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The Government’s Role in Food Safety

(U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, was co-author of the Tester-Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which exempted certain small, local producers from regulation. He sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and also on its Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.) As an organic farmer from north-central… Continue Reading

Organic Mutagenic/Cell Fusion Hybrid Seeds are Genetically Engineered


It is spring planting time for farms, and, if hybrid seeds are being planted, chances are some might be genetically engineered (GE) and technically genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to a growing movement in organic agriculture. High Mowing Organic Seeds, an organic seed company based in Wolcott, VT, bans the sale of hybrid seeds produced… Continue Reading

Organic Growers Urged to Comment on FDA’s Draft FSMA Rules

Organic growers are among those sighing in relief now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the comment period for its proposed produce and preventive-control rules until Nov. 22. The proposed rules are part of the historic Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011. The… Continue Reading

Organic vs. Conventional: Pundits Are Welcome to Their Own Opinion, But Not Their Own Facts


Because Food Safety News holds an important perspective in the industry, I was surprised to see the website publish a commentary by Mr. Mischa Popoff. Mr. Popoff has spent the last few years promoting his self-published book, Is It Organic.  He has made irresponsible and unsupported claims that 80 percent of all organic food in… Continue Reading

Vilsack Promises to Grow U.S. Organic Industry

At its recent policy conference in Washington, D.C., the Organic Trade Association (OTA) heard from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the future of organic farming. Vilsack told OTA members that he views organic as “its own separate commodity,” and he is committed to treating it that way.  He wants to increase coverage options for… Continue Reading

Organic Food Not Proven Healthier or Safer, Study Finds

Organic foods no less likely to be contaminated than conventional

We know it usually costs more, but is organic meat and produce any healthier — or safer? A new review of the science suggests that the answer may be no. According to a study, conducted by scientists at Stanford, the market for organics in the United States was worth $3.7 billion in 1997. By 2010,… Continue Reading

‘Organic’ Fertilizer Maker Pleads Guilty to Fraud

A man who misrepresented chemical fertilizer as organic has pleaded guilty in federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. Peter Townsley, owner of California Liquid Fertilizer in the Salinas Valley, admitted to defrauding his organic farmer customers by saying his fertilizer, Biolizer XN, was approved for use in… Continue Reading

An Outbreak Like Germany’s Could Happen Here

I am interested in how major foodborne outbreaks and their investigations are interpreted and analyzed: to prevent future outbreaks, minimize the harm from outbreaks that occur, and frame the debates on regulating food safety on farms. When I was asked by a small organic farmer in California what the implications were of the 2011 O104:H4… Continue Reading

NY Organic Farmers Cultivate Food Safety

At the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s annual winter conference in Saratoga Springs, about 40 farmers and farm workers packed a small conference room for a workshop on food safety. The session, titled “Food Safety: Best Practices for Farmers Markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)” was listed on the schedule in both Spanish… Continue Reading