Tag: organic farming

Stinkless, Methane Free Livestock

The bovine metabolism is a natural system of biogas production. During the digestion of forage, which takes place under anaerobic conditions – that is, without oxygen – the animals secrete microorganisms that break down the food. This process generates several gases, including methane.

Cows belch approximately every 40 seconds and can emit up to 230 litres of methane per day.

“With respect to gases that warm the atmosphere, methane is more important than carbon dioxide (CO2),” Wolfgang Buescher, professor of animal sciences at the University of Bonn and director of the Riswick project, told Tierramérica.

Wolfgang ain’t just barking.

Methane is some 23-25% more poisonous to the atmosphere than CO2.

Cows and other livestock also emit plenty of CO2 that could be used for fertilizer instead of heating the whole outdoors.

Pig city

Gottlan Paludan, the lead architect in the construction of the “City of Pigs”, says the purpose is “to analyse the synergies of large-scale livestock raising and the production of tomatoes, in order to take advantage, in a reciprocal way, of the waste that each process produces.”

The site of the pig farm, on the Jutland Peninsula [Denmark], allows the filtration and absorption of CO2, ammonia and other gases. The manure will be reused to generate biogas, which in turn will produce electricity. The manure will also be recycled to remove water and produce natural fertilisers.

The electricity, water and fertilisers will be used to grow tomatoes, which will take place in a two-storey greenhouse.


The experimental farm was built, tomatoes sold on the open market and commercial operations are in progress last I read.

Meanwhile organic farmers increase deforestation, production of greenhouse gases, fouling of land and water and costs of contaminated meat and byproducts for consumers but they keep their virginity.

Virginity is very important to some cults.

Best,  Terry

China, France, USA, Your Food, GMO’s and Wikileaks

Dr. Olivier De Shutter, United Nations Envoy, warns that China’s ability to feed its population is waning:


He told the Guardian his main concern was the decline of soil quality in China because of excessive use of fertilisers, pollution and drought. He noted that 37% of the nation’s territory was degraded and 8.2m hectares (20.7m acres) of arable land has been lost since 1997 to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and forestry programmes.

With climate change expected to increase price volatility and cut agricultural productivity by 5% to 10% by 2030, De Schutter said it was essential for China to wean itself off fossil-fuel intensive farming and adopt more sustainable agricultural techniques, including organic production, and to make even better use of its two great strengths: a huge strategic grain reserve and a large rural population.

He also cautioned against a shift towards industrial-scale farming, which increases economic competitiveness at the cost of natural productivity. “Small-scale farming is more efficient in its use of natural resources. I believe China can show that it is successful in feeding a very large population. ” However, he acknowledged that this may prove difficult in the future as more of China’s 200million farmers move to the cities.

Unfortunately the article in the Guardian UK did not mention the fact that China’s mega- hydro power projects like the Three Gorges Dam are also contributing to massive amounts of loss of the best farmland in the now flooded valleys above the dam site –  62,000 acres – which also forced the resettlement of over a million rural people. http://www.arch.mcgill.ca/prof…

People who buck the Chinese government and organize protesters over deadly food don’t do so well in authoritarian regimes.  Zhao Lianhai, who complained about melamine contaminated milk formulas, that made 300,000 sick and killed at least 6 babies, was thrown in jail in 2009, convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in November for “inciting social disorder.”  see HuffPo  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/… Zhao’s son was one of the toddlers who became ill with kidney stones after drinking the bad milk.   Melamine was the same chemical that was implicated in the 2006 – 2007 American pet food safety scandal and recall, which sickened and killed thousands of cats,  when it was used to adulterate imported wheat gluten, and spread from an importer – distributor in Las Vegas, ChemNutra,  to all over the country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…   Ground up melamine powder, a by product of coal processing normally used in plastics like laminated flooring,  was added not only to increase the volume but to fool the tests done for “protein” content.  

What did Zhao do to warrant Chinese jail time while trying to save sick babies ?

he organized a gathering of a dozen parents of sick children at a restaurant, held a paper sign in front of a court and factory involved in the scandal as a protest, and gave media interviews in a public place.


“I’m concerned this will have a chilling effect on consumers who want to complain,” he said. “You cannot protect the right to food without the right to freedom of expression and organisation.”

Monsanto Threatening Organic Alfalfa-Tell the USDA STOP IT NOW

Why America’s Cows Need Your Voice at the USDA by Feb 16 To Stop GMO Alfalfa !

High quality, high protein Alfalfa is one of the primary food sources for dairy cows, especially in winter, with cows eating about 50 lbs or more of dry feed per day, or about 3% of their body weight of around 1500 lbs.  In return for munching all that feed, and drinking lots of water, (25 to 50 gallons)  a dairy cow can produce anywhere from 5 to 8 gallons of milk per day, depending where she is in her lactation cycle, about 56 lbs a day, or over 2,300 gallons a year or 19,825 lbs per year. (A cow’s production is typically measured in hundredweights, or units of a hundred lbs of milk, about 12.5 gallons.)

