It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean food news stops. Below, we share some of the top news stories of the week.
1. USDA Overhauls Poultry Inspection Rules (The Hill)
After more than two years of proposals and push-back by advocates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) moved to put new poultry inspection rules in place yesterday. The voluntary rules would result in companies providing their own inspectors (while keeping one from the USDA in every plant), making it essentially a move to privatize the inspections. It will also mean fewer inspectors per plants, with each inspector looking at 140 birds per minute. Read more
It’s rare when a plant breeder goes from developing genetically modified crops at a major biotechnology company to breeding varieties for organic and non-GMO farmers. Jane Dever, associate professor at Texas A&M’s AgriLife Research and Extension Center, is unique in having done just that. As global cotton breeding manager for Bayer CropScience, Dever put genetically modified or (GM) traits into cotton plants. Now she focuses on keeping GM traits out of organic cotton varieties. Read more
Most Americans would prefer to know whether or not they’re eating genetically engineered foods (commonly referred to as GMOs). According to some polls, as many as 93 percent of us would like to see them labeled. But there’s one group committed to ensuring that such labels never grace supermarket shelves. Read more
Genetically engineered (or GMO) corn that was developed to kill insect pests has been causing resistance in some of those very insects for several years. But the issue has not received as much attention as it should. A new research paper in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may change this by providing additional cause for concern. Read more
In the fields of Iowa where I grew up, organic soy and corn does indeed exist alongside genetically modified (or “GMO”) varieties. But the policy allowing so-called “coexistence” of organic and GMO crops now in place in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is one-sided and precarious at best.
More than 90 percent of the soybeans and corn grown on U.S. soil are from GMO seeds, which are modified to withstand heavy applications of herbicides and pesticides. Among those pesticides is 2,4-D, which contains the same chemical used in Agent Orange. Read more
Normally, news that Costco is test-marketing a new farm-raised salmon wouldn’t exactly make headlines—but this fish tale is different than the others.
This is the story of a salmon that has the potential to move the aquaculture industry away from the practice of using wild-caught forage fish as food for larger species—a practice that concerns both environmentalists and scientists. Species like anchovy, sardines, and menhaden are the very cornerstone of the ocean’s food web. Too much pressure on these important stocks could have profound ripple effects if we continue scooping them out of the ocean to feed farmed fish. Read more
“Funny” isn’t the first word that comes to mind of when we think of the organic food industry. But a coalition of mid- to large-sized organic food companies—including Earthbound Organics, Stonyfield, Annie’s, and Organic Valley—hopes to change that. Read more
What’s going on with GMOs in our food? Scientists and food movement leaders will discuss the issues in depth, unfiltered by the media, in a virtual conference available free online from January 27-30 called “GMOs: What You Need to Know.” Read more
The enactment of policies to curb marketing to children has been, to put it mildly, an uphill battle in the United States. While television ads and billboards are the most blatant examples, the more subtle–yet just as pervasive–variations are the most troubling. Read more
If you’re like me, you’ve known for a while that the U.S. is negotiating a new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but you haven’t taken the time to figure out exactly why it matters. Hey, I don’t blame us—there’s a reason it’s hard to understand: The corporations and governments negotiating the deal don’t want our opinions slowing down their shiny new free-trade agreement. Read more