UPDATED June 15, 2007


    Organic methods for safe leafy greens

    Iowa study: organics better for region

    Bacteria in food may lead to “super bugs”

    Farmer John movie hits theatres

    California dairy loses organic certification

    Change chemical regulation, group says


Organic practices helpful in producing safe, leafy greens

It its June report, “Unfinished business: Preventing E. Coli 0157 Outbreaks in Leafy Greens,“ The Organic Center’s Dr. Chuck Benbrook zeroes in on practices needed to keep leafy greens safe—in the field and through the food chain.

The report reviews in detail the fall 2006 nationwide outbreak of human infection from E. Coli that was traced back to the Paicines Ranch. It gives the outbreak some context in terms of other food-borne illness numbers, looks at new steps to improve safety and decrease contamination and examines in detail the possible—but still unknown—causes for the bacterial contamination.

The report includes a sidebar, titled “Tilting the Odds Against E. Coli 0157,” citing research showing advantages in food safety using surface irrigation and several biological benefits enhanced by using organic crop-management practices.

Full report

Iowa State finds organic ag would boost regional farm impact

A recent study shows that the potential regional economic impact of organic crop production exceeds that of conventional crop production, based on publicly funded incentives for farmers to make the change to organic.

In work funded by Iowa State’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, findings show that operators who choose organic methods will receive greater economic returns than those who opt for conventional practices. The study found that the economic impacts of the organic alternative were substantially larger than the conventional configuration, a significant observation for those engaged in rural and regional economic development.

Specifically, organic rotation farming produced 52 percent more gross sales revenue, 110 percent more value-added and 182 percent more labor income than from the same 1,000 acres farmed using conventional corn-soybean rotation practices.

Full report

Bacteria in food “may cause rise in superbugs”

Prepared and fresh foods could be contributing to the global rise of antibiotic-resistant infections caused by superbugs, an Ohio State University researcher said at a recent scientific meeting in Canada.

Tests were carried out on a variety of ready-to-eat food samples including seafood, meats, dairy, items from delicatessens and fresh produce purchased from several grocery chain stores. With the exception of processed cheese and yogurt, bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes were found in many foods.

Full story

Farmer John in theaters, soil carbon sequestration in video

After wowing audiences at sustainable farming conferences across North America in its DVD format during 2006—and collecting some 30 film festival awards—“The Real Dirt on Farmer John” opens a series of screenings in theatres across the United States next week in New York City.

The movie traces farmer John Peterson's journey from farm boy to counter-culture rebel to the son who almost lost the family farm to a beacon of today's booming organic farming movement. Shot over a 25-year period, the work shows how the Peterson family farm became Angelic Organics in Caldeonia, Illinois, one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the United States.


Screening schedule

“Soil: The Secret Solution to Global Warming” is an online video featuring Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, and including comments from Dr. Paul Hepperly, training and research director at The Rodale Institute. The movie explains how public policy could favor kinds of farming that would sequester significantly more carbon than current methods, making agriculture a way to reduce global warming contributions.

View or download

Certifier strips organic certification from large California dairy

Long the subject of complaints for its alleged shortcomings to comply with pasture requirements and other aspects of federal organic regulations, the split conventional-organic Vander Eyk Dairy has lost its organic certification. This means it cannot sell milk into the organic market unless the certification is restored.

The certification of the farm in Pixley (Tulare County), a small town about halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield, was suspended by its certifier, Quality Assurance International, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The dairy farm has about 10,000 cows, with at least 3,500 of the animals under organic management.

Horizon Organic had earlier stopped buying milk from the farm.

Full story

Scientists say timing of exposure critical for fetus

A multi-disciplinary group of scientists has called for the need to shift the focus of toxicology and chemical regulation from the centuries-old paradigm—"the dose makes the poison"—to "the timing of exposures makes the poison."

The Torhavn, Faroe Islands, conference was attended by 200 biologists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, nutrition researchers and pediatricians. They issued the Faroes Statement, which highlights the extraordinary vulnerability of the fetus, and the many ways that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter normal developmental pathways, sometimes with lifelong consequences.

Full report

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