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The Dirty Dozen

Touch the Soil News #646 (Feature Photo – David Monniaux CC SA 3.0) The Dirty Dozen pertains to the 12 foods most contaminated by pesticides. The report is updated and published annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG): https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php The EWG’s analysis of tests by the USDA found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in the thousands of produce samples tested. The EWG said that the most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides and that spinach had twice the residues…

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Single-Crop Farming – Perfect Environment for Pests

Touch the Soil News #517 In our Touch the Soil News piece #502 (October 2, 2016), we covered a global report in which the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) inferred that the industrial food chain almost totally misses delivering adequate nutrition and should be totally reshaped. On the heels of this report, new research about pesticide use has surfaced. Mono-cropping leads to greater pesticide use over companion cropping or smaller plots with a diversity of crops. William Wetzel, who led the study whilst at the University of California Davis, explained, “Insects have a perfect nutrient level that they really like. When it’s too high or too…

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Brazil National Cancer Institute: GMO Crops Drive Agrochemical Use

Touch the Soil News #376 Brazil, one of the world’s largest GMO corn and soybean producers has become the largest consumer of agrochemicals in the world. Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) – a division of the nation’s ministry of health – is quoted as saying: “Importantly, the release of transgenic seeds in Brazil was one of the factors responsible for putting the country in first place in the ranking of agrochemical consumption. The cropping pattern with the intensive use of pesticides generates major harms, including environmental pollution, poisoning of workers and the population in general. Brazil’s national consumption of agrochemicals is equivalent to 5.2 liters per person per year. Brazilian…

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A City’s Approach to Food is Dynamite on Industrial Food

Touch the Soil News #319 The action is taking place in Victoria, British Columbia – a picturesque city of some 85,000 people on the Puget Sound on Vancouver Island. As the provincial capital of British Columbia, Victoria is part of a much larger urban metropolis of 350,000. Mainstream agriculture in Canada has the full blessings of the national government when it comes to using pesticides, GMOs that require the use of pesticides and all other chemicals deemed safe for human consumption. Recently, the Times Colonist – a newspaper in Victoria – reported on news that the City Council wants to help promote urban farming and food close to home. The…

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The World’s Largest Organic Food Vision Moves to Reality

Touch the Soil News #316 The Times of India has just released an interesting news piece about food and farming. Sikkim, one of the smallest states in India (population 620,000) is a new test case for a much larger movement in India to go organic. This small state is banning the use of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides and is embracing an agricultural platform of all organic. A much larger state in India – Kerala (population 34,000,000) is looking to become fully organic by year end 2016. Not to be outdone, the largest state in India – Rajasthan (population 75,000,000) has just banned the growing of Genetically Modified Crops and taken…

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The Dow & Dupont Merger – Are the Giants Faltering?

Touch the Soil News #254 When investors want more money, Katy bar the door. The recent merger announcement by two of the world’s largest farm chemical companies suggests that it was masterminded by behind-the-scenes investors pushing for an unusual merger and subsequent restructure into three (3) companies. Both Dow and Dupont are giants in the farm chemical industries (chemical factory painting by Carsten Eggers) So who are the biggest stockholders in the two companies? Actually they are the same. They are not individuals, but two (2) different investment management firms. The first is Blackrock, Inc. which owns 6.3 percent of Dupont and 5.5 percent of Dow. The Vanguard Group owns…

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Finally, the Bees Win in Court

Touch the Soil News # 182 Amidst pressure from Dow AgroSciences, the EPA folded back in 2013 and approved a pesticide called sulfoxaflor. This chemical has been implicated in the global crisis in bee health. Dow AgroSciences touted that the chemical addresses a $2 billion market need for cotton and rice. Mother Jones journalist Tom Philpott, recently covered the outcome of a lawsuit by a group of beekeeping organizations and the National Honey Bee Advisory Board against the EPA – demanding that sulfoxaflor be withdrawn from the market. On Thursday, September 10th, 2015, a federal appeals court struck down the EPA’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor. Commenting on the decision,…

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Green Sense Farms – Deeper Insight to the Change Coming

Touch the Soil News # 133 When it comes to raising food, most farmers think about things like land, tractors, harvesting equipment and chemicals. For some crops this may not change much. For other crops, particularly lettuces, micro-greens and herbs, the future may be totally different. Green Sense farms, working with Royal Phillips – a global leader in lighting – is taking a completely different approach. Capital expenditures for setting up farming include specialized LED lighting, a large indoor facility, growing towers and a physical location that puts them within 100 miles of 20 million people. Photo courtesy of Green Sense Farms – from left to right Rob Schlyer -…

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The Lettuce Robot Has Arrived

Touch the Soil News # 132 The most labor intensive crop is lettuce. One of the most labor intensive tasks in lettuce farming is thinning the lettuce plants early in the season. Once the lettuce takes stand, thinning gives the remaining lettuce plants room to grow and mature to market-size lettuce heads. Advanced Lettuce-thinning Robot Entrepreneur Jorge Heraud, from Salinas Valley in California founded Blue River Technology. The company invented what they call the LettuceBot. The LettuceBot can thin lettuce plants automatically and without labor. Consider that at the present, it takes about 50 farm laborers two days to thin a 15-acre lettuce field. The LettuceBot, using cutting edge robots,…

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Experiment – What Happens to You When Everything You Eat is Organic

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Swedish grocery chain Coop has been working since the 1980s to educate consumers on the benefits of eating organic and challenging politicians to do more for organic food production. We all know the story, we can read all the technical studies on the pesticide levels in our bodies, but few people change to organic – often because of the cost. Putting technical reports aside, the Coop decided to do an experiment on what happens to people when they switch to 100 percent organic diets. The company enlisted the Palmbergs (see photo), a typical Swedish family, to participate in a three-week experiment switching from conventional food to organic. In the first…

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