Digest: High-tech future for food, USDA quarantine practices hurt small farm, bird-flu updates

Future of food: Peter Melchett has an excellent op-ed on what England’s bird-flu outbreak means for the future of farming — will it be high-tech, dependent on genetic engineering and biosecurity, or low-tech, meaning organic and local? Guardian (UK)

Overkill: A chillingly sad story about how so-called “disease containment” practices work in the United States, based on a small farmer who had a cow develop bovine tuberculosis in 2005. (Business Week) Don’t miss the sidebar about how some of the condemned animals ended up in the U.S. food chain.

Traveling turkeys: Poultry products from the turkey farm at the epicenter of the British bird flu outbreak may have been transported out of the restricted area. Guardian UK (Press Assoc.) In related news, UK supermarkets are standing by in case they have to pull all turkey from their shelves.

Playing chicken: Pakistan and South Korea reported new bird-flu cases in poultry, indicating that it’s the global trade in live birds, not migratory wild birds, that is likely spreading the disease. NY Times (Reuters)

Vote with your forks, and letters, and voices: Food-industry critic Christopher Cook explains why we can’t just shop our way out of this mess. Common Ground

Sneaky story alert: This article by a “business writer” gives heavy play to scientists complaining about “fear mongering” by Luddite types trying to scare consumers away from the products cloning, and to polls that show that 24% of dummies people think ordinary tomatoes don’t have genes but genetically modified ones do. A sidebar on the science of cloning claims that “plants have been cloned for decades, in a process known as vegetative propagation.” Cloning, unlike grafting, is invasive at the cellular level: it involves extracting a nucleus from a donor cell and inserting it into an egg whose nucleus has been removed, then shocking the egg so it thinks it’s been fertilized, then implanting it in a surrogate’s womb. Contra Costa Times

Growing documentation: Pennsylvania growers big and small are preparing for heightened food safety measures involving third-party audits and a ton of paperwork. Philadelphia Inquirer

beauty.jpegSomebody tell Mena Suvari: A review of Amy Stewart’s new book “Flower Confidential” really makes it sounds like a must-read — “If books had genetic lines, Flower Confidential would carry its pedigree from Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Kitchen Confidential’ and Michael Pollan’s ‘The Botany of Desire.’” It also mentions that many of our roses are dipped in fungicide — twice — and no one should take a bath in their petals. USA Today

Not Hungary: Hungary is confident it will be allowed to retain its ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified maize crop, which is approved for feed use in the European Union, in the EU’s next GMO debate Feb. 20. Foodnavigator

Saying no to GMOs: New Zealand’s Green Party is calling on the country’s Food Safety Minister to veto a recommendation approving a genetically engineered corn for animal and human use. Press release

More troubles for Indonesia: Indonesian farmers are struggling to survive after floods destroyed hundreds of acres of rice and other recently planted crops. Washington Post

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