Digest: More China troubles, save the fish, Ohio farmland dropping


Mission impossible: Mission Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods have quietly told their suppliers they want no more ingredients from China — but complying is next to impossible. A look at China’s role as the world’s leading supplier of many food flavorings, vitamins and preservatives. (Los Angeles Times) Related: Diethylene glycol has been found in 6,000 tubes of Panamanian toothpaste apaprently from China

Sea shills: President Bush will ask the Senate to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) treaty. Among other things, UNCLOS sets global standards for marine protection, thus potentially shielding fish stocks. The treaty has quite an unusual collection of backers: American Petroleum Institute, Naval Reserve Association, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, Chamber of Shipping of America, to name a few. (The Washington Note)

Bye-bye, oh no: Ohio farmland is continuing to disappear, despite voter approval in 2000 of a bond initiative aimed at preserving green spaces including farms. (Columbus Dispatch/AP)


Heated words over COOL: An op-ed from the Pacific Research Institute, the free-market think tank, argues that country of origin labeling (COOL) will make no difference for food safety, looks like protectionism, and will drive companies out of business. Isn’t an informed consumer part of the free-market equation? How can we make rational decisions without knowing as much as is practical. The author writes, “When unburdened by government restrictions, food companies will devise their own methods of ensuring safe products in response to consumer demand, not Capitol Hill.” Yeah, that “method” — sicken or kill a bunch of people, then have a recall — has worked out great so far. (Arizona Daily Star)

Methane labs: The Vegetarian Union of North America challenges Al Gore to recognize another inconvenient truth — that animal agriculture is a major cause of climate change. (Press Release)

Closing the loop: A new facility that will consist of a dairy, biodiesel refinery, feed factory, and ethanol distillery is slated for construction in Arizona. Cow manure will generate methane to run a power plant that produces ethanol from corn. The ethanol byproducts (distiller’s grain) will be fed to the cows. A second phase will include algae farms to provide feedstock for the ethanol and biodiesel refineries. An interesting plan, but the location in the middle of the desert might come back to haunt the builders. (Green Car Congress)

Antitrust laws are so 20th century: Despite strong evidence that Smithfield’s buyout of Premium Standard Farms would kill competition in the Southeast (leaving only one pork packer in the region), the Department of Justice has nothing but enthusiasm for the deal. They have also been less than forthcoming on its details. (Peoria Journal Star)

In a word, no: The WashPo’s editors ask, “Can Congress write a farm bill without wasteful subsidies?” (Washington Post)

China in the bull shop: It might not seem like it from the spate of recent scandals, but this writer argues that China’s government is starting to act more like a business — one that recognizes its reputation is often its most important asset. (ScrippsNews)

A way out of the maize maze: Sally Kohn explains the root cause of our immigration problems. “Corn is what causes migration and corn is the only way the injustices of immigration, on both sides of the border, will ever be solved.” (The Huffington Post)

EU shark finning ban ineffective, campaigners say (Reuters)

Ranting about pseudo-French and pretentious language on menus (TimesOnline, UK)

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