The debate over how to treat water—as a public resource or an investment tool—is escalating as climate change accelerates the water crisis in the West.
October 23, 2015
Busy week? We’ve rounded up the food news you might have missed:
U.S. Senate Inches Toward GMO Labeling Bill (Iowa Public Radio)
On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to discuss biotechnology and the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which passed through the House this summer. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she is committed to getting a labeling bill passed by the end of this year, adding that she is concerned about each state having their own rules because it would make doing business across the country difficult. Stabenow also said one of her demands for the bill is a label that “does not stigmatize biotechnology.”
In an effort to freshen up its image, Subway is joining other fast food companies such as Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Panera Bread in switching to meat raised without the use of antibiotics. The sandwich chain plans to start serving chicken raised without antibiotics by March 2016, turkey by the end of 2019, and beef and pork by 2025.
Monsanto says California environmental officials’ plans to list the herbicide glyphosate (A.K.A. Roudup) as cancer-causing could be illegal because they are not considering valid scientific evidence. The company filed comments with California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) on the final day the state accepted public comments about its intention to list glyphosate as a cause of cancer. Officials say it is required for them—after the World Health Organization’s research committee classified the chemical as a “probable carcinogen”—to list glyphosate under Proposition 65, a state initiative enacted in 1986 to inform residents about cancer-causing chemicals.
As Schools Buy More Local Food, Kids Throw Less Food In The Trash (National Public Radio)
According to new data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when schools serve local food, kids eat better and throw away less food. They also found that the money schools spent on local food increased by 50 percent over the last two years, with schools spending almost $600 million during the 2013-2014 school year.
Study Examines Racial and Income Divides in Restaurant Industry (San Francisco Chronicle)
A new study on segregation in California’s restaurant industry found that high-paid waiters are likely to be white men, while low-paid restaurant workers are much more likely to be people of color. The study also found that white men in the state earn on average $4 more per hour then women of color. Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, hopes to raise the issue with Bay Area diners who, for example, often care about the way farm animals are treated but may not realize how dire conditions are for the workers who prepare their food.
Consumer advocates in Oregon hope to pass a law in 2017 that bans feeding antibiotics to livestock, similar to the law California passed a few weeks ago. Public health professionals are in support of a state ban, while the Oregon Farm Bureau claims that changing regulations in development at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would make a state law unnecessary.
Can Beer Save Bees? (The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency is turning to beer to help protect honeybees from extinction. A pesticide known as potassium salts of hops beta acids (HBAs) will be used around honeycombs to target certain parasites that attack honeybees. The agency approved its widespread use on Tuesday.
Since at least 1977, the U.S. meat industry has heavily influenced the dietary guidelines. Last year was no different. In 2014, the industry spent approximately $10.8 million in contributions to political campaigns, and another $6.9 million directly on lobbying the federal government. This year, the Dietary Guidelines Committee recommended that Americans eat less red and processed meat, and like years before, the meat industry is aggressively fighting to maintain the status quo.
General Mills has a new strategy: Invest in small, regional startups that are looking for capital to grow—before they get so big that the company has to shell out millions of dollars to acquire them.
2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded (The New York Times)
The first nine months of 2015 were the hottest since 1880, making this year the hottest ever recorded. Additionally, last month was the hottest September in history, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say that these record temperatures would not be occurring without an underlying trend caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.
According to Buzzfeed, Kevin Folta—a plant scientist from the University of Florida who was recently exposed for his ties with Monsanto—has an alter ego who hosts a podcast (on which he interviewed himself).
It was a busy week for food journalists, activists, and chefs.
The 2015 James Beard Foundation Food Conference, “Rethinking the Future of Food,” was held Monday and Tuesday in New York City. Speakers included former White House Chef Sam Kass, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Chef José Andrés, Eliot Coleman, Saru Jayaraman, Chef Bryant Terry, and many more. You can watch some of the panels on the JBF’s livestream archive. Footage of previous conferences is also available here.
The New York Times held its second annual Food for Tomorrow conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture on Tuesday and Wednesday. Speakers included author and former New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, author Paul Greenberg, Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan, Chef Tom Colicchio, Let’s Move Executive Director Debra Eschmeyer, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and many more. You can watch all of the speeches and panels here.
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