The results of government testing of our foods for pesticide residues may not be quite what we expected. Every year the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) targets certain food materials which they consider high risks, collects samples from warehouses and storage facilities, and tests them for a wide array of pesticides they deem likely to be present. These Pesticide Data Program (PDP) reports are one of many taxpayer funded activities designed to fulfill the agency's congressional goals and mandates. The latest published report from December 2014 reveals that the world's most widely-used herbicide, glyphosate, was not even tested. Neither were wheat products grown in the U.S. With all the glyphosate studies showing microbiome impacts and chelation of toxic minerals (aluminum), why no sampling of glyphosate? Is cost really so prohibitive with our federal budget, while we see escalating chronic health problems? Or, are the chemical companies behind the most popular herbicide in the world putting pressure on the federal government not to do anything that would put a dent in the sale of their products?
Last week saw an inter-agency power grab. It begins with the weakening of organic standards—and could end with the term “organic” becoming practically meaningless. Action Alert! Tell the USDA to use a public and transparent process for all major changes to organic standards by publishing proposed changes in the Federal Register, and actively seeking public input and discussion. In addition, tell the USDA to enforce the sunset provision of the OFPA as it was originally intended—allowing synthetic products to remain after their “sunset” date only after public debate and a two-thirds vote of the NOSB. More than 100 synthetics will be up for sunset consideration in 2015. We must act now to protect the integrity of organics.
The recent solicitation by USDA for submachine guns raised concern among farmers and local food consumers. Why would an agency tasked with regulating agriculture in our country need such weapons? Answer: It shouldn’t. Will you help stop this by urging your Congressman to support the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act, HR 4934?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has submitted its intention to purchase submachine guns for USDA agents. The Office of the Inspector General has filed a notice of “Sources Sought” for the acquisition of .40 caliber SMGs complete with flashlights, optics, burst fire capability, and 30-round magazines — the kind that will get regular citizens put in prison Washington, D.C., where the USDA office is located. The notice was filed on May 7th. The USDA is militarizing so that it can more efficiently threaten people who grow lemon trees; impose huge fines on people for selling bunnies; confiscate grapes because they can; and destroy the livelihoods of small farmers. The federal government has taken the official position under the Obama Administration that Americans “do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
At a meeting in San Antonio, Texas this week to discuss national organic standards, government officials from the USDA had organic food activists arrested and then seized control of the meetings appointing their own chairman. It appears that the goal of corporate agribusiness is to lower the standards of organic agriculture by using more and more non-organic and synthetic substances. They want to use factory farming techniques and all the other mass production methods that they have been using in conventional food production, but under the organic label. In short, they want to obtain the financial gain of using the certified organic label, while not expending additional money to produce higher quality products. They are happy to be organic in name only and to meet the lowest bar of organic production that is possible. They are using the organic label for corporate gain while destroying the meaning of the word “organic” for those who are working hard to produce the highest quality products. If corporations continue to dominate the National Organic Standards Board and continue to control the staff of the National Organic Program, then we can expect to see greater weakening of organic standards. If this happens, then we will no longer be able to depend on the USDA to help us navigate between food options.
Four decades of nutrition research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be invalid because the method used to collect the data was seriously flawed, according to a new study by the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. The study, led by Arnold School exercise scientist and epidemiologist Edward Archer, has demonstrated significant limitations in the measurement protocols used in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The findings, published in PLOS ONE (The Public Library of Science), reveal that a majority of the nutrition data collected by the NHANES are not "physiologically credible," Archer said. "The nation's major surveillance tool for studying the relationships between nutrition and health is not valid. It is time to stop spending tens of millions of health research dollars collecting invalid data and find more accurate measures," he said.
Besides the obvious food safety concerns expressed by Ken Ward, a former USDA poultry inspector, there is quite possibly a far greater risk here in this new USDA plan to privatize poultry inspection. This rule change may exclude small pastured poultry producers from being able to comply and market their products, thereby eliminating your option to buy chickens raised outdoors on pasture.
In an effort to “modernize” and “streamline”, filthy commercial chickens will now be “sanitized” using twice as many dangerous chemicals. The Obama Administration is proposing the implementation of “new methods in poultry inspection.” What does this mean? Fewer inspectors, less oversight, and, to compensate, an increased reliance on “antimicrobial intervention”, which is generally the use of high levels of chlorine or other antimicrobial agents to reduce pathogens on the meat.
The US is the world’s largest sugar producer. The US Department of Agriculture makes loans every year to processors of domestically grown sugarcane and sugar beets. Over 50% of the sugar is from GMO sugar beets. Last October, sugar processors borrowed $862 million from the USDA. The loans did little to keep sugar prices high, however: they have fallen 18% since October. Sugar processors are afraid they’ll have to default on their loans, which could result in $80 million in losses to the USDA’s price support program. USDA is considering helping them out once again—this time by buying 400,000 tons of sugar, just so they can pay back their loan!
There is no debate that low level, chronic dietary exposure to antibiotics is deleterious to human health. This is especially important in light of the disproportionate intake of apples and apple products by children.