from: jill davies <>

subject: wsawg e-newsletter vol. 1, #7 september 2006





vol. 1, #7
september, 2006

website links:


field of flowers
in this issue...

if your email version is hard to read, please refer to the webpage version:     



farm bill update -  

         usda releases 5th farm bill theme paper   analysis of key factors that will affect future growth in u.s. agriculture: international trade, research and development, protection of agriculture from pests and diseases, and challenges in preparing the next generation of farmers. available online.

          bills to reform farm programs starting to be introduced,  for example:

                1.  healthy farms, foods and fuels act, introduced by rep. ron kind (d-wi) along with 28 co-sponsors, a proposed outline for the conservation and energy titles of the next farm bill, with some direct marketing, community food, and organic provisions also attached.  the bill proposes to double conservation spending and triple energy spending, has some great provisions and also some problems, according to sac.   
2.  rural energy for america act, introduced by senator tom harkin (d-ia)  (s 3890) with 4 co-sponsors.  this bill is the first in what will be a series of legislative proposals for the farm bill energy title.  the bill would rename the farm bill�s section 9006 renewable energy and energy efficiency program to the rural energy for america program (reap).  it also would increase overall funding to $250 million, provide a new grant option for wind energy development, push for direct loans as part of the program rather than just loan guarantees, and allow rural schools to participate in the program. 

          administration's farm bill proposal for january:  usda secretary mike johanns announced that the bush administration plans to send a proposal for a new five-year farm bill to capitol hill in january with three main objectives: to increase �equity� with greater support for the 60 percent of u.s. farmers who currently receive no commodity payments; to increase predictability for producers; and to make the farm bill compliant with wto trade rules.

          the sac farm bill platform  to be released  wednesday october 11

watch for notices on our wsawg listserv or visit:   if your organization would like to help release the report in your state or region and have not already been contacted, please contact us by very early next week:    jill:

         chicago council releases farm bill proposal:  on wednesday, the chicago council on global affairs' agriculture task force released a report today outlining a roadmap for the 2007 farm bill, with special emphasis on eliminating trade-distorting agricultural subsidies within five years.

contaminated rice

           euro scientists refuse safety clearance for gm rice  in a statement released by the gmo panel of the european food safety authority, the euro scientists pointedly refuse to give a safety clearance for the unauthorized gm rice variety named ll601, which has contaminated us rice products.  rice cargoes are "frozen" at european ports while sampling and testing for the illegal rice variety proceeds.  thus far, at least 33 food samples have proved positive for the gm rice, and food has been taken off shelves in germany, france, sweden and switzerland following positive test results.

           usda seeks public vomment on deregulation of ge rice   the us dept of agriculture (usda) has initiated fast-track market approval of bayer's illegal gm rice variety - ll601 - that has contaminated long-grain rice, throwing rice markets into turmoil and potentially causing harm to consumers and the environment. bayer field-tested ll601 from 1998-2001, but for unknown reasons never applied to usda for market approval. [see our action alert below]

           legal petition against usda approval   the center for food safety (cfs) has filed a legal petition with the u.s. department of agriculture (usda) that seeks to prevent the post hoc approval of an illegal genetically engineered rice recently found in the world's food supply.   "usda's stamp of approval to genetically engineered rice after it has illegally contaminated the food supply would set a dangerous precedent, rewarding the biotech industry's negligence and thereby making similar contamination episodes more likely in the future," said miyoko sakashita, staff attorney at cfs.

           us supply chain severely disrupted  a statement by the major uk rice importer tilda rice says, "the us supply chain to europe is now severely disrupted."

           bayer seeks eu approval for similar gm rice  bayer has applied for permission to market in the eu a liberty herbicide-resistant rice similar to the banned contaminant ll601 rice.

           potential allergenicity of gm rice from china  in a statement, three leading international scientists have expressed their concern about the unapproved experimental gm rice found in europe in products from china.  this rice contains a gene for the cry1ac protein, with similar immunogenic properties to cry1ac3.  cry1ac, the scientists point out, "has not been approved for human consumption in any food crop and there is concern over its potential allergenicity."

         major economic damage being inflicted by the gm industry.    thanks to gmo�s, american farmers have already suffered the loss of their corn export market to the eu, worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. us soybean exports to the eu, historically america's most lucrative overseas market, have also now "dropped to almost economically insignificant levels".    now rice.   the wall street journal reports that the latest gm contamination scandal is not just hitting farmers.  it's also proving a major headache for importers and the food industry: "companies are struggling to find reliable suppliers and to avoid legal suits by testing their product lines," "food importers may face costly legal challenges".

