed, production and handling requirements.
The guiding philosophy of organic production is to provide conditions that meet the needs and natural behavior of the animal. Thus, organic livestock are given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture, and are fed 100 percent organic feed.
Other practices allowed in conventional beef production but forbidden in the organic system include: feeding plastic pellets for roughage, feeding formulas containing manure or urea, and the use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
All meat labeled is 100 percent organic. For example, if a consumer purchases organic hamburger, all of the meat has been produced organically. If meat is listed as organic in a product labeled as "made with organic meat," 100 percent of that meat must be organic, even if other ingredients within the product are conventional. Specific USDA organic livestock requirements are posted at www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/prodhandreg.html.
While a plethora of "natural" meat labels exists in the marketplace, only meats that are labeled as organic can ensure consumers that they meet all of the rigorous standards set forth by the federal regulations. (Note: Use of the actual green and white 'USDA Organic' seal by producers and manufacturers on packaging is optional.)
Interest in organic beef increased after Mad Cow was found in the United States. While the retail price of organic meat is generally greater than conventional, to many consumers, the greater peace of mind is priceless. Tighter regulatory practices that will be implemented over the long-term in the conventional meat industry will inevitably raise beef prices across the board. The price of organic beef already reflects the true cost of a production system that protects the health of animals and people.
For a fascinating look Mad Cow Disease, see "Could Mad Cow Disease Already be Killing Thousands of Americans Every Year?" by Michael Greger, M.D., Jan. 7, 2004, Common Dreams (www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views04/0107-07.htm)
Public Health Association Calls for Moratorium on Factory Farms
In an important step toward addressing the dangers of industrial-scale livestock farming, the American Public Health Association (APHA--www.apha.org) has issued a resolution calling for a moratorium on new Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs), sometimes called "factory farms." The APHA cited a number of problems with CAFOs, including the contamination of drinking water with pathogens from animal waste runoff; growing antibiotic resistance resulting from the millions of pounds of antibiotics routinely fed to animals; severe respiratory problems in CAFO workers; and illnesses among people living near CAFO operations.
"The Center for a Livable Future is in full support of this new policy statement from APHA. The rise of the corporate industrial livestock operation is a deplorable development in modern agriculture," said Robert Lawrence, M.D., director of the Center. "Factory farms make their workers sick, pollute the environment, and pose serious public health risks to people living nearby.
"With this new statement, the world's largest public health organization has now weighed in," said Lawrence. "We have enough science now to call for a moratorium on building more CAFOs."
The Center for a Livable Future is an interdisciplinary center at the Johns Hopkins University that focuses attention on equity, health and the Earth's resources. The Center supports study of the complex connections among diet, food production, health and the environment. The Center supports scientific research in these areas, sponsors seminars and conferences, and supports projects focusing on urban food security, intensive farm animal production, estuary water quality, and nutrition transitions in the developing world.
An estimated 54 percent of livestock in the United States are now confined to just 5 percent of livestock farms. These CAFOs generate an estimated 575 billion pounds of animal waste each year. This animal waste contains pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, and E. Coli 0157:H7 ; heavy metals; nitrogen and phosphorus, which seriously degrade rivers and estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay; and an estimated 13 million pounds of antibiotics. The routine feeding of antibiotics to animals in CAFOs is helping fuel the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance among pathogens.
These billions of pounds of animal waste are typically stored in storage pits or lagoons, which can leak millions of gallons of liquid manure. These lagoons are frequently sited on floodplains on alluvial aquifers, contaminating drinking water supplies.
Many studies of CAFOs have documented respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis and non-allergic asthma, in approximately 25 percent of CAFO workers. Workers at CAFOs are also exposed to the potent neurotoxin hydrogen sulfide at levels that have accelerated deterioration of neurobehavioral function. Studies of people living near CAFOs report eye and respiratory symptoms associated with CAFO air emissions.
Finally, CAFOs are notoriously inhumane to animals. Life for an animal in a factory farm is characterized by acute deprivation, stress and disease. Farm animals are forced to live in cages or crates just barely larger than their own bodies, and typically they spend their entire lives without seeing daylight.
