2015 was filled with victories and setbacks for the good food movement. These moments, both good and bad, show how far we’ve come and what remains to be tackled in 2016. Here, we recap the best and worst moments in food, farming and agriculture during 2015.
The Best of 2015
More of the younger generation going into agriculture.
International Year of Soils.
Each year the United Nations General Assembly declares a theme, and this year was the International Year of Soils. Businesses and organizations worldwide shared information all year long, raising awareness of the importance of soil to our ecosystem and personal health. We at Organic Valley know that everything we do starts with the soil. To have this year be dedicated to something we so strongly work to protect and educate about was a big win in the movement towards a healthy planet.
More talk about good fat.
Coming off a high point at the end of 2014, the conversation about good fat just kept on going this year. In November, the Washington Post published the article, “For decades, the government steered millions away from whole milk. Was that wrong?” The article says, “Judging a particular food solely on how much fat it contains…can too easily blind people to its other benefits,” and “There is no scientific basis for current [U.S. government] dietary advice regarding dairy.” The article raises multiple flags on the “facts” the government has provided but says they have no solid proof of the value behind their statements. More and more, people are coming around to the idea that fat is not as bad as it’s been made out to be — or at the very least, the issue isn’t completely black and white. As always, the best advice is to simply have a balanced diet of real food.
Deb Eschmeyer was appointed executive director of the White House’s Let’s Move program and senior advisor for nutrition policy.
For the good food movement and those concerned with health and nutrition, this was a big win for 2015. “Eschmeyer will lead the First Lady’s work to help America raise a healthier generation of kids and ensure that all kids have the opportunity for the long, healthy lives they deserve. As Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, she will also advise on food and nutrition issues beyond Let’s Move. Having Eschmeyer leading those efforts into 2016 will be an exciting opportunity to teach younger generations the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
The EPA rejected Enlist Duo.
After discovering “new information that the combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D is likely to be significantly harmful than [the EPA] had initially believed,” the EPA rejected the dangerous herbicide, Enlist Duo. This was a phenomenal development in 2015 that means 2, 4-D* will never touch America’s farms!
The Worst of 2015
GE salmon approval.
In November, The FDA approved genetically engineered salmon to be sold to consumers. This was a major win for the biotech industry, despite the fact that:
- Over 400,000 comments were submitted demanding that genetically-engineered salmon be rejected.
- More than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs, and restaurants filed joint statements with the FDA opposing approval.
- More than 40 members of the U.S. Congress have repeatedly urged the FDA to conduct more rigorous reviews of environmental and health safety and halt any approval process until concerns over risks, transparency and oversight have been fully satisfied.
U.S. House of Representatives passed the DARK Act.
“On July 23, the House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, also known as the ‘Deny Americans the Right to Know’ or DARK Act. The final vote was 275 to 150.” This bill “establishes a national, voluntary non-GMO certification program through the Agriculture Marketing Service of the USDA.” While this may sound like good news, it actually undermines the decades of hard work by the organic industry to define non-GMO standards and eliminates a state’s ability to pass its own GMO labeling requirement.
There is a ray of hope here, though: Because this was only the first step in the multi-step legislative process, the bill now goes to the Senate for debate, and as of the publishing of this article, the Senate has yet to pick up the torch.
Loss of influential food leader Theo Colborn.
In 2015, the good food movement lost a great leader in Theo Colborn. Colborn can be best remembered for her research in banning BPA. Until the end of her life at 87 years of age, Theo worked on her statement, “The Overlooked Connection Between Human Health and Fossil Gases.” Worth reading.
*Editor’s note: A previous version of this article used the term “Agent Orange Corn,” which is a term coined by the media in response to learning the agricultural chemical 2,4-D was one of two defoliants that made up the Agent Orange compound used during the Vietnam War. In response to a comment, we have revised this reference to say “2,4-D.”