News bites
Sound Consumer | June 2008


Nash Huber wins national award

Sequim farmer Nash Huber has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the Steward of the Land Award by American Farmland Trust (AFT), the nation’s leading advocate for farm and ranchland preservation. Part of Huber’s operation, the 97-acre Delta Farm near Sequim, was threatened by development and acquired in 2001 by the PCC Farmland Trust.

The $10,000 award recognizes the American farmer or farm family that best demonstrates leadership in protecting farmland and caring for the environment. Nash Huber is the first farmer in Washington state and the first organic vegetable farmer ever to receive this prestigious award. (PCC Farmland Trust)


“Natural” body care standard

Until now, body care product manufacturers could claim their products were “natural,” even if they were 100 percent synthetic or petroleum-based. Now, the Natural Products Association has announced a new certification program that defines “natural” and establishes a seal of approval.

To be certified natural, at least 95 percent of a product’s ingredients must be from natural sources, contain no ingredients with suspected human health risks, come from renewable sources found in nature, and may not include synthetic or harsh chemicals. The seal will begin appearing on certified personal care products in coming months. (naturalproductsassoc.org)


Consumers still choose organic

Despite rising food prices and energy costs, most consumers remain very interested in purchasing environmentally friendly items and organic food. Research by Mambo Sprouts Marketing shows that about nine in 10 — 88 percent — of consumers report buying the same amount or more of eco-friendly products as they did six months ago.

About six in 10 still want to spend up to 20 percent more for sustainable items. Only one in six, or 17 percent, of respondents said they’re now buying fewer natural and organic foods. (Progressive Grocer)


Home Depot Canada phases out pesticides

You’ll no longer be able to buy weed and feed lawn products or other toxic pesticides at Home Depot — if you shop in Canada, that is. The retailer announced on Earth Day that by the end of this year, it no longer will sell traditional synthetic pesticides and herbicides.

Home Depot’s Canadian stores already offer more than 50 natural, more environmentally friendly alternatives. More than 55 municipalities in Canada already have banned the residential use (but not the sale) of pesticides. (Homedepot.ca)


Genetically engineered corn recalled

The U.S. government is recalling three varieties of GM corn contaminated with an unregistered and unapproved pesticide. Dow AgroSciences apparently notified regulators that “low levels” of the GM pesticide known as Event 32 was in corn sold to farmers over the past two years and planted on 72,000 acres.

Government regulators say Event 32 poses no health risks. The Center for Food Safety, however, says it has not been through established regulatory review procedures for adverse environmental or human health impacts. (Grand Island Independent, NE)


Organic certificate online

Washington State University (WSU), the first institution in the country to offer an academic major in organic agriculture, now is offering the nation’s first online certificate in organic agriculture. A spokeswoman says the program will provide a solid background in agricultural sciences and the complexities of food systems.

Admission to WSU is required to enroll but participants can apply as non-degree students. The program’s first core course — “Soils 101, Organic Gardening and Farming” — begins this summer. For more information visit the WSU website www.afs.wsu.edu/majors/organic.htm.


Schmeiser settles with Monsanto

A longstanding court battle between the Monsanto company and Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser, finally is settled. Canada’s Supreme Court has decided that Monsanto will pay for the cost of removing and cleaning out the genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready canola that contaminated Schmeiser’s fields.

It determined that Monsanto failed to prove Schmeiser profited from its GM technology and ruled that Schmeiser will not have to pay Monsanto’s “technology use fee” of $15/acre. (Organic Trade Association/percyschmeiser.com)


U.S. Supreme Court upholds Monsanto

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand without comment a court ruling that fined a Mississippi farmer $375,000 for saving and planting Monsanto’s patented GM soybeans. Monsanto sued Homan McFarling for violating its “technology use fee” that restricted him from saving seeds from one crop to plant the following year.

Since the late 1990s, Monsanto has sued nearly 100 farmers for similar reasons. (Homan McFarling v. Monsanto Co., 07-241)


Fish farming in marine sanctuaries?

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill meant to expand the boundaries of and prohibit oil drilling within national marine sanctuaries. But apparently at the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), language that encourages fish farming within sanctuary boundaries was sneaked into the bill at the last minute.

Fish farming would allow fish wastes, antibiotics, and chemicals to pollute the marine environment and render protections against drilling relatively meaningless. Food and Water Watch is running a campaign to stop the bill. (Foodandwaterwatch.org)

More about: farming, GE corn, Monsanto, Nash's Organic Produce, organic food, pesticides, sustainable seafood

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