This Week in Eco News - November 18, 2016

Video of the Week

UN Women Stories: Moroccan Women Take on Climate Change
Rural women are often more vulnerable to the impact of climate change as their livelihoods depend on agriculture and they typically receive less education than their city counterparts. Preserving and planting traditional seeds can help mitigate the effects of climate change, and UN Women supports women seed growers in Morocco through a program with local NGO "Terre et Humanisme." [UN]

Take Action: Learn more about why seeds are so important.

News From Around the Web

What's Organic? A Debate Over Dirt May Boil Down to Turf
If a fruit or vegetable isn't grown in dirt, can it be organic? That is the question roiling the world of organic farming, and the answer could redefine what it means to farm organically. At issue is whether produce that relies solely on irrigation to deliver nutrients to plants -- through what is known as hydroponic and aquaponic systems -- can be certified organic. And the National Organic Standards Board, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the federal secretary of agriculture, will get an earful on the topic at its meeting in St. Louis this week. [NY Times]

Election 2016 : Soda Taxes Won Big, and Factory Farming Lost in Oklahoma
As the peculiar 2016 election drew to a close, a number of food-focused ballot initiatives were voted on, including the passage of soda taxes in California and Colorado, a cage-free hen and pig proposition in Massachusetts and the failure of a "right to farm" amendment in Oklahoma that would have restricted local or state efforts to regulate factory farms. [Mother Jones]

State Question 777, Known as 'Right to Farm', Voted Down
Voters in Oklahoma overwhelmingly rejected Question 777, a law that would have established farming and ranching as constitutional rights. The measure would have made existing state and local laws regulating farming vulnerable to lawsuits. Opponents argued the bill was designed to undermine policies that protect public health and the environment, while supporters said it would allow free-market competition to guide practices and help farmers defend themselves against restrictive farming laws. [News 9]

Manure Happens, Especially When Hog Farms Flood
Are the many hog and poultry farms of eastern North Carolina creating "fields of filth," as two groups of environmental activists put it last summer? According to a new report, the answer seems to be yes.  New photos released by the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance taken in early October, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew show flooded poultry barns and "lagoons" filled with swine manure, spilling animal waste into nearby waterways. [NPR]

Voters Approve Ban on 'Extreme' Confinement of Farm Animals
Massachusetts voters passed Question 3 on Tuesday which prohibits the sale of eggs, veal or pork from animals raised in confined spaces that prevent them from laying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs or turning around. The law will impact one major poultry farm in Massachusetts, as well as businesses that knowingly sell products from animals raised in extreme confinement outside the state. The law takes effect in January 2022. [Boston Herald]

Deforestation Opponents Enlist Powerful Ally: Big Food. But There's a Catch
There's a seductive idea, currently being road-tested, for how to stop the world's forests from disappearing:  Get companies that use palm oil, soybeans and beef raised on deforested land to boycott those products, and much of the economic incentive to clear more forests will disappear. But according to a new report from some leading environmental groups, there are a bunch of catches to this plan. [NPR]

Enough With the Protein, America
Protein is an important macronutrient necessary for health, but people in the US are proving that there can be too much of a good thing. Americans eat nearly twice as much protein as recommended by the USDA dietary guidelines so moderating meat, dairy and processed protein and choosing more whole plant foods like lentils, chickpeas and quinoa is good because they're filled with fiber and micronutrients. [Bloomberg]

What Trump Win Means for Agriculture
Donald Trump's resounding upset victory Tuesday night was fueled in part by strong support in rural America -- and the New York City real estate mogul may not forget it soon. Trump, who doesn't have a record on agriculture policy, has pledged to keep the farm bill together, go big on infrastructure, slash regulations and re-negotiate trade deals. [Politico]

In Supreme Court, Florida and Georgia Argue Over Water Use
The long-running Georgia-Florida-Alabama fight over water is now before the Supreme Court, which in many ways puts on trial the lack of planning by managers and farmers over their water use. The huge water demand of by burgeoning urban areas and farmers who are increasingly using irrigation has placed the region into crisis. [Circle of Blue]

How Agriculture Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Former energy adviser to President Obama, Jason Bordoff, says, "[i]f we're serious about meeting the climate challenge, agriculture emissions can no longer get a free pass." [Wall Street Journal]

Monday Campaigns

Men's Club Hunts for NYC's Best Veggie Burger
Gotham Burger Social Club (GBSC)--a group of 17 men who work in finance, some on Wall Street--will be searching for the best veggie burger in New York City for the month of November. In partnership with the Meatless Monday campaign, GBSC will visit four restaurants to sample their veggie burger offerings and post a review on their Instagram account every Monday until November 28, when they will announce the winning burger. [VegNews]


Bill Maher Pushes Obama on Food Antibiotics and GMOs
Turns out, Obama fully gets why it's dangerous to feed confined animals low, regular doses of the same drugs we use to fight infections in people. In this interview, Bill Maher pressed Obama to talk about corporate malfeasance in food production - skip ahead to the 16:00 minute mark. The president gets the problem, despite his FDA's industry-friendly approach. [Mother Jones]

These 10 Companies Control Everything You Buy
These companies each employ thousands and make billions of dollars in revenue every year. In an effort to push these companies to make positive changes -- and for customers to realize who controls the brands they're buying -- Oxfam created a mind-boggling infographic that shows how interconnected consumer brands really are. [Independent]

Eco News contributed by Gabrielle Blavatsky; Kai Olson-Sawyer;James Rose and Robin Madel.

Image "Soda-riffic" by John on Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.