PIC Treaty Now Legally Binding
On November 26, 2003, Armenia became the 50th country to ratify the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC treaty), and the treaty officially came into force on February 24, 2004. The PIC treaty, which has been implemented voluntarily since it was signed in 1998, requires that an importing country be informed when a pesticide or other chemical is banned in other countries for health or environmental reasons, and gives the receiving country the right to refuse importation of such chemicals.
"Pesticides remain a major cause of ill health and fatalities around the world," says Barbara Dinham of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK. Dinham, who has been actively involved in developing the PIC process, adds "PAN particularly welcomes the way the Convention will help identify pesticides causing problems in the field under the conditions of use in poor rural areas."
This approach to curbing pesticide trade was conceived by Pesticide Action Network International in the early 1980s in response to aggressive marketing and sales in developing countries of pesticides that had been banned in industrialized nations. According to PANNA's Monica Moore, "a blizzard of chemicals" was moving through customs in developing countries that did not have the capacity to regulate or the right to refuse this toxic cargo.
For example, 96 tons of DDT, banned in the United States in 1972, were exported in 1991 by U.S. companies. Customs records at U.S. ports document 3.2 billion pounds of pesticides crossing international borders between 1997 and 2000--in each of those years at least 21.7 million pounds were pesticides banned or severely restricted in the United States. After PIC came into voluntary operation in 1998, exports of restricted use pesticides began to decline. Six million fewer pounds of these chemicals were shipped from the United States in 2000 than in 1997.
Controversial issues during the negotiation of the PIC treaty focused largely on the process of adding new chemicals to the PIC list. Key areas of debate were the number of national bans or severe restrictions needed to trigger listing under PIC, and questions of what constitutes "evidence of harm," particularly in countries where lack of poison control centers and public health and environmental agency infrastructure make documentation of problem chemicals nearly impossible.
An Interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC) was established in 1999 to examine the notifications of bans and severe restrictions during the period of voluntary implementation and to continue to add pesticides with a valid notification to the PIC list. The list of PIC chemicals now includes 32 chemicals, 27 of which are pesticides. Chemicals on PIC list are Aldrin, Binapacryl, Captafol, Chlordane, Chlordimeform, Chlorobenzilate, DDT, Dieldrin, Dinoseb and dinoseb salts, 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), Ethylene dichloride, Ethylene oxide, Fluoroacetamide, HCH (mixed isomers), Heptachlor, Hexachlorobenzene, Lindane, mercury compounds, Pentachlorophenol, 2,4,5-T, Toxaphene, Methamidophos, Methyl-parathion, Monocrotophos (soluble liquid formulations), Monocrotophos (all formulations), Parathion, Phosphamidon, Crocidolite, Polybrominated biphenyls, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), Polychlorinated terphenyls (PCT), Tris (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate.
Bringing legal strength to the PIC treaty is one of many signals that the international community is moving toward precautionary approaches that will provide real protection for human health and the environment.
Sources: Pesticide Action Network Updates Service, November 26, 2003, www.pan-uk.org; Global Pesticide Campaigner, December 2002, December, 2001, December 1998; PIC Secretariat, www.pic.int; EuropaWorld, "Governments Discuss Banning Toxic Pesticide," 4/10/2002, www.europaworld.org/week99/governmentsdiscuss41002.htm.
Hospitals Spray Dangerous Pesticides
A survey of top U.S. hospitals finds that many regularly use toxic pesticides, even though many of their patients may be especially vulnerable to the toxic effects. "Healthy Hospitals: Controlling Pests Without Harmful Pesticides," published in November 2003 by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and Beyond Pesticides, reports on the survey, which was conducted in 2001.
All 22 hospitals responding to the survey use chemical pesticides inside and/or outside their facilities. Of the 37 pesticides most commonly used, 16 are likely, probable, or possible carcinogens; 13 are linked to birth defects; 15 are linked to reproductive problems; 22 are neurotoxins; and 28 are acutely toxic. More than one-third of hospitals reporting are using pesticide products that have been canceled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some of the reporting hospitals use bendiocarb, chlorpyrifos and diazinon, chemicals for which nonagricultural uses are being phased out or canceled due to their unacceptable health risks. Health effects linked to these pesticide active ingredients include birth defects and neurological damage.
