Friday, March 30, 2012

Ethan's Farm and Food Roundup

EthanThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has decided to declare some breeds of on-farm pigs “invasive species.” This means that owning free-range pigs on farms across Michigan will be illegal, and the only type of pigs that will be allowed under the new law are pigs at indoor CAFO facilities. With the Michigan Pork Producers Association endorsing the new law, free-range pork producers from across the state have rallied together to bring a lawsuit to the DNR and its Director.

In a new type of “gag” law, Pennsylvania doctors will be able to gain access to the chemicals used in fracking in cases where patients may have disease caused by fracking chemicals (companies are protected from having to tell the public what chemicals are used), but will be unable to share the names of these chemicals with their patients. “The whole goal of medical community is to protect public health”, explained David Masur, director of PennEnvironment. This law seems to be a way to prevent transparency and scare doctors away from potential research into the chemicals used in fracking.

Atina Diffley’s new book Turn Here Sweet Corn is about her organic farm, and how she took on one of the largest pipeline companies in a legal battle to save it. “Nature should have legal rights of its own, but it doesn’t. To protect nature in our court of law it is required to show a loss to humans, so humans have to stand up and speak for it,” she said in an interview about the intruding pipeline project.

Last week, a team of environmental groups brought evidence to the court against the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in farm animals. Judge Theodore H. Katz ordered the Obama Administration to tell pharmaceutical companies that the government might be moving to ban some popular antibiotics for use in meat production. This ruling could be a pivotal point in the fight against the overuse of antibiotics in our food system.

The next century will pose some very serious threats to farmers throughout the world. This report looks specifically at the country of Bangladesh, where famine killed more than a million people in the 70s but now farmers are able to produce enough food for the entire country. With rising seas, and cyclones constantly threatening the area, farmers are faced with stronger and more frequent storms erratic rainfall and salty soils that make it impossible to grow crops. The secret, according to the country’s environmental minister, depends on luck and some preventative engineering that might lessen the effects of natural disaster.

The National Organic Program published an updated list of certified organic operations this week, showing the latest in certification status of USDA organic operations. The findings show that the number of organic farming operations in the U.S. has grown 240% since 2002 when the National Organic Program began its oversight role.

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