Organic in The News

Scotland is making great strides in producing and eating healthy food
The old stereotype of Scotland being the home of the deep friend mars bar is being eradicated as it makes great strides in producing and eating healthy food. James Withers, chief executive of the trade body Scotland Food & Drink said “We have seen hundreds of companies producing healthy alternatives. Things are changing – I have young children and the state of school dinners has been transformed since I was at school. We missed a generation in the education of food and cooking, and diet. We are getting that generation back and we will reap the legacy.”
The Times (31 January 2014)

Natalie Bennett: there is an alternative to the supermarket
Natalie Bennett, leader of Green Party of England and Wales comments on how there are alternatives to supermarkets, which are not wasteful. She writes: We hardly need a reminder of how wasteful the supermarket model is. It’s based on the principle that every item will be in stock all of the time, and will be shipped back and forth across the country, or the globe, from grower to packager to warehouse to store. Inevitably, enormous quantities go to waste. In a world in which our carbon emissions (of which food production counts for a significant proportion) are critically excessive, this is not a model that can continue. We’ve been trained to think there’s no alternative, but of course there is, and it’s a model I’ve seen first-hand in London: a relatively small, local shop, which relies primarily on relatively local suppliers bringing in as much of the stock as possible – in the right seasons, potatoes come from a farmer in Kent, tomatoes and peppers from a single grower in Essex.
The Independent (29 January 2014)

Plaudits for Portsmouth primary school lunches – Food for Life Bronze Catering Mark accredited meals from ISS Facility Services
Following a perfect audit, pupils in fifty-two Portsmouth primary schools will be able to enjoy a bronze Food for Life Catering Mark award accredited lunches from half term February 2014, thanks to their caterers, ISS Facility Services Education. ISS received the accreditation in record time – awarded the same day as the inspection. The Food for Life Catering Mark, an award scheme developed by the Soil Association, demonstrates that the food on a caterer’s menu is fresh, healthy and sustainable. The kitchen team at Ark Ayrton Academy proved that the lunches in Portsmouth schools were just that, receiving confirmation of their accreditation on the same day as auditor, Lucy Murton, visited the site for inspection – a catering mark first, according to the Soil Association. Chief Executive of Soil Association certification, Rob Sexton said; “This latest Bronze for ISS Education marks a first for the Catering Mark – with the award presented in record time on the same day as their site inspection. ISS continue to demonstrate that it is possible to serve fresh, healthy meals at scale, whilst supporting the local economy, reducing food miles, supporting higher welfare standards for animals, and making the most of seasonal produce.”
Facilities Management Association (29 January 2014)


Revealed: the chemical blitz of pesticides effecting our bees in our fields
Dave Goulson Professor of Biology (Evolution, Behaviour and Environment) at the University of Sussex comments, on the barrage of pesticides in our fields. He writes: Between winter and summer, the crop is also treated with a barrage of herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides and fertilisers – 22 different chemicals in total. Most may have little toxicity to bees in themselves, but some, such as a group of fungicides (demethylation inhibiting or DMI fungicides), are known to interact with both neonicotinoids and pyrethroids, increasing their toxicity to bees. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that current farming practices are not designed to benefit farmers, who pay through the nose for expensive pesticides. Nor do they benefit consumers, who are offered expensive, pesticide-drenched food. Nor again the environment, which is continually contaminated with a cocktail of chemicals.
The Ecologist (30 January 2014)

Lima talks should deliver first draft for 2015 climate deal
The Amazon country wants UN summit to steer the course for a binding global commitment on carbon emissions in Paris. The meeting of nearly 200 governments in Peru later this year for a major UN climate change summit must produce the first draft of a global deal to cut emissions, said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister. Peru has a lot to lose from climate change. People in the Amazon region, the Andes Mountains and on its arid coast are already feeling the impact, and the country is one of the most bio diverse on Earth. It has the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers, but has already lost 39% of them due to a 0.7C temperature rise in the Andes between 1939 and 2006. Peru has the world’s fourth largest area of rainforest and deforestation accounts for more than 40% of the country’s carbon emissions. Approximately 20% of emissions are generated by ranching and farming, said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
The Guardian (31 January 2014)


Is Monsanto giving up on GM?
Monsanto’s vegetable division, Seminis, which develops and grows vegetable seeds, has no new GM vegetables in development. The Seminis division has reverted instead to good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. Also it has something to do with people’s growing avoidance of GM foods. So far, consumers have shown no appetite to gobble up GM vegetables. In addition GM technology doesn’t seem to be very good at generating complex traits like better flavour or more nutrients, the very attributes Monsanto was hoping to engineer into veggies.
Mother Jones (29 January 2014)


A plan to solve flooding problems on the Somerset Levels has suggested that farmers should be compensated for flooding to their land, when that protects nearby towns. The ten point plan has been drawn up by the local Drainage Board and it also includes calls for more dredging, better soil management upstream, and improved urban planning. The Drainage Board drew inspiration from the Netherlands and Charlotte Smith talks to the Chairman of the Dutch Farmers’ union.
BBC Radio 4 (31 January 2014)

Northern Ireland farming income up by almost a third
There has been a marked recovery in the Northern Ireland farming industry, which saw its income rise to £298m in 2013, an increase of 31%. Dairy farming is still the largest contributor – the average farm-gate milk price increased by 21% though the volume of milk produced was unchanged. Beef and sheep producers also saw some recovery in farm-gate prices. The value of field crops increased by almost 8%, driven by a bumper harvest for potatoes.
BBC news (30 January 2014)

And finally… seven surprising facts about vultures
BBC News (31 January 2014)

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