BEN & JERRY’S GOES GLOBALLY NUTS FOR FAIR TRADE
Ben & Jerry’s has announced all of its ice cream flavors will use Fair Trade Certified ingredients by the end of 2013. The ice cream company first began using Fair Trade Certified ingredients in 2005, and now, Ben & Jerry’s will need to source 121 more chunks and swirls of flavors from Fair Trade Certified cooperatives and farmers, increasing demand for these socially responsible products. Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, said, “Fair Trade is about making sure people get their fair share of the pie. The whole concept of Fair Trade goes to the heart of our values and sense of right and wrong. Nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting somebody else.” For more on Ben & Jerry’s announcement and more information about Fair Trade, see transfairusa.org.
COURT RULES IN GMO SUGAR BEET CASE
In mid-March, a federal district judge in California denied a request seeking a temporary ban on genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The request, made by an alliance of organic seed growers and conservation and food safety groups, called for a temporary freeze on all planting, production, and use of the GE seeds until the court could consider a permanent solution to the government’s previous decision to deregulate GE sugar beets. Although the request for a temporary injunction was denied, the groups requesting the moratorium on GE seeds remained encouraged that the judge will order permanent injunction relief at a hearing scheduled for July. For the full story, see http://truefoodnow.org/2010/03/16/court-rules-in-gmo-sugar-beet-case.
WHITE HOUSE FINALIZES HISTORIC VEHICLE STANDARDS TO SAVE OIL, CUT POLLUTION, AND CREATE JOBS
In early April, the White House announced new fuel and emission standards for model year 2012-2016 light duty vehicles. Fuel economy of a carmakers’ fleet of new vehicles sold in the United States must average 34.1 miles per gallon by model year 2016, and emission standards will be will be lowered by roughly 25 percent of today’s average new vehicles’ emission rates. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the new rules will reduce U.S. oil consumption, cut global warming emissions, save drivers money at the gas pump, and create new jobs in the auto industry. To read more from UCS see www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/white-house-finalizes-vehicle-standards-0367.html.
NEW RESTRICTIONS ON TURF FERTILIZER IN WISCONSIN
Beginning April 1st, 2010, Wisconsin residents can no longer apply turf fertilizer that contains phosphorus to their lawns except in limited circumstances. The restriction also applies to professional lawn and landscape businesses, golf courses and municipalities. The intent of the law is to protect Wisconsin’s lakes, streams and rivers from phosphorus runoff. For more information about the turf fertilizer law, see the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection press release: www.datcp.state.wi.us/press_release/result.jsp?prid=2481.
HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS ACT REWARDS SCHOOLS FOR OFFERING LOW-FAT OPTIONS
In March, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado introduced the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010 in Congress; the intention of the bill is to reverse the increase of childhood obesity in the United States by rewarding school food service programs that serve more fruits, vegetables and plant-based vegetarian meal options and healthy non-dairy beverage options. School districts that offer these food choices will be rewarded with additional food aid. Three gold medal-winning Olympic athletes, Amanda Beard, Hope Solo, and Nastia Liukin, demonstrated their support of the bill by writing letters to their lawmakers encouraging them to pass the bill. For links to the Olympic athletes’ letters of support and more information from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, see www.pcrm.org.
HOME PESTICIDE MANUFACTURER MISREPRESENTING PRODUCTS AS CERTIFIED “ORGANIC”
The Cornucopia Institute filed legal complaints with the USDA in late March alleging that a North Carolina-based company, HOMS LLC, is violating the USDA organic standards by using conventional agricultural oils, and other ingredients, in Bio Block pest control products that bear the word “organic” and the green “USDA Organic” seal. “This amounts to, allegedly, illegally usurping the value of the organic label,” says Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at Cornucopia. “The ‘USDA Organic’ seal is meaningful to consumers and should not be used frivolously. This places ethical industry participants at a competitive disadvantage.” Cornucopia’s complaint intensifies the debate over whether non-food products, such as pet food and personal care products, are included in the strict regulations that determine the use of the word “organic” on packaging. For more information and to read Cornucopia’s formal complaint see www.cornucopia.org/2010/03/wal-mart-in-trouble-again-over-organic-marketing-practices.
CHILD NUTRITION BILL ADVANCES IN SENATE
The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in March. The bill increases spending on child nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over the next 10 years. Key components of the bill include: increasing per meal reimbursement rates for school lunch for the first time in nearly 40 years; creating national school nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses; expanding the Afterschool Meal Program under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) from the current 13-state pilot to all 50 states; providing mandatory funding for schools to establish school gardens; and allocating $40 million annually for the development of farm to school initiatives. To read more see the Foodlinks America website at: tefapalliance.org/blog/archives/580#more-580.