Digest – News: Plastics make kids fat, North Star stars in food safety, peanut payout
Chemical reaction: A long term study by Mount Sinai Medical Center on children in East Harlem links exposure to a class of chemicals called phthalates — found in products that list "fragrance" as an ingredient, and in soft plastics — with childhood obesity. The study found that the heaviest children had the highest levels of phthalates in their urine. In trying to find the causes of obesity, the 10-year study took into account factors like pesticide exposure, diet, and proximity to bodegas. (EPA/Mt. Sinai via NY Times)
We're watching your gut: Minnesota consistently reports disproportionately high rates of food-related disease, but that's probably because the state has a model surveillance system. For that, we can all be grateful: "If not for the Minnesota Department of Health, the Peanut Corporation of America might still be selling salmonella-laced peanuts, Dole might still be selling contaminated lettuce, and ConAgra might still be selling dangerous Banquet brand pot pies." North Star State indeed. (NY Times)
Farmers take one for the (despicable) team: Peanut Corp. of America may be out of business, but the ramifications of the recall it caused — the largest in U.S. history — are still echoing through the barns of Georgia's peanut farms. Consumers afraid of peanut products have rejected even those that come from local sources, and the ultimate cost to farmers and farm-chain businesses could top $1 billion. (Southeast Farm Press)
Inside the cornbeltway: AgSec Vilsack has picked a fellow Iowan, Kevin Concannon — Iowa's former state human services director — to serve as undersecretary for food and nutrition services, overseeing food stamps, school lunches, and other federal nutrition programs. (Des Moines Register) Grist's Tom Laskaway is underwhelmed.
Is yellow really the new green? California law requires the state to reduce the amount of carbon emitted from its transportation sector by 10% between now and 2020. As the saying goes, what gets measured gets improved — so the state's Air Resources Board is working to measure the carbon output of ethanol compared to conventional fuel. It may rule later this week that corn-based ethanol doesn't make the grade. Increased demand for corn could drive deforestation in other countries, and fewer trees = less carbon sequestration. If you factor that into the equation, corn-based ethanol pales in comparison to other alternative energy sources. (The Daily Climate - thanks, Stephanie!)
GMO roundup (ready or not): The American Soybean Association applauds Korea's decision to allow biotech soybean imports, clearing the way for "unrestricted plantings in the United States" for export (GreenBio); India expects GM brinjal (eggplant) seeds to "flood the market" by the end of this year (The Hindu); two US companies announce they will develop salt-tolerant sorghum, a feed crop grown on over 100 million acres worldwide (Reuters); a new Roundup-Ready-resistant pest, pigweed, is chomping its way across Sun Belt cotton and soybean fields (France24.com); and France announces a new 'Fed without GMOs' label for meat and poultry products, "satisfying the expectations of 86% of the French people." (Various via Irish Seed Savers)
Pesticides linked to Parkinson's, UCLA researchers find (Chicago Tribune)
Maine's small farmers call for common-sense food safety policies (The Maine Campus)
Rodale Institute organic compost powers USDA’s new People’s Garden (Rodale Institute)
David L. Chicoine, president of South Dakota State University, joins Monsanto board of directors (Monsanto press release)
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