News bites, May 2011

This article was originally published in May 2011

Apple growers oppose GE

The U.S. Apple Association is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to allow genetically engineered (GE) apple imports from Canada. The trade group’s unanimous decision follows an appeal by the Northwest Horticultural Council, which also asked USDA to reject the Canadian apples, engineered not to brown. A council spokesman cited labeling, cross-contamination, export market resistance, and customer concerns in its decision. (The Packer)

GE alfalfa back in court

Opponents of GE alfalfa are warning farmers that GE alfalfa may be illegal again soon and that they could lose money if they plant it. Conventional seed producers and the Center for Food Safety are back in court, challenging recent approval. They’re arguing that an environmental impact assessment did not address contamination, increased herbicide use, and the emergence of “superweeds” resistant to herbicides. (Center for Food Safety)

Waxed apple ban

A chemical added to wax that helps make apples shiny has caused a 55 percent drop in Washington apple shipments to the U.K. Morpholine is not an approved food additive in Europe because it’s believed to be a potential carcinogen. Most of the apples still being shipped to Europe are organic and not waxed. (Capital Press)

Apples to Egypt

Sales of Washington state apples to Egypt since its revolution have fallen 80 percent. The Washington Apple Commission says the drop is due to disrupted ports and a drop in tourism and tourist demand. Egypt is primarily a Red Delicious apple market. (Capital Press)

Radioactive food

Japanese importers and wholesalers are expected to “go long” on imported foods this year, especially fresh produce. Japan’s Ministry of Health has warned consumers in the north not to eat broccoli, cabbage, spinach, turnips and at least five leafy greens grown in the northern part of the country most affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. Milk and 11 types of vegetables have been found to contain radioactive materials drastically exceeding food safety limits. (

Infant advisories

The assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says all infant formulas — concentrated or ready-to-feed — already contain fluoride and, when mixed routinely with fluoridated water, increase the risk of fluorosis (discolored teeth).

Also, a paper presented to the International Association for Dental Research reports that common infant fruit juices contain toxic fluoride, and some contain levels that exceed federal guidelines. Ninety samples of apple, pear and grape juice contained fluoride ranging from 0.11 to 1.81 parts per million (ppm), more than the 0.7 ppm that DHHS recommends to prevent fluorosis. (U.S. Newswire)

Diet better than drugs for ADHD?

A new study suggests that kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) could experience a significant reduction in symptoms on a restricted diet. Researchers in the Netherlands studied 100 children diagnosed with ADHD and found that about two-thirds of those on a hypoallergenic diet showed significant improvement in their symptoms. The hypoallergenic foods in the study included rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots and pears. (The Los Angeles Times)

Climate chaos hurts coffee

Yields of high-end Arabica coffee beans from Colombia and many Latin American regions have plummeted from rising temperatures and more intense, unpredictable rains phenomena linked to climate chaos. Average temperatures in Colombia’s coffee regions have risen nearly one degree over the past 30 years, and rainfall more than 25 percent above average the last few years. Higher temperatures cause the plants’ buds to abort or their fruit to ripen too quickly, encouraging fungus. (The New York Times)

Quinoa’s popularity takes toll

Soaring demand for quinoa in America and Europe has raised farmers’ incomes in Bolivia but now fewer Bolivians can afford the protein-rich food and instead are eating cheaper, processed foods. Quinoa prices have almost tripled over the past five years, while Bolivian consumption fell 34 percent. Studies show chronic malnutrition among Bolivian children in recent years has climbed in quinoa-growing areas. (The New York Times)

Organic agents decertified

USDA has revoked accreditation of two certifying agencies, Certified Organic, Inc. (COI) and Guaranteed Organic Certification Agency (GOCA). USDA says COI failed to communicate with inspectors and ensure they were adequately trained, adhere to internal procedures, keep adequate confidentiality agreements on file, and verify organic practices were implemented by the operations they certified. GOCA was decertified due to “persistent noncompliance.” (

WikiLeaks exposes GMO pressure

The U.S. Embassy in Paris reportedly advised Washington, D.C. to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country that opposed GE crops. WikiLeaks cables show that a friend and business partner of former president Bush suggested this strategy when France moved to ban GE corn in late 2007.

Other WikiLeaks cables reveal that United States diplomats around the world have pushed GE crops, and that Spain and the U.S. have worked together to persuade the EU not to strengthen biotechnology laws. (

Also in this issue

Sno-Valley Tilth nurtures new farmers

We can increase the supply of local, organic produce by increasing the number of local farms. The organization of organic farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley — Sno-Valley Tilth (SVT) — is doing this through its Mentoring Program.

Delta Farm tour: home of Nash’s Organic Produce

On May 14 we’ll be out on the Olympic Peninsula to tour Delta Farm, home to Nash’s Organic Produce and the first farm saved by PCC Farmland Trust. Register now for the tour — a wonderful way to welcome spring and learn from farmer Nash Huber.

Your co-op, May 2011

Vote now! PCC Board election runs April 26 — May 19, 2011 ballot count meeting, Board report, and more