Britain has spurned the American model of intensive livestock farming for many years. More recently the so-called science-based CAFO models have traveled the globe, leaving trails of toxic poison behind them. Who would have thought that Britain, with a rich tradition of being one of the first countries to embrace organic, humane farming systems, would be contemplating intensive dairy farming as the way of the future? Thankfully, a much-lauded report issued by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production is being used to support the groups opposed to the feedlot dairies. The local residents in the U.K. town of Lincolnshire are vehemently opposing plans just submitted for a 3,000 cow intensive dairy farm, only weeks after scuttling the first attempts for an 8,000 cow intensive dairy farm in the same area.
The Pew Commission’s 2008 report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, has been one of our most potent weapons in up-ending a loathsome business where profits depend on the inhumane treatment of animals, and where unsustainable, unsafe health and environmental practices are the norm.
Coincidence or the tip of an iceberg? Following my blog last week on the unintended consequences of GMOs, you may forgive me for a being little smug as I follow the news that eminent scientists are bailing from a steering group formed to allay fears in Britain about GM food. You see, my blog stepped on a few toes and raised a few hackles among those who think people like me should just shut up and let agri-business decide what’s good for us. But I balk at a whitewashing of the truth and I’m glad to see others do, too. Since the food fight about GMOs is being fought on a global scale, I pay attention to what’s going on in other countries as well as my adopted homeland of the U.S. So I was happy to see that an agri-business effort in the U.K. to promote GM food under the guise of the public good is falling to pieces, thanks to scientists unwilling to be corporate pawns.
Professor Bryan Wynne, vice-chairman of a U.K. steering group set up to gauge public opinion of GM food in Britain, has stepped down from the committee in protest, telling the London Telegraph that the committee was rigged in favor of GM food. Professor Wynne’s resignation comes on the heels of the resignation of Dr. Helen Wallace, another member of the committee, who stepped down a week or so earlier because of the cozy relationship between GM manufacturers and the agency overseeing the group.
The North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association (NCNHGA) is seeking natural hog growers to supply the growing demand for pastured pork. NCNHGA is a farmer-owned marketing cooperative aimed at successfully marketing hogs raised outdoors without the use of antibiotics, growth promotants or animal byproducts. Current markets include national grocery outlets, local restaurants, and other whole cut retailers. All members are required to be Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) before joining.
Please contact Tim Holmes of AWA directly with certification questions (252-796-8079). An informational session will be held June 19, 2010 in eastern North Carolina for those interested in joining the cooperative. Contact NCNGHA President Jeremiah Jones at 910-290-2547 for meeting details or additional information about NCNHGA membership.
Animal Welfare Approved is a free certification for family farms raising their animals outdoors on pasture or range. AWA provides marketing and technical support to farmers in the program. For more information visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.
John Boyd, Jr., President of the National Black Farmers Association, is now more than ten years into his fight to see justice done for the farmers he represents. Boyd—who once had his loan application torn up in front of him by a USDA agent who later admitted he thought blacks “were lazy”—has been instrumental in compelling the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to own to up to decades of obvious discrimination against black farmers. This year, it appeared he was finally going to meet his goal. In February, the Department of Justice and the USDA announced a settlement with the black farmers, with the money to be allocated by Congress by March 31, 2010. It didn’t happen.
Instead, according to a CNN profile, Boyd found himself going to the funeral of another elderly black farmer who never received the money due him. According to CNN, Boyd, speaking at the farmer’s memorial service, said, “It really hurts to be here and have to deliver a message at Mr. Bonner's going home services that Congress failed to act."
I’m going to stick my neck out here: I think we might just be seeing the beginning of the end of our love affair with genetically modified (GM) crops. Emerging science from both home and abroad is raising serious questions about the long-term risks of GM crops. And from what I can gather, mounting anecdotal evidence suggests that many U.S. farmers are beginning to regret ever setting eyes on the damn crops.
To be perfectly honest, I’m actually quite surprised at just how long this romance has lasted. Of course, the billions of dollars spent by the likes of Monsanto on PR, lobbying Congress and all the rest has certainly helped keep us all fixated on this glamorous technological panacea. But, like most whirlwind romances, our own niggling doubts and the sage advice from trusted sources (in this case independent scientists) is becoming difficult to ignore. Was it really all too good to be true?
Robert Kremer is beginning to think so. Kremer is a government microbiologist, based at the University of Missouri. He works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and has studied Midwestern farm soils for the last two decades. He is one of several scientists who have uncovered what appear to be hitherto unpredicted problems in plants and soils associated with the use of glyphosate-resistant GM crops and the glyphosate herbicide