"Obviously patients and staff should be protected from pests, but they also need to be protected from pesticides," said Gina Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., of the Natural Resources Defense Council and on the faculty at University of California, San Francisco. "Pesticides have been linked to an array of health problems that are particularly relevant to pregnant women, developing children, and people with asthma."
In 2001 HCWH and Beyond Pesticides mailed the survey to 171 major U.S. hospitals. Only 22 responded, the majority of which are urban, nonprofit hospitals affiliated with a university. Despite the low response, the survey results are consistent with a 1995 report by the Attorney General of New York state on pesticide use in hospitals, schools and other public buildings in the state. The report authors suggest that use of pesticides in U.S. hospitals may actually be even greater than represented by the survey, since self-selected respondents are more likely to be replacing pesticides with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans.
Some hospitals are having great success managing pests with very few hazardous pesticides or none at all, and IPM techniques. San Francisco General Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Hackensack University Medical Center were highlighted in the report as model practitioners of least toxic pest control practices.
"Hospitals should be leaders in implementing reduced-risk pest management if they are serious about the medical profession's commitment to 'First, Do No Harm,' yet many are using hazardous pesticides unnecessarily when safer and more effective methods are available," said Catherine Porter, J.D., Women's Cancer Resource Center and HCWH.
The report provides detailed, commonsense information on steps hospitals can take to implement a safer and effective least toxic pest control program, and suggests practices to counteract specific pest problems. Report authors also encourage patients and community members to inquire about pest management and pesticide use at medical facilities they use and visit--including asking whether notification is being provided to patients, staff and visitors when a pesticide product is used--and to advocate for safer pest management practices within hospitals.
Source: Pesticide Action Network Updates Service, Dec. 22, 2003. To download "Healthy Hospitals: Controlling Pests Without Harmful Pesticides" November 2003, visit www.noharm.org. Contact: Catherine Porter, Women's Cancer Resource Center, (510) 601-4040 ext. 102, email@example.com;
Organic Farming and Gardening Apprenticeship at Santa Cruz
The Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz offers a full-time, six-month training course in organic gardening and farming. Apprentices are exposed to different aspects of growing plants organically on both a hand-dug garden scale and tractor-cultivated field scale. Cultural requirements for vegetable, herb, flower and fruit cultivars are covered, including the specifics of soil preparation, composting, sowing, cultivation, propagation, irrigation, pest control and marketing. The 35 to 40 apprentices each year come from all regions of the United States and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds and interests. Several scholarships are available. For more information, contact Apprenticeship Information, Center for Agroecology, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz CA 95064; 831-459-4140; www.ucsc.edu/casfs/training; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vitamin E May Be Key to Listeria-Free Turkeys
Adding Vitamin E to the diets of turkeys may further reduce the likelihood of consumers contracting a serious foodborne illness from turkey meat. That's what researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Service found when studying ways to control Listeria monocytogenes, a major human bacterial foodborne pathogen found in poultry.
Microbiologist Irene Wesley of the ARS National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, found that supplementing turkeys' diets with the vitamin stimulates their immune responses, helping them clear the gut of the microorganism that causes the disease. This can in turn lead to reduced contamination of carcasses at slaughter and during processing.
Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a disease that affects mainly pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. It accounts for 2,500 total cases annually of human meningitis, encephalitis, sepsis, fetal death and premature births. In a 1998 USDA study, L. monocytogenes was found in nearly 6 percent of turkey carcass rinses and in 31 percent of the ground turkey meat examined.
These studies, conducted in collaboration with the University of Arkansas and Iowa State University, found that vitamin E boosts turkeys' white blood cells, which go into action when disease-causing organisms are detected.
Turkeys require vitamin E for normal development and function of the immune system. Wesley used alpha-tocopherol--the most active form of vitamin E in humans, and a powerful biological antioxidant--because it is readily available from commercial sources and can be used in animal feed preparations. Earlier tests at Iowa State showed that dietary vitamin E also enhances poultry meat's quality and shelf life.
Researchers plan to test vitamin E against Salmonella and Campylobacter, two other important foodborne pathogens.
[Editor’s note: Diane Schivera of MOFGA says that organic growers need to follow guidance from the organic rule 205.237.(b): The producer of an organic operation must not: (2) provide feed supplements or additives in amounts above those needed for adequate nutrition and health maintenance for the species at its specific stage of life. Schivera suggests that growers make sure that their animals’ feed has enough vitamin E.]
