Digest – News: Meat on the move, the chains of biotech, resources for organic

Drop it like it’s hot: Brazilian beef giant JBS, which snagged Smithfield’s beef business last March, abandoned plans to purchase U.S. National Beef Packing Co. on Friday. The JBS/National Beef merger was under anti-trust investigation by the Justice Department, which celebrated JBS’ decision and claimed that now, “competition and competitive pricing will continue in the industry.” Right – because now 4 companies can control 80% of the market, instead of only three. (Arkansas Morning News)

Came a (GMO) cropper: University scientists have filed a complaint with the EPA stating that biotech companies are limiting the research they can do independently on genetically modified crops. Really? We never would have guessed. (New York Times)

Bringing home the bacon?: The cold shoulder that Niman Ranch founder Bill Niman has given the company since it merged with Chicago’s Natural Food Holdings LLC last month raises an important question: Can idealism ever pay? It hadn’t for Niman — his company never turned a profit in 30 years of operation — but he hasn’t given up hope. (SF Chronicle)

In my backyard, please: Amateur beekeepers may be stewarding the reservoir of biodiversity needed to restore health to devastated commercial bee populations. And as luck would have it, backyard beekeeping is becoming more and more popular. In some circles, it’s known as “farming for intellectuals” – uh, since when were farmers not included in that category? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Organic 2.0: A new website from the Cooperative Extension Service offers resources for organic farmers and others interested in learning everything from how to get certified to “how to promote mycorrhizae on your farm” (hopefully you know what that means; we don’t.) You can browse articles, find out about conferences, ask an Extension Service expert your burning questions, watch organic clips on YouTube, or even follow extension agents on Twitter. Just goes to show that organic really is cutting edge. (U.S. Cooperative Extension Service – thanks, John!)

Drowning their sorrows in… mineral water?: Just in time for the recession, French President Sarkozy’s ministry of health has instructed its countrymen and women to go dry – that is, give up their beloved wine – in order to reduce their risk of cancer. Other items on the give-up list include red meat, charcuterie and salt. As you can guess, the directive is not going over well. (The Times (UK))

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