April 2012
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GLEANINGS: n. 1. That which has been acquired by gleaning. 2. The monthly eNewsletter of CT NOFA. [Glean:v. 1. to gather relevant information or material by patient effort, bit by bit; to find out. 2. to gather grain or other produce (often: left by reapers); to harvest.]
From the Executive Director

bill duesing

CT NOFA GMO Update

The last week of March was an especially exciting one for those of us working on GMO issues.

Connecticut's bill (HB-5117) to label foods produced with Genetic Engineered ingredients was voted out of the Environment Committee by a vote of 23 to 6 and now heads to the floor of the House.

JustLabelIt's national campaign presented over one million signatures on a petition to the FDA asking for GMOs to be labeled. However the FDA said it needed more time.

Connecticut's Senator Richard Blumenthal signed on to a letter from Congress asking FDA to label genetically engineered food.

Even The Packer, which has been covering the fresh produce industry since 1893, last week published a prominent opinion piece titled GMO food labeling: Resistance is useless.

CT NOFA joined NOFA chapters in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, as well as the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association, organic farming organizations from California, Iowa, Ohio and Florida, the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, and many organizations, individual farms and seed producers a host of the plaintiffs in signing on to continue in the Public Patent suit against Monsanto.

And most everyone I talk to about the GMO issue is on board. They realize that GMOs are a big problem that needs to be addressed and are very happy that CT NOFA is involved.There is lots of new information about the lack of precision in GMOs. A list of unintended effects of Genetic Manipulation published by the Nature Institute seems endless, and each issue links to an in-depth report about the consequences of biotech research.

This week

Monsanto threatened to sue the state of Vermont if it passes a labeling bill. The labeling bill in Vermont has received overwhelming public support from consumers and Vermont's Agriculture Committee. Monsanto has used threats and lawsuits to intimidate lawmakers, farmers and activists for decades, and even sued the state of Vermont in response to a law requiring labeling of milk and dairy products from cows injected with Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).

It does not seem that there have been any similar threats in Connecticut. The Connecticut labeling bill's main obstacle right now is that it must be brought to vote on the floor of the House of Representatives and then in the State Senate. This means we need to keep up the calls and emails to our state representatives and senators and especially to House Speaker Chris Donovan. Visit RightToKnowCT.org to learn more about HB5117 and get the contact information for your legislators.

On the bright side:

In spite of the sometimes overwhelming threats to our food system and to local agriculture, Connecticut residents continue to support and celebrate all of our traditional, small-scale farmers. Our March workshops were educational, well-attended celebrations of the knowledgeable, caring, growers, farmers and gardeners in our state.

Our Winter Conference was wonderfully attended and we have received some very positive and encouraging feedback. You can read more about the Winter Conference in Natural Awakenings and we also enjoyed this blog post by Andrew Lyons on the UConn Learning Communities blog.

On March 9 the Organic Land Care Program hosted an advanced workshop, Growing Fruit in a Healthy Orchard Ecosystem with master-organic-apple-grower Michael Phillips in Middlefield. The field-portion of the workshop took place at High Hill Orchard in Meriden and was co-taught by farmer Wayne Young.

We had two very well attended gardening workshops at Common Ground, one about soil fertility and compost and the other about starting seedlings.

We celebrated the first day of Spring with an On Farm Greenhouse and High Tunnel Workshop. Ty and David Zemelsky welcomed over 40 attendees, including the Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Reviczky, to Starlight Gardens to learn about winter growing and high tunnels. Jon Bartok, retired UConn Extension Professor, also joined us to discuss design considerations for high tunnels. Read more on the CT NOFA Blog or on Starlight Gardens Blog.