HomeAbout JeffContact

Sonoma County Health Inspectors Harass Heirloom Expo Vendors

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

This year, for the first time in the history of the National Heirloom Exposition at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, local county health inspectors showed up and started harassing vendors for things like allowing visitors to taste test organic apples before they bought them, Food Democracy Now reports.


Not only that, this year a visitor from Monsanto showed up with a camera and a hidden video recorder. When asked what he was doing, he said that he was there to find out more about the genetics behind all the diversity of heirloom seeds at the festival. That’s certainly within his rights, but why the hidden equipment?


It’s hard to know what’s changed from the previous five years of the Expo’s existence, but it’s suspicious that this year someone from Monsanto shows up, and then people start getting harassed.


Here’s how the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported the situation: “Vendors and exhibitors at a popular natural foods event contend they were harassed and unfairly targeted by Sonoma County health inspectors who cracked down this week with fees and fines, as well as permit requirements.


“Organizers of the Exposition said previous health inspectors were positive and supportive of the three-day event, which ended Thursday. But this year was different.

Organizers said the treatment by health inspectors threatens the future of the Heirloom Exposition, which draws more than 15,000 people. They said it makes it challenging for the participation of backyard farmers and hobbyists who can’t give away an apple or tomato without a permit.


“’We feel we’re not really wanted,’ said farming entrepreneur Jere Gettle, who co-founded the Heirloom Exposition and the Petaluma Seed Bank. ‘It’s taken the heart out of the event.’” There was talk of moving the event out of Sonoma County.






A new study published in Science Advances (31 Aug 2016:

Vol. 2, no. 8, e1600850. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600850.) looks at how genetically engineered crops affect the use of herbicides and insecticides.


The study shows that farmers growing GMO soybeans used 28 percent more Roundup on their Roundup-resistant beans than farmers growing non-GMO beans. Farmers growing GMO corn used about an ounce less Roundup on 2.2 acres than farmers growing non-GMO corn. And farmers growing GMO corn that produces an insecticidal toxin in its tissues used about three one-hundredths of a pound (less than half an ounce) less pesticide on 2.2 acres than farmers growing non-insecticidal GMO corn.


So the application of Roundup herbicide and pesticide on corn is about the same for GMO-using farmers and regular conventional farmers, but GMO soybean growers use substantially more herbicide than their conventional non-GMO counterparts.


The economists conducting the study (Edward D. Perry, Federico Ciliberto, David A. Hennessy, and GianCarlo Moschini) end by noting that the change in herbicide use on soybeans is consistent with the development of Roundup resistance in weeds, and that the increase in Roundup on soybeans is due to the presence of resistant weeds.


Monsanto has consistently claimed that its introduction of GMO beans has led to a reduction in herbicide use, and that resistance to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is a natural adaptation that’s not its fault. Yet Monsanto’s colleagues at Bayer, the German pesticide and chemical firm, have introduced new chemicals, such as Alion, that they guarantee will kill glyphosate-resistant broadleaf weeds.


Until the weeds make an adaptation to Alion as well, I might add. Tillage works well controlling weeds, and while not without its problems, at least tillage isn’t dousing America’s farmland with poison. But then, you can’t sell tillage.





The Organic Center has authored an article in the Modern Wellness Guide about how organic can act as a tool to fight superbugs. In it, the group discusses how choosing organic goes beyond protecting consumers from pesticide residues; organic also reduces the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


These diseases have been on the rise lately, and have reached a point where the World Health Organization declared antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be a global health epidemic.


One of the reasons for the prevalence of superbugs is the widespread use of antibiotics in conventional agriculture as a prophylactic and growth-promoting agent. Organic, on the other hand, raises livestock without the use of antibiotics. This means that organic farming doesn’t select for microbial resistance, and can even protect consumers from coming into contact with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To examine this issue in depth, The Organic Center developed and published a report showing how organic can be used as a model to produce healthful food while preventing the spread of antibiotic resistance.






Pre-natal pesticide exposure effects greater in stressful environments

A new study published in the journal Neurotoxicology demonstrates that social stressors such as economic strain or poor learning environments can magnify the negative impacts of pre-natal exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides.


