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 University


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 keep
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 year,
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. and
SuperValu Inc., which owns Albertson's LLC, are among those selling their
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, green
"USDA Organic" seal for certified products.

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

"That is how you stimulate growth, is imports generally," she said. "Your
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 Bar
Inc. "We have gotten to the point now where we know we can get a call for
any ingredient."

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

"I'm not suggesting we would be importing from all these places," said Gary
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 part
of a long-running debate within America's booming organic industry. For many
enthusiasts, organic is about more than the food on their plates; it's a way
to improve the environment where they live and help keep small-scale farmers
in business.

"If organic is something created in the image of sustainable agriculture, we
certainly haven't accomplished that yet," said Urvashi Rangan, a scientist
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 meet
USDA standards in order to get here."

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

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

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 waited
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 do
the best we can. Sometimes it's too late, but then we learn for next time."

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

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

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 smart
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 to
buy organic ingredients, wherever they come from, instead of conventional
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 small."

Copyright © 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 comments.]


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.





Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.
[log in to unmask]" title=""> Tell-a-friend!


If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Center for Food Safety.


This message was sent to [log in to unmask] Visit your subscription management page to modify your email communication preferences or update your personal profile. To stop ALL email from Center for Food Safety, click to remove yourself from our lists (or reply via email with "remove" in the subject line).



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)



If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field