UPDATED April 12, 2007

     

    Organic kiwis have nutritional advantages, UC-Davis food scientists find

    Organic nutrition benefits strengthened by EU studies

    Arsenic-tainted rice due to pesticides used on former cotton fields

    Organic dairy giant commits to animal care standards

    Soil Association deconstructs report that pans organic benefits

    Scientists still scrambling for clues in massive honeybee die-offs

    National organic farmer co-op launches regional food campaign

    Public comment extended for cloning issue

     

Organic kiwis have many nutritional advantages, UC-Davis food scientists find

New research by Maria Amodio, Ph.D., and Adel Kader, Ph.D., from the University of California Davis indicates organically grown kiwis tested had significantly higher levels of vitamin C and polyphenols, according to story in Telegraph.com of the London Daily Telegraph.

The researchers said, "All the main mineral constituents were more concentrated in the organic kiwi fruit, which also had higher asorbic acid (vitamin C) and total polyphenol content, resulting in higher antioxidant activity. It is possible that conventional growing practices utilize levels of pesticides that can result in a disruption to phenolic metabolites in the plant that have a protective role in plant defense mechanisms."

Full story


Documentation for organic nutrition benefits strengthened by EU studies

Three new European research projects have just revealed that organic tomatoes, peaches and processed apples all have higher nutritional quality than non-organic. The studies were done in Britain, France and Poland.

The French study concluded that organic production had "positive effects...on nutritional quality and taste." Researchers at Warsaw Agriculture University found organic tomatoes contained more vitamin C, beta-carotene and flavonoids than conventional ones. They were lower, however, in lycopene, which is another beneficial nutrient. The same team found organic apple puree contained more phenols, flavonoids and vitamin C than conventional versions.

Details


Arsenic-tainted rice due to pesticides used on former cotton fields, study finds

A team at Scotland’s Aberdeen University comparing arsenic levels in US-produced rice found significant regional differences.

The team examined 107 samples of American long-grain rice grown in the US “south-central”' belt (Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi) and 27 samples from California. They found that the level of inorganic arsenic in the south central rice was three- to five-times higher than in the rice from California and other parts of the world.

Arsenic is found naturally in soil, but the contamination in the south-central belt relates to land where cotton was once cultivated. Team leader of the study, Andy Meharg, Ph.D., said: "Cotton production relied heavily on arsenic pesticides. It left residues in the soils which are still there and are being picked up by the rice."

Full story


Organic dairy giant commits to animal care standards

Horizon Organic recently published its "Standards of Care," a comprehensive set of guidelines that will govern how the company runs its company-owned farms. A spokesperson for Horizon said the standards will eventually extend to the family-farm suppliers, as well, but no timetable has been set. Sara Unrue said also, “ We will expect our farms, both company-owned and family farm partners, to meet the new USDA pasture rule when they release it later this year.”

The document is said to encompass the full range of cow life on the farms, including:

  • Raising the company's own calves from certified organic mothers;
  • Taking a holistic, preventive and natural approach to animal care and welfare;
  • Ensuring that cows graze on organic grass every day during the active growing season (frost to frost) and as many days as possible during the dormant season;
  • Ensuring that cows are outside year-round to exercise, socialize and interact with the land; and
  • Managing pastures in a way that encourages the growth of grass for grazing and improving biodiversity, while conserving soil and water.

See standards


Soil Association deconstructs report that pans organic benefits

The Soil Association issued a brief-but-emphatic rejoinder to a recently highly publicized report issued by the Manchester Business School (Foster, et al, 2006) stating that organic farming had few, if any, public benefits.

The Soil Association wrote: “The report only covered a couple of the environmental impacts of organic farming, omitting many others. Most importantly, the main conclusions on 'carbon emissions', eutrophication and land use are largely based on a single study which does not represent organic farming systems.”

“We believe the energy data is reliable but has been mis-reported. Based on all the evidence available, the Soil Association remains confident that organic farming is better for tackling climate change and for other environmental impacts.

Full report


Scientists still scrambling for clues in massive honeybee die-offs

In a story in Speigel Online International, author Gunther Latsch writes about the mysterious phenomenon "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) whose cause has yet to be determined. He quotes Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, referring to the problem as a potential "AIDS for the bee industry." Losses in the East Coast have topped 70 percent, with reports of bee losses of 60 percent on the West Coast.

Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, Ph.D., whose earlier research with high doses of the Bt material contained in GMO-corn found impact on bees, would like to pursue investigation of a possible link between the specialized corn and insect impact, but lacks the funds. "Those who have the money are not interested in this sort of research," says the University of Halle professor, "and those who are interested don't have the money."

Full story

Related Sierra Club story, with citations


National organic farmer co-op launches regional food campaign

Farmer co-op Organic Valley’s “Local from the Ground Up” activities are intended to promote the full range of benefits from supporting local and regional organic food systems.

OV farmers from across the country will help lead the effort, which includes a speakers’ bureau; regional packaging, partnerships and web pages to facilitate new partnerships; and public outreach events such as “regional earth dinners.”

Details


Public comment extended for cloning issue

The federal Food and Drug Administration has extended the public comment period to May 3 with regard to the government’s risk assessment for animal cloning. Detractors have pointed out that consumers do not trust the technology and have criticized the decision to allow these products in the marketplace without labeling.

Consumers can submit comments to the FDA’s docket on cloning here. (Docket # 2003N-0573 must be included in comments).

Full story

 

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