Digest – News: Vilsack updates, Clif Bars recalled, OJ CO2

Tractor tire hits the dirt: After clearing the Senate confirmation process, new USDA chief Tom Vilsack gets to work. (Des Moines Register) Meanwhile, speculation abounds on who may join him at the agency (CongressDaily). Advocates are already pushing the new Sec to change some of Bush’s misguided policies, including by closing loopholes in Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and reversing all actions to force livestock producers to register their premises under the National Animal ID System. (Cattle Network)

Clif-hanger-on: Certain varieties of Clif and Luna Bars containing peanut butter have joined over 125 other peanut-containing products (FDA website has updated info) in a massive nationwide recall. While no Clif Bars have been found to be contaminated, the company is pulling the product as a precautionary measure. Why were so many companies using the same peanut processor? This is why market concentration sucks. (CLIF Bar, thanks Erik!)

Pulp friction: PepsiCo hired experts to figure out the carbon footprint of a glass of orange juice. Calculating one way, they found the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted to the atmosphere for each half-gallon carton of orange juice. The biggest single source of emissions was growing the oranges, thanks to all the nitrogen fertilizer spread on the groves. Hmm. If Pepsi measured its Tropicana Organic line, it wasn’t mentioned. (New York Times)

Spawn shop: Many fisheries are managed like a mad dash — during a specified fishing season, fishers can catch without limits. This leads to bigger boats, larger crews, and often depleted fisheries. New research suggests that it’s better to define a catch level and divide it up among fishing companies. (Environmental Science and Technology) A previous post discusses the downsides of this approach.

Carbon wranglers: Improved pasture management could sequester a significant amount of carbon, while also improving soil fertility and reducing erosion. But before carbon credits can be sold on climate exchanges, transparent and credible accounting and auditing procedures need to be developed and producers schooled. (Reuters)

Color coding health: Trying to increase our “nutrition iQ” by eliminating the need to read, Supervalu has announced a nutritional information initiative to label all items in its stores that meet the FDA’s nutrition criteria through a rainbow of colors. (Wall Street Journal) The article omits that this technique was pioneered by Hannaford’s, which implemented a star rating system for “healthy foods” in 2006. Less than a quarter of the products in Hannaford’s qualified for a star, and the vast majority of items were (surprise!) in the produce aisle. (Background from What to Eat)

Bush’s ‘midnight regulations’ and what President Obama could do about them (Env. Science and Tech.)

Japanese engineers build “robot suit” for farmers (AFP, via Hack A Day)

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