Food Safety: Your Comments Are as Important as Ever!
Last month, we shared some highlights from the Food and Drug Administration’s latest revision to proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules. Since then, OEFFA and our partners have more thoroughly reviewed the rules and here is more important information you should know:
- Water Quality—The FDA’s new proposal requires farmers to establish a baseline using 20 water samples taken over the course of two years. After the baseline is set, five samples are required each year. Also, the rule takes into account natural pathogen die-off between the water’s collection and use. These water quality testing requirements are much more realistic than the initial rule, but there are still concerns about how this may negatively impact growers.
- Exemptions from FSMA—The FDA’s first proposal used total farm sales to calculate whether a farm qualifies for an exemption from the produce rule. The new proposal will calculate the exemption based only on produce sales. This means more farms, especially those with significant livestock or dairy sales, will qualify for the full exemption. This is a great step in the right direction but calculating the exemption based on the sales of produce regulated by FSMA (“covered produce”) would allow more farms to be exempt.
- Wildlife—The FDA has included a new provision stating that nothing in the produce rule requires measures to exclude animals from outdoor growing areas or to destroy animal habitat. This is a significant improvement and should help the FDA avoid inadvertently promoting or encouraging practices that adversely affect wildlife.
OEFFA will be providing detailed information about the major concerns for farmers very soon. Please stay tuned to OEFFA’s Food Safety webpage for detailed analysis, resources, webinars, and instructions on submitting comments. The deadline to submit comments to the FDA is December 15.
Oil and Gas Pipeline Meeting in Athens
Due to the growth of fracking in the region, more than 70,000 miles of new oil and gas pipeline is projected to be built in Ohio. This has major financial and environmental implications for organic farmers and other landowners in the state. Understanding when you are subject to eminent domain provisions, when you may need to speak to an attorney, and what your rights are in the process are important.
OEFFA will be helping to break this information down during a pipeline forum Thursday, November 20 from 6:30-8 p.m. in Athens, at Ohio University in Porter Hall, Room 105. Learn more about the wave of pipelines that are proposed and how they may impact you. Speakers will include Ted Auch, Program Coordinator with FracTracker Alliance, Nathan Johnson, Attorney with the Ohio Environmental Council, and more.
GE Labeling Campaigns are Building Momentum!
Momentum is building for genetically engineered (GE) food labeling across the country. Oregon and Colorado have labeling legislation on the ballot this November. In May, Vermont became the first state to pass a GE labeling law, and Connecticut and Maine already have legislation in place once a critical number of states pass similar laws. There are 25 states that have introduced GE labeling bills this year!
While ballot initiatives in California and Washington were defeated, it was by very close margins, and agribusiness spent more than $68 million to defeat them. Industry insiders are expecting GE labeling to continue gaining momentum, and some have admitted they anticipate labeling will be required in the future!
Experts estimate that if just 5 percent of Americans purchased non-GMO foods, the market would shift away from GE crops and invest in the long-term solutions offered by organic practices.
These campaigns are more important than ever, since the approval of Dow Chemical’s GE crop and herbicide system “Enlist Duo.” This chemical cocktail combines glyphosate with 2, 4-D to combat superweeds that have evolved to resist Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup. This toxic treadmill is not a long-term solution; it’s only a matter of time until new superweeds evolve.
Let’s build on the success in other states by petitioning the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation requiring GE food labeling in Ohio! Sign our GE labeling petition and ask your friends and family to sign on too. You can also get involved with our GE workgroup by sending us an e-mail today.
More Fraccidents in Ohio
On October 28, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for a two mile radius after a gas well head was sheared off by crews working at a site near Cross Creek Township Road 187 and County Road 26 in Jefferson County. Natural and methane gasses were leaking according to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, and first responders were concerned about risks of explosion. Crews from Texas are expected to fly in and cap the leaking well.
That same day, a pipeline in Monroe County exploded, shooting flames into the sky. According to area residents, the impact was so powerful some were forced to the floor of their homes.
Gas leaks, pipeline eruptions, earthquakes in Youngstown, and the well pad fire in Monroe County are a just few of the fracking accidents that have occurred in Ohio over the past two years. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that we don’t need oversight from the Environmental Protection Agency, that they have things handled. It is increasingly clear that is not the case. It is time for us to let Governor John Kasich know this is not acceptable.
Call Governor Kasich today at (614) 466-3555 and let him know that he needs to protect the residents of Ohio and support additional oversight of the oil and gas industry.
Clear Warning Signs Documented
Hazardous chemicals have been found in the air surrounding oil and gas sites. “Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Sites” details the results of air quality monitoring conducted by twelve community groups in six states, including Ohio. Monitors revealed the presence of hazardous chemicals in the air at levels above federal health and safety standards, and in some cases, concentrations were high enough to pose an immediate health threat. This report provides more evidence of the environmental and health impacts of fracking and the need for more regulatory oversight.
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