Researchers found that higher levels of total social stress as well as negative parent-child relationships and poor learning environments were generally correlated with lower IQs for all test subjects, but the negative correlation was significantly stronger for children of mothers who were exposed to pesticides during their pregnancy.






Dave Schuit, a beekeeper who produces honey in Elmwood, Canada, claims that since GMO corn was planted in the nearby area, his farm has lost around 37 million bees (approximately 600 hives). According to reports, Schuit and other local beekeepers believe neonicotinoids, or “neonics” are to blame for the influx of bee deaths.


Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, two of Bayer CropScience’s most widely used pesticides, both contain neonics and have been linked with many large-scale bee ‘die-offs’ in both European and U.S. countries. However, despite the dangers associated with the use of this chemical, the pesticides are still regularly used and sold on the market.


Despite their size, the impact bees have on the environment is almost unparalleled. In fact, bees are responsible for pollinating about one-sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plant.


In 2010, bees helped provide over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S alone – estimated to be roughly one third of the food we eat. As a result, it is not hard to see that bees are needed to sustain our modern food system.


However, despite their obvious importance in our ecosystem, bee populations have been rapidly dropping over the past few decades. In fact, 44 percent of honeybee colonies in the United States died off last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last month.


In the past, scientists have tried to conclude why bee populations are in rapid decline. While it is not been proven that pesticides directly kill the bees that come into contact with the chemical, many scientists believe there is a strong link between the use of the pesticide and a phenomenon they refer to as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD).


“We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies,” said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS’s bee research laboratory.


While the cause of CCD is still widely debated, some believe that “the neonicotinoid pesticides are coating corn seeds, and with the use of new air seeders, are blowing pesticide dust into the air when planted.”


However, according to a new study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neonicotinoid pesticides kill honeybees by damaging their immune system and making them unable to fight diseases and bacteria.


Although we are unable to definitively determine what is causing the terminal decline of bee populations around the world, using all the scientific evidence that is currently available, it is clear that pesticides are having a significantly negative effect on bee populations.


In fact, it seems more and more countries are also beginning to accept this idea. Canada has banned the use of Imadacloprid on sunflower and corn fields; France has rejected Bayer’s application for Clothianidin; Italy has now banned certain neonicotinoids; and the European Union has banned multiple pesticides.


At this moment in time, EU scientists are reviewing the EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides. By the end of January 2017, the EU scientist will finish their risk evaluation and determine the status of the chemical.


Although the United States have yet to follow suit, several states – including California, Alaska, New York, and Massachusetts – are currently considering legislation that would ban neonicotinoids. In fact, just last month Maryland came the first state to pass a neonic-restricting bill; Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act has eliminated consumer use of neonicotinoids in the state.






Yuzu Ramen & Broffee, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Emeryville in the East Bay Area, announced they have added five new all-organic ramen dishes to their menu, and are now offering eight varieties in total. The new additions include a spicy tonkotsu, spicy gyukotsu, spicy veggie, cheesy tonkotsu, and a cheesy gyukotsu.


It takes three days to prepare these ramen broths. Yuzu uses organic vegetables, 100 percent grass-fed meat and bones for their ramen and broths. No antibiotics or GMOs, no artificial coloring or flavoring, and no MSG or preservatives are used. Sticking to unprocessed and organic ingredients is a core part of their business values. Almost every ingredient is delivered fresh daily from local vendors that focus on organic


Yuzu Ramen & Broffee is located at 1298 65th Street in Emeryville. More information: http://www.yuzurb.com/.






On July 31, President Obama turned his back on the 90 percent of Americans who want companies to be required to clearly state on food packages, in plain English, whether or not their products contain GMO ingredients.


Instead, the President signed into law the misleading, confusing, and loophole-ridden-DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act.


We all know what happened. Monsanto’s minions in Congress passed a law that nullified Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law and essentially guarantees that here in the U.S., food companies will never be required to tell us if the products we buy are contain ingredients grown with massive amounts of Monsanto’s cancer-causing Roundup.


Can we repeal the DARK Act, which is now officially referred to as the “National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard”? Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) thinks so. And even though it’s a long shot, we need to join forces with our allies to repeal this law. Tell your Senators to support Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s efforts to repeal the DARK Act.