Organic dairy farming has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, with the number of organic dairy farms increasing by 79% from 2002 to 2007.  Ag land used for organic production on those dairy farms increased by 83% over the same time. Organic milk and cheese is becoming more and more popular, especially for people and children with allergies and auto immune conditions who can’t tolerate regular milk.  The 3 states with the highest number of dairy farms are Wisconsin, New York, and Vermont.  The price of milk production per hundredweight for those three states for organic dairies was about $29, $32, and $34 dollars cwt for the year 2009.  Prices, alas, for organic milk haven’t been keeping up, neither has it been for conventional milk in the past year, and dairy farms are losing money. http://www.cattlenetwork.com/D…

Now, Monsanto threatens to put the nail in the coffin, by deliberately contaminating their feed supply with GMO Alfalfa, destroying the ability of organic dairy farmers to provide non GMO food for their herds.


Late last year, the USDA released a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Monsanto’s new genetically engineered Round-up Ready Alfalfa. A federal lawsuit, led by the Center for Food Safety and joined by The Cornucopia Institute and other plaintiffs, was won in 2007 compelling the USDA to conduct their first-ever environmental impact statement on a genetically engineered (GE) crop, alfalfa.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the USDA’s assessment approves of releasing a new genetically modified crop into the environment, despite the known risks this version of alfalfa poses to organic livestock agriculture.

Public comments are being accepted until February 16. Please let the USDA hear your voice. A broad coalition, composed of both organic and conventional farmers, is opposing Monsanto’s RR Alfalfa and the USDA particularly needs to hear from those involved with organic agriculture.  


What’s different about organic farms?

A specific set of farming practices makes milk and other foods eligible for “certified organic” status. On organic dairies, cows must receive feed that was grown without the use of pesticides, commercial fertilizers or genetically-modified ingredients. They are not treated with supplemental hormones and are not given certain medications to treat illness. If they are given medication, then they must permanently leave the milking herd. They also must have access to the pasture.

Many of the same practices are utilized by conventional dairy farmers, as all farmers make the welfare of their animals and environmental stewardship top priorities.

But if Monsanto has its way, all Alfalfa grown in the United States, and eventually the world, WILL BE Genetically Modified to resist herbicides, being “Roundup Ready.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R…   Why should you care ?  Because Alfalfa is a huge crop,  ranked 4th in production, and it is pollinated by bees.  Did anyone ask the bees if they wished to eat this ?  And this would force every alfalfa planting in the nation to eventually be cross contaminated against the will of of the consumer, the organic farmers, and anyone else who doesn’t want to be forced to consume genetically modified products nor force animals to eat massive quantities of them.  

Scorched-Earth Farming Foolishness

When companies can successfully pass the accountability buck to avoid responsibility, then the harm from their conduct is not remedied by a real solution. Rules developed by the large agri-business are being used to regulate small farms in a manner that is often contrary to science, organic standards and the natural benefits of ecosystems.

Scientists don’t know how the killer E. coli pathogen migrated from cattle to leafy greens like lettuce, but reforms are underway in California that may soon spread nationwide. The industry drafted rules not based on science to provide “food safety” from lethal and injurious food-borne bacteria. Instead of accountability for large factory farms and food processing companies, biologically diverse farming methods for organic crops are being dumped even though “evidence suggests that industrial agriculture may be the bigger culprit.”

All of this is done in the name of a quick fix to avoid losing more money rather than finding a sustainable solution that does not make things worse.

On Coalition building between DFH’s and ‘mainstream” farmers.

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Next American Revolution

We do not have a progressive populist movement in this country. We do not have an effective change coalition in this country. And the first implies the second, since successful progressive populism has been a component of all of our effective change coalitions for over a century.

To fend off the possible semantic quibble … yes, by an effective change coalition, I do mean to say change going forward. We have, obviously, had effective reactionary coalitions without a progressive populist component!

In sketching out the potential membership for an effective change coalition, I have previously identified farmers. And so I take special interest when Stranded Wind at the Daily Kos adopts a provocative and potentially quite divisive framing for discussion of organic farming “versus” sustainable production of chemical fertilizer such as ammonia (NH3) derived fertilizers produced with the harvest of sustainable, renewable electric power:

On one side of the field we have the hemp clothes and Birkenstocks set flinging organic tomatoes. The other side has Monsanto’s minions, flinging GMO hand grenades with one hand and trying to lasso producers with the other. The official federal referee of the USDA would like to help but their rules are the province of misguided ideologues and sociopathic transnational corporations.

Stuck in the middle is the puzzled farmer, who just wants a fair price for the work he does and some protection for when things go badly. They’d happily plow the earthly remains of all three of the above groups into the soil if it would increase yields and get unsolicited opinions out of their business.

A reaction, after the fold …