Digest: E. coli update, Frankenvines, more

New York Times: Battered by E. coli outbreaks, three major produce industry groups are calling voluntarily for government regulation; one has worked with California officials in California on creating a formal system of farm inspections, regulations of water and soil quality and sanitation and even cease-and-desist orders for violations. The FDA says it doesn't have the manpower for such a system nationwide.

FDA.gov: The Taco Bell-related E. coli outbreak is up to 62 probable or confirmed cases of illness in six states. Although early speculation settled on scallions, the FDA says that "To date, no data implicates or rules out any specific food item served at the Taco Bell restaurants" and they're testing cilantro, cheddar cheese, blended cheese, green onions, yellow onions, tomatoes and lettuce. The E. coli strain is indeed the dread O157.

Chicago Tribune*: Although much of Africa has resisted the introduction of genetically modified crops, South Africa has not. Yet a proposal to field test genetically engineered grapes has raised concerns from the 300-year-old wine country around Stellenbosch, an hour from Cape Town.

Village Voice: A brief interview with Anna Lappé, daughter of Frances and a food activist in her own right.

Chicago Tribune: As more Jews consider how their religious values inform their decisions about food, they're increasingly seeking out organic kosher ingredients.

Iceland Review: Sensitive to consumer perceptions, Whole Foods has stopped marketing Icelandic products because of Iceland resuming commercial whaling, but the chain is still selling the goods. A separate story says tourism to Iceland has also been affected by the whaling decision, but officials claim the practice is now sustainable — more research required.

New York Times: Elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and other big-game animals are all being killed — and beheaded — in a wave of poaching in Nevada and several other Western states. The National Park Service says that poaching last year contributed to the decline of 29 species of wildlife in the 390 parks it oversees.

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