          another gm rice in the us has human genes in it: �...the current trials, in california's sutter county, risk contaminating surrounding rice crops destined for human consumption.�

          article - spilling the beans   the us rice industry needs to take a lesson from hawaiian coffee growers, says author jeffrey smith. growers throughout the state stopped their coffee becoming contaminated with gm varieties by insisting on a halt to studies that could lead to outdoor gm coffee trials. "not so for the rice industry... amid the lawsuits and rejected shipments, the rice industry must now decide whether to belatedly follow the coffee growers' example. they can tell the government and five multinational gm crop companies, 'no more outdoor  gm rice trials!'   or they can continue to risk costly episodes of contamination."   


organic farming degree from u. of florida:   joining colorado state and washington state, the university of florida has announced that it, too, would offer a degree in organic farming.  read the story here


dna changes in a gmo crop    the monsanto-funded donald danforth plant science center has quietly admitted in may this year that the gm cassava developed in partnership with the kenya agricultural research institute (kari) and a consortium that includes usaid and monsanto, is no longer virus resistant.  it was revealed that after genetically engineering the cassava line y-85, "the resistance was subsequently lost, and [changes to] the plant's dna had taken place." kari had apparently been intending to apply for field trials for the crop in kenya.  but as with the failed kari/ monsanto gm sweet potato project, the failure of the crop has not stopped it being hyped as proof that gm will solve hunger in africa.

solar cells change electricity distribution   in separate announcements over the past few months, researchers at the university of johannesburg and at nanosolar, a private company in paloalto, have announced major breakthroughs in reducing the cost of solar electric cells.

rbgh on the run in previous enews issues we reported on at least 7 dairies/processors going rbgh free.  now dean foods, the largest processor and distributor of milk and dairy products in the country, became the latest company to offer rbst-free milk products. the company will launch the products in new england.

lopez kids get new farm-to-school program.    the goal of the project is to provide k-12 students with the opportunity to grow their own food, which will be integrated into the cafeteria menu. lopez island farm education (life) garden program.


school fundraiser links children to local farms  instead of selling candy or magazines, fourth graders at central lake elementary school in kalkaska, michigan are selling local farm products such as jam, maple syrup and fresh apples to raise money for their school. their class curriculum projects engage children in farming and the business of producing food.  read more


preemption bills update -  california:  proponents of precautions for genetically engineered crops declared victory in their battle to defend the rights of counties and cities to enact local restrictions on genetically engineered (ge) organisms. sb1056, a bill that would have pre-empted such local laws, failed to make it out of committee in the california senate and died with the close of the legislative year.


gm food animals coming  foods derived from genetically modified animals are far from safe. they are likely to be contaminated by potent vaccines, immune regulators, and growth hormones, as well as nucleic acids, viruses, and bacteria that have the potential to create pathogens and to trigger cancer.


csp watersheds announced for 2007 the 51 watersheds selected as eligible for the 2007 conservation security program (csp). a map of the eligible watersheds by state is available online. 


nop - new amendments to the list of allowed and prohibited substances

on september 11 the national organic program published in the federal register final rule amendments to the list of allowed and prohibited substances for crops and processing.

farm to college at u of montana which recently celebrated both its third anniversary and millionth dollar channeled to montana food purchases. in-state purchases now exceed 13 percent of the university dining service's annual food budget. the program has been a model for montana, helping producers improve their ability to supply institutions, spawning programs at other schools in the state, and involving students in research that documents the effects of, and potential for, the program.


e.coli in spinach -  excerpt from "tainted spinach is just another sign of a sick food/farm system": infectious disease specialists such as prof. lee riley at uc-berkeley are right on target when they remark that such food-borne outbreaks do not occur in africa or asia since this type of disaster was basically created by corporate agribusiness practices.  academic studies have shown time and again that livestock force-fed grain in confinement have up to 300 times more pathogenic bacteria in their system as compared to cows allowed to freely graze on grass outdoors.  and one of the dirty little secrets behind california's new found status as the number one dairy state is that it is literally awash in factory farm manure, which enters as runoff into channels designed to irrigate vegetables and blows as clouds of dust onto nearby produce fields.




the plain language guide to the world summit on sustainable development (january, 2005). aims to provide a quick access to the johannesburg plan of implementation to help promote genuine public understanding of the agreement and practical action on the commitments. it is a resource book for those working in community groups, business, local government, central government departments, regional institutions, and the international community.


the state of the world�s cities 2006/7 (june 2006). over the next year, the world's population will be more urban than rural for the first time in history. this new volume discusses issues including epidemic disease, overcrowding, malnutrition, crime and proposes practical policy reforms.


