Cherry Ridge Organic Research Farm

Keeping a small organic farm operation going isn’t easy. After 35 years of practicing strict organic methods, David Beebe and family at Cherry Ridge Organic Research Farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia are facing a challenge to stay in business as are many small farmers.

It’s no secret that large scale agro-industrial operations are currently favored by U.S. agricultural policy. Yet many international institutions including the FAO are turning to agroecology for answers to building sustainable food systems. Agroecology is the emerging set of practices that seek to apply ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems, and emphasizes the role of the small-holder farmers.

The 1st International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition was held in Rome on the 18th and 19th of September 2014. “Agroecology continues to grow, both in science and in policies. It is an approach that will help to address the challenge of ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, in the context of the climate change adaptation needed,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

In his book What Are People For, Wendell Berry, pre-eminent American philosopher, poet, environmental activist, and farmer wrote “…if agriculture is to remain productive, it must preserve the land and the fertility and ecological health of the land; the land, that is, must be used well. A further requirement, therefore, is that if the land is to be used well, the people who use it must know it well, must be highly motivated to use it well, must know how to use it well, must have time to use it well, and must be able to afford to use it well.”

Isn’t it time the United States paid more than lip-service to the value of small farmers to local food systems? Read more about the challenge faced by Cherry Ridge Organic Research Farm.

Action Alert: Keep Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes Out of Key Haven FL

Keep Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes Out of Key Haven FL

9 A.M.-Noon Eastern Standard TimeTuesday, January 20th 2015

Flood the in-boxes of Mosquito Control and Oxitec with questions. If you don’t have your own question ready, see 5 good ones below.

Send to these email addresses:

Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD):

Oxitec Ltd:

Please cc:

Here’s Your Chance to Do Something Really Impactful.


Jeffrey Smith, the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and GMO Free Florida were successful in keeping GM mosquitoes out of Key West last year. Once again, we need your help to keep GM mosquitoes out of Key Haven, out of the Florida Keys, and out of the United States.

Please share this Call to Action with your networks!



Please feel free to select any or all of the following questions, or add your own.

  • This is such a highly controversial public health issue, so why hasn’t the test trial and building of a GM Mosquito facility been put to a public vote?
  • Oxitec admits that it is inevitable that some female mosquitoes will be released. Since it is the females that draw blood, is there data to show that GM female mosquitoes will not significantly impact humans and other species? Is there data independent from Oxitec’s research demonstrating no significant impact to humans and other species?
  • How will the FKMCD notify the community as to when and where the trial release will happen? What can I do if I do not want this experiment to take place in my community and do not give my consent to conduct the experiment?
  • What happens if there is a natural disaster or human error and these mosquitoes escape from the rearing facility and into our community?
  • How does the FKMCD justify the cost of this mosquito program to prevent dengue fever when there haven’t been any cases of the illness since 2009?




USDA Gives Monsanto the Green Light

USDA+MonsantoOnce again, the USDA gives the nod to the biotech seed and agrochemical industry over protests from organic farmers and other specialty crop growers.  This latest “technology” from Monsanto—that’s what they call their patented seeds—is genetically engineered to survive new and more potent weed killer combinations.

January 15.  The USDA has given final approval for the commercial release of two new herbicide tolerant varieties of soybeans and cotton from Monsanto.  Non-regulated status was granted for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, the industry’s first biotech-stacked trait with both dicamba and glyphosate herbicide tolerance, and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton which will allow farmers to apply multiple combinations of three herbicides:  dicamba, glyphosate, and glufosinate.  Dicamba is noted for a tendency to drift.

Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, calls this “simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry and dependence upon chemical solutions.”

Biotech seed and agrochemical companies like Monsanto and Dow, who received approval for its new Enlist Duo 2,4-D+glyphosate resistant corn and soy last fall, have developed these new generations of GMO seeds and their companion herbicides to “combat” the spread of the glyphosate-resistant Superweeds that are now estimated to infest over 70 million acres of American farm land.

“Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant crops are the latest fruits of a pesticide industry strategy to increase sales of their toxic herbicides,” said Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst. “Genetic engineering is making American agriculture more chemical-dependent and less sustainable than ever before.”

This escalation of the chemical war on weeds cannot end well.  By definition, sustainable agriculture incorporates practices that will protect biodiversity and remain productive in the long term.  Despite industry claims, their products do not contribute to development of sustainable food systems recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

About IRT.  The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) is a non-profit organization that researches and reports news and information about the health risks of genetically engineered food.  GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are present in processed foods and many food products.

Major commodity crops raised from GMO seed include:  corn (90%), soybeans (93%), canola (93%), cotton (90%), and sugar beets (98%).*  GMO sweet corn, papaya, zucchini, and yellow summer squash are also for sale in grocery stores, but in lesser amounts.  Genetically modified alfalfa is grown for use as hay and forage for animals.   For more information about avoiding GMOs in food, go to

*percentages are based on U.S. acreage as of 2013 (USDA)



Victory is in sight! Donate Today!

The growing consumer and food industry rejection of GMOs has not been random or accidental—it has been engineered. IRT has been a leading force in the coalition that has made this happen.

Based on our experience in motivating people to avoid GMOs, we know exactly what to say, who to say it to, and how to say it, in order to drive the complete tipping point.

I invite you to help us achieve the tipping point and eliminate GMOs from our food supply by making a financial contribution to our efforts. Your one-time gift or monthly commitment will make the critical difference!

Donate. Join. Share.

Safe Eating!

Jeffrey Smith, Founder