Monthly Archives: November 2012

USDA advising organic farmers to get insurance against GMO contamination

Remember Percy Schmeiser? Remember the case in Canadian courts in which he was sued by Monsanto for contamination of his crops with stray Monsanto seeds? And how he lost at the Supreme Court? Following along from that precedent, the onus is clearly, if unfairly, being put on non-GMO farmers whose crops are contaminated with stray GMO pollination or whatnot from the crops of their GMO growing neighbours.

How long will it be before it’ll cost more to insure your non-GMO crop against contamination than it will cost to use GMO seeds in the first place. Meanwhile organic standards will inevitably get diluted to recognize the impossibility of keeping the ubiquitous contamination out. Sadly it looks like the madness that is GMO farming, is becoming ever more entrenched on this continent.

From Tom Laskawy on Grist.org

“One of the big debates in agriculture right now involves “coexistence” between farmers who use genetically modified or GMO seeds and those who don’t. This is far more than an academic debate; in question is the risk of “contamination” of conventional or organic crops by GMO crops. The wind, insects, and even the farmers themselves can inadvertently cause this type of cross-pollination, and it puts organic farms at risk of losing their organic status and conventional farmers at risk of losing sales to countries that don’t allow imports of GMO foods. Continue reading

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DATCP seeks to subpoena journalists for new Vernon Herschberger trial

During one of Michael Schmidt’s trials, a Toronto Sun journalist was called to the stand to give testimony about an interview he had done with Michael just the day before. In this case, the Sun clearly didn’t want to make an issue about it. A quick call to the office to clear it with superiors seemed to be all that was needed. The request was made in that morning, and the reporter was testifying the very same afternoon. Not that it’s a practice we’d want to encourage, for all the many reason David cites in his story.

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“A lawyer for one of the journalists, working for a Wisconsin NBC television station, argued that the subpoena shouldn’t be issued since the reporter’s “testimony is not relevant, let  alone ‘highly relevant,’ because he did not observe the purported crime.” The lawyer, Drew Shenkman, with a Washington, DC, firm, added,  “Moreover, the State has failed  to show that  the  information  sought ‘is not  obtainable from  any alternative source,’…as the continued sale of  raw milk products can be shown through countless other sources.”   Continue reading

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CFIA memo to XL Foods inspectors

“Nothing about the CFIA would surprise me”, said Karen Selick, in a comment on a recent post on The Bovine. Well, here’s another case in point. Why should different, and higher, standards apply for meats being exported to Japan, than for meats sold to Canadians? Do Canadians not matter? Are Japanese export customers more important than Canadians? Is that what the CFIA was thinking? For those who might have wondered, when they read the story in the media a few months ago about the massive recall of meat from XL Foods in Brooks, Alberta, how such a thing could happen in a plant where 40 some CFIA inspectors are on the job, the memo described in the story below may be the answer. However, the report on this scandalous memo is not exactly as “out there” as the original recall story.  Merely a few column inches on page 3 of today’s paper. 

From the Toronto Star newspaper:

“Federal beef inspectors were told to ignore contamination on carcasses being processed for sale to Canadians at the XL Foods plant.

A memo from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) meat hygiene supervisor obtained by CTV News instructed CFIA inspectors to closely examine carcasses being processed for shipment to Japan, but to ignore visible contamination on meat for Canadians.

“Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses,” said the memo. Continue reading

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Australian supermarkets just say “NO” to factory farmed pork, in deference to “consumer sentiment”

From Ocean Robbins, on Common Dreams:

“In one of history’s most stunning victories for humane farming, Australia’s largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 stop selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farms. As an immediate result, 34,000 mother pigs will no longer be kept in stalls for long periods of their lives, and 350,000 hens will be freed from cages.Screen shot from video below Continue reading

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Zinniker farm giving up on raw dairy?

The Zinniker farm, in Wisconsin, has been one of the flagship biodynamic farms on this continent for some 70 years. They’ve been dairying for decades. It’s sad to read about their apparent defeat on the raw milk front, by agents of the DATCP, in spite of what sounds like great support from their community of customers. David has the story.

From David E. Gumpert on the Complete Patient blog:

“Strong community support can be undermined by the realities of life, unfortunately. Mark Zinniker, owner of a Wisconsin farm together with his wife, Petra, recounted during the panel discussion just how that can happen. The Zinnikers were among the plaintiffs in the now-famous ruling by Judge Patrick Fiedler in 2011, in which he declared that Wisconsin residents don’t have the right even to own a cow, or if they do, to drink its milk. Continue reading

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So what’s the CFIA been up to lately?

Remember the CFIA, that official Canadian Food Inspection agency, that was so concerned about wiping out a flock of heritage Shropshire sheep a few weeks back? Well maybe that wasn’t such an isolated incident. What can we make of this latest development on the food safety front? Is this a real problem that’s being covered up? To protect what, short term business prospects of continuing to sell more salmon in the supermarkets? And for that, they’re willing to scupper the international credentials of a university science lab? Is this is a government agenda, rogue “regulators”, or what? Are we still living in Canada?

From Mark Hume, in the Globe and Mail:

“A lab that revealed the first evidence of an infectious virus in British Columbia salmon should be stripped of its international credentials, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

In a letter to the World Organization for Animal Health, the CFIA urges the international agency to accept the findings of an independent audit that recommends “suspension of the reference laboratory status,” of the facility.

The lab is run by Frederick Kibenge at the Atlantic Veterinary College-University of Prince Edward Island. Continue reading

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Food, Farms & Family — Resilience

Nicole Foss SW Ontario Tour Nov 26 to Dec 2nd
Food, Farms and Family: Building Resilience within Limits
A Century of Challenges: Energy and Finance

What can families do to increase their resilience to upsets and breakdowns in the food and farming system? What can farmers do to keep our food supply secure, healthy and local?

Nicole Foss lives on a farm near Ottawa, is trained as a biologist and in environmental law, She consults on energy and financial issues, See www.theautomaticearth.org.

Her Food, Farms and Family talk will address food production in the future and the related health time bomb in this era of industrial foodstuffs. Our farming system has critical dependencies on fossil fuels, superhighways, large scale mono-cropping and genetically engineered seed. Continue reading

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