Source: ARS News Service, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Luis Pons, (301) 504-1628, email@example.com, January 16, 2004.
Organic School Garden Contest and Internet Magazine
The Rodale Institute encourages K-12 schools throughout the United States to enter the 2004 Organic School Garden Contest. Open to new or existing school gardens, the contest offers cash prizes of $1000 (first place), $500 (second) and $250 (third).
The Rodale Institute’s Youth Educational Program also offers Kidsregen.org, an exciting Internet magazine aimed at children ages seven to 10, families and educators. Winners of the 2003 Organic School Garden Contest are featured on this site.
Adam Tomash--MOFGA's Mac Man
By Marada Cook
Copyright 2004 by the author. For information on reproducing this article, please contact the author through firstname.lastname@example.org.
What transforms a jack-of-all trades homesteader into a self-employed Macintosh programmer? "I had an epiphany of sorts," says Adam Tomash of Blue Moon Macintosh. "I realized as I was getting older that I needed a job that I could earn more at and work fewer hours." The 60-year-old entrepreneur had tried his hand at 'everything but logging' before starting his networking career. "When I first came to Maine we had a homestead near Bingham. We grew vegetables and had a small farmstand. In the mid-70s we joined MOFGA and became one of the first certified farms in the state."
Tomash's interest and support of MOFGA lasted through the years while he worked at everything from driving a school bus to weighing seeds while FEDCO was still in its seedling stage. "I was a chemistry teacher in Rhode Island right out of college," says Tomash, "so I helped FEDCO learn to use the gram scale."
Helping worthy organizations learn to use unfamiliar technology seems to be Tomash's specialty. After being hired by MOFGA to set up a network for its Augusta office, Tomash started volunteering his time to do what he calls 'odds and ends.'
"Adam has done a tremendous amount of work bringing MOFGA into the future," says Heather Spalding, MOFGA's operations director. "If we had had to depend on a commercial enterprise to do what Adam does as a volunteer, we'd be in trouble."
"I really believe in what MOFGA does," Tomash asserts. "I help other nonprofits for reduced rates, but MOFGA is the only one I help for free." His emphatic support echoes MOFGA's successful history. "MOFGA is a leader among organizations of its kind. The work MOFGA does in Maine sets an example for the rest of the country. Now I see the staff with wireless Internet access and laptops. I'm proud of the progress that's been made."
The office is not the only place you might spot Tomash volunteering. Look him up at the Common Ground Fair, and you'll find him in the Ag Demo Area -- composting with worms! After ordering a kit online that proved to be much too small for his needs, Tomash designed his own vermiculture system. (See The MOF&G, June-August 2003). Tomash and his wife, June Zellers (also a MOFGA volunteer), keep numerous small gardens and a small orchard. Needless to say, their worms are kept busy. "I make about 1200 pounds of worm castings per year," says Tomash, "which I then use to mix up potting soil for spring plant propagation." After attending his talk, you too might find yourself with a new hobby that gets folks wriggling!
Pesticide Use Increases Overall with GE Crops
A November 2003 study reports that growing genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans and cotton in the United States resulted in the application of more pesticides. While use of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgenic varieties reduced pesticide use by an estimated 19.6 million pounds in the past eight years, herbicide tolerant crops have been responsible for the application of an estimated 70 million additional pounds of pesticides. Overall, the report concludes that GE crops have caused 50 million additional pounds of pesticides to be used in U.S. agriculture.
"Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Eight Years" draws on U.S. Department of Agriculture data on pesticide use by crop and state to calculate the difference between the average pounds of pesticides applied on the 550 million acres planted to GE crops compared with pounds applied to similar, conventional crops. The study results directly contradict industry claims that GE technology has markedly reduced pesticide use.
In 1996 to 1998, during their first three years of commercial sales, GE crops appear to have reduced pesticide use by about 25.4 million pounds. But in the last three years, over 73 million more pounds of pesticides were applied on GE acres. Substantial increases in herbicide use on herbicide tolerant (HT) crops, especially soybeans, accounted for the increase.
