Digest: Bird flu breakdown, nano no-no, Frankenweeds

Bird-flu biosecurity failure: Forget the wild-bird-acting-alone theory. Bird flu was found last night to have spread through the Bernard Matthews turkey complex in Suffolk, England, and the H5N1 strain of the flu was also linked to the company's processing plant in Hungary, from which meat is sent all over Britain. The revelations are embarrassing for the British government, which has apparently known about the trade between the Matthews plants since Monday, but declined to tell anyone. Thus proving the points that a) massive monocultures of animals (or plants) are much more vulnerable to disease and b) that massive meat-producing operations' often-cozy relationship with government regulators can have deleterious effects. Guardian (UK)

The Next Big Food Scare: Can you hear the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Food Apocalypse? As if genetically modified crops, hormone-boosted dairy, and cloned meat weren't scary enough large-scale human experiments, scientists are now excitedly applying nanotechnology to food — and it might not need to be labeled as such, either. One says he wants "to promote better eating by designing innovative products, such as milk that uses nanoparticles to make it taste just like cola." Is that worth risking getting a chunk of carbon lodged in your cellular nucleus? North Coast Journal

File under "We Told You So": Eight years after Monsanto debuted its genetically engineered Roundup Ready seeds, farmers are finding herbicide-resistant weeds growing around their Roundup Ready crops. Oops! But it's not Monsanto's fault — those farmers just aren't planting properly. "They misuse the technology, that's where we're starting to see the cracks first. But for the guys that are good managers, the technology is sustainable for quite some time," said a Monsanto defender. Quite some time, huh? CattleNetwork (via Dow Jones)

Premature induction?: John Franz, whose discovery that a chemical later named glyphosate could block the growth of vegetation led to the development of Roundup Ready seeds, is to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. Yahoo News

If you liked Olestra, you'll love orlistat: The FDA has approved orlistat, the first federally approved diet pill available without a prescription. Its weight-loss effects are small, and it only works when taken in conjunction with a low-fat diet. And if you slip and eat a bacon cheeseburger, say, you may experience some "totally socially revolting" side effects, in the words of one expert. Chicago Tribune

Longer life, but a lot less fun: Emily Yoffe tries the calorie-restricted diet for her Human Guinea Pig column, with funny and unexpected results. Slate

The downward spiral of cheap meat: As corn costs rise, cattle growers are turning to cheaper sources of feed, like the leftovers of the ethanol process — "mushy distiller's grain and a golden syrup." KCCI (Iowa)

You say tomato, I say toma...no: A Canadian 100-Mile Dieter is disturbed to learn that in the winter, BC Hothouse Tomatoes actually come from Mexico, not British Columbia. TheTyee

These roses stink: A new book called "Flower Confidential" may well change how you view the cut-flower business, says this reviewer, "much as Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation' altered consumer understanding of the cheap chain hamburger and its repercussions." Tip: Costco flowers apparently reek the least of pesticides and child labor. Seattle P-I

4 Responsesto “Digest: Bird flu breakdown, nano no-no, Frankenweeds”

  1. brad says:

    The BC Hothouse tomatoes story reminds me of the "Pure Vermont Honey" that I found in a market in Burlington, VT. There were several varieties of this honey on the shelf, including the usual clover, wildflower, and buckwheat, but then there was...orange blossom. Can't wait to try some of those pure Vermont oranges!

  2. Jack says:

    "Tip: Costco flowers apparently reek the least of pesticides and child labor." Bigger Tip: Flowers grown in my backyard have zero pesticides and are sometimes harvested, very random, by eager child.

    On a serious note, it is simply amazing how far flowers travel - it's just like food. And, what's really challenging is to find organically-grown flowers (except at your Farmers' Market).

  3. DairyQueen says:

    Well Jack, the only "flowers" in MY backyard are the cigarette wrappers thrown over the fence by the schizophrenic residents next door. Can I come over to your house and pick some?


  4. Nosher of the North says:

    I hope this will teach that reader, and everyone else, not to trust the brandname or words on the front of any label. I always read the small print and am always angered when some greedy shyster tries to lie about their products, just like the evil Smithfield company, who somehow loopholed the 1926 Virginia Statute that regulates the usage of the term "Smithfield Ham".