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April 2014
Latest Research Studies and Reports
UK cancer research holds major limitations
The Organic Center posted a response to a British study examining cancer incidence decreases due to organic food consumption, pointing out the limitations of the research.  The study was constructed in such a way that it was difficult to find meaningful associations.  Despite the multiple factors that could mask trends in the data, researchers were still able to find a link between consuming organic food and reducing one’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  To read the full response to the study, visit our web page.

CHAMACOS Study examines pesticide effects on children
The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) at the University of California, Berkeley, has been getting attention recently for its CHAMACOS project. This research is a study that examines long-term effects of chemical exposure on the environment and children’s health. Specifically, CERCH researchers are looking at how children are exposed to pesticides and other environmental chemicals, how these exposures are related to children’s growth, neurodevelopment, and health, the mechanisms that cause these health effects, and ways to reduce exposure. The project started in 1999 when CERCH enrolled 601 pregnant women living in the Salinas Valley into the CHAMACOS study. Researchers have continued to follow the children, and, in 2010, enrolled 300 additional nine-year-olds into the cohort. One of the novel and most successful aspects of the CHAMACOS study is its integration of community engagement in the research. They not only examine issues effecting public health for reporting in scientific journals, but also empower communities to become involved in examining ways to decrease their exposure to dangerous chemicals such as pesticides.
 
GMO crops continue to foster development of super bugs
A study out of Iowa State University, published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  has documented the continued development of resistant pests in response to genetically modified (GM) crops. Specifically, the researchers examined resistant varieties of western corn rootworm to Bt corn. They show that western corn rootworms have developed cross-resistance to two different types of GM corn (Cry3Bb1 maize and mCry3A maize). They also report the severe toll these pests have taken on Bt corn in farmers’ fields. To account for pest resistance, many GM crop producers are now pyramiding multiple toxins into their crops. This study suggests that while pyramiding toxins can delay the development of resistance, once resistance arises to one of the toxins pests, it can rapidly develop cross resistance to both toxins. This study adds to the growing body of literature showing that the use of GM crops and their associated pesticides can lead to the rapid development of resistant pests.
 
Organic solutions prove effective in livestock
A recent report from a Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education project demonstrates that organic medicinal treatments for livestock can be just as effective as conventional treatments. The project, led by researchers at North Carolina State University, compared herbal treatments for infections such as mastitis with conventional antibiotics. They found that the two herbal treatments tested in the study, Phyto-Mast and Cinnatube, were just as effective in curing infections as conventional antibiotics. This research is especially important in the face of the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Current agricultural use of antibiotics has led to the development of super bugs, which, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control last year, account for over 2 million illnesses and 23 thousand deaths. By using effective organic solutions, such as the herbal treatments documented in this research, we can slow the development of these hazardous bacterial strains by illuminating the agricultural overuse of antibiotics.

Latest Updates from The Organic Center
The Organic Center releases their annual report
The Organic Center has released its annual report with information about the scientific, communication, and financial successes of 2013.  Some of the highlights include launching five new projects, summarizing over a hundred research studies about organic issues, and convening a Science Advisory Panel with over 25 members.  The Center also launched a new website, increasing web traffic by over three times 2012 levels!

The Organic Center publishes report on fire blight prevention
With approved antibiotics for fire blight control expiring for organic apple and pear growers this fall, The Organic Center has released an essential report featuring existing practices and emerging research to help growers control fire blight while maintaining organic certification. The publication, entitled “Grower Lessons and Emerging Research for Developing an Integrated Non-Antibiotic Fire Blight Control Program in Organic Fruit,” collects critical knowledge from U.S. apple and pear growers who already practice fire blight prevention without the commonly used antibiotic oxytetracycline that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will begin sunsetting in October 2014. The report features suggestions for fungal control, insect control, bloom thinning, spray coverage, tree training, soil and foliar nutrients, and cultivar and root stock selection. It also provides detailed considerations for each stage of apple and pear production.
 
Experiment Station Directors’ 2014 Organics Forum Meeting
The Organic Center was invited to give a presentation at an 2014 Organics Forum last month about research needs in the organic industry and constraints to accomplishing research. The meeting focused on growing a cross-sector interdisciplinary conversation to support the organic community. Attendees included the North Central Experiment Station Directors from the North Central Land Grant Universities, organic industry representatives, ARS/USDA and USDA individuals. Presentation topics included funding opportunities and priorities, regional and institutional funding and research capacities, and climate change issues. Conversations following the presentations addressed developing long-term consistency in organic research and building collaboration among industry and academia.
 
Comment request from Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently had its third meeting, during which subcommittees gave reports on their initial investigations. The Subcommittee on Food Sustainability and Safety has requested comments from the public about food system sustainability, including comments from private and public sectors and addressing local, regional, national, or international scales. Specifically, it is seeking approaches and current examples of sustainability in the food system. Since organic systems are a perfect example of a sustainable food system, please add your voice to the public comments. Comments can be submitted through the Public Comments Database. When submitting your written comments, include the request number 5-2 and the title Food Systems Sustainability (“Request 5-2: Food Systems Sustainability”) in the comment text box. Additionally, please select the “Sustainability” Topic Area. Contact Jessica Shade with any questions or for help drafting your comments for submission at jshade@organic-center.org.
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The Hall of the States, 444 N. Capitol St. NW,
Suite 445A, Washington D.C. 20001, U.S.
info@organic-center.org | Phone: 802-275-3897
www.organic-center.org

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