Herbicide tolerant (HT) crops allow farmers to spray broad-spectrum herbicides over the top of growing plants, controlling weeds while leaving crops unharmed. Despite the increased costs of GE seeds, herbicide tolerant crops have become less expensive as the price of herbicides containing glyphosate has fallen from around $12 per acre when HT crops were first introduced to less than $6 per acre today.
The report finds that many farmers need to spray incrementally more herbicides on GE acres to keep up with shifts toward weeds that are tougher to control, coupled with the emergence of genetic resistance in certain weed populations. "For years weed scientists have warned that heavy reliance on herbicide tolerant crops would trigger ecological changes in farm fields that would incrementally erode the technology's effectiveness. It now appears that this process began in 2001 in the U.S. in the case of herbicide tolerant crops," said Dr. Charles Benbrook, author of the report.
The other major category of GE crops, corn and cotton engineered to produce the natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in plant cells, has reduced insecticide use by 2 million to 2.5 million pounds annually. This reduction represents 7% of the total U.S. insecticide use on these two crops. The report notes that the increase in herbicide use on HT crop acres, however, far exceeds the modest reductions of insecticides on acres planted to Bt crops, especially since 2001.
Published by the Northwest Science Environmental Policy Center, the report received support from a number of organizations concerned about the impacts of GE crops on the environment and human health. Dr. Benbrook, Executive Director of the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center in Sandpoint, Idaho, was formerly with the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture.
Sources: Pesticide Action Network Updates Service, January 9, 2004, www.panna.org; Press Release, Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center, November 25, 2003, http://www.biotech-info.net/technicalpaper6.html; 208-263-5236, email@example.com.
New Maine Spinnery Can Process Your Fleeces
Hope Spinnery is a natural, wind-powered, fiber processing mill in Hope, Maine. Bill Huntington started his business two years ago because of a long standing passion for fiber, knitting and dyeing. Hope Spinnery is one of a kind: It is the only wind powered fiber mill in the United States. Its designs and practices authentically reflect not only what its owners like to do in life, but also how they go about doing it. All processing will be done with natural dyes and soaps and no added chemical substances. Eventually, the Spinnery hopes to become an organically certified processor and support the growing market for organic fibers.
In designing and building the Spinnery, every effort was made to create a cost effective, sustainable, environmentally sound business. Contractor Christian Andrus of Pine Ridge Carpentry in Camden was excited about doing a project with no plywood or pressure treated wood, no paints containing volatile organic compounds, with energy efficient lighting, biodiesel fuel and a radiant heat floor. He and Huntington designed the building, which houses the Spinney equipment on the first floor and a gallery space for local artists on the second floor.
Huntington and his partner Kari Luehman first wanted to use hydropower for the Spinnery, but after research and contemplation decided that wind power would be ideal for their needs and site. Their wind generator is a 10-killowatt Bergey model on an 80-foot tower. The generator is connected to the power grid to ensure that the business will always have power, even on calm days. The generator begins functioning at wind speeds of 7 mph, and at 35 mph it automatically furls its tail out of the wind to prevent damage.
Hope Spinnery is a business, an educational center and an art space. School programs, tours and gallery space are available. If you have fleeces in need of processing or have any questions, please contact Hope Spinnery at 763-4600 or www.hopespinnery.com.
High Levels of Arsenic Found in Chicken
[Editor’s note: This article refers to nonorganic chicken.]
People who eat lots of chicken may be taking in arsenic in greater amounts than anyone has previously thought. Arsenic concentrations in young chickens are three times greater than in other meat and poultry products, according to the January issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
Arsenic is an approved animal dietary supplement added to poultry and other animal feeds. It is fed to broiler chickens in the form of Roxarsone (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl arsonic acid) to control intestinal parasites.
At average levels of chicken consumption—about 2 ounces a day, or the equivalent of a third to half of a boneless chicken breast—people ingest about 3.6 to 5.2 micrograms of inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form of the element. People who eat an average of 2.1 ounces a day of chicken, about half a chicken breast, will take in 3.62 to 5.24 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per day. About one percent of the U.S. population eats as much as 10 times that amount of chicken and takes in a proportionately larger amount of arsenic.
Bladder, respiratory and skin cancers may result from a daily intake of 10 to 40 micrograms of arsenic. A joint expert committee from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization has determined that a tolerable daily intake of inorganic arsenic to be two micrograms per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day.
