What's new for Michigan Organic Growers for week of July 10-15


1. Demand for Organic Food Outstrips Supply 


2. Stop the commercial planting of genetically engineered plums - the
first temperate GE tree!


3. Grand Rapids  Farmers market returns 


4. Second annual field day on Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native
Plants -Aug 1, 2006


5.  Inconsistent Weed Control With Glycophosate Reported 


6.   Rust Movement Remains Minuscule 


7. Julberty's Dairy has been  bought out by Dean's -the huge dairy
conglomerate, of dubious fame.  


8.  Vegetable Scouting Report for week of July 10-15-from Cornell


9.  Take a look at this issue of New Ag Network


10.   Soil Building and Organic Market Workshop




1.  Published on Friday, July 7, 2006 by the Associated Press
Demand for Organic Food Outstrips Supply
by Libby Quaid

America's appetite for organic food is so strong that supply just can't
up with demand. Organic products still have only a tiny slice, about 2.5
percent, of the nation's food market. But the slice is expanding at a
feverish pace.

Growth in sales of organic food has been 15 percent to 21 percent each
compared with 2 percent to 4 percent for total food sales.

Organic means food is grown without bug killer, fertilizer, hormones,
antibiotics or biotechnology.

Mainstream supermarkets, eyeing the success of organic retailers such as
Whole Foods, have rushed to meet demand. The Kroger Co., Safeway Inc.
SuperValu Inc., which owns Albertson's LLC, are among those selling
own organic brands. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said earlier this year it would
double its organic offerings.

The number of organic farms an estimated 10,000 is also increasing, but
not fast enough. As a result, organic manufacturers are looking for
ingredients outside the United States in places like Europe, Bolivia,
Venezuela and South Africa.

That is no surprise, said Barbara Robinson, head of the Agriculture
Department's National Organic Program. The program provides the round,
"USDA Organic" seal for certified products.

Her agency is just now starting to track organic data, but Robinson
the United States is importing far more organic food than it exports.
true of conventional food, too.

"That is how you stimulate growth, is imports generally," she said.
own industry says we're tired of importing this; why should I pay for
imports when I could start producing myself?"

"We're doing a lot of scrambling," said Sheryl O'Loughlin, CEO of Clif
Inc. "We have gotten to the point now where we know we can get a call
any ingredient."

The makers of the high-energy, eat-and-run Clif Bar needed 85,000 pounds
almonds, and they had to be organic. But the nation's organic almond
was spoken for. Eventually, Clif Bar found the almonds in Spain. But
shortages have popped up: apricots and blueberries, cashews and
brown rice syrup and oats.

Even Stonyfield Farm, an organic pioneer in the United States, is
pursuing a
foreign supplier; Stonyfield is working on a deal to import milk powder
New Zealand.

"I'm not suggesting we would be importing from all these places," said
Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm Inc. "But for transition
purposes, to help organic supply to keep up with the nation's growing
hunger, these countries have to be considered."

The dilemma of how to fill the gap between organic supply and demand is
of a long-running debate within America's booming organic industry. For
enthusiasts, organic is about more than the food on their plates; it's a
to improve the environment where they live and help keep small-scale
in business.

"If organic is something created in the image of sustainable
agriculture, we
certainly haven't accomplished that yet," said Urvashi Rangan, a
for Consumers Union. "What people do have to understand is if that stuff
comes in from overseas, and it's got an organic label on it, it had to
USDA standards in order to get here."

The issue causes mixed feelings for Travis Forgues, an organic dairy
in Vermont.

"I don't like the idea of it coming in from out of this country, but I
want them to stop growing organic because of that," Forgues said. "I
people to say, `Let's do that here, give a farmer another avenue to make
livable wage.'"

A member of the farmer-owned Organic Valley cooperative, Forgues got his
dairy farm certified nearly 10 years ago. Organic Valley supplies milk

Switching to organic is a difficult proposition. Vegetable grower Scott
Woodard is learning through trial and error on his Putnam Valley, N.Y.,
farm. One costly mistake: Conventional farmers can plant seeds when they
want and use pesticides to kill hungry insect larvae. If Woodard had
three weeks to plant, the bugs that ate his seeds would have hatched and
left. Organic seeds can be double the price of conventional.

"There's not a lot of information out there," Woodard said. "We try to
the best we can. Sometimes it's too late, but then we learn for next

Stonyfield and Organic Valley are working to increase the number of
farms, paying farmers to help them switch or boost production.
together with farmer-owned cooperative Organic Valley, expects to spend
around $2 million on incentives and technical help in 2006, Hirshberg

Other companies offer similar help. And the industry's Organic Trade
Association is trying to become more of a resource for individual

Caren Wilcox, the group's executive director, described how an Illinois
farmer showed up in May at an industry show in Chicago.

"He said, `I want to get certified. Help me,'" Wilcox said. "It was a
thing to do, but the fact that he had to get into his car and go down to
McCormick Center says something about the availability of information."

In the meantime, manufacturers like Clif Bar and Stonyfield still prefer
buy organic ingredients, wherever they come from, instead of
crops in the U.S.

"Anybody who's helping to take toxins out of the biosphere and use less
poisonous chemicals in agriculture is a hero of mine," Hirshberg said.
"There's enormous opportunity here for everybody to win, large and

Copyright (c) 2006 The Associated Press



2.  Stop the commercial planting of genetically engineered plums - the
first temperate GE tree!


The US Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments between
now and Saturday, July 17, 2006 on a petition that would allow
commercial growing and marketing of the first genetically engineered
(GE) plum trees. If approved, this would remove all regulatory oversight
of this GE variety by USDA, a virus-resistant plum tree known as the
Honey Sweet Pox Potyvirus Resistant plum. This would open the door to GE
varieties of many other related stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots,
cherries and almonds, that are susceptible to the same virus.
Ironically, this virus is not even found in the US today according to
the USDA, and is certainly not a significant agricultural problem here.


