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.
The Animal Welfare Approved program and farmer Lee Menius have been featured in a major story in the Winston Salem Journal newspaper by the paper’s food editor, Michael Hastings.
“In 2001, Lee and his wife, Domisty, started moving away from conventional livestock agriculture toward raising animals naturally in pastures, slaughtering them humanely and selling the meat directly to consumers.”
“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Menius said.
Last year, Menius started participating in a program for his pigs called Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), run by the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.
The AWA program is one of several in this country that recognizes farmers and food producers who use humane practices for raising livestock. Others are the American Humane Certified by the American Humane Association and Certified Humane Raised and Handled by Humane Farm Animal Care. Whole Foods Market is set to introduce its own program this year.
These programs promote an alternative to the factory farms that have dominated for 50 years. They typically offer technical advice as well as help with marketing. And they appeal to the growing segment of consumers who want to know where their meat, poultry and eggs come from. And they want to know that the animals were raised in the best possible way. All of them use certification labels that go on packages of meat so consumers know what they are getting.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals recommends all three programs, rating their labels superior to the USDA Organic label. But in a report last year, the society rated the AWA as having the most stringent standards.
Read the complete article on the Journal’s website.