online listing of organic seeds the organic materials review institute, introduced a new online listing service for organic seeds this month.  the omri database will provide accurate information on the availability and supply of hundreds of certified organic seed varieties. omri provides independent verification of organic certification for listed seeds, so seed suppliers are charged a fee for each seed variety listed per year.    related attra publication:   suppliers of organic seed


list of renewable energy conferences coming up, also articles:


world resources institute (wri) offers analysis:  biofuels no.1 - "beyond the renewable fuels standard mandate" in a series of energy-related policy notes to assist congress and other stakeholders considering agricultural and energy policy.  the analysis explores how such expansion will impact agricultural markets, both for commodities and inputs such as livestock feed meals, as well as what impact changing patterns of production can be expected to have on the environment through indicators such as erosion and nutrient runoff.


e.coli 0157 & composting     professor j. cummins has written a very informative article:  


call to action

tell usda not to approve illegal ge rice!   the u.s. department of agriculture (usda) has initiated fast-track market approval of an illegal, genetically-engineered (ge) rice variety that has contaminated long-grain rice throughout the south, throwing rice markets into turmoil and causing potential harm to consumers and the environment.  the variety, known as ll601, was developed by bayer cropscience.  bayer field-tested  ll601 from 1998-2001, but for unknown reasons never applied to usda for market approval.   though it is known that ll601 is illegally present in rice supplies, u.s. authorities have failed to recall ll601-contaminated rice supplies or food products, despite a lack of information on potential health or environmental impacts. in contrast, japan has banned u.s. long-grain rice imports, and the european union is testing u.s. rice shipments and rejecting those that contain ll601.   consumers should not be asked to pay for bayer's mistake. usda should hold bayer accountable: test and recall contaminated food products, make all test protocols and positive samples available to the public, destroy the contaminated rice and compensate farmers and food companies for their losses - not deregulate an illegal product after the fact. 

for more informatiion: 

comments due oct. 10. - take action online:


take action now to stop the peru trade agreement

the house of representatives is expected to vote on the peru free trade agreement during the lame duck session beginning on november 13.  however, your calls are needed now before congress recesses for the elections at the end of this month. tell your representative to vote against the peru fta.   call at (202)224-3121    for more information,


take action: epa considering approval for dangerous pesticides    the epa has been pressuring its scientists to approve continued use of dangerous pesticides.  they include a variety of chemicals used in agriculture, gardens, golf courses, flea collars and pest strips.   the epa recently gave preliminary approval to more than 20 toxic pesticides--against the objections of the agency's own scientists and public health professionals across the nation.  there is still time, the epa's public comment period  ends oct. 2.  please e-mail the epa today before this unjust decision is made permanent.  tell epa administrator stephen johnson to follow the food quality protection act.  there is ample evidence that these pesticides are too toxic to be used safely. tell them their responsibility is to protect the public, not the chemical industry.   go to: 


tell fda to regulate unlabeled and untested nanomaterials in food!
the food and drug administration has scheduled a its first-ever public meeting on october 10, 2006 to discuss the issue of nanotechnology
, a powerful new technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level.  while this is fda�s first meeting on nanotechnology, the agency is behind the curve: many products are already on market shelves that contain unlabeled nanomaterials, including food and packaging products.  thus far, nanotechnology-laced products are treated by fda like any other products or product ingredients; yet scientists agree that nanoparticles are fundamentally different substances that create new and unique risks to human health and the environment and need new forms of safety testing. 


calendar of events - fall 2006

calendar of events

october 4-6 - - annual educational conference of the provender alliance, a non-profit membership organization providing networking, outreach, and education to natural foods and related companies doing business in the nw.  hood river, oregon   


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.   


october 10-11 - - western organic dairy producers alliance conference
santa nella, ca   committee and organizational meetings, panel discussions, workshop on animal id program, pasture walk

october 16 - - the national campaign for sustainable agriculture organic committee will be holding a meeting on monday,  october 16 at the radisson hotel reagan national from approx. 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.   the agenda will include:  review farm bill agenda, national organic action plan, nosb matters a-plenty.


october 18 - -  us ethics and animal biotechnology 

washington d.c. - ,sponsored by the pew initiative on food and biotechnology and michigan state university. the symposium will provide an overview of the ethical implications of creating and using cloned or genetically modified (gm) animals in agriculture, and of utilizing gm agricultural animals for biomedical or industrial purposes.


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 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 3-5 - - inland northwest restoration conference    (location to be determined.)   the first inland nw restoration conference, held last october at wsu in pullman, brought together 170 leaders from across the region to discuss native plants and habitat restoration. the conversation will continue this year along the columbia river between the dalles and the tri-cities.


november 10-12 - - the future of farming:   tilth producers of washington

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  (   the full program and registration details will be available september 1st, online at or by calling (206) 442-7620


bioreality conference join activists in washington, dc, march 27-29, 2007, for the 1st annual bioreality conference. there will be three exciting days of education, lobbying and strategic planning on the issues surrounding genetically engineered foods.  early registration may be � price, see:



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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.
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