vol. 1, #5
july, 2006

website links:

field of flowers
in this issue...


farm bill update -  wto ministerial collapses, the wto's doha negotiations indefinitely suspended across the board - - why? - - "the immediate cause of the dramatic breakdown was the refusal or inability of the us to provide even a hypothetical improvement on its present offer on reduction of the allowed maximum level of trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture." = commodity subsidies.   see twn website, www.twnside.org.sg   

       our sustainable agriculture coalition's farm bill platform release is planned for mid-sept., to also include a "report card" on the last farm bill.

        senate agriculture committee farm bill field hearings in the west will be:  august 15, redmond, oregon, and august 17, great falls, mt.  upcoming house agriculture committee farm bill field hearings in the west: july 31, wall, south dakota, information on the house hearings  http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/schedule.html and for the senate hearings at http://agriculture.senate.gov/hearings/hearings.cfm.

          usda releases 3rd farm bill theme paper - july 7, usda released its third �theme� paper related to the upcoming farm bill negotiations. 

read usda's full rural development theme paper                

read rural development summary

how gmos impact health  the soil association (uk) has compiled a list of results from recent animal feeding studies.  each study used toxicological tissue analysis to determine potential impacts on health. one long-term feeding trial found gmos changed the cell structure and functioning of the liver, pancreas and testes of mice ingesting roundup ready soy.  another study found that gmos have the potential to cause hemorrhaging in the gut wall of rats when ingesting both gm potatoes and tomatoes.
read the full report...


ge moratoriums - the santa cruz county, california, board of supervisors voted recently in favor of the concept of a county moratorium on genetically engineered (ge) crops.  santa cruz joins three other california counties and a growing number of town resolutions in new england that have adopted ordinances against ge crops. 

preemption bills update -

red = laws passed

orange =  introduced

yellow = not passed


 in the spring of 2004, an ordinance (prohibiting the growing of genetically modified organisms) was passed in mendocino county, ca by a large majority of the voters.  the passage of this ordinance, as well as two others passed in nearby california counties and a growing number of town resolutions in new england, set off a counterattack by the american farm bureau federation and agribusiness backed lawmakers across the country.   the preemption bills effectively prohibit local governments and communities from passing policies, ordinances, or initiatives related to seeds and plants (our food) including gmos.  since november 2004, nineteen (19) �seed preemption� bills have been introduced.  in fourteen states, the bills were passed into law quickly and with very little public input.        http://www.environmentalcommons.org/gmo-tracker.html     

californians for a ge-free agriculture is an organization working hard to fight its preemption bill - visit www.calgefree.org.

marker assisted selection (mas) to replace ge ?  jeremy rifkin speculates that a new genetic technology called marker assisted selection could make genetically modified crops obsolete and, ironically, an obstacle to progress. mas uses crop genome mapping to rapidly accelerate classical plant breeding.  one impediment to successful application of mas may be that the seed of several major crop plants has been contaminated with dna sequences originating in genetically modified plants, which complicates the genome mapping process and may not be desirable to have in the genome.  varying viewpoints on benefits and risks of this technology are offered in the following documents:


http://www.sustainableagriculture.net/ge/soil assn onmas.rtf   


the local organizing toolkit, compiled by the genetic engineering action network (gean), is now available at http://www.geaction.org/new.html . the local organizing toolkit is a compilation of materials that can help grassroots groups take on winnable, strategic campaigns; and bring together materials that will support local efforts in communities throughout the united states.  the toolkit consists of an introduction, acknowledgements, table of contents, and eight chapters:  1. develop a local group. 2. develop a campaign plan, 3. get media coverage, 4. local fundraising and special events, 5. local resolutions, 6. rbgh-free dairies, 7. gm-free schools, 8. ge-free farmers markets

7th bse-positive cow in canada    on thursday, july 13, the canadian food inspection agency confirmed a bse-positive 4-year-old dairy cow found in western alberta.  this is the seventh animal found within canada, but overall is the ninth canadian bse-positive animal discovered in the past few years.  the animal was born well after the 1997 ruminant feed ban was implemented in canada, raising questions surrounding the effectiveness and enforcement of the feed ban.  it remains uncertain whether this latest discovery will impact usda�s efforts to expand cattle/beef trade with canada to accept animals older than 30 months of age.  usda will be sending an official to participate in canada�s investigation to identify how this animal was exposed to bse infected material.    read johanns statement    meanwhile, the usda is proposing reducing its testing for  bse in us cows.

biofuels update -  while state laws are being passed to encourage biofuel use, new reports add fuel to the fire. the worldwatch institute published a report in june that concludes that biofuels are poised for strong growth worldwatch institute press release,

                a study from the university of minnesota concludes that corn ethanol delivers 25 percent more energy than is used in its production while biodiesel from soybeans generates 93 percent more energy than is used in its production. the study also notes the limitations of both fuels, and the researchers look to non-food plants that can grow on marginal lands with minimal input of fertilizers and pesticides as the best hope for biofuels.   university of minnesota press release and the abstract on the pnas web

                a new report from the u.s. department of agriculture (usda) examines the feasibility of producing ethanol from sugar, a process used heavily in brazil. producing ethanol from sugar cane, sugar beets, or raw or refined sugar is questionable, however, since it costs twice as much as producing ethanol from corn. see the usda report (pdf 367 kb).

                g8 leaders address global energy security and climate change, and adopted a new plan of action that addresses a wide range of actions regarding global energy security, including energy efficiency and renewable energy.  the plan also notes that the g8 members "will continue to work to reduce greenhouse gases and deal effectively with the challenge of climate change,"   (hrumph!)

