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Red color in Texas river turns out to be pig blood

Apologies for starting off y'all's Monday mornings on the grossest note possible, but this story was too appalling not to share. In Texas, near Dallas, an amateur drone pilot snapped a pic of a suspiciously red creek. (Weird, we know! But just get past that bit.) The drone pilot decided it was suspicious enough to let the powers-that-be know about it.

The authorities checked the creek out and traced the red color to a meatpacking plant. The red color was raw pig blood. And pig guts, apparently. A pipe was leaking the stuff into the creek.

Read more: Pollution, Scary Food

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Monsanto’s new seeds could be a tech dead end

planting cornThis is how corn is planted on industrial-sized farms. (Photo by Minnemom.)

When I wrote recently about the next generation of genetically engineered seeds, I was in truth referring to the next next generation. The fact is that the next actual generation of seeds is already out of the lab and poised for approval by the USDA.

And I’m not talking about Monsanto’s recently approved “drought-tolerant” seeds, which the USDA itself has observed are no more drought-tolerant than existing conventional hybrids.

No, the “exciting” new seeds are simply resistant to more than one kind of pesticide. Rather than resisting Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup alone, they will now also be resistant to Dow AgroScience’s pesticide 2,4-D .

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Oklahoma makes bold move to not eat human fetuses

Fetus cookie

Apparently the new hotness among Republicans is legislating against things that don't exist. First Congress voted to knock down imaginary farm dust regulations, and now the Oklahoma Legislature has introduced a bill that would outlaw food "which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients." Always a major concern!

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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New food reporting project dives deep into pork drug

Photo by Edmund Yeo.

On Wednesday, thanks to a collaboration with a new nonprofit news organization called the Food and Environment Reporting Network, MSNBC ran an in-depth report on ractopamine hydrochloride, a drug commonly used in pigs and known on the market as Paylean.

The story is important for two reasons. First, it has the potential to widen the public's understanding of a powerful, overused drug, and to help us dig down into what it really means when we hear about the use of growth-promoting drugs in meat. Second, it’s the mark of a new voice in food journalism -- one that’s well worth paying attention to if you’re interested the intersection of food and the environment.

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McDonald’s discovers social media can backfire when people hate you

When McDonald's tried to launch the #McDStories Twitter campaign, it clearly envisioned a bunch of fond memories from Big Mac lovers, interspersed with behind-the-scenes glimpses into the McDonald's "food"-making process. (It kicked things off with a link to "some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day.") Unfortunately, the marketing folks there really, really misunderstood social media. Result: #McDStories was quickly overrun with the grossest, weirdest McDonald's non-appreciation its non-fans could come up with.

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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‘Antibiotic-free’ pork has the same rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

We really do try to Pollan it up and do the whole “eat food, not too much, mostly plants" bit. But “mostly plants” obviously means “sometimes bacon.” And maybe the farmers' market wasn't open, so we bought that bacon at the store. Oh, but it was good bacon! "Raised without antibiotics" bacon! That's something, right?

Nope, not really, according to a new study from a group of University of Iowa scientists. This group tested 395 samples of pork from 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Of those, 6.6 percent had creepy, drug-resistant staph bacteria (shorthand: MRSA) on them. And there was no difference, statistically, between the normal pork products and the ones raised with alternative, antibiotic-free methods.

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Live and let dioxin: Big Ag is worried about scaring us off meat and milk

It doesn't take much for the food industry to freak out over potential government action, but this latest corporate outcry is especially galling and self-serving. This month, after more than 20 years of "assessment," the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finally release limits for safe exposure to dioxins, nasty industrial pollutants that cause cancer, among other health harms [PDF]. You may have heard of dioxin as the military herbicide Agent Orange used in Vietnam, where it earned its distinction as "the most toxic compound synthesized by man." Unfortunately for the food industry, dioxins accumulate in the fatty tissues of …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Mountain Dew can dissolve a mouse, says Pepsi

An Illinois man is suing Pepsi Co. because, he says, he found a mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. But Pepsi says the guy is pulling a Strange Brew, and here's how they know: If there really were a mouse in a Mountain Dew can, it would have dissolved into "a jelly-like substance" before the guy could find it. Seriously, this is their defense. The company argues it has scientific evidence that the mouse was not in the can when the case was sealed in August 2008 and that a veterinary pathologist examined the mouse, finding that it could …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Will the Butterball raid yield any real results?

The Butterball facility in North Carolina that was raided on Thursday. (Photo by Mercy for Animals.) If turkey were beer, Butterball would have the brand power of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors combined. From six plants, the company produces 1 billion pounds of turkey each year and exports the meat to over 50 countries. Given this dominance, the Butterball brand has been a priceless asset to the company -- until Thursday morning. At about 9:00 a.m., officers from the local sheriff's office raided a Butterball semen collection facility in Shannon, N.C. (Industrially bred Broad-Breasted White turkeys must be artificially inseminated to reproduce.) …

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