vol. 2, #3
march, 2007

website links:


field of flowers
in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:   http://www.westernsawg.org/newsletter13.htm         

also, all past issues are at  http://westernsawg.org/enews.htm      



farm bill update -  

       community food security coalition website has lots of information regarding their legislative priorities for the 2007 farm bill that relate to building local food systems, and actions that support them, plus analyses of some of the major proposed bills, discussion of farm to cafeteria topics and action alerts.   http://www.foodsecurity.org/policy.html#cfscleg   

         bill to exempt cafo waste from superfund introduced:  sen. blanche lincoln (d-ar) introduced s. 807 to exempt manure from the superfund and community right to know acts.  rep. rep. collin peterson (d-mn) introduced a companion bill h.r. 1398.  both statutes already contain exemptions for the normal application of fertilizer, including manure.  the primary purpose of the legislation is to protect large-scale cafos which over-apply animal waste.   a large coalition is opposing this bill.

          commodity payment limits amendment  the grassley-dorgan measure to reduce funding for the commodity program section of the budget and reinvest the savings in farm conservation, rural development, and food stamps was pulled at the last minute before going to a vote. a majority of the senate is pro-reform, but not yet a super-majority, so this campaign will need to intensify once the farm bill begins in earnest. 

           cardoza specialty crop bill introduced:  horticulture and organic subcommittee chair  dennis cardoza (d-ca) together with 68 co-sponsors introduced h.r. 1600, the eat healthy america act.  this is the specialty crop marker bill for the next farm bill, chock full of funding for fruit and vegetable production. despite advocacy efforts from several quarters, the bill is missing any provision for organic agriculture, farmers markets, or community food projects.  the bill does contain a proposed doubling of eqip funding, but with no new limits or qualifications about funding for irrigation engines and infrastructure and industrial livestock facilities.  in addition, the bill strikes the current prohibition on conservation program payments to multi-millionaires.

           kind-menendez bill introduced:  representative ron kind (d-wi) and senator bob mendendez (d-nj) introduced their �marker� bill for farm bill consideration (hr 1551; senate version not available yet).  according to the sponsors, the bill would increase farm bill spending by about $3 billion a year, with a third of that total in just one program, the environmental quality incentives program (eqip).  the eqip provision would leave in place existing provisions passed in 2002 allowing eqip to subsidize the building and expansion of industrial livestock feeding operations and related waste treatment facilities and to increase the per farm payment limitation $450,000 from its pre-2002 limit of $50,000.  sac has consistently urged the bill�s sponsors to reform eqip rather than just double its spending level, but has not to date been successful in those efforts.


 new rice contamination - a trait from an experimental bayer gm rice variety llrice604 has been found in a popular non-gm rice, called clearfield 131, often planted in arkansas.  last year's contamination incident, which led to financial damage amounting to millions of dollars in the southern states of the usa, involved the contamination of a rice variety called cheniere with bayer's ll601 gm rice.  aphis is calling for a "stop sale" on cl 131 and that leaves arkansas growers without two of their most popular rice varieties just before planting season.  http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom       california rice commission called (3/14) for a moratorium on experimental plantings of gm rice in the state, saying federal controls meant to keep such varieties from contaminating commercial rice are inadequate.


contaminated rice turns up in mexican markets   greenpeace released lab results showing that genetically engineered rice known as liberty link (ll 601) is being sold in at least three markets in mexico.   http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/ 4496

mexico is currently the largest export market for us rice.  rice futures took a nose-dive, falling nearly the 50-cent trading limit in just one day, as three exporters of us milled rice had their shipments to mexico stopped. us export sales were already lagging about 20% from a year ago since gm rice was found in the us rice supply last summer.  mexico is requiring certification from an approved laboratory that the grain is gm-free.      http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7642


 key monsanto patent rejected - the u.s. patent and trademark office has rejected a key patent in monsanto's roundup ready arsenal, possibly stripping the agribusiness giant of its power to license the technology to farmers. the patent is one of four monsanto patents the nonprofit public patent foundation (pubpat) asked the patent office to review last fall, (see dec.�06 enews) alleging they were granted without merit.   monsanto requires farmers to sign a licensing agreement saying they will not save the seed for future planting and has sued a number of producers in high-profile cases, including several in the mid-south, for licensing breaches.    http://www.pubpat.org/monsantovfarmers.htm.


