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Protect Organics. Act Now and Don’t Let Monsanto Have Its Way Again

After Monsanto did an end run around the law by convincing regulators to approve its genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa without the mandatory environmental review, consumer groups hauled them to court and won a ban on the GE seed until the review was completed. Now the USDA has ruled that the GE alfalfa seed meets standards and can be put on the market—despite acknowledging that the seed is almost certain to contaminate normal, non-GE (you know, natural) seed. This is especially dangerous for organic farmers, who have no defenses against their organic alfalfa becoming contaminated with Monsanto’s GE seed. It could cost them their organic certification. It could cost you control over what you eat if contamination decimates organic supplies.
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Pasture and Climate Change: FAO sees “vast potential”

A new report by the United Nations has added credence to the view that sustainable grazing and pasture management can significantly contribute to the fight against global climate change. Entitled, "Review on Evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change," this paper offers much-needed discussion about the role that pasture can play in our efforts to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve these important carbon-sequestering ecosystems. Pasturelands are under increasing pressure from development, salinization, overgrazing and transition to annual cropping for grain production (much of which goes to livestock feed). However, if properly managed they represent a carbon sink that could be even greater than forests.
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Burps Without the Blame: New report defends grassfed in climate debate

For most of human history, our relationship with cattle has been about the foods they produce: milk, meat and cheese. Today, a new bovine "product" has captured our interest and may indeed affect the future production of the others. This new product is gas. Cow burps are the most recent in the list of accused contributors to global warming from the livestock sector. However, a simple measurement of methane production does not tell the whole story. A new report by the Soil Association reevaluates greenhouse gas production in agriculture, taking into account the grazing system - not just the "end product." This controversy erupted in recent years as figures emerged about agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. As we discussed in our November 16, 2009 blog, "Beware of Bad Science," grassfed cattle actually produce fewer emissions than those finished in feedlots, simply because of the carbon sequestration in their pasture-based systems. The new Soil Association report confirms this and adds new data to support the position.
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Beware of Bad Science

On November 5, a “news article” appeared word-for-word across countless livestock-related websites – including Drovers, Dairy Herd, Cattle Network, AgWired, DairyLine, Beef Magazine, and so on. No journalist is cited as the author on any of the sites where it is published, an indication that the piece was not a ”news article” at all but a press release issued by an unidentified source. Entitled “Environmentally Friendly Food Myths Debunked,” the news article provided coverage of a presentation given by Dr. Jude Capper at the 71st Cornell Nutrition Conference in October 2009. Her presentation reported findings from a recent paper co-authored with R.A. Cady and D.E. Bauman, entitled, “Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production."
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Poultry Litter as Cattle Feed? Believe it.

A recent newspaper article brought home once again the extraordinary reality of industrialized food production – and lengths that some in the US food and farming industry will go to in the pursuit of "efficiency." This time, it was an article in the LA Times about the currently legal practice of feeding US cattle so-called "poultry litter." An unlikely sounding cattle feed, poultry litter is actually made up of industrial chicken feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and other poultry waste collected from the floors of factory farms across the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – which is responsible for protecting public health and is at the center of this current situation for continuing to permit poultry litter as a feedstuff – estimates that US farmers currently feed between one and two million tons of poultry litter to their cattle each year.
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Willie Nelson Shares New Nelson/Dylan Tune for Family Farmers

Willie Nelson appeared on CNN yesterday, talking about Farm Aid and the struggle of America's family farms. In this clip, he also performs a new song to be premiered at Farm Aid, which he co-authored with Bob Dylan. Animal Welfare staff members and three Animal Welfare Approved farmers are on hand at Farm Aid this weekend to spread the word about the benefits of pasture-based farming and high-welfare standards. Hope to see you at the Homegrown Village and at tonight's Farm Aid Eve dinner where all of the pork and beef served will be from AWA farmers Fudge Family Farms (pork) and American Grass Fed Beef. Photo: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2008 CLICK BLOG TITLE ABOVE TO SEE THE VIDEO.
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Headed to Farm Aid!!

Come see Animal Welfare Approved staff members Beth, Brigid and Emily at the annual Farm Aid concert, featuring Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews. Farm Aid has raised awareness about farm preservation since the first concert in 1985. One of Farm Aid's core goals is "Growing the Good Food Movement," which it defines as: "growing the number of Americans reaching for and demanding family farm-identified, local, organic or humanely-raised food." We couldn't agree more.
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