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"I like real food. Food that I can pronounce the name of." -- House minority leader John Boehner, protesting to the new, healthier menu offered at the House cafeteria thanks to Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "Greening the Capitol" program (Background on opposition from ag lobbies here. Some rather ... piquant comments from Chris Bower here.)

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Pennsylvania will allow hormone labels on dairy products

A decision by Pennsylvania agriculture officials that dairy products sold in the state could not be labeled as synthetic-hormone-free sparked a consumer outcry and a review by Governor Ed Rendell. Yesterday, officials more or less reversed that ban: dairies will be allowed to advertise that their cows aren't shot up with synthetic hormones, which increase milk production. However, dairies touting the non-injection of their bovines will not be allowed to use the language "hormone-free," as some hormones occur naturally in cows, and must also include a disclaimer that no significant difference has been shown between milk from injected and non-injected …

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Scientist says biofuel boom endangers world’s largest rainforest

A fifth of the Amazon rainforest -- the world's biggest carbon sponge -- has disappeared since the 1970s. The Brazilian government has succeeded in recent years in slowing the deforestation rate, but its efforts have recently been faltering. Bungle in the jungle. Photo: iStockphoto In the last four months, 2300 square miles of rainforest got leveled, Reuters reports. In the year before that, the forest surrendered 3700 square miles. If the current rate holds over a full year, that would mean a 9200-square-mile loss -- an alarming acceleration and the first rise in four years. What's driving the trend? Traditional …

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Monsanto’s latest court triumph cloaks massive market power

At first glance, it was an open-and-shut case. In 1998, Mississippi farmer Homan McFarling bought soybean seeds with genetic traits owned by Monsanto, then as now the world's dominant provider of genetically modified seeds -- and also the biggest herbicide maker. Like all farmers who buy GM seeds, McFarling signed a contract obliging him not to hold back any of the resulting harvest as seed for the next year's planting. But McFarling saved his seeds anyway -- and Monsanto busted him. Hot to protect its multibillion-dollar investment in genetic modification, Monsanto set loose a cadre of rent-a-cops into the farm …

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Notable quotable

"I really think the more I look at this whole cellulosic issue, there is a lot bigger problem to overcome here than people realize in terms of the feedstocks. We have a lot of work to do in that regard. I'm not sure cellulosic ethanol will ever get off the ground." -- Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

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An Iowa chef takes issue with Time’s Joel Stein

Regarding the article Tom mentioned yesterday, Joel Stein's Time article, "Extreme Eating": while Mr. Stein is of course free to eat whatever type of food he chooses, I must take exception to his contention that "Dodd was basically telling the Iowans that every night they should decide whether to accompany their pork with creamed corn, corn on the cob, corn fritters or corn bread. For dessert, they could have any flavor they wanted of fake ice cream made from soy, provided that flavor was corn." I am forced to question whether Mr. Stein has actually been to Iowa (outside of …

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The Conservation Security Program

This is the fourth in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For more information about the status of other sustainable agriculture programs in the Senate and House versions of the bill, please see this 2008 Farm Bill legislative tracking chart (PDF). The 2008 Farm Bill conference committee negotiations are just getting underway at the staff level -- please contact members of the Agriculture Committee and weigh in! In addition to food and fiber, farmers and ranchers are in a unique position to help provide healthy soils, clean air and water, habitat for native …

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Cloned meat and milk just as safe as conventional, says long-awaited FDA report

In a nearly 1000-page report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that food from cloned animals and their offspring "is as safe to eat as that from their more conventionally bred counterparts." The report effectively removes regulatory barriers to cloned food being offered to U.S. consumers, but practical barriers still remain, and it will be at least three years until the average shopper encounters a cloned product in the supermarket.

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Starbucks will no longer offer organic milk

Photo: gisarah Starbucks will cease offering organic milk to its coffee-quaffing customers at the end of February. The company has offered organic cow juice since 2001 at an extra charge, but "orders of drinks made with organic milk have consistently been a small percentage of total orders," according to a spokesperson. The chain has stopped using milk from cows shot up with artificial growth hormone; says a Starbucks memo to employees, "If a customer requests organic milk, let them know that our milk is now rBGH-free." Organic milk is also rBGH-free, but additionally requires that cows have access to pasture …

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Joel Stein of Time takes a poke at the locavores

The contrarian in me grinned when I read the concept. Time columnist Joel Stein pulls an anti-Pollan: He will cook dinner using only ingredients that traveled at least 3,000 miles from his home in L.A. And -- deliciously -- he will do his shopping at Whole Foods, which he declares "the local-food movement's most treasured supermarket, the one that has huge locally grown signs next to the fruits and vegetables." Ha, ha. It is a pretty funny joke -- especially on those in the local-food movement who treasure Whole Foods (a miniscule number, in my experience). But Stein's article brims …

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