How Consolidated Agribusiness Harms The Organic Sector

The pioneers of organic agriculture probably did not foresee the day when consumers could buy organic junk food at the supermarket. But now organic is a $31 billion a year big business and the biggest food companies are eagerly moving to capture the profitable and high-priced organic food label. Although many consumers and farmers moved to organic to avoid corporate-controlled and unsustainable industrial food production, the Big Food monopoly is catching up. Read more

Obama Administration Backwards On Food Safety

Recently, with Obama re-election posters blanketing the audience at the Democratic National Convention and Republicans mocking Obama’s campaign slogan, the word of the moment was Forward. But when it comes to food safety, this Administration is stuck in reverse. The 56-page 2012 Democratic Party Platform included no mention of food safety or the President’s monumental signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Read more

Genetically Modified Crops: Follow the Money

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has done it again. Their annual ‘state of play’ report on genetically-modified (GM) agriculture, paid for by a host of vested interests including Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and CropLife International, uses inflated claims and sleight of hand to ‘demonstrate’ the alleged popularity of GM crops. Read more

Factory Farming: Not Just on Land Anymore

When most people think of factory farming they typically think of feedlots, hog factories or chicken operations–not massive open net pens growing millions of fish in our oceans. However, factory fish farming will soon pose many of the same threats to the environment and to consumers as its land-based counterparts.

Growing fish in a crowded environment in open net pens or cages and giving them antibiotic-laced feed inevitably leads to pollution. The waste, which includes excess feed, antibiotics and the chemicals used to treat the cages, flows directly into the ocean and, ultimately, on to our plates.

Food & Water Watch’s new report reveals that if the government used factory fish farming to reach its stated goal of offsetting the U.S. seafood trade deficit (that is, importing less seafood than it exports), 200 million of these fish would need to be produced in ocean cages off U.S. coasts each year. Calculations show that this could result in the discharge of as much nitrogenous waste as the untreated sewage from a city nearly nine times more populous than Los Angeles. Read more

When Some Farm Subsidies Go Away, Will Our Food System Be Healthy?

Every good foodie knows that farm subsidies are the root of all evil and a big reason why obesity rates continue to rise, right? This thinking has become so commonplace among the good food movement that we’ve stopped questioning this assumption and pretty much take it as gospel.

But now is a critical time to start asking questions about what the consequences would be–intended or otherwise–if subsidies go away. This week, Congressional agriculture committees proposed cutting $23 billion out of Farm Bill programs over the next 10 years, and by most reports, one type of farm subsidies called direct payments are the first thing on the chopping block. Even the corn and soybean lobbies seem resigned to the end of direct payments to growers of commodity crops. Read more

No Quick Subsidies Fix for Food System

Over the last decade, the sustainable food movement has brought much needed attention to U.S. agricultural policy and how it influences which foods Americans grow, buy, and consume. From chefs and policy wonks to teachers and bloggers, everyone interested in food has an opinion on subsidies and how to craft the 2012 Farm Bill. One of the most common focuses is moving subsidies away from commodities like corn and soy, which are used to make junk food and factory farmed meat, to fruit and vegetable production. This simple fix misses the bigger picture—the consolidation and the inability of diversified farms to compete in our industrialized food system. Read more