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  August 2015

County Commissioners Support Moratoriums on New Injection Wells
Trumbull, Athens, Portage, and Ashtabula counties have passed resolutions opposing new injection well permits until issues like earthquakes and leaks can be resolved. Serious oversight and enforcement problems with Ohio’s Underground Injection Control program are detailed in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) Agency Office of Environmental Justice
If you live in a county that has not passed a moratorium, consider contacting your commissioners to ask them to join this effort. Concerned Citizens Ohio has materials available for your commissioners and can help provide support. Contact Mary Greer at (330) 472-8086(330) 472-8086 or maryzgreer@gmail.com.

It’s Time to Level the Crop Insurance Playing Field
In recent years, crop insurance has become the largest agricultural subsidy program in the federal budget at an average cost of $5.8 billion per year and growing. Crop insurance is subsidized by the federal government to encourage more farmers to seek coverage, lessening the risk to each individual. In practice though, only 22 percent of American farmers even participate in the program and the top 10 percent of farmers rake in more than half of the subsidies.
Farmers need a safety net that ensures that one bad year won’t put them out of business permanently. However, subsidized crop insurance has disproportionately benefited the largest, most well-established farms that grow one or two crops, while small, beginning, and diversified farms are systematically disadvantaged within the system. As part of a new campaign to reform crop insurance, we’ll be publishing a series of articles in the OEFFA newsletter about how the crop insurance system is broken and how it can be fixed to serve all farmers fairly. If you’re interested in learning more now, click here to read the Land Stewardship Project’s excellent series of papers on the issue.
Monsanto’s Lobbying Influence Revealed
In a recent Huffington Post story, reporter Gail Sullivan reveals how successfully Monsanto has been able to stack the deck in favor of genetically engineered (GE) food. One example is a Monsanto-backed policy that allows agrichemical companies to test their own products and selectively present those results to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which does not conduct its own safety testing, instead, relying on this “industry sponsored” science. Even worse, company staff have served in top posts at the FDA, the agency tasked with “protecting the public from harmful pesticides and ensuring the safety of our food system.”
The Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act (HR 1599) was passed in July by a vote of 275 to 150. The influence of biotech companies is clear as those policymakers who voted for the measure put the interests of corporate agribusiness over the public right to know what we eat and feed our families. See how your legislator voted on the issue here, then call your Representative and ask, “If 87 percent of Ohio voters support labeling genetically engineered food and you voted to deny that right, who are you representing?

“Cease-Fire” Reached on Whole Foods Labeling Debate
Many organic farmers and consumers were confused when Whole Foods launched a new labeling program called “Responsibly Grown.” Under the new program, organic products could rate lower than their conventionally grown counterparts. A group of organic growers submitted a letter to Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey who issued a response and eventually a joint statement with California Certified Organic Farmers on his blog.
Whole Foods has announced a set of changes designed to address the farmers’ concerns, according to this post by Mark Lipton on Civil Eats. The organic community appreciates the important role that Whole Foods has played in advancing the organic movement by working with organic farmers and promoting organic food and we will be watching to see how the changes play out for consumers and the organic producers that sell to Whole Foods.

White House Issues Mandate to Update Biotech Regulations
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo in early July directing the EPA, FDA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update regulations governing GE food. The current patchwork of oversight between the USDA, EPA, and FDA does not provide much needed oversight and testing for biotechnology in food production. The memo asks the agencies to develop a long-term strategy to ensure that the system is prepared for future biotech products and commission an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology.
As part of the process, public engagement sessions will be held in different regions of the country, with the first scheduled for fall 2015 in Washington, D.C. Sign up here to be kept up to date on how you can provide public input.

Farm Bill  ♦  Food Safety  ♦ FrackingGE Labeling  ♦ Climate Change
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Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

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