Why go to Oregon? Because Seed Matters

My friends ask me what exotic place I plan to visit on my next culinary adventure. My wanderlust urged me to attend BioFach in Nuremberg, Germany and relish the schnitzel and bratwurst. Instead, I am off to beautiful downtown Corvallis, Oregon to sample the organic hazelnuts and Pinot Noir while attending the 9th Organic Seed Growers Conference.

Why you may ask this domestic departure? Because all things I savor come from seeds. This year’s theme is Synergy that Sustains, and it’s going to take quite a lot of synergy to sustain and advance organic seed systems worldwide. Continue reading

USDA Study: 9 Problems Electronic GMO Disclosures Would Face

In July 2016 Congress passed the first national GMO labeling legislation in the U.S. It is set to go into effect in July 2018, but not before the Department of Agriculture writes extensive rules for the legislation, which left many questions unanswered.

One of the most controversial parts of the bill would allow companies to use digital disclosures such as QR codes. Due to the heated debate over digital disclosures, Congress stipulated that the USDA must complete a study to identify any technological challenges consumers might face if companies used a digital disclosure for GMO ingredients instead of on-package labels. Continue reading

The GMO Labeling Discussion is Not Yet Over

It was June 2016 when the law passed requiring foods with GMO ingredients to be labeled. This disclosure was the first of its kind in the U.S., a milestone for food transparency and simultaneously a source of monumental discontent for many. The law requires that manufacturers disclose GMO presence but allows for digital means, such as QR codes or links, as a way to comply with labeling.

The law also mandated a study to identify potential challenges associated with the electronic options. The study found multiple problems related to QR codes or links.

As you read this, USDA is writing the regulations implementing the law, and the first draft will be coming out soon. There’s still time for USDA to hear from you on the study’s findings and craft a comprehensive, user-friendly standard. Continue reading

Will FDA Alter the GMO Argument For Organic?

Why do consumers buy certified organic food? They cite the avoidance of persistent insecticides, herbicides and hormones, and to protect the health of their families and the environment. Another significant guarantee the organic label provides consumers is the lack of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs in organic production. A new initiative by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA aims to change public perception on GMO’s. How could the organic label be affected? Continue reading

Serving up a Vegan Burger or Genetic Roulette?

Not all plant-based meat alternatives are created equal. For years the vegans among us have chomped down on black bean burgers and seitan chicken balls, alternatively feasting on Tofurky breast and stuffing. Animal rights groups laud the artisanal vegan meatloaf and tempeh bacon as righteous culinary trends. Who doesn’t want to see an end to confined animal feeding operations by voting with your vegan fork? As technological tongue twisters like CRISPR-CAS9 and Synthetic Biology are changing the face of medicine and agriculture, they are also landing directly onto your vegan plate. One of the newest plant-based products is sizzling with gene-editing techniques to create an impossible burger with potential hidden consequences. Continue reading