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Combo of Farm Toxins Hurting Bees

It’s looking like neonicitinoid systemic insecticides – along with other insecticides – are joined in their bad tidings for bees by fungicides, which were widely imagined to be free of impacts upon bees.
Scientists’ technique was to feed pollen taken from sprayed areas and feed that pollen to healthy bees. The healthy bees then experienced health decline.
The clear conclusion? Conventional ag’s toxins are not good for bees, as well as people and the environment. Jim

“Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

“When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.”

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Good Food Leaders Counsel Young Farmers

Enjoyable article from ‘Modern Farmer’ taps into the wisdom of farmers Wendell Berry, Eliot Coleman, Mas Masumoto, Richard Wiswall and Joel Salatin. Also, food icons Chellie Pingree, Anna Lappe, Marion Nestle and Alice Waters.
Mas offers the most concise advise. Eliot’s ‘attention to detail’ angle is among the most practical and direct. You’ll want to read this piece! Jim & Megan

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Supporting Smallholder Systems the Key to Mitigating Ag’s Impact on Climate Change

Yes, removing public subsidy of corporate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and re-directing support to family-scale farmers would solve a number of problems including mitigating global climate change and providing justice and economic stability to the world’s small-scale farmers. This article from ‘Grain’ is chock full of pithy information. Jim

“The global food system accounts for 29% of today’s global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, say scientists, with meat and dairy responsible for most of it….

“Industrial livestock production is responsible for massive GHG emissions from fossil fuels, fertilizers, manure and large-scale deforestation and land degradation…

“Industrial meat and milk is kept artificially cheap through public funds and policies that externalize their real costs and prop up a continuous cycle of surplus production and trade…

“Corporate lobby groups, scientists and development agencies often paint small-scale livestock holders in poor countries as the climate culprits because of their animals’ low “efficiency” in converting calories to meat or milk on a per capita basis.

“Yet, a narrow focus on efficiency and emissions intensity ignores the multiple benefits of mixed, multifunctional and biodiverse small-scale livestock production systems. These include improving soil health, greater climatic resilience and other positive environmental and public health benefits.

“Small-scale meat and dairy production is already well tailored to local food systems that support the moderate meat and dairy consumption levels that the rest of the world must achieve…

“Industrial meat and dairy production is propped up by an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars—around $53 billion from OECD governments alone in 2013. China and Brazil also channel significant public funds into the growth of their own transnational meat and dairy corporations…

“Public funds should instead be directed to support small farmers that use integrated agroecological and pastoral production methods, and to help larger farmers transition towards these practices.

“Support should also go to building or rehabilitating local infrastructures (abattoirs, milk and meat processing, roads, sanitation, etc.) that help local livestock and dairy markets thrive…

“There are over 600 million small-scale farmers and 200 million herders who depend on livestock for their livelihoods and who feed billions of people every day with quality meat, dairy and eggs in a sustainable manner. They urgently need public attention and support!”

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The Farmers Share of Retail Food Prices March 2017

ONE OF THE PROBLEMS OF AGRICULTURE: LOW FARM GATE PRICES = INADEQUATE SHARE OF END-RETAIL-PRICE. Incredibly enough, doubling the price farmers receive for their grain would only add 5 cents to the cost of that 18-ounce box of cereal.
In a just economic system farmers would receive enough farm-gate income to farm in a sustainable manner – grow food free of chemical toxins and risky genetic engineering – pay fair wages and generate sufficient resources for new and young farmers to actually own the land they farm.
However, we’re a long long way from parity prices – ‘par exchange’ or a mathematically determined ‘fair exchange’ of farm goods compared with other segments of the economy. Currently grain prices – including organic grain – are low and below the cost of production.
This NFU monthly tracking chart graphically depicts a serious on-going problem for agriculture and helps explain the steady exodus of family farmers from a life of farming. Jim

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Citizens Opposed to Reckless Bald Mountain Mine

Yesterday, the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (again) received an earful. Citizens from all across Maine, shocked by a proposal written by lobbyists for Canada’s notorious Irving Corporation – and backed by the wayward administration of Gov. Paul LePage – testified against the gutting of Maine’s tough mining regulations.
Irving Ltd has stubbornly failed to renounce plans for an environmentally disastrous open pit copper mine on Aroostook County’s Bald Mountain, located in the North Maine Woods 40 miles northwest of Wood Prairie Family Farm. (Video:
It’s universally recognized current tough mining regulations would have to be weakened in order to allow Irving’s irresponsible project to go forward. Inevitable heavy metals contamination from mining Bald Mountain would forever ruin the pristine watersheds of the Fish and Aroostook Rivers.
Fifteen Aroostook County residents made the 500-mile-roundtrip to Augusta to offer testimony in oppostion to Irving’s reckless proposal.
Mainers please write and call your Legislators and urge then to defeat Irving’s bill known as LD 395. Thanks! Jim & Megan

“Bald Mountain has been eyed by several companies for its copper, gold and other metals since the 1970s, and it was a catalyst for the 2012 law that replaced a stringent mining law from 1990 that was enacted in the wake of mine failures in the midcoast area during the 1970s. One of those failures, the former Callahan Mine in Brooksville, is now a Superfund site. No large-scale metal mining has occurred in Maine since 1977.”