People can also be exposed to arsenic in drinking water, or by breathing air containing dust or smoke from burning arsenic treated wood, but chicken consumption can make up a sizable proportion of the tolerable daily intake. More study is needed to find out exactly how the arsenic consumed in chicken is metabolized in the human body. The scientists say that the chemical forms of arsenic found in chicken muscle "have not been reported in the literature." It would be helpful to have more detailed laboratory information about the forms of inorganic and organic arsenic remaining in chicken muscle, as well as the effects of cooking on these forms, and the metabolism of the ingested arsenic. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2004/2004-01-20-09.asp
Source: Agriculture Today, Maine Department of Agriculture, Feb. 3, 2004. www.maine.gov/agriculture/newsletter/nb4.htm. From www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2004/2004-01-20-09.asp
Vote Hemp Releases Voter Guide on Presidential Candidates
Vote Hemp released ratings in February of the leading presidential candidates to help voters nationwide learn more about their views on non-psychoactive industrial hemp. Results of the survey are available at www.VoteHemp.com.
Candidates were given a letter grade reflecting their views and willingness to participate in the "2004 Vote Hemp Candidate Survey," which asked the candidates if they support: hemp farming and processing in the United States under a straightforward regulatory regime similar to those in the European Union, Canada and other countries; states' rights to study hemp farming and processing without federal interference; hemp fiber products for construction, automotive, paper, textile and other industries; and hemp food products in the face of the Bush Administration's attempt to ban them. The survey results are crucial for an increasing number of U.S. farmers, environmentalists and entrepreneurs who are seeking reform in laws affecting the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp and hemp products in the United States.
"After spending three months trying to get these candidates to respond to our survey, it is clear that most of them have not researched this issue and choose to remain ignorant on the benefits of industrial hemp," says Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, the leading organization dedicated to the recommercialization of hemp agriculture and industry in the United States. "Only Democrat Dennis Kucinich, Green Party Candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Gary Nolan received 'A' grades," says Steenstra.
Representative Dennis Kucinich replied to the survey just two weeks after receiving it. He expressed full support for keeping hemp food products legal, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration's attempt to ban edible hemp. He also supports allowing farmers to grow hemp and would loosen restrictions on industrial hemp research. He is by far the strongest supporter of hemp among Democrats.
Senator John Edwards was at first reluctant to answer the survey, but after getting a direct question in New Hampshire from Vote Hemp national coordinator Tom Murphy, Edwards personally promised to answer the survey. Edwards got a "B-" rating for keeping his promise and supporting states' rights to research industrial hemp without federal interference. However, he remained "undecided" on the legality of hemp food and hemp cultivation. As an interesting side note, Edwards grew up in Robbins, N.C., a town that from 1904 to 1943 was named "Hemp" due to hemp agriculture's prominence as one of America's most important crops before the "Reefer Madness" hysteria of last century.
Governor Howard Dean received a "C-" grade based on his past neutral position on pro-industrial hemp legislation that became law in Vermont without his signature in 1996. Dean's failure to respond to the Vote Hemp survey despite publicly stating that he would give his position on any issue, and his clear neglect of his staff's recommendations to reply, resulted in his below average rating.
Both the Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Joe Lieberman received "D-" grades for failing to respond to the survey after numerous attempts to contact them.
Senator John Kerry and General Wesley Clark received "F" grades for publicly promising they would answer our survey and, even after extending deadlines to accommodate them, breaking their word by failing to respond.
President George W. Bush received an "F" grade for overseeing the DEA's assault on industrial hemp over the past few years. His campaign responded to the survey by saying they were not established yet and later refused to respond.
Hundreds of U.S. businesses, mainly small or family operations, manufacture for resale or own stores that sell a wide variety of products made from industrial hemp. Products made with hemp fiber and seed are sold in thousands of retail stores across the country, including chain stores like Wal-Mart, Staples, Whole Foods Market and The Body Shop. Hemp fiber composites are in over two million U.S. cars made by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other auto-makers.
Unfortunately, American companies must import hemp fiber and seed from Canada, Europe and Asia. This, despite the fact that hemp grows well in all 50 states, and the United States has a long and rich history of hemp farming dating back to Colonial times when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms and widely promoted the use of hemp. A recent Zogby poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters showed that 66% support allowing U.S. farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Source: Vote Hemp News Advisory, February 2, 2004. For more information, see www.votehemp.com/PR/2-2-04_voterguide_released.html.