liar, liar, pants on fire - it has been revealed (3/13), at a paris press conference, that the monsanto gm maize (mon863) caused serious damage to the liver and kidneys of rats when consumed during 3 month feeding trials.   the study is published in the peer-reviewed journal "archives of environmental contamination and toxicology".  the study contains an examination of the raw data on mon863 feeding experiments initially suppressed by monsanto but later obtained in 2005 after a court action initiated by greenpeace in germany.  upon detailed analysis, the french team uncovered an increase of up to 40%  in blood triglycerides in females, and a more than 30% decrease in urine phosphorus and sodium in males, specifically linked to the gm diet. the reasons for these changes are unclear, but they may provide clues to the deaths of many animals which have consumed bt feed in other animal experiments. mon 863 produces a new insecticide called "modified cry3bb1�.   it has been cultivated since 2003 in several countries, including the united states and canada.   www.springerlink.com/content/ 1432-0703,   


whole foods - bigger and better -  whole foods, already the largest natural and organic foods retailer, has now acquired wild oats markets.   www.wholefoods.com    in addition,  whole foods, recently announced that they would seek a new certification for their products, "non-gmo verified," in the hopes that it will become a voluntary industry standard for gm-free goods.   a non-profit group called the non-gmo project runs the program, and the testing is conducted by genetic id.   this is in response to tests which have found gmo contamination in supposedly organic dairy feed.  www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1599110,00.html


rr alfalfa moratorium - a federal judge ruled (march 12) that the usda's 2005 approval of rr alfalfa is reversed and ordered an immediate halt to sales of the seed.  this is the first time a court has banned commercial sale and planting of a gm crop and stops the irreversible harm that would be caused by widespread planting of gm alfalfa. this ruling follows a ruling last month finding that the usda violated national environmental laws by approving ge alfalfa without a full environmental impact statement. for more information, and to read the judge's decision, visit  www.centerforfoodsafety.org  the judge has scheduled a hearing on april 27 on their request for a permanent injunction.    www.worc.org   


pharm crops

         proposal to allow field testing of gmo safflower in eastern wa. most of the safflower would be engineered with a carp growth hormone gene to produce a drug for farmed shrimp.   if the usda approves the 1,000-acre request, it would make eastern washington home to the biggest planting of pharmaceutical food crops ever allowed in the united states."  the  canadian biotech company also has applied to plant an acre of safflower engineered with a human gene to produce experimental insulin for treating diabetes   http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main    professor joe cummins has very good comments that he will send to anyone who asks:   jcummins@uwo.ca   

       human proteins in rice in kansas - the agriculture department has given a preliminary green light for the first commercial production of a food crop engineered to contain human genes.  the request from california-based ventria bioscience to grow 3,200 acres of rice using human genes in kansas is pending.   two varieties of the rice produce two human immune system proteins that are bacteria fighting compounds found in breast milk and saliva. the proteins are to be extracted for use as anti-diarrhea medicine for use in developing countries. the company is also talking to the fda about putting the proteins into health foods.  its third variety of rice makes serum albumin, a blood protein used in medical therapies. on feb. 28, the usda published its draft environmental assessment, which concluded that the project posed no undue risks.

environmental rights action points out that diarrhea has well-known causes (such as contaminated drinking water) with proven, inexpensive solutions. and in a clinical trial of the gm rice held in peru, there were reports of infants suffering serious allergic reactions, causing the peruvian government to launch an enquiry into the experiment.  http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7663

the public can comment until march 30.   see call to action below.

         barley pharm - since 2001 washington state university has been experimenting with barley, injecting human genes to produce a variety of substances. http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/0409/sc0409-biopharming.html

        hawaii biopharm court decision: federal court conclusion last august that the agriculture department repeatedly broke the law by allowing companies to plant crops genetically engineered to produce medicines and vaccines on hundred of acres in hawaii.


        tobacco ge�d to produce antibodies - to be field tested, usda announced the ea is available for review and comments on the proposal will be received until april 26.  http://aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/05_35401r_ea.pdf.

         sign a ucs petition calling for a nationwide ban on growing pharma food crops outdoors at www.protectourfood.org.


