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Advocates with the Mass. Hemp Coalition at the State House on June 24th, 2019

Advocates with the Mass. Hemp Coalition at the State House on June 24th, 2019

On June 12th, 2019, the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) issued a policy on the sale of hemp derived products which effectively outlawed the sale of food products containing hemp-derived CBD, products containing CBD marketed with therapeutic claims, hemp as a dietary supplement and any animal feed containing hemp products. The policy does not include definitions, so it is still unclear whether CBD-derived tinctures or capsules are prohibited.

The news sent shockwaves through the state’s nascent hemp economy, and comes at the worst possible time for farmers who have just invested tens of thousands of dollars in the new crop which is now growing for its first major season since prohibition was lifted in 2016. 

Happy Hemp

Hemp History Week (June 3-9) celebrates agricultural hemp with nationwide education, advocacy and grassroots events. This year, NOFA/Mass is celebrating this especially exciting 10th annual Hemp History Week.

This year is special because the 2018 Farm Bill, passed in December, included the legislation S. 2667, The Hemp Farming Act. With its passage, hemp production was officially legalized in the United States. So this year’s Hemp History Week is the first in this new landscape of federally-legal agricultural hemp! The Act defined hemp as cannabis sativa containing no more than 0.3% teatrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight and redefined hemp from a Controlled Substance to an agricultural commodity, removing it from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

no glyphosate

There’s been so much good/bad news about glyphosate recently (good for Life, bad for biocide backers), it’s been hard to keep up. (This news stream updated almost daily.) We have some recent major developments to share with you, the Mass. organic movement, in hopes that you will share these updates with your state elected officials and call for action on glyphosate!

Short on time? Use this form to send a message about glyphosate to legislators within seconds.

  HEADLINES:

ifoam logo

NOFA is honored to be hosting this year’s Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA) Summit on Saturday August 10  at the 2019 Summer Conference!  Founded in 1972 and with around 800 members in over 127 countries, IFOAM - Organics International represents the global organic movement. Its main activities include facilitating capacity development for sustainable production; raising awareness and acting as a resource center for organic communications; advocating for and supporting the creation of a policy environment conducive to positive change.

We are looking forward to hosting IFOAM - Organics International community members and are excited to learn from their organizers. IFOAM - Organics International will be leading activities during several workshop slots at the Conference on Saturday, which all conference attendees are welcome to attend (no special registration pass is needed).

Monsanto/Bayer get hit again

It was another bad month for Monsanto/Bayer, as yet another high profile study dropped about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, the active ingredient in their flagship product, Roundup. The new research, published in the major peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind, looking at the transgenerational effects of the world’s most commonly used herbicide. Increased prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, as well as heightened obesity and birth abnormalities were found in second and third generation offspring of lab rats exposed to glyphosate.

For more frequent news updates related to pesticides and GMOs, the Regeneration Massachusetts facebook page is a fantastic resource. NOFA/Mass is also curating a glyphosate stories news stream, here  

 

Policy Update

Glyphosate causes cancer, court finds; Newburyport moves to ban the biocide

On March 20th in a surprise victory for safe and sustainable agriculture and landscaping advocates, a federal court found that Monsanto’s Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing a man’s cancer. The German company Bayer bought Monsanto last year in a controversial mega-merger, and along with it the liability of its flagship product; the company’s stocks plummeted 12% on the day of the verdict. Bayer now faces more than 11,200 lawsuits over the popular weed killer, as city parks departments and other entities across the country discontinue its use, as a precaution.

The City of Newburyport, Massachusetts is the most recent local municipality to begin phasing out use of the biocide, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Newburyport resident Walt Thompson, the City Parks Department decided in February 2019 to stop using glyphosate in city parks. Then on March 21st, the Newburyport Board of Health issued a proclamation recognizing the risks of synthetic pesticides and establishing April 2019 as “Alternative to Pesticides Month!” The City Council will now take up a resolution to ban the use of glyphosate on all city property. "The driving force for me trying to have this banned has been for the sake of bees and butterflies, but there appears to be long-term effects on kids and workers who are exposed to this stuff," Walt stated. In reflecting upon the momentum in Newburyport, he remarked: “We’re on the North Shore, but we’re still making waves.”

HIP

On March 21, 2019 NOFA/Mass will be supporting the coalition efforts of the MA Food System Collaborative by participating in a “Lobby Day” at the Mass State House, “as we come together as farmers, SNAP recipients, and advocates to talk to legislators and staffers about the HIP program, and urge them to include $8.5 million for the program in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.”

 

There is still time to show your support

There is still time to show your support

Thanks to an outpouring of calls from organic advocates across the state, several of our priority proposed state laws have started the session with great momentum. The results of the January cosponsor drive surprised even the most optimistic advocates and bode well for the possibility of real change toward a regenerative and pollinator-friendly Commonwealth!

We’re seeing the most impressive numbers on our top 3 priority areas (not a coincidence):

Seed Sovereignty Month

If you had a chance to read the early January Civil Eats article about the updated seed monopoly chart (“The Sobering Details Behind the Latest Seed Monopoly Chart”) then you may be newly concerned about the fact that 60% of our global seed sales are controlled by what was previously 6—and is now 4—large chemical companies.

Those companies include Bayer, ChemChina, BASF and Corteva. If you haven’t yet heard of Corteva, that’s the name of the new agritech company created after Dow and DuPont merged (conveniently allowing DuPont to shed negative associations and bad press after poisoning the water in dozens of communities with PFOS, PFOA, and other fluorinated chemicals used to make nonstick Teflon cookware).

Seeds

For the backyard gardener, a seed catalog can be an exciting resource full of opportunities that cast visions of gorgeous rare plants thriving in your garden and previously undiscovered vegetables that astound your taste buds. But where did these unique seeds come from and why does it matter?

There are different terminologies that are thrown around and each one carries with it an understanding of how plants reproduce and ultimately the way that they are controlled.

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