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U.S. food aid low, getting lower

The U.S. donates more food internationally than any other country, but shipping costs and rising food prices (thanks, biofuels!) have contributed to its lowest level of donation in a decade. The situation is likely to get worse: the appropriations bill moving through Congress contains no significant increases in the U.S. food aid budget, and the United Nations estimates that low-income countries will see a 14 percent jump in the price of grain imports next year. A restriction in the farm bill requires food aid to be shipped from the U.S.; in a rare proposal aligned with green values, the Bush …

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Study suggests link between DDT exposure and breast cancer

Women exposed to the pesticide DDT as children are five times as likely to develop breast cancer, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Draw your own conclusions.

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Today is World Vegetarian Day

It's World Vegetarian Day, everyone! Go celebrate by pissing someone off.

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U.S. ethanol boom slowing due to market glut

The ethanol boom in the United States, the political darling of presidential candidates, farm-state lawmakers, and others, has recently been showing signs of slowing due to a market glut that's exacerbated by infrastructure troubles. It seems everyone and their farmer have been constructing ethanol refineries to turn corn into fuel, but the means to get that fuel to gas stations hasn't been keeping pace with output. Due to ethanol's corrosive properties and its propensity to soak up water and other impurities, it can't travel by oil pipeline and instead makes its way to market by boat, train, or truck. Ethanol's …

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A little weekend humor

In case you missed this hilarious letter that made the email rounds early this year poking fun at bizarre agricultural subsidies ... it gets to carbon credits midway through, naturally: Secretary of State Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Smith Square London Dear Secretary of State, My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business. In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is …

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EPA delays approval of nasty pesticide

Delightfully defying our dire predictions, the U.S. EPA will (again) delay approval of nasty pesticide methyl iodide, after 54 scientists wrote a letter expressing shock that the agency was even considering giving such a toxic chemical the thumbs-up for agricultural use.

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California may require labels on bottled water, EPA strengthens lead-in-water regulations

Bottled-water companies would have to disclose the source of their H2O under a bill that has passed through the California legislature and awaits the pen of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill would require companies to list the minerals, chemicals, and bacteria present in bottled water, as well as whether it came originally from a well, aquifer, spring, or plain ol' municipal reservoir. In other water news, the U.S. EPA has issued revised national regulations that strengthen requirements for testing tap water for lead and require utilities to notify customers immediately if water supplies are found to be contaminated with high …

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Time to reinvest in the school-lunch program

At private schools across the country, good cafeteria food is becoming as de rigueur as French classes taught by native speakers, Associated Press reports. Schoolyard vegetable gardens bloom, tended by future Ivy Leaguers under the watch of "sustainability coordinators." In the kitchen, trained cooks transform that bounty into food worthy of enjoying, not merely enduring. Unfortunately, in public schools, things remain rather grim. Debt, warmed over. Photo: whitehouse.gov Sure, there are wonderful groundswells of change, such as Ann Cooper's transformation of lunches in the Berkeley public-school system, helped along by a grant from the Chez Panisse Foundation. But these exceptions …

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U.S. conservation land may soon end up in your gas tank

Well isn't this delightful (sub rqd): The Agriculture Department may allow farmers to plow up land in conservation agreements to plant row crops, despite a record corn crop this year, fueled by the ethanol industry's thirst for the feedstock. Acting Secretary Chuck Conner told reporters this week that USDA is considering releasing some land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle nearly 34 million acres of land for wildlife habitat or soil or water conservation. Corn ethanol: always even more awesome than you think!

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The road to disodium inosinate is paved with good intentions

Mea culpa. That's the only way I can honestly write anything about getting older kids to eat healthy foods. Because I've been a sucker for the look my 11-year-old gets on her face if I plop down a bowl of nuclear-orange SpongeBob mac-and-cheese in front of her. Sheer joy: that's the only way to describe it. Ditto for the times she eats (can I admit this?) Cookie Crisp cereal, high-fructose corn syrup laced yogurt, and the occasional bag of Doritos -- chips that look toxic enough to qualify as their own Superfund sites. Open mouth, insert junk food. Photo: iStockphoto …

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