Digest: Say no to nonworking drugs, Rumsfeld and Nutrasweet, cloning debates continue

The chicken AND the egg: It looks like in poultry, antibiotic resistance may be transmitted down family lines — at least in chickens, researchers have found. Banning their use on the farm may be too little, too late. USA Today

And speaking of antibiotic resistance: Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss, who broke the story about the FDA’s possibly pending approval of a new antibiotic to treat cattle, was online answering readers’ questions. He makes some interesting points about how the FDA’s job is not to tell farmers how to raise their animals, and points out that living in a free-market society means, “If you make a new medicine, and it works, and is safe, then you can sell it. If people buy it, you’re in business.” Washington Post (Thanks Marc)

“Artificially blackened water tinged with synthetic chemicals” — yum!: Tom Philpott rips on Coke for pretending that adding a few vitamins makes its beverages “healthy,” and gives a little-known back story on the FDA’s approval of Diet Coke’s ingredient (and possible carcinogen) aspartame involving Donald Rumsfeld. The mind really does reel. Gristmill

Can’t they just take the FDA’s word for it?: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been asked by the E.U. to assess the safety of meat and dairy from cloned animals. Reuters

Stop this Simplot: Scott Simplot, Jr. wants to do for farm animals what his father, son of industrial potato pioneer JR Simplot, did for McDonald’s french fries — perfect them in the lab. Business Week Leslie at The Daily Table has some things to say about this.

Cloning cons and pros: In a piece accompanying the above, Business Week presents Pro and Con arguments about whether meat and dairy products from cloned animals mean better-quality food at lower costs to consumers. The Pro argument is just silly — that beef sales have dropped because consumers aren’t sure whether the steaks they’re buying will be tasty or not — and its conclusion is laughable: “Trust the FDA, and don’t try to stop progress.” Weirdly, the “Con” is buy the same writer, and it’s a bit less off the cuff. BusinessWeek

“The Whole truth?”: Berkeley writer Twilight Greenaway sifts all the coverage of the Mackey-Pollan “conversation” and finds it wanting in fact-checking. She zeroes in on some pieces that got spun and/or omitted, such as the percentage of produce that comes from family farms, the California vs. Bangladesh rice argument, and unionization. Culinate

Call to farms: Tom Philpott shares the address he gave at the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food Symposium (SAY FOOD), distilling seven months’ worth of columns into a broad look at food and the environment. He shows how cheap labor requires cheap food, and how that cheapness is achieved at the expense of public health and the Earth as ecosystem. While the individual bits of history and economics are not news, Philpott brilliantly knits them all together into a damning, inexorable argument of how we got into this sick state. grist

Caveat emptor: Monsanto and another company are teaming up to produce the first genetically modified food product “with a benefit for consumers, rather than farmers” — omega-3 enriched products (using algae genes) ranging from cooking oils and baked goods to mayonnaise and processed meats. Let’s hope they label them as such. St. Louis Dispatch

First Chicago, then the state: An Illinois state senator proposes banning foie gras production and consumption. Northwest Herald

Conservation begins in Congress: Evan Branosky, a research analyst at the World Resources Institute, has some environmentally-friendly policy recommendations for the 2007 Farm Bill. TomPaine.com

Get’em while they’re young: Eric Schlosser gives a sold-out, gross-out talk at an Arizona community college. AZ Central

Passing the muck: Cleaning up toxic waste dumps in Wales could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions unless British authorities hold parent company Monsanto to account. icWales

Seoul objections lowered: South Korea is getting ready to resume imports of U.S. beef. Associated Press

Oceans of sugar cane: A reality check on ethanol juggernaut Brazil, which has planted vast monocultural swathes of sugarcane with possible serious side effects of their own. Independent (UK)

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