Spring Newsletter: Breaking New Ground

Mic with buckwheat at Nash's-Sam in backgroundSpring has arrived, and our staff is busy breaking new ground at a research farm in Chimacum, Washington. This operation centralizes much of our research, education, and seed production in the region. We’ll be hosting volunteer work parties every Friday beginning this week. If you’re in the area, please join us! In return you’ll receive some hands-on instruction in organic plant breeding, variety trials, and seed saving.

Organic Seed Alliance continues to break ground in other ways, too. Read the full spring newsletter here to learn more.

Happy sowing!

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OSA’s ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ Spinach Hits Marketplace

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‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ spinach is deeply savoyed with beneficial agronomic and nutritional qualities

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is proud to announce the release of a new spinach variety called ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’. The name is a tribute to OSA’s predecessor, Abundant Life Seed Foundation.

“Our newest commercial release exemplifies Organic Seed Alliance’s approach to participatory plant breeding,” says Micaela Colley, executive director of Organic Seed Alliance. “OSA’s plant breeders worked collaboratively with eight farms on the Olympic Peninsula to develop an exceptional variety for organic farmers.”

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USDA Ditches GMO Regs: What It Means

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Photo credit: USDA-ARS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Friday that it’s ditching a 2008 proposal that would have updated GMO regulations.

A little background: The USDA is one of three agencies that regulate GMOs (along with the EPA and FDA). When these engineered crops landed in our fields and grocery aisles, U.S. decision makers chose to rely on a patchwork of existing laws, many of which predate the technology, instead of creating a new law to oversee biotechnology. This resulted in a mishmash of agency interpretations for regulating GMOs.

The U.S.’s patchwork approach to regulating GMOs has left many holes: the absence of mandatory GMO labeling and post-market monitoring, and a mechanism for compensating non-GMO growers harmed by contamination, to name a few. Lacking a robust regulatory framework, each agency has, in different ways, abdicated their regulatory responsibility.

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First Organic Carrot Breeding Collaborative to Host Webinar

eOrganic_logoJoin eOrganic for a webinar on the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project on March 24th, 2015. The webinar takes place at 2:00 p.m. Eastern/1:00 p.m. Central/12:00 p.m. Mountain/ 11:00 a.m. Pacific. The webinar is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.

CIOA is the first multi-state, participatory plant-breeding project to focus solely on organic carrots. Organic growers need carrot varieties that are adapted to organic conditions and have market qualities that organic consumers demand, such as superior nutrition and flavor. While some breeding work has identified these traits in orange, red, purple, and yellow carrots – all high-value crops and in demand by consumers – these varieties have not been adapted to the needs of organic agriculture.

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OSA Hosts First-Ever California Organic Seed Summit

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California Organic Seed Summit participants gather in Fair Oaks. Photo credit: Benjamin Fahrer

Organic Seed Alliance recently hosted the first-ever California Organic Seed Summit at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks. The purpose was to convene organic seed growers and organic seed companies to not just learn from each other, but to create a plan for their collective future. About 30 participants spent two days developing long-term strategies and actions for building organic seed systems in the third largest state.

Although California leads the nation in vegetable seed production, less than half of the vegetable seed planted on organic farms is organic, according to our 2011 State of Organic Seed findings. There is a clear need for more organic seed, and the state’s organic seed growers can help fill the gap. This summit provided the perfect forum for fostering relationships and for creating a plan to actualize a shared vision to improve the availability, diversity, quality, and integrity of organic seed grown in the state.

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