Digest – News: AgSec threatens Farm Bill veto, farmworkers win pesticide lawsuit

Farm Bill follies: Continuing her outstanding Farm Bill coverage, Carolyn Lochhead reports on how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling the bill a "historic reform," even as critics denounce it as obscene. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Farm Bill veto threatened: In a Q&A with reporters, acting Ag Sec Chuck Conner says "senior advisers," of whom he is one, will recommend Bush veto the Farm Bill as it stands now. The main reason: "A good farm bill just simply has to say to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, you are not going to be eligible for payments using tax dollars that we have taken from middle income Americans when you are some of the very wealthiest taxpayers in this country." We support that sentiment, of course, but we wish the Bush administration would apply it to other areas. Conner also clarified that the administration supports direct payments to commodity producers, opposes the proposed prohibition on meatpacker ownership of farm animals, and mandatory COOL. (USDA.gov)

On the Dole: Nicaraguan field hands win a lawsuit again Dole Food Co. alleging that a banned pesticide, DBCP, used to boost banana production made them sterile. Dole must pay the farmworkers $3.2 million; additional damages are being considered against Dole and codefendant Dow Chemical. The case is being called a milestone in forcing global corporations to be accountable. (Los Angeles Times)

Un-natural foods battle: Under very different pressure from a variety of food industry reps and consumer-interest groups, the FDA and the USDA are mulling whether to tighten the definition of "natural." (Associated Press)

Anti-GMO sovereignty challenged in EU: EU ministers cannot agree whether to order Austria to lift its bans on two genetically modified (GMO) maize types. (Reuters)

Nutritionalism vs. food: A University of Minnesota professor concludes that food as a whole, as opposed to specific nutrients, may be key to a healthy diet. (Science Daily)

Dept. of Weird News: A pet pig whose weight tripled while it was in the care of a sitter has been placed on a diet, and an animal cruelty charge has been filed against the caretaker. Thousands of bananas washed up on Dutch shores. A cow fell off a cliff and hit a minivan.

Yale creates food and agriculture concentration within environmental studies major (Yale Daily News)

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