Certified Naturally Grown: A New Way to Identify Pesticide-Free, Non-GMO Food

gmo labeling

Eco-conscious shoppers now have an alternative to organic food that has been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). The equally pesticide-free method of farming is being used by a growing number of small farmers who cannot afford the expense of getting an organic certification from the USDA.

Naturally grown farming, considered to be the grassroots alternative to certified organic agriculture, requires a national certification by the CNG. The CNG conducts rigorous oversight to assure that all food labeled Certified Naturally Grown is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals or GMOs.

“Certified Naturally Grown is like the USDA’s National Organic Program in that our certified producers must follow similar standards, farm without the use of synthetic chemical inputs or GMOs, and farm to support biological diversity and ecological balance,” Alice Varon, CNG executive director, told Mother Earth News.

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Wild Bee Decline A Sign of Europe’s ‘Ecological Disaster': Study

bee

Nearly one in 10 European wild bee species is facing the threat of extinction, according to the first assessment of the continent’s bee populations, published Thursday.

As environmentalists have long noted, bees and other pollinators are essential to the world’s food supply, farming system, and environment. However, both in Europe and the U.S., they have been threatened by industrial agriculture practices, insecticides, and climate change, which causes more heavy rainfalls, droughts, and heat waves that can harm bees and their access to food.

Reuters reports:

Bees are vital to food production but are in decline in many parts of the world. There are 1,965 wild bee species in Europe and 9.2 percent of them are at risk of extinction while another 5.2 percent are likely to be threatened in the near future, according to the international study, funded by the European Commission.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also said its study showed that 57 percent of all European bee species, which include types of bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees, were so little known that it was impossible to judge whether they were at risk or not.

The implications of the study are quite troubling, said Karmenu Vella, head of the EU’s Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commission.

“Our quality of life—and our future—depends on the many services that nature provides for free,” Vella said. “Pollination is one of these services, so it is very worrying to learn that some of our top pollinators are at risk. If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline in wild bees, and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed.”

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93 Percent of the World’s Seeds Have Been Lost in the Last 80 Years

seed library

Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds.

It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage.” But this is no longer the case.

Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply.

Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies [2] that control most seeds today have flourished.

According to Worldwatch:

“…by the early 1900s, the U.S. and Canadian governments began promoting the development of large export-oriented agriculture industries based on only a few crops and livestock species.

To maximize uniformity and yields, seed breeding moved off the farm and into centralized public research centers, such as U.S. land grant universities. Variety development became commodity-oriented.

Scientific advances in the 1970s and ’80s heralded a new era in agriculture. To boost flat sales, Monsanto and other agrichemical companies ventured into genetic engineering and transformed themselves into the biotechnology industry.

They bought out traditional seed companies and engineered their herbicide-resistant genes into the newly acquired seed lines.”

It’s been all downhill from there…

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Poor Farmers Bear The Brunt Natural Disasters In Developing Countries

poor farmers

Nearly a quarter of damages wrought by natural disasters on the developing world are borne by the agricultural sector, finds a new Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) study released in Sendai, Japan on March 17, 2015 at the UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Media reports and a FAO news release said:

Twenty-two percent of all damages inflicted by natural hazards such as drought, floods storms or tsunamis are registered within the agriculture sector, shows the analysis of 78 post-disaster needs assessments in 48 developing countries spanning the 2003-2013 period.

These damages and losses are often incurred by poor rural and semi-rural communities without insurance and lacking the financial resources needed to regain lost livelihoods. Yet only 4.5 percent of post-disaster humanitarian aid in the 2003-2013 period targeted agriculture.

FAO’s 22 percent figure represents only damages reported via post-disaster risk assessments. So while indicative of scale, the actual impact is likely even higher.

To arrive at a closer estimate of the true financial cost of disasters to developing world agriculture FAO compared decreases in yields during and after disasters with yield trends in 67 countries affected by (at least one) medium- to larger-scale events between 2003 and 2013.

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