Natural Foods Merchandiser

Bt Corn Regs Not Being Enforced
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates genetically engineered corn because of its pesticide properties, requires a 20 percent non-GE corn "refuge" to be planted within a half mile of the biotech crops. The refuge is meant to keep insects from developing resistance to Bt corn.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture survey last summer found that of the 16.2 million acres planted with Bt corn, 4.3 million acres, or 21 percent of farms, violated the rule. Nearly 15 percent of the 289,640 farms surveyed had no refuge at all.

The EPA does not visit farms to ensure compliance, but relies on biotech seed companies to educate farmers on the rule. A phone survey conducted in 2002 by biotech corn manufacturers found that 86 percent of farms claimed at least a 20 percent refuge and 92 percent said they had at least a 10 percent refuge. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service survey covered 10 Midwestern states.

Socially Responsible Businesses Honored
Socially Responsible Business Awards for 2003 were announced at a breakfast during Natural Products Expo East in Washington, D.C. Winners were chosen based on achievement in ethics, accountability, governance, employment practices, business relationships, financial return, products and services, community involvement and environmental protection.

Awards were given to Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Inc., of Hatfield, Mass.; Earth Friendly Products of Winnetka, Ill.; EcoTeas of Ashland, Ore.; and Zhena's Gypsy Tea of Ojai, Calif. Special Recognition Awards were presented to Alfredo Sfeir-Younis of the World Bank and vegetarian activist Howard Lyman, who was Oprah Winfrey's co-defendant in the Texas cattlemen trial.

Cost Sharing Offered for Certification Costs
The 2002 Farm Bill provided funds to help producers and handlers recoup part of the cost of organic certification. If your operation was certified between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2003, you are eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of the cost, up to $500.

The one-year Farm Bill program is in addition to a similar certification cost-sharing program targeted at 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. It reimburses 70 percent of costs, up to $500, for certification after Dec. 21, 2000. Organic ag producers or handlers who receive the state-specific $500 reimbursement are not eligible for the national $500 reimbursement.

—B.E. and L.E.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 11/p. 9

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