Digest – News: Dairy cows on the moove, Big Corn throwdown, a locavore loses it

Industry pail-out: California’s dairy industry announces a plan to cull 300,000 dairy cows, or roughly 1/6th of the state’s herd, in an attempt to raise market prices for milk from the $0.97/gallon producers have received recently. Mass sell-offs have happened before, but often the cows were bought by other dairymen and -women to expand their herds. This time, it may be hamburger for the lot, much to the dismay of the state’s beef industry. (Modesto Bee)

Strange bedfellows: Biotech giant Syngenta is on the cusp of commercializing a new breed of GM corn designed to speed the ethanol-refining process by turning its own starch into sugar before it even reaches the plant – but the cornstarch industry has asked the USDA to delay its approval. At issue is the fact that if the ethanol corn cross-pollinated with food varieties, it would make the food corn harder to turn into starch, cause, um, it would have already turned its own starch into sugar. The industry argues that the USDA “lacks adequate scientific data or documentation necessary” to evaluate the crop’s impact on food crops and thus should not approve it. Since when did Big Ag go around stealing lines from the Union of Concerned Scientists? (Des Moines Register)

Going straight to Parnell: Was Salmonella-slinging peanut tycoon Stewart Parnell a “hapless businessman whose mistakes revealed seams in the government’s safety net?”…or a capitalist sociopath with no regard for the human beings eating his products? This article tracks down friends and clients who say “he’s not a monster, just a person who has made mistakes.” (Capital Press via AP) The Washington Post must have asked different friends in its article chronicling the history of the fallen company – its sources claim that “the Parnells found success by operating a low-cost business that relied on the cheapest peanuts they could find” and minimum-wage labor, and his plant was “disgusting.” (Washington Post)

Let’s see, an ad vs. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”: Monsanto is attempting to woo “thought leaders…who might be influenced by writers such as Michael Pollan” with a new ad campaign featuring full-pagers in publications like the New Yorker, The New Republic, and Atlantic Monthly. “How can we squeeze more food from a raindrop?” asks one ad. The answer involves locking up nature as “intellectual property,” intimidating farmers through lawsuits, and pressuring lawmakers to serve its bottom line. Oh oops, we meant to type “putting the latest science-based tools in farmers’ hands.” (Brandweek)

Locavore goes bananas: An Oregon man ended a yearlong attempt to eat only food grown, processed and sold in Oregon and Washington at the end of January, with four months to go. We get the point he was trying to make – but worrying about the pectin in jam? We’re surprised he made it 8 months. (Statesman-Journal)

Life after NAFTA?: U.S., Mexican and Canadian family ranchers venture to wintry Billings, Montana to discuss ways to safeguard each country’s meat industry against anti-competitive practices. The Mexicans and Canadians hope for a Country of Origin Labeling-type program so their countryfolk can choose local; all three groups call for an end to meatpacker ownership of cattle herds,which allows the packers to manipulate cattle prices. The reforms may require a renegotiation of NAFTA, though, so they’d better keep their fingers crossed. (Billings Gazette)

“Weapons of mass consumption”:
Interesting Q&A with Hank Cardello, author of the new book “Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s Really Making America Fat.” Cardello held executive-level positions at some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies, including General Mills and Michelob. (Los Angeles Times)

Seed savers supreme: The Global Crop Diversity Trust says it’s on track to save 100,000 varieties of food crops from extinction. (EurekaAlert)

Teachable moment?: Pay attention, healthy food advocates: A survey shows that Americans sense that food recalls are increasing, and a quarter of respondents anticipate making long-term changes as a result. (Brownfield; survey results-PDF)

California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez proposes bill to ban tail docking of cows (Brownfield)

Pesticide using diatomaceous earth receives organic certification
(Capital Press)

One Responseto “Digest – News: Dairy cows on the moove, Big Corn throwdown, a locavore loses it”

  1. On the locavore who loses it, something that would have made this experiment easier is not being vegan and to focus on a more natural diet – we are omnivores. Veganism is not sustainable, especially in our northern climate. Pastured livestock are able to turn foods we can not eat into high quality proteins, lipids, minerals and vitamins that it is difficult or impossible to get year round up here. A vegan diet substitute pills and imported foods to make up for this but it is not local and it is not sustainable. A little pasture raised meat would go a long ways toward solving this. Meat is an excellent way to store food for the winter.