Outdoor air pollution levels have risen dramatically and in March, World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that levels have risen 8% globally in the past 5 years3. Billions of people are exposed to dangerous air and outdoor air pollution now causes more than 3 million of deaths a year – more than malaria and HIV/Aids4.
The National Organic Standards Board voted unanimously on Friday to update U.S. organic standards to exclude ingredients derived from next generation genetic engineering and gene editing.
This recommendation to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program will ensure that ingredients derived from new genetic engineering techniques, including synthetic biology, will not be allowed in the production or final product of foods and beverages that are certified organic. Synthetic biology is a new set of genetic engineering techniques that include using synthetic DNA to re-engineer organisms to produce substances they would not normally produce or to edit DNA so as to silence the expression of certain traits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of $8.4 million in competitive grants to support the work of partner organizations that provide training, outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged, Tribal and Veteran farmers and ranchers. USDA's Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, is administered by the Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant awards to help provide treatment for the growing opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. Vilsack made the announcement as he hosted a town hall in Abingdon to address the opioid crisis in rural America, the first in a series. In January, President Obama tasked Secretary Vilsack, who is chair of the White House Rural Council, with leading a federal interagency effort focused on rural opioid use.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new program that will help rural residents conserve energy and save money on their utility bills. The new Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) will make $52 million in loans available to energy providers to help rural families and small businesses reduce their energy use.