Food Safety

Industrial Agriculture

E-I-E-I-Oh no: Decades of antibiotics in farm animals lead to deadly superbugs

When cows kill. This article was syndicated with permission from OnEarth. Stuart Levy once kept a flock of chickens on a farm in the rolling countryside west of Boston. No ordinary farmer, Levy is a professor of molecular biology and microbiology and of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. This was decades ago, and his chickens were taking part in a never-before-conducted study. Half the birds received feed laced with a low dose of antibiotics, which U.S. farmers routinely administer to healthy livestock — not to cure illness, but merely to increase the animals’ rates of growth. The other half of Levy’s …

Republicans’ latest defunding target: food safety

Lately it seems like every time Congress passes good legislation, it then defunds the agencies responsible for implementing those policies. The latest example: Back in December, Congress reformed the food safety system to deal with problems similar to, oh, that E. coli outbreak that's sickening thousands of people over in Europe. But on Tuesday, House Republicans voted to cut the Food and Drug Administration's budget so severely that the agency won't have the resources to step up inspections, improve recalls, and hold gigantic food corporations accountable. But don't worry! If you're among the one in six Americans that gets sick …

Critical List: Tornado hits Massachusetts; wild lands policy dies an early death

At least four people died after a tornado touched down in Massachusetts. That E. coli strain that's killing people in Europe? Yeah, it's a terrifying, never-been-seen-before mutant. Can the world stop pretending it's in a Robin Cook thriller now, please? The World Bank is going to help cities around the world finance projects that reduce carbon emissions. The Obama administration was going to keep some public lands wild. But then Republicans complained, and the Interior Department abandoned the wild lands plan. Because that's how Democrats roll. Thirty-four members of Congress asked the State Department to take a closer look at …

Food Safety

What we know — and don’t know — about the safety of eating GMOs

GMOs ahead: Proceed at your own risk.Are genetically modified foods safe to eat? The conventional answer is “yes,” and it’s not hard to see why. Since their introduction in 1996, genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy seeds quickly conquered U.S. farm fields. Today, upwards of 70 percent of corn and 90 percent of soy are genetically modified, and these two crops form the basis of the conventional U.S. diet. Nor are they GM technology’s only pathway onto our plates. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. cotton is now genetically engineered, and cottonseed oil has emerged as a …

Produce industry wants Americans to eat their pesticide-laden veggies

For years, the Environmental Working Group has warned consumers away from "The Dirty Dozen," the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the most trace pesticides. But the produce industry has had enough of this anti-vegetable propaganda!  A consortium of food groups, from the American Mushroom Institute to the National Watermelon Association Inc., is mounting a campaign to reassure consumers that it's perfectly safe to eat pesticide-laden products. Industry groups are writing to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask him to publish data about pesticide residue with context explaining that the amount of pesticides found on their products really isn't that …

Critical List: The Mississippi River, unleashed; ‘The Dirty Dozen’ list under attack

The mighty Mississippi just can't be held down. This weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers opened four gates to the Morganza Spillway, which hasn't been used since 1973. Corps officials told residents: "Prepare for the worst. It's coming." President Obama said Saturday the administration would begin auctioning oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve. Point, Republicans. NOAA has sentenced up to 85 sea lions per year to death. Their crime: feasting on endangered salmon. The U.K. parliament has agreed to back a "carbon budget" that by 2027 will have cut carbon emissions to half of 1990 levels. …

Food

FDA agents launch covert ops against D.C.-area raw-milk buying club

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just filed a complaint in federal court, seeking a permanent injunction against Amish farmer Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania. It accuses him of violating a federal prohibition on interstate sales of raw milk by shipping unpasteurized milk to a Maryland buying club’s members. As part of its complaint, the agency says it carried out a lengthy undercover investigation to acquire raw milk, and as part of it, “FDA investigators picked up each unpasteurized milk order at various private residences in Maryland.” All of which has me wondering … Were the agents looking over their …

Factory Farms

Minnesota next up to pass law banning undercover farm videos

If Big Ag has its way, even possessing this undercover image of a factory chicken farm would be illegal.Photo: Humane Society of the United StatesNPR had a report today on the anti-whistleblower laws in Florida and Iowa that would make it illegal to take photos or undercover videos of livestock facilities. (It’s always nice to be NPR’s assignment editor!) But it doesn’t end in those two states — this “campaign” by Big Ag to shield its production techniques from scrutiny is going national. Writer Will Potter — author of the book Green Is the New Red about “how animal rights …

Food

Hungry kids and the environment hit hard by USDA budget cuts

             Hungry kids may be getting less cheddar.The House Appropriations Committee has released a detailed list of budget cuts as part of the deal to avoid a government shutdown, and it looks like agriculture and food programs are getting hit pretty hard. The USDA budget will be cut by $2.6 billion, down from the $108 billion the department had been expected to spend this year. One of the largest cuts comes from nutrition and food programs — in particular WIC, the program for low-income women and children — since, as we know, rising food prices and a struggling economy mean that …