FOCUS ON AMERICA
1.Stop Feeding Kids GMOs
2.Demand for Organic Foods Soaring
3.Bill requires labelling of GM fish
4.USDA issues two biotechnology reports
The passage of the labelling legislation in Alaska (item 3) is being hailed as an important victory for consumers and a significant setback for the biotech industry.
As Craig Winters of The Campaign has commented, "Polls consistently show that an overwhelming majority of consumers want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. Yet the biotech industry continues to fight consumers' right to know this information. What are they trying to hide?"
1.Stop Feeding Kids GMOs
Date: Tue, 10 May 2005
From: Laurel Hopwood <[email protected]>
Subject: Launching the Stop Feeding Kids GMOs Campaign
Greetings fellow activist,
Today we announce the release of our new campaign to Stop Feeding Kids GMOs!
Our country's children are fed inadequately tested and unlabeled GMOs (genetically manipulated organisms) in their school meal programs, but it doesn't have to be this way. It's time we pay closer attention and advocate for school meals that don't present hidden dangers.
We are encouraging school districts to offer, as an alternative, foods in schools that pose no harm for the children and for the community.
We invite you to participate in this campaign and are ready to help you with more support as you embark on the process of making changes in your school meals.
Please let me know if you are ready to receive a packet of materials, which includes the video, Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals, and a CD titled, You're Eating WHAT? produced by Jeffrey Smith, director of the Institute for Responsible Technology.
Kindly let me know what Sierra Club group/chapter in which you are a member or can forward this email to!
Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club
Chair, Genetic Engineering Committee
Email: [email protected]
2.Demand for Organic Foods Soaring
Associated Press, May 9, 2005
Dairy cows munch lazily on a grassy hilltop overlooking Traders Point Creamery as 23-year-old Marc Murnane strides into the organic creamery's store in search of chocolate milk - lots of it.
In short order, he loads 12 one-quart bottles, at $3.50 each, into a box bound for Chicago, where his girlfriend's father is among the growing number of Americans who've developed a taste for organic foods.
"He just loves the chocolate milk - and it really is the best stuff I've ever had," Murnane says, describing the rich blend of sweet milk from grass-fed cows, organic sugar and cocoa.
The farm northwest of Indianapolis is part of a nationwide move to put organic foods in consumers' reach.
Nationwide, the market for organic foods has soared from $3.57 billion in 1997 to $10.38 billion in 2003, according to Organic Trade Association. The group predicts sales will reach $14.5 billion by the end of 2005 as Americans buy everything from radishes to beef grown without conventional pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, antibiotics or growth hormones.
Indiana was late to join the organic food movement, which arose in the 1960s in response to modern chemical farming, but the state is starting to make up lost ground, said Cissy Bowman, executive director of Indiana Certified Organic, LLC.
As the state's only government-approved organic certifier, she has given the stamp of approval to more than 50 Hoosier organic farms and expects that to double this year.
Herself an organic farmer, Bowman said the organic market has undergone incredible growth since she began raising organic vegetables 20 years ago on six acres near the Hendricks County town of Clayton.
"Any food you can think of, you can buy an organic version now. It's not just that bag of whole wheat flour on the store shelf anymore," she said.
Traders Point Creamery delivers to about 70 area stores, with weekly shipments to Chicago-area stores, but demand often outpaces supply, particularly during the winter and summer.
"The cows can't keep up. We sell pretty much everything we produce," said David Robb, the creamery's manager of business development.
Cathy Greene, an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, said the retail market for organic foods continues to grow about 20 percent each year.
Most people buy organic out of health concerns, she said. Some want to support environmentally friendly farms, but for others, it's a quest for food with superior taste and nutrition.
"Whether the food tastes better or not is kind of subjective, but whether it's more nutritious is something researchers are just starting to study," Greene said.
According to the USDA, certified organic cropland in the United States grew nearly 75 percent between 1997 and 2001, the last year for which figures are available, and accounted for more than 2.3 million acres in 2001.
The USDA found an estimated 4,175 acres of certified organic cropland in Indiana in 2001, but Bowman said the 54 organic farms she's certified in the state account for only about 2,370 acres.