toxic chemical leaching from canned foods - an alarming new study from the environmental working group analyzed samples of canned fruit, vegetables, soda, and baby formula on sale in the nation's supermarkets and found that more than 50% were tainted with a chemical linked to birth defects, adhd and cancer. the chemical, bisphenol a (bpa), is an ingredient in plastics that lines food cans.  according to the study, the chemical has been leaching into foods at levels up to 200 times the government's recommended "safe" level of exposure.       http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4414.cfm


protests at uc berkeley   the firestorm of controversy over the $500 million biofuel pact tying uc berkeley to one of the world�s biggest and most criticized oil giants, bp, intensified with a teach-in, a faculty forum, a demonstration and even 1 or 2 arrests.  according to uc berkeley historian, iain boal, bp's half-billion-dollar deal is nothing less than massive greenwashing by a corrupt corporation - supported by a governor eager "to keep his eight hummers running on alcohol."   the forum, sponsored by uc�s academic senate, was marked by biting criticism from the floor and a brilliant speech from dr ignacio chapela, which is a must read:    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7617   and many resources at   http://www.stopbp-berkeley.org/


bees dying  one out of every three bites of food that we consume is due to the work of honeybees, serving as crucial pollinators. yet food production may be severely impacted by the recently reported colony collapse disorder (ccd).  beekeepers are reporting estimates as high as 80% loss of their honey bee colonies.   scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared.  some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi -- a sign, experts say, that the insects' immune system may have collapsed.  there is suspicion that the bt gene might be a contributory factor, weakening the bee immune system.

       pennsylvania beekeeper john mcdonald thinks that bt crops could be responsible for the massive die-off of bees in the us.   http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7624  

       sierra club also has sent a letter to our elected officials to initiate investigations to determine if exposure to ge crops or corn syrup from bt corn is the missing link.  http://www.sierraclub.org/biotech/whatsnew/whatsnew_2007-03-21.asp  

       an article in der spiegel, germany's most influential news magazine, also asks if the decimation of bee populations in the us and germany is a result of gm crops. http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7676


federation of organic dairy farmers established - the midwest organic dairy producers association, western organic dairy producers alliance and northeast organic dairy producers alliance formed an umbrella organization to represent producers nationally. the federation of organic dairy farmers (food farmers) represents 850 farms. their  primary concern is for national organic program standards to require cows to be on pasture 120 days a year, with 30% dry-matter intake. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4490.cfm  


biofuels backlash - criticism of the new biofuels goldrush is coming from many quarters.  george monbiot, in the widely read uk paper, the guardian,  admonishes governments  for their biofuels subsidies. 






jeffrey smith�s new book: from the author of seeds of deception: genetic roulette: the documented health risks of genetically engineered foods.  in his foreword to genetic roulette, former uk government environment minister michael meacher says, " the case presented is absolutely a smoking shotgun that should stop in its tracks any dabbling with gm foods, whether by individual families, food companies, or indeed nations."  gmo experts arpad pusztai and susan bardocz write, "jeffrey smith's genetic roulette is a real treasure and the most important gmo source book for policy makers, scientists, and the public."   publisher: yes! books, www.geneticroulette.com; hardcover; 336 pages; $27.95


oregon tilth provides socially just farming education: best known as a world leader in organic certification, or. tilth also promotes sustainable agriculture education, socially equitable farming and community food access.  capital press reports that in 2000 the oregon nonprofit opened its organic education center on a 64-acre former dairy farm bequeathed to the city by the late rudie luscher.  oregon tilth now teaches farming to students from kindergarten to college, and grows food in its organic demonstration gardens.  last summer they donated almost 3,000 pounds of food and have started growing greens specifically for two portland social service agencies. oregon tilth,


resource guide helps get local foods into low-income neighborhoods - the institute for agriculture and trade policy has published a new resource guide to help community leaders address public health issues associated with poor diets and food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods.  the guide provides a number of useful ideas and creative approaches, as well as links and other resources, that can help officials get started with programs that increase low-income access to local, healthy foods. www.iatp.org  

farmers market promotion program open for business:   usda�s agricultural marketing service issued the fy2007 notice of funding availability (nofa) for the farmers market promotion program, with about $1 million in total funding. the  application guidelines and other information are posted on the web at http://www.ams.usda.gov/fmpp/.    due april 13.


new report from cfs on cloning - center for food safety reveals that milk and meat from clones is untested and may pose health risks to consumers.  the center is calling on fda to issue a mandatory ban on the use of clones in food production until long-term studies demonstrate the safety of these foods and the vitally important ethical and animal welfare issues in cloning are resolved, and have requested an extension of the comment period to give americans adequate time to review the agency's findings and make their views heard.  public comments can be sent to fda through the center's website    www.centerforfoodsafety.org.   


understanding farmers� market rules booklet  by farmers� legal action group      understanding farmers' market rules (pdf-310 kb).


hormones in beef - study  men whose mothers ate a lot of beef during their pregnancy have a sperm count about 25% below normal and three times the normal risk of fertility problems, researchers reported tuesday.  the problem may be due to anabolic steroids used in the united states to fatten the cattle, dr. shanna h. swan of the university of rochester medical center reported in the journal human reproduction.  it could also be due to pesticides and other environmental contaminants, she added.



