Blog posts by Zea Sonnabend

Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, June 13, 2014 on advocacy, genetic engineering, NOP, NOSB, policy


In an environment where Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their derivatives are widely distributed throughout the food chain, it is imperative that organic producers and handlers have strategies and plans to keep them out. A key tenet of "coexistence" is shared responsibility for the exclusion of the methods and products of genetic engineering. The organic part of this shared responsibility is extensive already, but specific new guidance from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) adopted by the National Organic Program (NOP) would make these practices more transparent to others...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 on grower, inputs, materials, pests and pesticides


Organic citrus growers have spent more than a year now wading through the decision-making process for policies regarding the spread and eradication of Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) and the deadly disease it can spread, Huanglongbing (HLB) or Citrus Greening. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) relies on a group of scientists known as the Science Advisory Panel (SAP) for recommendations about trapping and testing protocols, eradication zones, quarantines, and which materials are approved for control and/or eradication. The SAP met in December in Ontario, CA and issued their...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 on pests and pesticides

2014 is the last season in which organic apple and pear growers can use antibiotics to control fire blight. Now is the time to look at non-antibiotic controls, for which there has been significant progress in the past few years. New resources are available to help organic producers make a plan for combatting fire blight. Download the Alternative Controls for Fire Blight 2014 Update. Some additional promising materials are being researched and will become available in the next few years; meanwhile, growers need to start learning to work with the products and techniques available now in order...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, November 22, 2013 on advocacy, genetic engineering, grower

A proposal by the food industry continues the onslaught of new genetically engineered crops that threaten both organic farmers and consumers who may not want GMOs in their food. The latest genetically modified crop likely to be deregulated in 2014 are Arctic® apples, which have been engineered not to brown when sliced. Organic proponents will likely question why the world needs non-browning apples, especially as this trait is not based on the basic agronomy or pest risks of the apple. However, there has been little controversy over the potential release so far. This may be a result of the...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Monday, October 7, 2013 on grower, pests and pesticides

Update October 7, 2013: In September, new Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) were found in Dinuba, Exeter, and Wasco, California. This expands the quarantine areas to parts of Kern and Fresno, as well as Tulare County. A quarantine area of 86 square-miles was set up for the find in Exeter on October 2, and similar zones previously in the other new areas. The details and maps can be found at www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/acp-quarantine-sjv. In order to move bulk citrus out of any quarantine area there must be a special permit obtained from CDFA. This involves an ACP-Free Declaration form and the use of...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, July 19, 2013 on pests and pesticides

The Virginia creeper leafhopper (VCLH), known scientifically as Erythroneura ziczac, has been found in vineyards from the Oregon border to the northern Sacramento Valley, but as of March 2013, it has not made its way to the vineyards of Napa or Sonoma counties. However, VCLH has been found in neighboring Lake and Mendocino counties, primarily in backyard and organic vineyards (1). This newcomer is already common in Ohio, the rest of the Midwest, and some of the east. It is more damaging than the western grape leafhopper. If left untreated, VCLH may cause complete defoliation. For information...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 on advocacy, grower, handler, materials and inputs, NOSB, standards

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met April 9-11 in Portland, Oregon. NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy reported on the many activities of the National Organic Program (NOP) in the six months since the last meeting. Recent activities include work on the previous NOSB nanotechnology recommendations, international agreements, and aquaculture standards. Proposed rules in progress include origin of livestock, final rule on sodium nitrate, and apiculture standards. Guidance documents still to come this year include grower groups, inspector qualifications, responding to results...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Thursday, March 7, 2013 on advocacy, farming: materials and inputs, grower, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards

CCOF is committed to ending the use of antibiotics in organic fruit production. We believe that a longer time period is necessary for oxytetracycline than the current 2014 expiration date because of the continuing research in varying locations and seasons that would ensure success, the need for registration of new materials, and enough time for grower education and outreach. We would like to see an extension in the range of 2017 to 2020 for phase out; however, we support the majority position to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to October 21, 2016. While our clients...