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Name change announced for OFPANA

At the September 8th Annual Meeting of the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA), Executive Director, Katherine DiMatteo, announced that by a wide majority the association's membership had voted to change their name to the Organic Trade Association.

A name change for the association had been proposed at the 1993 Annual Meeting and after soliciting suggestions from the membership, the Board of Directors recommended the Organic Trade Association. The new name reflects changes in both the organic industry and in the association. Organically grown ingredients are being used in many non-food products, such as cotton, clothing, cosmetics, and supplements. The membership base has grown to include these businesses.

Source: Organic Trade Association



Report: crop herbicides pose risk

Herbicides commonly used on corn and soybean crops are elevating the cancer risk for more than 14 million water consumers in traditional farming regions and elsewhere, says a report by two non-profit activist groups.

The report states more than 3.5 million people face a cancer risk more than 10 times the maximum federal standard for foods. The standard lifetime exposure should create an added risk of no more than one in 1 million. In some rural areas, the cancer risk is more than 100 times the federal standard.

Environmental Protection Agency Chief Carol Browner says the study "tells us we can no longer take for granted that our drinking water is safe." She has lobbied for stricter drinking water laws and says the EPA already has tried to reduce use of pesticides.

Jay Vroom of the American Crop Protection Association, a chemical trade group, said the report is an "unnecessary attempt to scare the public. Farmers and ranchers . . . handle (chemicals) carefully and as required by law."

The study was done by the Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Source: USA Today


USDA, EPA sign agreement to reduce pesticide risks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing their agencies to "providing the agricultural community with pest management techniques and tools that reduce pesticide risks to public health and the environment, while ensuring economically sound agricultural production," according to EPA. It "complements a detailed pesticide and food safety reform package presented by the Clinton Administration to Congress in the spring," said EPA.

"This agreement will enable EPA to speed up the registration process for pesticide alternatives developed by the USDA" said USDA Secretary Mike Espy.

The agreement also "responds to legitimate concerns from farmers that they be involved when a determination is made that a pesticide poses a risk to human health or the environment," said EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

The agreement includes provisions to increase research for alternative and effective pest control management techniques and practices that will help reduce unacceptable risks to farmworkers and consumers.

Source: Alternative Agriculture News


Wildlife group calls for cuts in pesticide use

Citing the effects of pesticides on biological diversity, along with the success of pesticide reduction programs in Europe, World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) has called for a reduction in pesticide use by at least 50 per cent.

"Europe is proving that dramatic pesticide reduction is possible. Getting rid of chemicals also makes good economic and ecological sense, and consumers want it," said Julia Langer, manager of WWF's Wildlife Toxicology Program.

Speaking at the Crop Protection Institute of Canada's (CPIC) recent annual meeting in Winnipeg, Langer noted: "It's time for regulators and users in Canada to aggressively add pesticide reduction to the sustainable agriculture agenda."

WWF's discussion paper, A Pesticide Reduction Policy for Canada, hopes to prompt debate on the need for an ambitious, Canada-wide pesticide reduction initiative.

According to the organization, 34 million kilograms of pesticides were used in Canadian agriculture in 1990 at a cost of $219 million.

The WWF adds, only a small fraction of the pesticide used - in the order of 0.1 per cent - actually reaches the target pest while the remainder is dispersed into the environment.

The biological diversity of agricultural regions has been dramatically reduced and certain species are particularly at risk from pesticide exposure.

Highlights of the WWF paper include:

• Setting measurable reduction targets, and potentially sub-targets by sector or region.

• Employing economic instruments such as taxes on pesticides; re-direction of, or new grants and subsidies to support low-input or no-input agriculture; equipment maintenance; and insurance which recognizes the different yield and value of organic crops.

• Re-evaluating and banning high-risk pesticides.

• Promulgating regulatory measures such as good monitoring and labelling, and pesticide use reporting.

• Implementing research and extension programs which involve farmers in developing and introducing alternatives.


Survey: Pesticide concern, shoppers seek organic foods

In response to concern about the use of pesticides and agricultural chemicals, and the performance of the federal government in protecting consumers from those chemicals, shoppers are actively seeking out organically grown produce, according to a recent survey of food shoppers' attitudes about organic produce.

The survey of 1,000 food shoppers, commissioned by Rodale Press, Inc., found that nearly one out of every three has changed his or her eating habits (30%) or sought out organically grown produce (32%) in the past year due to reports about pesticide and chemical use. The majority (72%) of shoppers who changed their eating habits for this reason specifically sought out organically grown fruits and vegetables, according to the survey.

Of all the shoppers polled, 64% had eaten organic fruits and vegetables; of those, 59% said the most important reason for buying organic produce was long-term health benefits, and 21% cited the nutritional value of the produce. Of shoppers who have never eaten organic produce, 77% said they would buy it if it cost the same as non-organic fruits and vegetables.

The majority (68%) of shoppers surveyed think the federal government is doing a fair or poor job of protecting consumers from potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides in fruits and vegetables.

For more information about the survey, contact Robert Martin, Rodale Press, Inc., 33 E. Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098; (610) 967-7588.

Source: Alternative Agriculture News





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