The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hosted a conference from March 12 to 13 at North Carolina State University. The conference focused on the importance of coexistence between conventional, organic, identity preserved, and genetically engineered crops.
The conference was a place where experts could put in their two cents and help the USDA form a plan to better promote agricultural coexistence in the US. Sessions were organized to discuss the the current state of affairs, challenges, and additional steps the USDA is considering to respond to the challenges.
EMAC Director, Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, presented at the workshop. His speech focused on the economic lessons learned from non-GM markets in the United States. Other speakers included Gary Woodward, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; Ron Moore, Secretary of the American Soybean Association; and Errol Schweizer, Executive Global Grocery Coordinator for Whole Foods Market.
A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.
The study, to be published online Wednesday, Dec. 10, in theProceedings of the Royal Society B, tackles the lingering perception that organic farming, while offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemically intensive agriculture, cannot produce enough food to satisfy the world’s appetite.
This November, voters in Colorado and Oregon voted down referenda that would require the labeling of foods with genetically modified (GM) ingredients, joining California and Washington, where similar ballot measures have failed. However, the issue is far from settled. In May, the Vermont legislature passed the first mandatory law, scheduled to go into effect July 2016—but not without a fight. In June, the Grocery Manufacturers Association of Washington, DC, a leading opponent of state labeling laws, joined with other food trade organizations in filing a lawsuit contesting the Vermont law. (more…)