UPDATED July 13, 2007

    Island nations to exploit GMO-free status

    Booklets creatively dissect Farm Bill issues

    Natural fungus key to whitefly control product

    Air-freighting organic food questioned in U.K.

    Mixing varieties increases wheat yield

    Ag-chemical air pollution faces new limits

    Canadian organic food tops $1 billion in sales


Island nations to exploit GMO-free status

Geography gives nations surrounded by water the unique ability to protect themselves from genetic contamination. New Zealand is set to cash in on this ability to give special value to their crops, while Ireland is close behind.

EU acceptance of a permissible level of GE contamination in all crops gives New Zealand a real opportunity and point of difference in the world as a GE-Free crop producer, according to the Soil & Health Association, New Zealand. "New Zealand has zero tolerance to GE contamination and with organic food the world’s fastest food sector growth area, there are fantastic opportunities here for both genuine GE Free organic and conventional growers," said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

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Following the Green Party’s historic agreement last month to form a coalition government with traditional political power Fianna Fáil, the two parties revealed their agreed policy "to negotiate for the whole island of Ireland to become a GMO-free zone." Farmers and food producers on both sides of the border have spent the past nine years campaigning to achieve this goal. The Green Party is an all-island party, working in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Booklet series provides analysis, recommendations for topics within Farm Bill range of impacts

Bolstering an already robust set of materials on the 2007 U.S. Farm Bill, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) is rolling out a series of 16-page booklets. Using creative graphic design in the Social Realism genre echoing U.S. art of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the pieces provide narrative, graphics and documented analysis of current and proposed policy.

Current titles look at the Farm Bill and the U.S., the world, renewable energy, the world’s hungry, competitive markets and public health; coming are series booklets on immigration and conservation. They are available for download or in hard copy (the latter recommended for full effect, but limited supply) by contacting Linda Viera at lvieira@iatp.org or (612) 870-3455.

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New natural remedy for whiteflies eyed

A hardy fungus found on insects feeding on Texas eggplants may become a new natural control for widespread and costly whitefly pests that are tough to control with chemicals.

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Global south development, greenhouse gas impact conflicting values in air-freighted organic food debate

Can conscientious shoppers favoring organic produce happily accept food grown in tropical developing nations, under certified-organic conditions—then flown by greenhouse-gassing jets to wealthier areas of the global north?

The debate in the U.K. is creating uncomfortable fault lines within the organic community. The long-simmering debate has been forced to the front by the growing popular awareness of global-warming and the high impact of burning jet fuel. De-certifying air-freighted food would have significant negative economic impact on organic farming in developing nations, just as it is gaining ground.

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Multi-variety plantings boost yield

A two-year study finds higher yields from planting a blend of complementary wheat varieties than from a single-variety planting.

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Farm air pollution targeted in California

California plans to enact the most costly pesticide regulation in state history as it cracks down on the use of fumigants in farm fields to comply with a court-ordered deadline to combat smog.

State officials warned that the cost will be extremely high—estimated at $10 million to $40 million a year—and that growers of strawberries, carrots, tomatoes and peppers will bear the brunt of it. The biggest burden will fall on Ventura County's strawberry growers, who will face strict caps on emissions and may have to resort to pulling thousands of acres out of production—or to growing organically—to meet the smog target levels.

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Canadian organic food sales grow past $1 Billion

Studies commissioned by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) show that retail sales of “certified-organic” food in Canada were worth more than $1 billion in 2006 and that consumers in British Columbia eat more organic food than consumers in other provinces.

Mainstream grocery chains have responded to consumer demand and now sell over 40 percent of all organic food sold in Canada, amounting to CDN$412 million in 2006, according to data provided by the Nielsen Company. National organic regulations are currently in a two-year implementation phase which began Dec. 21, 2006.

Direct sales of certified-organic produce at farmers markets across the country and at the farm gate are estimated to be worth at least $50 million.

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Canadian organic standards status summary