                investments: what do venture capitalists, bill gates and major investment banks have in common?  they are all making large bets on ethanol.    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/08/business/08offline.html


rbgh on the run  last month we reported on 6 dairies/processors going rbgh free.   add on: wilcox dairy, a major pacific nw dairy processor.  the dairy produces 2 million gallons of milk per month, and markets its milk from northern california to alaska.


organic food - nutritional information  this publication summarizes some of the facts and viewpoints surrounding this issue, and provides resources for further reading. http://www.soilandhealth.org/06clipfile/nutritional quality of organically-grown food.html


organic dairy rules update  cornucopia institute filed a complaint with the office of compliance for the nop, claiming that aurora organic dairy in texas is keeping its milk herd confined, not providing meaningful access to pasture for grazing, and might have fed its dairy cows rations treated with prohibited pesticides and herbicides.  cornucopia institute: http://cornucopia.org/

the world�s food seeds to be stored in deepfreeze  the high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the arctic circle.   planners had to consider what would happen if global warming continues unabated.  computer models suggest that no matter what, svalbard island will be one of the coldest places on earth



parkinson�s disease linked with pesticide exposure a study published in the july issue of annals of neurology offers evidence of a link between pesticide exposure and parkinson's disease, reports scientific american.


call to action

stop the "food uniformity bill" in the senate   s. 3128 is the companion bill in the senate to hr 4167, the national uniformity for food act bill that passed in the u.s. house. this bill would end state and local food safety and labeling regulations and pre-empt future ones that aren't identical to federal regulations.  members of the house put special interests before public interest when they approved h.r. 4167 by a vote of 283 to 139.   we still have a chance to stop this legislation in the senate! a senate hearing is scheduled for july 27.  a markup and vote might occur in sept. and then it could go to the floor. your senators need to know you oppose any attempts to strip your state's ability to protect and inform their citizens concerning food safety.
here is an action alert urging members of the senate help committee to oppose the food uniformity bill for those of you in (or with members in) the following states: tn, nm, nc, ny, oh, ct, nv, wy, nh, ia, ut, ga, vt, ma, md, wa, ri, ks, and al: http://ga3.org/campaign/food_uniformity_help_committee (if you do not live in one of these states, this site will not work for you.)


epa accepting comments on pesticide residues in food    comments due by aug 4
a coalition of health and environmental groups have filed a petition with the epa, indicating the agency has violated federal laws for establishing allowable levels of fluoride pesticide residues in foods. the petition comes on the heels of over 7,000 epa employees calling for stronger limitations of fluoride in food and water, as well as a recent report from the national academy of sciences indicating the average american diet has unsafe levels of fluoride. specifically, the petitioners (including fluoride action network, beyond pesticides and environmental working group) are asking the epa to prohibit the use of sulfuryl fluoride in food production. elevated levels of fluoride are associated with bone fractures, thyroid function losses, iq deficits, bone cancer, and alzheimer's disease.    http:www.organicconsumers.org/rd/fluoride.htm


calendar of events

calendar of events

july 31 - august 6 - - eat in, act out week - speak out for local food!
 join groups around the world to celebrate and speak out together for local food in our communities. sponsored by blast and the food project.  for information on hosting an  event. www.thefoodproject.org/eatinactout 


august 7-9 - -the future of agriculture: science, stewardship, and sustainability     sacramento, ca - participants will include innovative producers and processors, regulators and policy experts, environmental and remediation professionals, research and extension faculty and students, industrial exhibitors, and community leaders.  http://www.dce.ksu.edu/dce/conf/ag&environment/


august 21-26 - - principles of the soil foodweb workshop series

corvallis, or - sustainable studies institute in cooperation with soil foodweb, inc. will be conducting workshops as developed by dr. elaine ingham incorporating soil microbiology, soil ecology, chemistry, and agriculture. the classes will cover  soil biology, compost technology, compost teas and light microscope techniques. http://www.soilfoodweb.com/04_news/calendar.htm


august 24 - - nat�l center for appropriate technology - sustainabilityfest

butte, mt - ncat is turning 30!  come help us celebrate! learn about solar, wind, energy resources, local foods, solar cooking, organic gardening and greenhouses. demonstrations, workshops, kids activities, local foods and entertainment. www.sustainablemontana.org


sept. 22-24 - - �climate challenge:  strategies for montana�s future�

helena, mt.    to acquaint montana�s agricultural community, hunters, fishers, and citizens with the current thinking of the impacts of climatic change on montana�s economy and lifestyles and to begin the development of state strategies to address and minimize impacts. contact land tawney http://www.mtclimatechallenge.org/index.htm-        tawney@nwf.org


sept. 23 to oct 7 - - montana permaculture design course    hot springs, mt.   see:  www.friendsofthetrees.net  for this and other permaculture events


october 7-11 - - bridging borders toward food security   vancouver, bc
tenth annual community food security coalition conference, held in conjunction with food secure canada. up to 1,000 north american and international delegates will meet to discuss advances in food policy, programs and community organizing for more sustainable food systems. www.foodsecurity.org   


october 20-22 - - bioneers 2006  in san rafael, california as well as �beamed� to 17 other communities across the united states. conference details and registration will be available at www.bioneers.org in june.   beaming sites in the west include:  bozeman, mt, taos, nm, anchorage, ak, boulder, co, eugene, or, flagstaff, az, honolulu, hi, logan, ut


november 10-12 - - the future of farming:   tilth producers of washington annual conference vancouver, washington,  red lion at the quay   keynote address: bringing the farm economy home by helena norberg-hodge,

founder of the international society for ecology and culture  (http://www.isec.org.uk) and author of many books.


wsawg manages 3 listservs:
wsawggmo dealing with genetically modified organisms
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and wsawg for general and organic agriculture issues.

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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