All the News That's Fit to Eat: GMO Labeling, Chinese Chicken, and California's New Food Laws | Civil Eats

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: GMO Labeling, Chinese Chicken, and California’s New Food Laws

Here is this week’s roundup of food news stories.

1. GMO Labeling Won’t Raises Prices for Consumers (RT News)

As voters in Oregon gear up to head to the polls in November, a new study may help them make a decision on Ballot Measure 92, also known as the state’s GMO labeling bill. The report from ECONorthwest aggregates findings from numerous studies that have looked at the prospective effect of GMO labeling on consumer prices. According to the findings, a measure like the one in Oregon would likely raise prices by $2.30 per person per year in total–less than the price of a gallon of milk. Meanwhile, in Colorado, where a similar measure will be on the ballot, Monsanto has pumped nearly $5 million into a campaign to convince consumers that GMO labeling will cause prices to skyrocket.

2. Antibiotics Linked to Childhood Obesity (USA Today)

There is a growing concern that the overuse of antibiotics is putting humans at greater risk for contracting “superbugs,” but new research suggests that the drugs are linked to yet another public health concern–obesity. A study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that children under the age of two who receive routine doses of antibiotics are more likely to be obese as children and teenagers than children who do not. The authors point out that antibiotics are used to treat a range of conditions that often don’t require them, weakening the drugs’ effectiveness and potentially contributing to greater health concerns.

3. USDA Boosts Funding for Healthy Foods in the Food Stamp Program (The Hill)

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that up to $31.5 million will be available to promote healthy foods to people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), AKA “food stamps.” The money is designed to support organizations and programs that offer direct financial incentives to SNAP recipients to buy whole foods, as well as test and implement new strategies that encourage healthy eating. The new grant program places special priority on low-income urban and rural areas, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce areas.

4.  The Curious Case of the Chinese Chicken Export-Import Business (Newsweek)

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China’s food processing facilities are notoriously underregulated, and consumer products from milk powder to ham have made thousands of people sick across the country. Yet the U.S. has repeatedly made efforts to involve China in our chicken industry. In 2013, the USDA approved four chicken processing plants in China, which process U.S. birds then ship them back to us for retail. Sound crazy? Many lawmakers agree, but USDA may have an ulterior motive: Opening the poultry market to China may encourage the country to lift its import ban on U.S. beef.

5. Consumers Demand USDA to Crack Down on Salmonella in Chicken (NBC News)

Consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition with USDA to classify four strains of salmonella bacteria as “adulterants.” Such a classification would require the department to routinely test poultry for contaminants before it hits grocery store shelves. The current practice demands testing of potentially contaminated foods only after an illness has been reported among humans. Advocates point out that rates of food-borne E. coli infection among humans have dropped 58 percent since USDA classified several strains as “adulterants.” They suggest that taking similar action on salmonella, which currently causes 1.2 million infections annually, could be a huge boon to public health.

6. California Governor Acts on Seafood, Farm Labor, and Plastic Bag Legislation (Various sources)

Hundreds of bills hits Governor Jerry Brown’s desk this week at the close of the California legislative session. Gov. Brown signed a number of food and agriculture-related bills, including:

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Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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  1. Great news roundup, thank you. Of course GMO labeling won't raise prices for consumers! Duh. So glad there's a study out to prove it.

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