Federal Court Rejects DEA Ban on Hemp Food
In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), representing over 200 hemp companies in North America, won its 2 1/2-year-old lawsuit in February against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in a decision that permanently blocks DEA regulations that attempted to ban nutritious hemp foods such as waffles, bread, cereal, vegetarian burgers, protein powder, salad dressing and nutrition bars.
"The decision in HIA v. DEA is a huge boost to the hemp food market, and we expect to see many more hemp food products on store shelves," says David Bronner, maker of the AlpSnack® organic hemp nutrition bar
and Chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee. "The three judge panel agreed with our main argument that the DEA's 'Final Rule' ignores Congress's specific exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) under the definition of marihuana that excludes hemp seed and oil from control along with hemp fiber. Based on today's decision, the court reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way as it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds," says Bronner.
In the decision, Judge Betty Fletcher wrote, "[T]hey (DEA) cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana--i.e. non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I. The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance. The DEA's definition of "THC" contravenes the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress in the CSA and cannot be upheld."
During the final oral arguments held in San Francisco on September 17, 2003, the HIA argued that the DEA's "Final Rule" banning nutritious hemp foods misinterprets the CSA. The judges were completely unconvinced by DEA attorney Daniel Dormont's arguments that Congress did not exempt hemp seed from the CSA even if the seed contains insignificant amounts of naturally-occurring THC. According to the hearing transcript (available at www.votehemp.com/PDF/Oral_Arguments_HIAvDEA.pdf), the section of the CSA dealing with the hemp seed exemption was read to Dormont on three occasions by Judge Alex Kozinski. By the third reading, a frustrated Kozinski stated "I tried to say it once before. What this tells me is Congress knew full well that stalks and seeds and fiber could be carriers of some level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They were aware of that. Nevertheless, it said unless you do the extracting part they are not marihuana under the definition. That is what it says to me."
Near the end of the DEA's arguments, Judge Kozinski asked Dormont, "Can you tell me how you are going to save the [poppy seed] bagel?" The question drew laughter from the packed courtroom, but is a serious issue considering that the irrational logic behind the DEA's attempted hemp food ban could easily be applied to poppy seed bagels.
During final arguments, the DEA acknowledged that hemp foods have no abuse potential, stating, "The concern of the Drug Enforcement Administration isn't particularized to the particular products that these Petitioners make. The DEA has never said, has never focused on the particular products and said anyone can get high from them, or
that they pose a harm to people." According to Nutritionist and best selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, "There is absolutely no health concern about trace amounts of THC in Hemp foods. I think the federal court decision is great."
Public Outrage Against DEA Attempted Ban
In regard to widespread outrage over the DEA's "Final Rule" -- 115,000 public comments, a letter from the Canadian government, and a letter from Congress co-signed by 22 Representatives submitted to DEA opposed to the hemp food ban -- Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Mary Schroeder asked the DEA: "Did you take into account the objections of people who might say that this doesn't make a lot of sense?" Dormont admitted the rule "wasn't popular." Protests were organized by Vote Hemp against DEA's attempts to ban hemp foods. In December 2001 and again in April 2003, at more than 50 DEA offices nationwide, activists gave away hemp foods, poppy seed bagels and orange juice that contain trace THC, opiates and alcohol respectively to highlight the absurdity of DEA's rules. These "Hemp Food Taste Tests" generated public outrage and forced former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson to debate Vote Hemp Director Eric Steenstra on National Public Radio.
Eating Hemp Food Does Not Cause Failed Drug Tests
U.S. hemp food companies voluntarily observe reasonable THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations as well as Canada and Australia. These limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at www.testpledge.com). The DEA has hypocritically not targeted food manufacturers for using poppy seeds (in bagels and muffins, for example) even though they contain far higher levels of trace opiates.
The recently revived global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. Unfortunately, because the DEA's Drug War paranoia has confused non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive marihuana" varieties, the United States is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit growing industrial hemp.
