The ‘Problem reaction solution’ strategy is increasingly being seen in the campaign to devitalise our food. A pathogenic outbreak, either created or blown out of proportion, is used to generate fear about safety of food then measures are brought in to sterilise it in some way which, in fact decrease the food’s ability to nourish us therefore, as well as making us less healthy, actually make us MORE susceptible to infection. Microorganisms are everywhere including inside us and most of them are friendly or harmless and some of them help defend us against the harmful ones. But of course the public indoctrination about how food works is very different to the true picture so how can people be expected to know.
The Cornucopia Institute
Promoting Economic Justice for Family-Scale Farming
Federal Regulations Would Harm Sustainable Farmers and Biodiversity
We need your help in another battle to stop the slippery slope toward a sterilized and industrialized food system that threatens biodiversity and the very existence of family-scale farms that grow food in a safe, healthy, and environmentally sustainable way.
In response to the E. coli 0157 outbreaks last year in bagged spinach, the USDA is considering a change in the federal regulations that could potentially require growers of all fresh leafy green vegetables to follow specified guidelines in the fields and during post-harvest handling. The federal rules would be similar to the California guidelines that were set by large-scale operations after the outbreaks. The guidelines include growing practices that discourage biodiversity and sustainable/organic farming practices, deplete soil fertility, and create “sterile” fields—methods that have not been scientifically proven to actually reduce E. coli 0157 bacteria but are certain to reduce biodiversity, harm wildlife, and burden family-scale farms.
Small- and medium-scale farmers would bear the greatest financial and logistical burden of such specified guidelines. For example, if the rules require testing for pathogens at every harvest—as they currently do in California—then large-scale farms that grow one type of crop and harvest only one to three times per season would pay much less than smaller and more diverse farms that continually harvest many types of vegetables. If regulations dictate a single set of growing practices and food safety measures, which are appropriate for large-scale “factory farms” but not for diverse family farms, we risk losing the very farms that grow leafy greens in a healthy and sustainable way. A one-size-fits-all regulation will not work!
The rules threaten biodiversity and environmental sustainability in several ways. Farmers would be encouraged to eliminate wildlife and any vegetation that may provide habitat for wildlife. The rules also discourage the development of microbial life in the soil. These methods have not been shown to reduce the risk of harmful bacterial contamination. In fact, sustainable farming methods that promote microbial life in soil have shown to reduce E. coli 0157 because it has to compete with other microbes and is therefore less likely to thrive. However, the aim of these rules seems to be for sterile fields that support no forms of life, except for the leafy greens.
We must make our voices heard, telling the USDA that we do not support federal rules that would put a great financial and logistical burden on family-scale farmers, discourage environmentally healthy ways of farming, and harm wildlife.
Taking action is easy, but with a December 3 deadline for submitting comments to the USDA, we need your help today. Please tell the USDA that food safety is an important concern, but that mandating measures with no scientific basis that will put small farmers out of business, and harm wildlife, is not the way to go.