June 7, 2013

CLF Week in Links: CAFOs, GMOs, the Farm Bill and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director Emeritus

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

More news on Monsanto wheat

The farm bill—making waves. The not-yet-final farm bill is continuing to get attention and finally garner some outrage. Both Mark Bittman and Paul Krugman from the New York Times have written columns about the disgraceful cuts to the SNAP program and the farm bill mechanisms that support the wealthy. A Truthout story highlights some other terrible aspects of the bills that are on the table: feigning ignorance about climate change, the Monsanto Protection Act, and a price minimum for sugar that’s expected to spur the use of sugar substitutes such as high-fructose corn syrup.

CAFOs in North Carolina. You can frame industrial food animal production as environmental injustice or as environmental racism—the June news feature in Environmental Health Perspectives Online does both to capture the full magnitude of the threats to health and well-being of low-income communities on the coastal plain of North Carolina. This story about CAFOs in that region cites a study on health departments and health issues by CLF’s Jillian Fry.

Revised rules for CAFOs. The Environmental Protection Agency has struck a deal with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Despite a 2010 court-approved agreement to revise pollution control rules for large animal operations—such as the Eastern Shore’s chicken farms—the EPA will not do so. Instead of changing the rules, the EPA will take on new tasks, such as auditing every Chesapeake Bay state’s CAFO and inspecting animal feeding operations in four watersheds in the Chesapeake region to insure they comply with regulations. For more information, there’s this story in the Capital Gazette.

Monsanto under pressure? Last week I addressed the discovery of GMO wheat by a farmer in Oregon. The coverage of that event has been thorough, and there is even a rumor that Monsanto didn’t “exactly” stop testing GMO wheat as long ago as we thought. Here’s a news story about what that story is doing in global markets: investors drove down the price of Monsanto shares by four percent as South Korea joined Japan in suspending imports of U.S. wheat after that Oregon “discovery.” And now a wheat farmer in Kansas is suing Monsanto for causing a sharp drop in wheat prices by its mishandling the testing of GMO wheat.

Speaking of GMO food. U.S. News and World Report did a “debate club” on whether consumers should be worried about genetically modified food, and I was one of five people weighing in. There’s good information here, and it’s always good to read other viewpoints.

Meatless Monday. Discover magazine ran this story about China’s growing appetite for meat and addressed the question of whether a meat-reduction campaign like Meatless Monday can ever catch on there? CLF’s Roni Neff is quoted in the article. And our own Allison Righter contributed to this superfoods story in Epicurious—read it to find out what superfood Allison recommends as a key ingredient in meatless meals.

Baltimore miracle. Despite initially portraying Baltimore as an urban wasteland (it really isn’t), this Grist story does a nice thing by featuring the Duncan Street Miracle Garden, “a lush rectangle crisscrossed by grape arbors and trellises, [that] sits in a desolate patch of East Baltimore where 44 rowhouses once stood.” It also mentions the Baltimore Green Space land trust. Baltimore has a long way to go to catch up with Will Allen’s Growing Power in Milwaukee and Malik Yakini’s Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, but the Miracle Garden points the way.

A bad grade for Baltimore. Recently, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and Blue Water Baltimore published a Healthy Harbor Report Card to help lead the public, government, and businesses toward a healthy Baltimore Harbor, one that is swimmable and fishable by 2020. Using water quality indicators, the health condition of the Harbor was determined for 2012. Unfortunately, the overall health of the harbor, assessed using five water quality indicators, was moderately poor, obtaining an overall grade of C-. Bad actors include chlorophyll, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and low levels of dissolved oxygen. So for this summer Baltimoreans should swim elsewhere.


  1. Christine Grillo

    Posted by Christine Grillo

    Thanks so much for pointing that out, Bill. The links should work now.

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