Hemp Companies React to Ninth Circuit Court Ruling
"DEA was foolish to try to ban hemp seed because it is a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, minerals, iron, vitamin E, and a near perfect composition of essential fatty acids -- Omega 3 and 6," says Lynn Gordon, President of French Meadow Bakery, which sells Healthy Hemp Bread®. "We expect sales to increase enormously as result of the court ruling."
"Vegetarians everywhere should celebrate this court ruling," says Ken Holmes, co-founder of Living Harvest®.
"Today's decision will boost demand for our bulk and private label oil and seed products, as well as retail brand hemp food and body care products ," says Shaun Crew, President of Hemp Oil Canada®.
"Today's court ruling will jumpstart sales of our new meatless Omega Burgers® made from organic hemp seed," Ruth Shamai, President of Ruth's Foods®.
Note: An excellent article about growing industrial hemp in Canada has been published in New Farm at http://www.newfarm.org/international/canada_don/manitoba/index.shtml.
Swedish Study Shows Power of Prevention
A recent study in Sweden provides concrete evidence that preventive public health measures produce healthier populations. The study, which analyzes data from the National Swedish Cancer Registry, links Sweden's national policies to reduce chemical exposure with fewer cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).
The Cancer Registry data indicate that the incidence of NHL increased annually in Sweden at a rate of 3.2% for men and 3.1 % for women between 1971 and 1990. The increase became a decrease (0.8% for men and 0.2% for women) between 1991 and 2000, roughly 20 years after use of a number of chemicals associated with NHL was severely restricted. Similar trends have been noted in Finland, Denmark and the United States.
Dr. Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network said of the study, "If this is true, it's good news because it shows that yet another cancer can be prevented by reducing exposures to cancer-causing chemicals, rather than having to focus almost exclusively on cures pursued for decades by the health establishment."
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is associated with a decrease in immune system function and has been connected with exposure to three types of chemicals: phenoxyacetic acids and chlorophenols; organic solvents; and persistent organic pollutants. The HIV virus is also a risk factor for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Since the cancer can develop decades after exposure, an emerging trend in NHL now is likely to be the result of environmental factors decades ago.
The Swedish researchers developed a mathematical model to arrive at a percentage of NHL cases that could be attributed to exposure to a specific chemical, based on risk estimates and exposure frequencies found in their previous case studies. With this method they calculated, for example, that 25% of Swedish NHL cases could be attributed to organic solvent exposure.
Chlorophenoxyacetic acids (used in the herbicide Hormoslyr) and chlorophenols (used primarily as impregnating agents for wood preservation and as microbiocides) were both banned during the 1970s in Sweden. Organic solvents were not banned, but occupational exposures were reduced by stricter handling instructions. Restrictions on the use of these chemicals, improved work practices to reduce occupational exposure, and cleaner products may all have contributed to the lower rates of NHL in Sweden.
Other chemicals linked to NHL are persistent organic pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides (e.g., DDT, chlordane, hexachlorobenzene), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. All of these chemicals are among the 12 slated for global elimination under the 2001 Stockholm Convention. Exposure to these persistent chemicals is widespread and occurs primarily through the food chain. A study done by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that exposure to PCBs, when combined with the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) antigen, greatly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency reports that the use of these chemicals peaked during the 1960s and 1970s, after which concentrations of PCBs dropped significantly in the environment and the food chain.
The Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) indicates that trends in the United States are similar to those in Sweden. Between 1973 and 1990, the incidence of NHL increased by 3.6% per year. Between 1990 and 1995, the increase was only 1.6% per year, and between 1995 and 1999, NHL incidence declined by 0.9% for men only, while women experienced a lower mortality rate. Significantly, the lowered incidence of NHL in the United States also occurred approximately 20 years after most uses of the chlorophenoxy herbicide 2,4,5-T were banned.
A May 2003 report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) recognized NHL as the fifth most common cancer in the United States, and pointed to dramatic increases in cases of NHL between 1947 and 1990, when rates rose by more than half for men and women between 25 and 44, doubled for those 44 to 65, and tripled for 65 and older. The study also notes links between farming and higher rates of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The PSR report called for better tracking of location and occupation in cancer statistics, to address the connection between chronic disease and the environment.
Although the model used in this study may need more evaluation and study, this work clearly shows that preventive policy measures can clearly benefit public health. The results also lend urgency to worldwide ratification of the Stockholm Convention.
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