Digest – News: Focusing the foodies, DNA Q&A, and MRSA attacks

Good food movement needs focus: The Post's Jane Black reports on a series of pricey charity dinners in Washington, DC organized by Berkeley foodies in honor of the inauguration. Their goal was to propel food-system change into the agenda of the new administration, but some say the movement is too fragmented and its messages too diffuse to really be effective. (Washington Post)

DNA is not a drug:
Kudos to the reporter Jill Adams for her excellent, clear-sighted look at the FDA's proposed guidelines for meat and fish from genetically engineered animals. The agency will categorize transgenic animals as an "animal drug" (the "drug" is a snippet of DNA) and hold them to the same requirements as conventionally bred animals treated with hormones or antibiotics. But as one critic states, "genes are not the same as drugs. Drugs may have long-lasting effects on an individual, but they wouldn't get passed on to future generations." And why exactly are we relying on the companies ot demonstrate such techniques' safety, instead of testing it independently? (LA Times)

If you test for it, they will come: Researchers at the University of Iowa run the first test for the presence of a strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at an industrial hog operation in the U.S. and find that well over half of the pigs AND the workers at one facility carry it. Another facility had no MRSA. Somebody needs to figure out what's going on. (Scientific American; thanks, Maryn!) (See our previous post for background on MRSA in pigs.)

Another one bites the (nitrogen-spiked) dust: Federal agents raid another California organic fertilizer manufacturer, this time one that produced as much as half the liquid fertilizer used on the state's organic farms. The incentive for companies to supplement fertilizer with synthetic nitrogen, which is outlawed by the organic standards, is high because of its low cost. California organic certifiers and farmers start emergency tests, but maintain that what's really needed is better regulation. (Sacramento Bee)

Gambling on the grain: Farmers in Senegal, hoping for a return of last year's high commodity prices, go into debt to expand rice plantings and risk getting swept up in the tsunami of global price volatility. Sound familiar? (New York Times)

Vitamin C in meat?: You bet, if your meat came from nature. That's a big reason the Inuit (at least in the past) didn't suffer malnutrition in their meat-based diet. (NY Times)

One Responseto “Digest – News: Focusing the foodies, DNA Q&A, and MRSA attacks”

  1. MaryAnn says:

    Re: DNA is not a drug
    Reading the LATimes article, I’m particularly disappointed in CSPI. CSPI is a non-profit advocate for healthful food and diet, or at least it used to be. I learned a lot from their monthly Nutrition Action Heathletter, but when CSPI started supporting GM food, under the guise of feeding poor Africans, I wrote a letter to Michael Jacobson stating my concerns about pollen drift, etc. His reply was uninformed and I cancelled my contributions, after explaining that I could no longer support CSPI if they supported, or failed to report on the risks of GM food.
    I’m more convinced now that CSPI is sold out to agbiotech, because Gregory Jaffe, their spokesperson on biotechnology, didn’t say more than "[the FDA’s adopted guidelines are a good start] in the sense that the federal government has acknowledged that these animals are on the horizon and there needs to be oversight to ensure their safety." The rest of his reported statements were less than reassuring, and reek of unwillingness to touch on the real issues at hand, typical of public advocates who have sold out, and fail to inform on the real risks, relying on general public ignorance of the facts (because CSPI won’t tell its members) to get away with milquetoast comments.
    Studies have already shown that <a href=”http://fanaticcook.blogspot.com/2009/01/gmo-fed-livestock-incorporate-foreign.html”>GMO-Fed Livestock Incorporate Foreign GMO Genes Into Their Own Tissues</a>. That being the case, then why would we reject the possibility that those GMO genes would not be incorporated into our human DNA, upon ingestion of genetically engineered animals?
    To introduce these products to the market without testing, and without knowing the prognosis for our health is an abomination. Meat animals only have very short life spans, so there’s no way of knowing the long-term health effects of foreign genetic material. What effects might occur in humans over a 70-year life span, especially when children eat these genes?
    This all goes back to the Clinton FDA, when Michael Taylor engineered FDA acceptance of GM products as ‘substantially equivalent’ to non-engineered food. We have to overturn this ruling. This would seem to be possible, given the evidence in the above-linked study. Does anyone know whether we incorporate broccoli or onion genes into our DNA upon ingestion? Or is it something about the structure of trans-genes that enables them to jump from food to host?