Barbara Haumann, a senior writer with the Organic Trade Association, said there is no clear gauge of the nation's organic agriculture industry. "The numbers are quite hazy," she said. "The government just needs to do some better tracking."
Although organic foods can cost two to three times more than their conventionally raised alternatives, Corinne Alexander, a Purdue University assistant professor of agricultural economics, said people, herself included, are willing to pay.
"I like the idea that right now the organic farmers are being rewarded with premium prices for their hard work. It's really backbreaking work," she said.
Traders Point Creamery's 140 acres of pastures are planted with a mix of grasses and meadow plants that make its milk superior to that produced by grain-fed cows, said Robb.
The pastures are enriched with natural compost and by tilling under cover crops. The nutrient-rich droppings from the 60 Brown Swiss dairy cows also help green the fields, he said.
The fields thrive, Robb said, because they work in concert with nature. "The soil is a really a living entity, and chemicals kill all the good things in the soil when what we really need to be doing is stimulating those," he said.
3.Bill requires labeling genetically altered fish
By HAL SPENCE
Genetically altered fish will need to be labeled as such when products are to be sold in Alaska.
That's the effect of Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau. The Alaska House approved the measure unanimously Monday. It had previously won unanimous support in the Senate.
Known as the "Frankenfish" bill, the measure is headed for the governor's desk.
"The message that Alaska seafood is more natural than seafood that has been engineered in a lab is a highly important marketing tool," Stevens said.
"This bill helps highlight Alaska seafood as distinct from genetically modified seafood, doing away with any vagueness that may exist to the consumer when purchasing seafood without labeling, and reinforcing the natural message."
Prompting lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 25 was the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering an application by an aquaculture company to sell a genetically modified, growth-enhanced salmon. According to a press release from Elton's office, Atlantic salmon are expected to be the first species slated for genetic modification, but catfish, tilapia and others would follow.
Meanwhile, according to the Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force, a biotech company called Aqua Bounty has sought Canadian approval to use genetically modified fish in Canada's fish farms, Elton said.
"I am encouraged by the bipartisan support this bill received," he said. "It is a sign that, when it comes to seafood, Alaskans stand up for informed
consumers and friends and neighbors working in the wild fish industry."
According to Stevens and Elton, legislation requiring labeling genetically modified fish products already exists in the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. SB 25 is similar to legislation introduced in Oregon and California.
The bill requires Alaska retailers to identify and label foods containing fish and shellfish, or fish and shellfish products, which have been genetically modified.
4.USDA issues two biotechnology reports
May 9, 2005
USDA Media Release No. 0155.05
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture today issued two reports on agricultural biotechnology that cover the evolving world requirements for the traceability and labeling of agricultural biotechnology products and on the complexities of predicting the use of these products in the future.
"These reports will help us to better understand how biotechnology is changing the face of agriculture," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
"Enhancing our understanding of the marketing regulations of biotech products and how producers and consumers may be affected by the adoption of this technology will help to guide USDA's future decision-making in this area."
The reports, developed by USDA's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), are entitled (1) Global Traceability and Labeling Requirements for Agricultural Biotechnology-Derived Products: Impacts and Implications for the United States; and (2) Preparing for the Future.
The first report considers the proliferation of mandatory biotechnology traceability and labeling requirements in other countries; how different
segments of the United States food and feed supply chain are addressing those requirements; and marketplace issues and tools that are relevant to
The second report provides USDA with an analysis of the factors that will shape the use of biotechnology in the future. It identifies broad trends that are likely to influence the future in some predictable ways as well as key uncertainties that could drive the future in different directions. The report also provides three examples of scenarios for the future, not as predictions but as tools to provoke thought and further analysis, plus a series of questions to help understand the impacts of each scenario. The questions can be applied to help analyze any scenario that may be developed.
The AC21 was established by the Secretary of Agriculture in 2003 and examines how biotechnology is likely to change agriculture and USDA's work over the next five to ten years and other biotechnology issues sent to it by the Secretary.
The 18-member committee represents a broad spectrum of views and interests and is composed of farmers, technology providers, academics, representatives from the food manufacturing and shipping industries, and representatives from consumer and environmental organizations. The committee meets in public session three to four times per year.
For copies of the reports and more information about the AC21, visit http://www.usda.gov/event_15.xml
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