Digest: Farm Bill opinions, bird-flu immunity, antibiotics ban brewing

Farm Bill pressure: Those who wanted Americans to realize just how broadly the Farm Bill affects all those who eat or grow food may have done their job a bit too well — it seems everyone has an opinion on what the new bill ought to cover. The latest to weigh in:

  • General policies: A Register editorial describes what a forward-thinking Farm Bill would look like. We like this summary — “It should encourage protection of the nation’s soil and water, as the top priority; offer a fair, reliable income safety net; and spend taxpayers’ dollars wisely” — and especially the emphasis on encouraging conservation. Des Moines Register
  • Biofuel restraints: Food First’s Eric Holt-Gimenez has coauthored a compelling op-ed about the problems with biofuel production as it exists now, and how the Farm Bill could help, by at least requiring that such crops be grown sustainably. Des Moines Register
  • Humane animal treatment: Livestock producers are getting nervous that the new bill will likely include changes such as applying humane-slaughter guidelines to poultry, banning sow gestation crates, etc. Des Moines Register

Bird flu strikes mostly youngsters: Preliminary epidemiological evidence from the World Health Organization suggests that people over 35 are less likely to get avian flu. Victoria Times Columnist

Save our drugs: Legislation is afoot to ban the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed, which has repercussions for drugs’ efficacy in humans. Boston Globe

Swift exodus: How the raids at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plants have decimated a small Texas town. Paints an excellent picture of this country’s schizophrenic attitude when it comes to immigrant labor. Washington Post

Vermont dairy crisis: Vermont’s dairy farms are disappearing, thanks to higher costs than flat milk prices can offset. Several dairy farmers offer suggestions for how to save the state’s historic industry, including changing federal pricing laws and creative state-support methods. Burlington Free Press) In related news, New Hampshire is considering adopting emergency milk-price support measures.

Banning GMOs in animal feed: Greenpeace is staging some protest theater in Greece to call attention to its campaign to demand compulsory labeling across the European Union of all food products derived from animals fed genetically modified crops. One million Europeans have signed the group’s labeling petition. Associated Press

Grass stations: A nuanced look at how the ethanol boom is fueling hope in small Midwestern towns. New York Times

Marrying your passions: Regular people, not just celebrities, are embracing “green” weddings — with soy-based candles, local greenery instead of imported flowers, and organic food. New York Times

NO-J: The food miles and energy involved in drinking orange juice in the U.K. Observer (UK) (Via Treehugger)

Too much money, too little time: A piece in the business section looks at the Noka chocolate controversy, and what it all says about the market for extravagant gift giving. New York Times

Human-rights policies: Addressing slave and child labor in industries like chocolate. TomPaine.com

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