We're slowly getting back up to speed, Digest-wise — many thanks to Leslie, on loan from the Eat Well Guide, for her help.
This move stinks: Under pressure from factory-farming lobbyists and ag-state pols, the EPA is considering dropping requirements that CAFOs have to report their emissions of toxic gases like ammonia — even though the agency's scientists admit that the gases pose a health threat and the reports are one of the few weapons suffering rural neighbors have. (Washington Post) Related: Our buddy Brian wrote this great op-ed in January for the Des Moines Register about how CAFOs are causing young people to flee Iowa.
So were there 31 previous "events"?: In a discovery the government is creepily calling "Event 32," an unapproved biotech variety of corn has been found to have contaminated some Iowa corn seed. (Des Moines Register) More scarily, the European Commission has called for emergency regulation on imported Chinese food products containing Chinese rice because of contamination with the experimental genetically modified variety called Bt63. (Time)
Tick tock, tick tock: The Food and Farm Bill is still stalled in Congress, but with the current law expiring on March 15 and the threat of a veto from President Bush (for various reasons), perhaps Congress will finally act. Negotiations between the House and Senate are currently under way. If they can't meet the deadline with a new bill, options include an extension to the 2002 law for a few months or even through 2009 (which Ag Chair Tom Harkin is calling likely), or a reversion to the 1949 Permanent Farm Law. FarmPolicy.com has daily updates on the progress of the negotiations (and an explanation of the 1949 law). More reporting and commentary from the California Farm Bureau, the Carolina-Virginia Farmer, and the New York Times editorial board.
Or ve vill break your kneecaps…: Under the delightful headline "Consumers can and will pay more for food," the former leading economist for ConAgra (!) says bread prices rose over 10% in 2007 and will do so again, as will other food prices. The good news "is that most U.S. consumers can afford to pay up, even if they won’t have much choice in the matter." Why does the same observation sound so much better coming out of Michael Pollan's mouth? (Brownfield Network)
Downergate fallout: The internets are still abuzz over the recall resulting from the Westland/Hallmark fiasco, henceforth shortened to Downergate. While consumer advocates push to find out where the meat was sold (Common Dreams), industry wants to scale back the recall (Wall Street Journal), the USDA refuses to recall meat that may have "commingled" with the downers (Natural News), news of the recall has set back international trade negotiations (AP) and public schools around the country are wondering what to do with the recalled meat — most, like the Seattle school district, are opting to bury it in local landfills (KOMO News).
Decommissioning = delovely: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) urged that the USDA be stripped of its food safety responsibilities, seeing a dangerous conflict of interest in the agency's dual mission of promoting the sale of meat and also monitoring its production. Uh, yeah. For the past few years, DeLauro has introduced legislation to create a unified food safety administration. (MSNBC)
No thanks, we brought our own: China is miffed over the US Olympic delegation's decision to "brown bag" it at this summer's games over fears that steroid levels in food may lead to athletes testing positive for drugs. Looks like the Americans will be dining alone — imported foods won't be allowed in the athletes' village. (Washington Post)
Martha kicks it up a notch: Martha Stewart has expanded her media empire, buying up the Emeril Lagasse franchise for a reported $50 million. (Forbes)