News bites, August 2005
This article was originally published in August 2005
Demand exceeds supply of organic milk
Know any dairy farmers who want to go organic? Demand for organic milk and other dairy products continues to rise, but there aren’t enough certified producers to meet the demand. The Organic Trade Association reports that in the past six to nine months, supply is running short of total orders by 10 percent or more. (Organic Consumers Association)
Teflon: a likely carcinogen
The Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific advisory panel has identified a chemical used to make Teflon as a “likely carcinogen.” Officials may now be compelled to regulate the chemical — known as PFOA or C-8 — for the first time. Until now, the EPA classified PFOA as a “suggested” carcinogen, requiring fewer health precautions.
PFOA/C-8 is used to make stain- and stick-resistant surfaces for pots and pans, Gore-Tex fabrics and pizza boxes. (Washington Post)
Washington dairies disappearing
Washington state reportedly lost 36 more dairies in 2004, leaving a total of 560. And, for the first time in years, the number of cows is slipping; previously, when dairies went out of business, the number of cows remained stable. Officials warn the losses will likely lead to more development of farmland and a significant loss of dairy-related jobs — veterinarians, sales, marketing, transportation and retail. The dairy federation says Washington has the highest consolidation rate in the United States. (Capital Press)
Lawn and garden
Analysis of the most popular lawn and garden pesticides shows that more than half of them include ingredients listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the World Health Organization as possible carcinogens. One-third contain known or suspected endocrine disruptors and more than a quarter contain reproductive toxins. More than 40 percent of the pesticides commonly used in this country are banned in other countries.
U.S. homeowners apply three times more pesticides per acre to their lawns than farmers apply to agricultural crops. An EPA study shows lawn pesticides are easily tracked indoors and exist in the carpet and flooring for years. (Beyond Pesticides)
Say no to Gallo
The United Farm Workers (UFW) union is boycotting the E.& J. Gallo Winery again, claiming the nation’s largest wine producer exploits and mistreats vineyard workers. The boycott is the latest chapter in more than three decades of bitter battles between the UFW and Gallo.
The UFW says it’s acting on behalf of temporary workers at Gallo of Sonoma, who were hired directly by labor contractors and do not receive benefits. The state licenses contractors, but officials agree the system makes it much harder to enforce labor laws, such as minimum wage, mandatory overtime and breaks.
The boycott affects 40 Gallo brands, including Gallo of Sonoma, Louis M. Martini, Mirassou, Napa Valley Vineyards, Indigo Hills and Rancho Zabaco Winery. (Agribusiness Examiner)