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News

Thursday, 05 March 2015 17:03

Who are the New Famers?

A group of Canadians have joined forces to create a National New Farmer Coalition, inspired by the work of the National Young Farmers Coalition in the U.S.A. That group has been very successful at affecting policy change at the national government level. A survey has been created for new farmers to find out who you are, what you're doing, what has worked for you, and what you need. This information will help in the creation of policy recommendations.  If you are a new farmer, an aspiring farmer, an established farmer, or a recently exited (you were farming but now you're not) farmer please take a moment to complete the survey.  Click here for more information. 

A company in B.C.'s Okanagan region is celebrating after its genetically modified, non-browning Arctic apple was approved for deregulation in the U.S.  The Arctic Apple doesn't oxidize - or turn brown - because its developers have figured out how to adjust the growing process to inhibit the browning enzyme. 

Thursday, 05 March 2015 16:44

Eating organic reduces pesticide exposure

A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives has confirmed that choosing organic does, in fact, reduce consumer exposure to pesticides. The study aimed to (1) estimate long-term dietary exposure to organophosphate pesticide residues for individuals, (2) check the accuracy of the estimates and (3) determine whether choosing organic fruits and vegetables lowered pesticide exposure. Four thousand participants from major cities across the nation completed surveys regarding their fruit and vegetable consumption and the frequency in which they chose organic or conventional produce. Scientists then used the survey data along with data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program on average pesticide residue levels for those same food items in order to estimate the amount of pesticide residues each participant was exposed to on a daily basis. Scientists then checked the accuracy of their estimations by measuring the amount of dialkyl phosphate (DAP)—a by-product created when the body breaks down organophosphates—in the urine from a subset of participants. They also compared the amount of DAP in the urine of people who reportedly ate conventional diets with those who ate organic diets. The results confirmed that their calculations of daily pesticide residue consumption levels were accurate, and that even when consumers chose organic “at least occasionally,” they had significantly less of the pesticide by-product, DAP, in their urine than consumers who primarily chose conventional produce.

Each year, Canadians buy more organic beef, more organic breakfast cereal and more organic soymilk than the previous year. The public's hunger for organic food seems insatiable and consumer demand is expected to expand exponentially, but can supply meet the demand?  Read what Robert Arnason of the Western Producer has to say about this. 

Amphibian populations around the world have been declining due to habitat degradation and loss. Now, a new study published in Science of the Total Environment has found that frogs in Iowa wetlands are accumulating a large number of different pesticides in their tissues, including up to eight different fungicides, the largest number reported to date. Researchers compared restored wetlands and existing wetlands for agricultural nutrient and pesticide content in the water, sediments and in the tissues of leopard and chorus frogs. Thirty-two different pesticides and products from pesticide break-down were detected across all of the wetlands sampled, with the herbicide atrazine the most frequently present and with the highest concentrations. Seventeen pesticides composed of eight fungicides, four herbicides, and five insecticides were detected in frog tissues. These results are particularly concerning because they demonstrate the extent of water contamination. Even low doses of agricultural chemicals have been shown to adversely impact amphibian health. For example, atrazine negatively impacts reproduction, physiology, physical characteristics, and behavior in frogs. Additionally, pesticide exposure and disease outbreaks in amphibian populations are highly correlated.

 

A biology professor from Brandon is going into the field, literally, to study how operators of a small organic farm in southern Manitoba make it work. Funding of $140,500 has been committed over four years from Organic Science Cluster II, an industry-supported research and development endeavour initiated by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada in collaboration with the Organic Federation of Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 

The study focuses on determining which components are vital to the farming system's success. Howpark Farms is considered almost an entirely closed-system farm, meaning it is close to being self-sustaining without outside inputs. It was established in 1879 but has only transitioned to organic over the past 10 years. 

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