Digest – News: Antibiotics in byproducts fed to cows, Sebelius lobbied to veto milk labeling bill
It was a very busy week for the Ethicurean bees, and we had to skip the weekend Digest. So some of these links may be a tad moldy, but hey — expiration dates are for sissies. Send your tasty news links to dig...@ethicurean.com.
Distilling madness: We've written before about antibiotic-resistant superbugs that emerge on our meat or in our produce because the meds are over-used, but here's one we hadn't heard before: antibiotics, specifically penicillin and virginiamycin, play an important role in the process of fermenting corn into ethanol. A byproduct of the ethanol-making process, called distillers grains, is fed to cattle — and in addition to being a critical part of the whole shaky system's economics, may provide them with an extra drug boost along with the carbs. (Grist)
The final act: Both houses of the Kansas legislature approve a bill restricting dairy farmers and processors from labeling their products as free of bovine growth hormones. (Lawrence Journal World & News; Kansas City Pitch) Anti-GMO activist Jeffery Smith urges us to tell Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, to veto the bill before she hits the road to DC. (Huffington Post)
Food not lawns!: Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is planning to turn the formal gardens in front of City Hall into vegetable gardens about twice as big as Michelle Obama's White House one. "This was being planned before the White House," said Dixon, firmly. "We are not copying!" Crops will benefit Our Daily Bread, which feeds 700 to 800 people a day. (Baltimore Sun)
Blame it on Kentucky: For the first time, the U.S. geological survey identifies the top contributors to nutrient overload in the Mississippi River, which causes the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Agriculture is the culprit, but impacts vary by state. Kentucky, which has no nutrient standards for its waterways, is one of the worst contributors, but corn kings Illinois and Indiana surpass it. (USGS via sustainablebusiness.com)
Vend for yourselves: The Senate hearings on school nutrition re-authorization are showing that Tom Harkin, at least, is entertaining a whole new approach to school food — including that sold in vending machines. (Gourmet.com
PETA is the least of your problems, dude: The beef industry converges upon central PA for their annual Beef Expo, where a spokesman for the National Cattleman's Beef Association contends that "the biggest threat we face today is from animal-rights activist groups. They are real and they are here." (Lancaster Farming)
All fired up about infant formula: Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control find that some types of infant formula - namely, those that are made from cow's milk and contain lactose - contain traces of perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel that has been shown to cause thyroid deficiency. Perchlorate is already a known contaminant of many U.S. water sources, and mixing formula with contaminated water would raise babies' exposure. (Journal of Exposure Science and Enviro Epi, via SF Examiner)
Don't look at me, deer: Many California produce companies encourage growers to trap, poison, or otherwise keep wildlife off their farms out of fear that the animals could harbor E. coli (the 2006 spinach outbreak may have been linked to a pathogen-carrying wild pig), but a study by the state suggests that might be a big mistake. Less than 0.5% of all wildlife tested were positive for E. coli. (None of the positives were deer, a species listed as "risky" under California's Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.) (CDFG news release; more info in this post)
One giant leap for the USDA: The Senate has approved Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, who pioneered organic ag in previous positions in and outside of government, as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Reuters; background in this post)
Berkeley Farmers’ Market First in Nation to Ban Plastic Bags, Packaging (Berkeley Daily Planet)
New research links childhood brain cancer to pesticide use (Environmental Health News)
Contamination scares have consumers looking closer to home for their food (Marin Independent Journal)
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