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From across the web, some interesting things we’ve read this month

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2016 July Issue Newsletter

By Amie Lindenboim

We’ve compiled this list of stories to help keep you up to date on issues impacting food and farming.



U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thinks Farmers Can Help Solve Global Warming

Vilsack said ag needs to "do a better job of how we raise livestock and how we graze to maintain sequestered carbon." He talked up no-till farms and cover crops to keep the soil in place and increase carbon storage.  He also praised alternative farms, saying "Not all farms are going to be huge.”


Globalization of Food Supply

A Map Of Where Your Food Originated May Surprise You

Researchers have produced an interactive graphic that allows you to explore the origins of the crops you consume. The colorful graphics present scientifically rigorous evidence for interdependence within the global food system.

The Grassfed Burger Gap

The number of restaurants serving grassfed burgers is growing, but most are eschewing ground beef from small-scale U.S. producers in favor of foreign meat.

As demand continues to grow, so the need for transparency to prevent the rise of “bad actors and greenwashing.”

North Dakotans Reconsider a Corporate Farming Ban, and Their Values

On July 14th, North Dakota voters strongly rejected a bid by the state legislature to relax the state's Depression-era ban on corporate ownership or operation of farms.

The North Dakota Farm Bureau is vowing to forge ahead with the federal court suit it filed earlier this month arguing the corporate farming ban is discriminatory and unconstitutional. This New York Times article profiled the debate ahead of the vote.



One Bad Seed

The new cartoon ad produced by the Clif Bar Family Foundation to promote organic seeds over the genetically engineered sort looks like it might be fun for kids to watch. Don't let them. The ad's main protagonist, "Mr. Seed," uses salty language and makes some anatomical references to convey how six chemical companies control 63 percent of the U.S. seed market, which the foundation says has sapped nutrients from more than three dozen crops.

Minnesota Farmers Warned Not To Plant Monsanto's Latest Roundup Soybeans

The E.U. has not approved the biotech seeds; the uncertainty could present export problems for U.S. farmers and grain producers.

First Commercial Crop of GMO Arctic Apples About to Hit Market

After 20 years of development, Okanogan Specialty Fruits is expecting to harvest its first commercial crop of Arctic Golden Delicious in Washington this year.  Arctic Fujis, Granny Smiths, and Gala are also pending approval. A method of genetic engineering known as RNA interference silences the gene responsible for browning when cut, but critics contend this could mislead consumers into thinking they are eating fresh apples that may actually be on the verge of rotting. The silenced gene is also heavily involved in a plant’s natural defense against pests and pathogens, which could lead to trees that are less healthy than non-GMO apples and rely on more chemical treatments to ward off pests and disease.

Study Finds GMO Label Will Not Act as Warning Label

A recent multi-year study revealed that GMO labeling would not act as a warning label and scare consumers from buying products with GMO ingredients. “The label doesn’t change attitude. It simply informs a consumer of what’s in a product.”

Genetically Modified Golden Rice Falls Short On Lifesaving Promises

GMO activists not to blame for scientific challenges slowing introduction, study finds.

From Hardy Pigs To Super-Crops, Gene Editing Poses New EU Dilemma

“Gene editing” poses a thorny problem for European policymakers wary of new molecular manipulation in agriculture after a quarter century of conflict over genetically modified food.

Meet the New Stevia! GMOs 2.0 Get Dressed for Success

Cargill’s new product, EverSweet, uses genetically engineered yeast to convert sugar molecules to mimic the properties of stevia, with no need for the plant itself. It was developed using synthetic biology (or “synbio” for short), a new form of genetic engineering that involves changing or creating DNA to artificially synthesize compounds rather than extract them from natural sources - a process sometimes referred to as GMOs 2.0. “And so begins the next new food technology revolution: corporations racing to move food production from the land to the lab without laws or regulations in place that require scientific assessments or transparency.”


Local News


Reinterpreted State Regulations Threaten Future Of Nashoba Valley Winery

With orchards, vineyards, a winery and restaurant, the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton could be a poster child for agritourism. But suddenly the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) has announced it won't be renewing all the farm's licenses for making and pouring alcohol, pointing to a section of state law that specifically prohibits owning a pouring license for a restaurant at the same time as owning a farmer's manufacturing license.


Organic Agriculture


Study Says People Living In “Organic Hotspot” Counties Are Likely To Fare Better Financially Than Those Living In Other Agriculture Communities.

While Jaenicke’s findings are likely good news for organics advocates, it leaves some important questions unanswered.




What You Need to Know About the EPA’s Assessment of Atrazine

Civil Eats presents a primer on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 500-page draft report on the environmental impacts of atrazine, the second most widely used weed killer in the United States and a chemical known as a water pollutant with potentially serious adverse health effects.

The draft report is open for public comment until August 5, 2016.

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