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Michael Lipsky's Posts

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Poultry matter: What to do with all that chicken shit?

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Nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from agricultural activity is a major source of water pollution in many parts of the country. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, half of the phosphorous and 40 percent of the excess nitrogen result from agricultural runoff, leading to algae blooms and destructive conditions for the bay’s legendary fish, oysters, and crabs.

A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts on the chicken industry, published over the holidays to little notice, identifies a significant contributor to the problem and proposes a useful solution.

Almost all chickens raised for meat today are grown under contracts between growers and large companies such as Tyson, Pilgrim’s, and Perdue. The chicken grower agrees to raise the company’s birds, using feed and drugs also supplied by the company. At the end of the contract the company picks up its chickens, leaving the grower with the manure and litter, and the responsibility to get rid of them.

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In the FDA’s actions on trans fats, are there lessons for GMO labeling?

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On Nov. 8, the Food and Drug Administration announced that dietary trans fats would no longer be “generally regarded as safe,” a decisive step that will lead to banning trans fats from foods altogether. Excluding trans fats from the food supply will result in an estimated 20,000 fewer heart attacks and 7,000 fewer deaths each year. Trans fats have been part of the American diet for over 100 years and regarded as unsafe for two decades. The announcement led one thoughtful observer to see the development as reflecting how long the process of eliminating unhealthy foods from our diets can take. …

Read more: Food

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Why GMO labeling won’t increase food prices

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Next month, voters in Washington will decide whether their state will be the first in the nation to require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. In this debate, a key point of contention is whether food costs would rise if I-522 passes.

The opponents of the measure -- Monsanto, Dupont, other agribusinesses, and many food manufacturers -- assert that food costs for the average family would increase by several hundred dollars a year. Analysis of the assertion that food costs would rise reveals a great deal about the food companies and their views of the public. (It’s worth noting, as the Cry Wolf Project has documented, that business groups virtually always make the argument that costs will rise when they oppose regulatory measures.)