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Honey Laundering and the Global Marketplace

In both the popular imagination and ad campaigns, honey is the epitome of a wild food. After all, bees can’t be herded and overfed like cattle, or immobilized like broiler chickens if they are to continue making the sweet substance. As reported here last year, bees are “a key to global food security” due to their critical importance in food chains worldwide. In fact, honey seems to be a bellwether of global food insecurities. Read more

Will Obama Support the Bluefin Tuna Ban?

The European Parliament agreed to support a ban on trading bluefin Wednesday despite fears by nations like Greece, Spain, and Malta, whose fisherman would be most affected. This decision comes ahead of the next meeting in March of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)–a treaty between 175 governments that protects around 33,000 species to varying degrees–and is a significant step towards adding the bluefin to the treaty. The ban proposed by the European Parliament would allow domestic fishing, covering only the international trade of bluefin tuna. [UPDATE below] Read more

Obama’s Broken Promises, Disappointing and Dangerous for Farmers and Eaters

And it means ensuring that the policies being shaped at the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are designed to serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence peddlers, but the family farmers and the American People.”  President-elect Barack Obama, December 17, 2008, Chicago, Illinois.

The message was one of hope, the words of a newly elected President echoing the Populism of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the promise of John F. Kennedy.  It stopped there, the delivery of the promise fell short. Read more

Europe Moves to Allow Import of Three Varieties of Genetically Modified Corn, Risking Contamination

Last week, the European Commission made the decision to allow three types of genetically modified corn to enter the European Union, where genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been banned in six countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg), and where zero tolerance has been the rule for GMOs in imported grains. The decision seems to have come on the heels of numerous shipments of grain to be used for livestock feed being turned back in previous months because of contamination by these and other varieties.

In other words, the European authorities seem to be throwing up their hands, acknowledging the impossibility of avoiding contamination of the various types of grains being shipped around the world in containers that are never cleaned in between routes. Bryan Endres, an agriculture law professor at the University of Illinois, had this to say in an article in the New York Times on Monday: Read more

Obama Administration Nominates Lobbyists for Key Ag Positions

“Lobbyists won’t find a job in my White House.” President Obama assured us with this claim upon inauguration. And yet he just nominated to two key posts “Big Ag” industry power brokers, who come straight from the chemical pesticide and biotechnology sectors. While they may not be registered as lobbyists, both men come from organizations representing powerful agribusiness interests, which every year spend millions of dollars in lobbying to advance their companies’ chemical and transgenic products. Read more