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Big Future Impact From Robots

Humans losing jobs to robots? Inevitability? Future mass unemployment? Taxing robots? Massive robotic-generated CHANGE WITHIN THE NEXT 20 YEARS?
Valuable article – including three short videos – offer a hint of what is coming and has already impacted us.
So, how will we survive? Stephen Hawking counsels us to plan on filling “the most caring, creative or supervisory roles.” Jim

Elon Musk: “What to do about mass unemployment? This is going to be a massive social challenge. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better [than a human]. These are not things that I wish will happen. These are simply things that I think probably will happen.”

Bill Gates: “You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all sort of at once. So, you know, warehouse work, driving, room cleanup, there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years [will go away].”

“Jobs are vanishing much faster than anyone ever imagined.

“In 2013, policy makers largely ignored two Oxford economists who suggested that 45% of all US jobs could be automated away within the next 20 years. But today that sounds all but inevitable…

“Bill Gates recommends we tax robotic workers so that we can recapture some of the money displaced workers would have paid as income tax.

“Elon Musk recommends we adopt universal basic income and give everyone a certain amount of money each year so we can keep the economy going even as millions of workers are displaced by automation.”

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Microplastics in Fish Tissue

What’s not known is just how harmful it is to eat these microplastics-in-fish-flesh. But it’s not just the microplastics themselves we’re ingesting: “Microplastics absorb or carry organic contaminants, such as PCBs, pesticides, flame retardants and hormone-disrupting compounds of many kinds, he says.” Another externalized cost of pollution coming back to bite us. Jim

“Researchers do know, however, that microplastics get into aquatic habitats from many different sources, says Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto and co-editor of the report.

“These range from tiny fibres that come off the synthetic fabrics of our clothing, to bits of car tire that wear off on roads and make their way through storm drains into waterways, she says…

“‘The biggest source is likely larger plastic items that we can see during beach cleanups that enter the water and over time break down with the sunlight into smaller and smaller pieces of microplastic.’

“Think plastic bags, styrofoam takeout containers and plastic cutlery, says Rochman…

“‘What we really need to do is a risk assessment … nobody has done that for microplastics.'”

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300 Organizations Demand Anti-Trust Enforcement

If organizations – representing millions of members – get their way, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions will ENFORCE EXISTING Anti-Trust laws (…/2017-02-over-300-food-and-farm-groups-…). Such enforcement will prevent further industry consolidation and increased monopoly control by mega Chemical/Biotech corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Dupont.
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) is one of the many signatories. Jim

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Bridging the Rural Urban Gap

Good interview with Oregonian Gabe Rowe in ‘Daily Yonder.’ Gabe has lived in two worlds and as a clear thinker articulates a path forward on common ground. The “we” thinking is much more respectful and productive at solving our problems than the old “us and them” divisiveness. Jim

“Tim: Do you feel that there’s a cultural divide between rural and urban communities?

“Gabe: I do believe that there are fundamental American values that transcend urban, rural, cultural divides and I think that America is a place that is made up of many cultures and many subcultures. That fundamentally, that’s what makes us strong. I don’t think that having different cultural values and customs and beliefs is something that fundamentally divides us. I think that that diversity is something that actually … That’s what America is. I think we need it all. I think we need to preserve rural culture. I think that we need to have urban culture and I think though that what has happened is that people don’t feel like they can go back and forth. That’s really what we need to be able to do is go experience these places and these people and feel welcome wherever we are.”

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New Study Exposes USA Exports Do Not Go to Feed Hungry

Industrial Ag has spent a lot of time and money on research and focus groups. They have learned good and generous people are VERY empathetic to concerns over world hunger.
In a sophisticated and relentless propaganda campaign, Industrial Ag has used their ‘feeding the hungry’ card to get away with a slew of negative agricultural practices from inadequately-tested-GMOs to consolidated multinational monoplies.
A recent landmark study exposes the pack of self-serving lies Industrial Ag has been serving us for a long, long time. Here’s the key finding: JUST 0.5% OF U.S. EXPORTS GO TO FEED THE WORLD’S HUNGRY.
Let’s remember their concocted Big Lie next time Monsanto pleads we MUST have unsafe GMO crops in order to support a growing and hungry world. Jim

“If you’ve followed debates around US agriculture over the past decade, you’ve surely heard it: Our industrial-scale farms may pollute and overuse water, foul air, destroy soil, harm local economies, and abuse workers, but that’s just the cost of providing a crucial humanitarian service: feeding the world. The GMO seed and pesticide giants Monsanto and DuPont make versions of this argument; so has USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the California Farm Bureau, and American Soybean Association. But can US exports really help ‘feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world,’ as the industry-funded site Facts About GMOs puts it?

“A new report from the Environmental Working Group basically destroys that claim…

“Meanwhile, the 19 nations with the biggest and most dire hunger problems import very little food from the United States—they accounted for a whopping 0.5 percent of total US agricultural exports in 2015, EWG reports. Even accounting for food aid, the great US ag behemoth contributes very little to feeding the poorest of the world’s nations.”