More Evidence Conventional Foods Expose Us to Toxic Pesticides
Friends of the Earth, OEFFA, and other organizations recently released Toxic Secret, a report exposing widespread pesticide residues in our food. The study, which tested store brand cereal, applesauce, beans, and produce found:
Glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen, and key ingredient in Roundup®, was found on 100 percent of pinto bean samples tested.
Organophosphates, which are so toxic to children's developing brains that scientists have called for a complete ban, were found in 100 percent of applesauce samples, 61 percent of whole apples, and 25 percent of spinach samples.
Neonicotinoids, which the European Union has banned due to a scientific connection between the chemical and bee die offs, and also have been linked to endocrine disruption and autism spectrum disorder, were found in 80 percent of spinach and 73 percent of applesauce samples.
OEFFA is one of several organizations across the country that participated in the sample collection at Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons/Safeway.
While some of this testing revealed high levels of contamination, even small exposures of toxic pesticides can have significant and lifelong impacts. More than 90 percent of Americans have detectable levels of pesticides in their bodies, and children are particularly susceptible to exposure.
The public is increasingly turning to organic foods to avoid these pesticides. In addition to protecting the environment and public health, organic farming creates more rural jobs than conventional farming and reduces rural poverty. Yet, organic and transitioning farmers don't get the state and federal support and organic research funding they need to level the playing field with chemical agriculture. Take action today to change the system.
Report Illustrates Benefits of Organic Diet
Another study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Research found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels.
First, participants’ pesticide levels were tested on a non-organic diet for six days. The study found 14 chemicals representing potential exposure to 40 different pesticides in every participant. These included organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D. Some of the pesticides found are linked to increased risk of cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Then, participants’ pesticide levels were tested on an all-organic diet. The study found an organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduced their exposure to pesticides. In fact, levels of all detected chemicals dropped an average of 60.5 percent in just six days on an organic diet. Read more in Organic for All: Results of the Organic Diet Biomonitoring Study.
Farm Bill Decriminalizes Hemp Production: Now What?
The 2018 Farm Bill removed the criminal prohibitions on growing and selling hemp and hemp products, opening the option for producers to diversify into this high-growth market.
Unfortunately, some states, including Ohio, still have laws on the books listing hemp alongside marijuana as a controlled substance. In addition to removing state prohibitions on hemp, the farm bill requires states to create a plan for how they will oversee the product.
Pennsylvania became the second state to submit a plan for commercial industrial hemp production to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The plan will make industrial hemp subject to the Pennsylvania Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee. Once approved, industrial hemp will become a controlled plant and all growers will need to register and obtain permits. Pennsylvania will not cap the number of permits or the amount of acreage permit holders are allowed to plant.
Ohio Senator Brian Hill introduced SB 57 which, if passed, would decriminalize hemp and hemp products and establish a hemp cultivation licensing program. The law also directs the Ohio Department of Agriculture to develop rules around hemp production that are in compliance with federal law and establishes a state hemp cultivation fund. If you are interested in more information, including advocating for specific provisions in the Ohio legislation, contact OEFFA today.
Toledo Passes Lake Erie Bill of Rights
Concerned citizens in Toledo passed a ballot measure to establish a Lake Erie Bill of Rights as part of the city charter. In a special election that drew only 9 percent of registered voters, the referendum passed by a 61-39 margin. The change provides legal standing or rights for the lake. Lawsuits regarding pollution could be brought forward and if the courts found in favor of the lake, violators would have to pay the city of Toledo.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Toledo Chamber of Commerce opposed the measure citing economic and legal costs, while supporters were frustrated with the incremental pace of action to protect what is cited as the most ecologically fragile and biologically dynamic part of the Great Lakes basin because of its shallowness and relative warmth.
Bad Bills Making a Comeback in Ohio Legislature
As Ohio lawmakers begin a new year of work, the first bad apple in the legislative hopper—reintroduced by Senator Frank Hoagland (R-30)—is SB 33, titled the “Critical Infrastructure Bill.” This bill would make simple trespass a felony, fine organizations up to $200,000 for encouraging non-violent forms of protest, and would limit our guaranteed free speech protections.
Senator Matt Dolan (R-24) is also poised to reintroduce a controversial “brine bill” in the coming week. OEFFA presented opponent testimony to the bill that passed the Ohio House last year. The bill would classify treated oil and gas waste as a “commodity” that can be sold for deicing, dust control, use in portable restrooms, or for “other purposes.” Ohio Department of Natural Resources tests of this product reveal radiation levels 300 times higher than federal drinking water standards and much higher levels than acceptable for discharge into the environment. While proponents argue these levels of radiation exposure are at acceptable levels, no one stops to tally up all of the acceptable doses our families are exposed to day after day.
Learn more and take action at the statehouse during a lobby day on March 19. Find out more and register here.
GE Labeling Finalized
USDA finalized the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods late last year.
Going forward, GE foods will be identified with the bioengineered label pictured here.
Despite companies like Hershey and Unilever in support of labeling these products, a loophole has been created for highly-refined oils, sugars, and syrups.
The law will take effect on January 1, 2020 and will allow thresholds for inadvertent or technically unavoidable presence of bioengineered substance of up to 5 percent for each ingredient. The majority of countries with GE labels use a threshold of 0.9 percent.
OEFFA Members Visit the Statehouse
OEFFA members hit the Ohio statehouse in February to advocate for state assistance in connecting existing landowners with beginning farmers. Dean McIlvaine, Gene DeBruin, Mark Zeune, and John Hohman joined OEFFA staffers Kate Pierfelice and Amalie Lipstreu in advocating for a land transfer tax credit based on a Minnesota program which, after just one year, is helping to facilitate hundreds of farm connections. We need your help in getting this bill across the finish line. Contact us today to learn more.
Last month, OEFFA held its 40th annual conference. This year’s theme was “Just Farming,” bringing welcomed diversity to our annual convening, and an opportunity to reevaluate our policy work.
One of the themes that came out of our discussions was a focus on soil health. We face ever-increasing extreme weather fluctuations, water quality challenges, and the need to farm more sustainably; the health of our soils figure predominately in all these issues. As we continue to work on our priorities, we encourage you to help shape OEFFA’s advocacy work. Contact us today.