Digest – News: More Downergate fallout, Monsanto defeat likely in Kansas, moth myth busters

The full Digest is now back with a vengeance. Umbrellas up! And thanks to Jack for his help.

Nothing but the worst for our kids: For years the USDA has had problems ensuring that beef supplied to the national school-lunch program meets food-safety standards. Awarding contracts to the lowest bidder may have something to do with it. (Wall Street Journal) Related: USDA could install cameras in slaughterhouses (CNN.com)

Kansas to Monsanto — Ha ha!: The bill to ban rBGH-free milk labeling in Kansas seems to be off the table. The Ethicurean's Janet has the scoop on her other blog. (Foodperson.com)

starSpray now, regret later: Listening to California and federal agricultural officials, you'd think that the light brown apple moth will cause complete defoliation of the state unless it is eradicated by years of (potentially human health-endangering) aerial spraying over urban areas. Numerous entomologists disagree, saying that eradication is impossible and that resources should directed at suppressing it. Others say that the moths will be kept in check by natural predators like spiders and birds, because the moth larvae "look like another tube of meat to them." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Amen to that: The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition whose members have over $100 billion in investments, is pressuring large food companies to refuse to buy sugar from genetically modified beets before the 2008 planting season, so that the beets don't get planted at all. (Food Navigator)

Brazilian meat grinder: With its planned purchases of Smithfield's beef assets and National Beef Packing, giant Brazilian meat processor JBS is set to become the biggest in the U.S. (Kansas City Star) We can't follow Tom's math for Grist on the concentration ratios, but his conclusion rings true: "this insane level of concentration is almost sure to harm consumers and ranchers alike."

starHow you like dem Hot Pockets, Steve?: The Downergate recall highlights how complex the network of suppliers is for large packaged food companies like Nestle, whose Philly Cheese Steak Hot Pockets included meat from the recall, but also shows how quickly they can trace the origin of their ingredients.…unlike the Fed. Meanwhile, a congressional panel will subpoena Hallmark/Westland President Steve Mendell to appear at a March 12 hearing. (Wall Street Journal)

Who you gonna coliform?: The first victim of California's Jan. 1 law governing raw milk's bacterial levels (good and bad) is Organic Pastures' unpasteurized cream. The silver lining: OP owner Mark McAfee says the financial hurt will speed his court case. (San Jose Mercury News)

What would Jesus drink?: A UK cathedral is testing fair-trade wine. (BBC News; thanks Dr. Vino!)

At least 13 bills introduced in state legislatures calling for labels on cloned foods (BusinessWeek)

Milk Gestapos FDA to probe how soft cheese is made (Detroit Free Press)

Starbucks phases out organic milk; sales too small (Capital Press)

Incoming Obesity Society president resigns over food-industry ties (New York Times)

Using sewage plant wastes as fertilizer turns out to poison cows — and milk (Capital Press)

Fewer dairy farmers switching to organic milk (AP Business)

Coalition of Immokalee Workers calling for Burger King boycott (The News-Press)

U.K. to end use of bottled water at government meetings (Bloomberg.com)

Coke’s chief exec got $21.6 million in 2007 (NYT)

Whole Foods praised, Cargill bashed in most eco-savvy corporations list (Portfolio)

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