The USDA admits that this GE plum will contaminate both organic and
conventional non-genetically engineered plum orchards if it is approved.
Since all commercial plum trees are cultivars that are relatively cross
compatible within the same species, Prunus domestica, contamination via
GE plum pollen carried by bees and other insects will infiltrate the
plum orchards of organic and conventional growers. The proposed buffer
zones between GE plums and other plums will not prevent genetic
contamination from being spread by pollinating insects. Because this GE
plum tree is also the first genetically engineered temperate tree
proposed for commercial planting, it also opens the door to the
commercialization of GE varieties of other temperate trees such as
poplars, pines, and walnuts.


The one GE fruit tree that has previously been approved, a virus
resistant Hawaiian papaya, has caused extensive contamination of
organic, conventional and wild papaya orchards on most of the Hawaiian
Islands in just a few years. This contamination has spread far more
quickly than the USDA predicted in its initial assessment. Once native
and cultivated plum varieties are contaminated with transgenic pollen,
and the resulting seeds are planted, there is no calling it back.


This petition has implications for all other GE tree species, as the
USDA and the industry want to gauge what the public's reaction will be.
It is critical that all concerned about the threat of GE foods and GE
trees respond to this USDA petition. Several hundred field trials of GE
trees have been conducted already, many for forest trees, such as
Poplar, Loblolly Pine, and Sweetgum, that grow on millions of acres in
natural environments in the U.S.


[Sample Comments to submit below.  Please add any additional comments of
your own, but remember to include the docket # at the top of your


The following comments are in reference to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0084. I
oppose the deregulation of genetically engineered plum trees for the
following reasons:


1. Genetic contamination is a serious threat. Flowers and fruit in
organic and conventional plum orchards will become contaminated with GE
plum genes via pollen transported by bees and other insects that travel
several miles in search of pollen. The result is that organic and
conventional plum growers will lose their markets for non-GE plums as
DNA testing confirms the contamination, as it has with GE papayas in
Hawaii. An organic tree might remain organic itself, but the seeds will
become contaminated, and the trees planted from these seeds will have
contaminated fruit.


 2. The approval of GE plums would be a precedent setting step by USDA,
opening the floodgates for more GE trees including fruit, nut,
ornamental, paper-pulp, and timber species, as well as trees engineered
for soil remediation, and other traits. Approximately 80 species and
varieties of trees are currently undergoing gene splicing research and
development for commercial use. Many of these are native species
important to ecosystems in much of the U.S.


3. There is a serious concern about the genetic stability of the
inserted genes in GE plum trees. USDA claims that the plum pox viral
resistance gene and other inserted genes are sufficiently genetically
stable, but the testing has only been performed over ten years and not
the entire pollen-producing life span of a plum tree. 


 4. The plum pox virus is not currently known to exist in the US as a
problem for plum growers. Thus there is no justification for exposing
other trees, plants, insects and people to the various hazards posed by
GE plums.


 5.  The deregulatory petition completely ignores potential effects on
bees and other pollinator species. Although unintended effects are
common in GE crops there is very little assessment of possible
environmental impacts from unintended effects. There are no studies that
would allow us to evaluate the potential hazards of GE tree pollen for a
variety of insects, or for consumers of honey. We also do not know how
animals and insects that browse on plum leaves might be affected.


6. The USDA's environmental assessment admits that the GE plum readily
hybridizes within its species. Thus, there may be a significant
potential for gene flow into native plum varieties. Wild plum trees are
perennial species living for several decades and populations exist in
dozens of states from coast to coast.  GE plum trees will be long lived,
and capable of contaminating orchards and native plum tree populations
for several decades. One GE plum tree will be able to produce thousands
of GE seeds and extensive quantities of GE pollen, and will be capable
of spreading fertile GE plum seeds and pollen into the environment for
many years. The petition did not adequately evaluate the relative
fitness of GE plum varieties as compared to native plums; it is possible
that the GE varieties would become more successful in natural settings,
and out-compete non-GE varieties. The USDA claim that contamination
would be positive by reducing potential reservoirs for harboring the
plum pox virus in the wild is unsupported by any data.


7. There has been no short-term or long-term safety testing or feeding
trials for toxicity and other adverse effects of the genes inserted into
the GE plum trees. GE plums have not been tested on animals, birds or
humans for safety.  Toxicity tests are necessary since unintended
genetic effects are known to occur with gene splicing. USDA has ignored
the need for scientific studies of gene splicing and for comprehensive
studies of the environmental consequences of GE plantings.


The US Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments between
now and Saturday, July 17, 2006 on the petition to formally deregulate
and allow commercial growing and marketing of GE plums.

We apologize for the inconvenient process to submit your comments - the
USDA is no longer accepting public comment via email or fax.


To submit a comment using the Internet, go to
<> . 

In the "Agency" box, select "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service"
from the drop-down menu; select "NOTICES" as the Document Type and
APHIS-2006-0084 as the "Keyword or ID." Then press "submit" to submit or
view public comments as well as the agency's supporting materials; click
just beneath "Add Comments" and scroll down to submit your letter.


To submit your comments via mail, make sure your letter is postmarked no
later than Saturday, July 17th, and send an original and three copies
with your name and address to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0084, Regulatory
Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road,
Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. 


Feel free to copy and paste any or all of the 7 points above, along with
any comments of your own.  Please forward this widely among your friends
and other contacts.






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Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)



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