Delaying the Organic Animal Welfare Rule is Nothing to Crow About

It’s springtime, and you may be too occupied with your summer vacation planning or planting tatsoi to pay attention to organic policy, especially when it comes to Animal Welfare. Springtime foibles may have your attention today, but it’s worth paying heed to what’s happening in DC. Even if you don’t give a cluck about chicken or livestock, what’s occurring now in Washington may set a dangerous precedent for all in the organic sector.    Continue reading

Battleground I-522: what’s at stake and why now?

English: Digital Elevation map of Washington s...

English: Digital Elevation map of Washington state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In less than a week the people of Washington State will decide whether most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods and seeds using genetic engineering (GE) will be labeled when offered for retail sale. A “yes” vote on 522 would give Washington shoppers more information about what’s in their food and control over their shopping decisions. Under this initiative, genetically engineered foods to be labeled would include chips, cold cereals, soft drinks, candy, corn and soy.

Our food is already labeled with abundant nutritional information, including sugar, sodium, whether flavors are natural or artificial and if salmon is wild or farm-raised. Food companies are already required to label genetically engineered food in 64 other countries, so why not here? Continue reading

Fall into GMO Action now!

Turning of the SeasonsIt is getting very heated in Washington State despite the fact that fall is officially upon us next week.

I just recently read in Politico that, “Big money is making a comeback in the GMO-labeling battle, but opponents argue that the food industry’s dollars might not carry as much weight this time around.” The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, Bayer Cropscience, Dupont Pioneer and Dow Agrosciences have all contributed big bucks to oppose Washington State -522 which will be on the ballot this November.  The most prominent opponents of GMO labeling, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, wrote $4.5 million and $3.2 million checks, respectively, this week to fund the campaign against I-522, the state’s campaign finance disclosures show. For more information on these companies read my blog: “GMO Answers – It’s all how you ask the Question”Continue reading

Mr. Organic: Q&A with Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program

Miles Smiling in a Strawberry Field (2)It’s hard to find anyone who knows more about organic policy than Miles McEvoy. Miles began working in organic agriculture for the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in 1988. Prior to that, he spent 10 years working on farms, with fisheries and in forests.  He says this background provided him with valuable context on the keys to sustainably producing and harvesting food, while still running a successful business. His perspective is a unique one, in that it combines the idealism of a grassroots farmer and environmentalist with the knowledge of someone who’s spent years working within WSDA and now the USDA.

I recently sat down with Miles for an interview on topics ranging from organic history to new initiatives to challenges for our industry. Below is the first part of the two-part interview. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Continue reading