Blogs

With Pesticides Taking a Hit, Will US Agriculture Change?
Lisa J. Bunin, PhD, Director, Organic Advocacy

Pesticides have been making news headlines lately as the subject of multiple lawsuits and state government actions. They are not faring well. A Superior court in California ordered Monsanto to pay over 2 billion dollars to a couple who developed cancer from routinely using the garden weed killer, Roundup. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently withdrew registration of a dozen bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), containing the active ingredients clothianidin and thiamethoxazm, in response to a California District court order. New York State has joined Hawai’i in banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that is notorious as a childhood motor and cognitive developmental toxin — California and other states will soon follow. These high-stake actions against multinational pesticide companies in a short six-month period beg the question of whether this is a watershed moment in the history of US agriculture. Read more …

California May Be Next to Ban Dangerous Chlorpyrifos
Lisa J. Bunin, PhD, Director, Organic Advocacy

If a recently-introduced bill passes, children living in California may have a permanent reprieve from exposure to the highly toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos. California State Senator, Maria Elena Durazo, introduced “Protect Children from Brain-Damaging Chlorpyrifos Act of 2019” in response to EPA’s decision to delay action on this toxic pesticide until 2022. Senator Durazo’s bill prohibits the use of pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to have horrific impacts on children’s brain development. Read more …

Organic Agriculture is a Critical Tool to Fight Climate Change
Lisa J. Bunin, PhD, Director, Organic Advocacy
Abby Youngblood, Executive Director, National Organic Coalition

Healthy soil is the cornerstone of organic agriculture and a critical solution for addressing climate challenges. Organic farming practices help mitigate climate change by keeping roots in the soil, preventing soil erosion, and sequestering soil carbon. Nutrient-rich, biodiverse soils foster the ability of crops to withstand and adapt to extreme weather-induced events such as droughts, floods, fire, and high winds. Accelerating the adoption of organic agricultural practices in the U.S. and abroad will go a long way toward solving the global climate crisis. Read more …

Requirement to Assess Pesticide Effects on Endangered Species Eliminated in Farm Bill Proposal
Lisa J. Bunin, PhD, Director, Organic Advocacy

With the passage yesterday of the Republican amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill, H.R. 2, in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee, Congress has launched a full-frontal attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the required pesticide reviews to protect endangered species. Read more …

California Court Halts State Pesticide Spray Programs
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Director, Organic Advocacy

A California court in January halted a state program that mandated pesticide spraying and other applications for invasive species at schools, organic farms, and backyards across the state. The court found that the state had inadequate environmental assessments and public disclosure of adverse effects for the pesticides used. Read more …

Toxic Chemicals in Our Soil: Time to Pull the Plug on Methyl Bromide
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

As the dramatic consequences of industrial development continue to worsen—from the five thousand mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico to Antarctica’s depleted ozone layer hole the size of North America—it is incumbent upon all industries to do their part to find solutions to global problems. Eliminating the use of the ozone-depleting chemical, methyl bromide, is one achievable solution that the U.S. government has forestalled for far too long. Read more …

What Eating Organic Food Does for the World
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

Sure, I eat organic food because I think it’s healthier for me than food grown with synthetic, toxic agrochemicals or food that’s been genetically engineered or injected with growth hormones. But equally important to me are the multiple ecosystem services and broader benefits for society that organic farming provides. Read more …

“Organic” fish standards?
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., and Cameron Harsh, M.A.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program is set to release draft standards this summer that would allow fish farmed in the open ocean to be certified organic. PCC Natural Markets, along with environmental and consumer groups around the country, believe this plan violates organic standards and should be stopped. Read more …

What?! Fish Can’t Be Organic?
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

That’s right. Neither wild fish nor farmed fish can be certified organic because no organic standards exist in the U.S. to regulate them. But that may be about to change—for the worse. Why? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently proceeding with the development of organic aquaculture regulations that could allow wild fish and ocean-based fish farms to be certified organic. Read more …

Proving Organic Is Good for You
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

You know intuitively that organic food is good for you and that it’s the healthiest choice you can make at the farmer’s market and grocery store. Your gut tells you that organic is better for you than food sprayed with synthetic toxic pesticides designed to kill insects, fungus, and weeds. It’s the absence of these dangerous chemicals in organic agriculture that consumers believe makes organic food inherently healthier—and rightly so. Read more …

The Choice is Simple: Choose Organic Apples
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

Continuous improvement is the mainstay of organic agriculture. Unlike any other system of food production or product label, “improvements” are integral to the continued success of organic. In fact, the expectation that organic production systems will continually improve is woven into the very fabric of the organic law—the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). Read more …

Got Organic Milk?
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director & Cameron Harsh

Organic production systems are widely-recognized as environmentally beneficial because they don’t allow the use of synthetic, toxic chemicals–the basis of conventional agriculture. As a process-based standard, not a product-based standard, the notable benefits of organic are intended to be derived from the production process itself rather than any nutritional quality claims per se. So, while enhanced nutrition isn’t typically the claim to fame of organic, a recently released study shows that organic systems can yield a healthier product. Read more …

Public Participation in Government Decision-Making: An Organic Tradition
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

Public participation in government decision-making is an American tradition. Its roots extend all the way back to the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946,[1] the law which codified the first requirements for public participation in government rule making. By providing the public an opportunity to comment on its draft documents, the government not only becomes more informed about the impacts of important policy matters on stakeholders, but it also becomes more transparent and accountable to those it serves. Read more …

Stanford Research on Organics Hits the Stats, but Misses the Point
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D. Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

“Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than Conventional Alternatives?” Stanford University researchers attempted to answer this question in their recently released analysis of published literature on the health, nutrition and safety of organic and conventional foods. The study has definitely kicked up a lot of dust—some of which is based upon questionable number crunching, and it largely misses the point of why organically grown food is a superior choice. Read more …

New York Times’ Oversized Argument: Organic Can’t Be Stuffed Inside a Big Food Box
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D., Senior Organic Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

There is no disputing the claim that organic has become “a wildly lucrative business for Big Food,” as discussed at length in the recent New York Times article: “Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?” But what reporter Stephanie Storm has noticeably omitted in her oversized argument is the fact that “organic” is so much more than just the organic processed food industry she chastises. Read more …

Organic is healthier and, if done right, less expensive
Liana Hoodes, B.A.

The recent syndicated column attacking the value of organics has two big problems. First, it is suspiciously similar to a national effort by chemical companies to discredit organic. Second, and more important, organic food is better for your health, and organic agriculture is better for the environment. Which isn’t to say that local isn’t important, too. Read more …

Fact Sheet

What’s in a Label? Natural: Another Name For Conventionally Grown
Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D.

Some nationally recognized organic food companies that have built their reputation in the organic industry are now selling new lines of natural (not organic) products, misleading consumers about healthy food choices. Read more …