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)
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