call to action


comment to usda re/ pharma rice in kansas  usda is announcing the availability of an environmental assessment of ventria bioscience's proposal to plant up to 3200 acres of pharma rice in kansas. according to the fr notice, the purposes of the plantings are for extraction of lactoferrin, lysozyme, and serum albumin for commercial and research products and for seed production (for subsequent plantings).  comments are due march 30.    please comment to usda, urging an immediate ban on this and all other outdoor production drugs and industrial compounds in food crops.   go to:  http://ga3.org/campaign/ventria_ks/wbe86se4oww877i      


 sign ucs petition on pharm crops  the union of concerned scientists (ucs) has a petition, policy paper, database and documents dealing with frequently asked questions about pharm crops posted on its new ucs website at http://www.protectourfood.org


step it up! national day of action on climate change  this april 14th, tens of thousands of americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. we will hike, bike, climb, walk, swim, kayak, canoe, or simply sit or stand with banners of our call to action: "step it up congress! cut carbon 80% by 2050." let�s all take one spring day and use it to reshape the future.     http://www.stepitup2007.org/


take action against cloning - deadline april 2  the easiest way is to go to the center for food safety's website     www.centerforfoodsafety.org.


calendar of events - spring 2007

calendar of events

april 16 - 18  annual biocycle west conference - san diego, calif. composting, organics recycling and renewable energy are covered by this conference. specific topics include food safety and compost pathogen sampling protocols, large-scale digester systems for dairies and food processors, agricultural waste management, and more.   www.biocycle.net  


april 5-6,  agriculture at the metropolitan edge - berkeley, california - the new ruralism symposium, a project of the agriculture at the metropolitan edge program at uc berkeley, will bring together researchers, practitioners, producers and policy makers involved in bridging sustainable agriculture and smart growth. the symposium will explore systems- and placed-based issues affecting the urban-rural interface. http://newruralism.pbwiki.com/symposium 


april 14 - step it up! national day of action on climate change - everywhere - tens of thousands of americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change.  we will hike, bike, climb, walk, swim, kayak, canoe, contra dance, or simply sit or stand with banners of our call to action: "step it up congress! cut carbon 80% by 2050." let�s all take one spring day and use it to reshape the future.    http://www.stepitup2007.org/


april 20-22, draft horse and horsedrawn equipment auction sisters, oregon - this annual auction sponsored by small farmer's journal offers a swap meet, networking and educational opportunities, as well as the opportunity to purchase hard-to find horsedrawn equipment. http://www.smallfarmersjournal.com/.docs/pg/2006_auction.html 


april 20-22, synergy sustainable living conference olympia, washington - this is the 6th annual student-run sustainable living conference presented by evergreen state college. admission is free.  http://www.evergreen.edu/events/synergy/    

 may 3-5,  herb society of america educational conference - scottsdale, arizona   this conference will cover a range of topics focusing on the botany and horticulture of herbs and the use and delight of herbs. http://www.herbsociety.org/confer.php   


may 1 - 7   biojustice 2007 - boston - a week long celebration of sustainable food and alternatives to corporate healthcare, being developed by a wide coalition of public interest groups, activists, farmers, scientists, and concerned citizens, working together in response to the biotech industry's international convention scheduled  in boston.   http://www.biodev.org.


july 20 - 22  annual natural marketplace - las vegas, nev.   www.naturalproductsassoc.org  

july 21 - 22  northwest herbfest - pleasant hill, oregon   www.herbaltransitions.com  

august 4 - 12  herbal intensive - pleasant hill, oregon    www.herbaltransitions.com  

october 3 - 5  annual provender alliance conference  - vancouver, wash.   www.provender.org 

october 12 - 14  annual natural products northwest  - seattle, wash.   www.nnfa-northwest.com   



we administer 3 email listservs:   our monthly enews is sent to all 3.

wsawg list - for all topics related to sustainable agriculture, incl organic

wsawg gmo list - for issues related to genetically modified organisms

wsawg conserve list - for issues related to farm bill conservation

(you may also subscribe to just the enews)

to subscribe, (or unsubscribe) 

simply send an email with your request to jill:  rivercare@blackfoot.net    

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mission: the western sustainable agriculture working group is a non-profit organization bringing together diverse individuals and groups working in sustainable agriculture and food systems to share successful models, realize our collective strengths, build regional capacity and inform the agriculture policy debate.
visit us online at www.westernsawg.org