Report Released by Nonprofits - The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS)

Biotech crops cause big jump in pesticide use: report | Reuters

Biotech crops cause big jump in pesticide use: report | Reuters


KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods, according to a report issued Tuesday by health and environmental protection groups.

The groups said research showed that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.

The report was released by nonprofits The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

The groups said that while herbicide use has climbed, insecticide use has dropped because of biotech crops. They said adoption of genetically engineered corn and cotton that carry traits resistant to insects has led to a reduction in insecticide use by 64 million pounds since 1996.

Still, that leaves a net overall increase on U.S. farm fields of 318 million pounds of pesticides, which includes insecticides and herbicides, over the first 13 years of commercial use.

The rise in herbicide use comes as U.S. farmers increasingly adopt corn, soy and cotton that have been engineered with traits that allow them to tolerate dousings of weed killer. The most popular of these are known as "Roundup Ready" for their ability to sustain treatments with Roundup herbicide and are developed and marketed by world seed industry leader Monsanto Co.

Monsanto rolled out the first biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996...


"This report confirms what we've been saying for years," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. "The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it's bad news for farmers, human health and the environment."

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Parker Farms - Missouri Farmer Today (article) - December 2009

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Farmer taps local market

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 10:55 AM CST

RICHMOND -- As cattle slowly stroll the hillside catching the first ray of sun on a cold winter day, sheep forage for the last bit of grass and chickens mosey through fields looking for any morsel left on the ground.

It is a picture-perfect farm setting consumers are buying into.

Two Saturdays every month, 43 green, insulated tote bags full of beef, pork, chicken and lamb make their way from this farm in Ray County to residents in the nearby Kansas City.

“These individuals know where their food comes from,” says Tom Parker of Parker Farms Natural Meats. “They are buying from a local producer.”

Parker’s farm is just a 40-minute drive from some of his customers. However, others might live just down the road. Still, he says the term “local” is something the industry cannot agree on.

“Whole Foods definition requires food called “local” to be produced within seven hours of the store it is sold at,” he says.

The Parker family stands in a field of cattle, a part of their meat CSA serving the Kansas City area. Front row, from left, Kimberly and Brittany. Back row, from left, Tom, Paula, Tiffany and Jessica Parker. MFT photo by Mindy Ward

Some other common distances used in the buy local movement include 100 miles away, within the region in which a consumer lives, within the state, within seven hours journey of you or the store, or within a day’s journey or less of you or the store.

According to a 2008 survey by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, food produced or grown within 100 miles of where you live seems to be the most commonly accepted definition of “local.” More than two-thirds of respondents chose this distance.

Ultimately, Parker says consumers who want to pinpoint exactly where their “local” products are grown should look into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

“Our customers know where I live and how I do business,” he says. “They are free to visit the farm and see just what it takes to raise their meat.”

A CSA works under the premise of a customer paying the farmer for the product in advance. They then receive their products directly from the farmer. CSAs typically run on a share system, in which a customer will purchase a share, which provides them with product for one full year. Customers may also purchase half shares.

Since the movement started in the United States in 1984, more than several thousand CSAs focusing primarily on produce sprouted up across the county. However, Parker Farms Natural Meats is one of few CSAs in the country that offers only meat and egg products.

Parker grew up on a diversified livestock farm just three miles from his current farm. His family raised hogs, cattle and a few row crops. He started mulling the idea of a meat CSA more than a year ago.

“We thought we could get started if we had 10 people interested,” he recalls.

The family hosted a barbecue at the farm to see if people would be interested. Initial interest in late 2007 saw 18 customers. Last year, the number jumped to 24.

This year as the catch phrase “buy local” gained momentum, so did Parkers’ business. Today, they have 43 customers with two more starting in January. He believes his farm could sustain 100 customers every year.

For $1,150 annually, customers receive one share. For Parker Farms Natural Meats, that includes one-quarter side of beef, 2 lambs, one-half hog, 12 chickens and 24 dozen eggs. Customers get a portion or bundle delivered to drop-off sites the first and third Saturday each month. It breaks down to roughly $50 per delivery.

“We are priced at wholesale,” Parker explains. “The average family should be able to afford quality, healthy, locally grown meat.”

A bundle always includes two pounds of ground beef and one dozen eggs. An example of a bundle might include ground beef, ham, ground lamb, pork steaks, T-bone, stew meat and a dozen eggs.

“We vary the cuts,” Parker says. “But, it is always beef, pork and lamb and chicken twice a month. This allows us to utilize all of the animal.”

Parker says their customer base has changed.

“Several years ago, our main customer was health-conscious,” he explains. “They might have had allergy issues or wanted natural products with less fat. But, now it is driven by the buy- local crowd.”

The interaction between the farmer and the consumer is a large part of CSAs. With produce CSAs, customers generally work alongside the farmer tending the garden, helping with weeding or harvesting. Parker says that type of hands-on activity does not work in a livestock operation.

Instead, he relies on customers to make deliveries.

Customers take turns driving the 40 miles to the farm to pick up orders, each in a tote bag with name and contact information, and then drive back to drop-off points around the city.

Parker says most of the customers do not have to drive but 10 minutes from their house to pick up their share. Typically, they are waiting on the driver and the entire delivery takes 15 minutes at each site.

“It saves me in the transportation cost,” he adds. “But, it also gets my customers out to the farm every year. Two times a year, they see what is we are doing here.”

Parker says his customers enjoy seeing the farm and understanding how it works. It makes them feel “connected” to the process.

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