Canadian Government Gives Organic
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and
Member of Parliament Scott Armstrong (Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit
Valley) have announced an investment of Can $8 million (USD 7.3m) for
the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) to lead an organic science
cluster that will help the sector respond to market demand and capture
The cluster brings the best and brightest together, from academia,
government and industry, to focus on cutting-edge research and
development that will improve the organic sector's competitiveness,
market potential, adaptability and sustainability. This will be
accomplished through a series of activities focused on
expanding organic production in response to market demand for hops,
sprouts, ornamental potted plants and poultry.
Two hundred collaborating scientists will work on several priorities,
including: crop breeding for improved cultivars; developing new reduced
tillage systems for organic crops; enhancing soil to improve plant
health; and developing new approaches to manage crop pests, diseases and
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz commented: "The Canadian organic sector
continues to grow at an impressive rate. Investments like this in
research and development span the entire value chain, from production
through to the consumer, and support the competitiveness, growth and
prosperity of the organic sector and our overall economy."
Ted Zettel, President of Organic Federation of Canada, states:
"The Organic Federation of Canada is privileged to collaborate with
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Organic Agriculture Centre of
Canada at Dalhousie University on this national project to advance the
understanding and methodology of organic farming. This project involves
researchers across the country working together to provide us with the
tools needed to expand production to meet the ever-growing consumer
demand for organic food."
Many national governments see the advantages of promoting organic food
production. Apart from the ecological benefits of organic agriculture,
many governments want to encourage extensive farming systems and support
rural communities. In Asian countries, some governments also see
economic benefits: organic food exports generate hard currency!
An update on the global organic food industry is regularly given in the
Sustainable Foods Summit. The North American
edition of this international series of summits will be hosted in San
Francisco on 21-22 January 2015.
More details will be on the
News Release / OM
Vermont Defends GMO Labelling Law
Vermont has the right to require that
genetically modified foods sold within the state be labeled, the state
attorney general argued in papers filed Friday in federal court.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell defended Vermont's new labeling law with a
51-page court filing. He asked the court to throw out a lawsuit seeking
to overturn the law filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the
National Association of Manufacturers, International Dairy Foods
Association and the Snack Foods Association.
Sorrell also asked that several state officials, including Gov. Peter
Shumlin, be removed from the lawsuit and contended that the National
Association of Manufacturers should be tossed from the case because it
had failed to allege harm.
Legislators passed and Shumlin signed the first-in-the-nation law this
year knowing that food manufacturers were likely to sue. Sorrell has
estimated it could cost the state up to $8 million to defend the law,
with no guarantee the state will prevail. The law establishes a defense
fund for the public to help pay legal bills.
Supporters of the labeling law argued that consumers want to know
whether the food they buy contains genetically modified organisms.
Genetic modification commonly is used for corn and soy to increase
resistance to herbicides or enhance other traits in seeds.
The lawsuit, filed in June, argues that the law is misguided, exceeds
the state's authority and confuses consumers by suggesting that GMOs are
unsafe with no evidence to support that. The lawsuit alleges the law
violates food manufacturers' First Amendment rights by forcing them to
label a product in a way they find unnecessary and misleading while also
prohibiting them from using the word "natural" on genetically modified
Sorrell and a team of lawyers he has appointed to work on the case
argued the state may make labeling restrictions to promote "informed
decision-making on matters of public health and the environment."
The state also argues that the law steers clear of violating interstate
commerce, as the labeling adds no burden that outweighs the benefits.
Pointing to two court cases, Sorrell argues that federal courts have
upheld New York City's law requiring the posting of calories on menus
and a federal law requiring country-of-origin labels on meat on the
premise that the laws allow consumers to make more informed choices.
Vermont's labeling law is slated to take effect in July 2016 pending the
outcome of the lawsuit.
Source: Burlington Free Press
Whole Foods to Undertake National Marketing
Whole Foods Market,
Austin, Texas, has said that it plans to launch its first-ever national
marketing and brand campaign in the fall - a program focused on
responsible growing standards for the produce and flowers it sells. The
standards include sustainable farming practices such as pest management,
farm worker welfare and pollinator protection.
Speaking with investors during a conference call to discuss financial
results for the third quarter and 40 weeks that ended July 6, co-CEO
Walter Robb said, "With fewer than 400 stores and a marketing spend of
less than 1% of sales, it is impressive how widely recognized the
Whole Foods Market brand is.
"While natural and organic products are increasingly available, no one
does what we do, and our brand and marketing campaign will highlight
both our value and values, reinforcing our leadership around quality and
transparency in the marketplace."
Net income for the 12-week third quarter rose 4.4% to $151 million,
while sales rose 10% to a record $3.4 billion and comparable store sales
increased 3.9%, including a shift of Easter to this year's third
quarter. Average weekly sales per store were $736,000, with sales per
gross square foot exceeding $1,000, the company noted.
For the 40-week period, net income rose 4.1% to $451 million, with sales
up 10% to a record $10.9 billion and comp sales up 4.6%, with average
weekly sales per store of $731,000 and sales per gross square foot of
"We are seeing signs of stability in our sales trends and believe our
strategic initiatives will help generate further momentum and produce
increasing returns on invested capital over the long term," Robb said.
He said the company is on schedule to open 38 new stores this year and a
similar number next year, with a goal of 500 stores by 2017.
Robb also said Whole Foods plans to increase its digital outreach in the
next few months with strategic partnerships for home delivery and
customer pickups in between 12 and 15 markets; a test in the next few
weeks of a new affinity program in a regional market, with a national
rollout by next year's holiday season; and the introduction of a mobile
Source: News Bites