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Dispatch from NC: Notes on the food crisis

It's been a whirlwind few days on the campus of North Carolina State University, where I attended "The Politics of Food," a conference organized by the Environmental Leadership Program. There's lots to report on: Panels during the three-day event ranged in topic from the role of business in a sustainable...

WT… Oh, forget it

There was little commotion in the blogosphere as the WTO's Doha Round, which had been struggling to bail out its liberalization life raft for years, finally slipped below the surface last week. I, for one, was on vacation, watching shrimpers in much sturdier boats cast their nets off of North Carolina's...

Tomatoes off the hook, FDA aims at chili peppers

On July 17, the Food and Drug Administration lifted its warning about raw tomatoes after its investigation determined that tomatoes currently in the marketplace are free of the Salmonella Saintpaul strain that has sickened over 1,200 people across 42 states. Now their attention is turning to raw jalapeño...

Salmonella in tomatoes: Know your grower so you can pick your packer

The salmonella outbreak from fresh tomatoes has sickened hundreds so far — with many more sicknesses presumably going unreported — in 36 states, and the FDA has still not identified the source of the pathogen. Sabin Russell, the San Francisco Chronicle's medical reporter, yesterday revealed that a major...

The slippery slope of banana disasters

Did you know your great-grandparents grew up peeling an entirely different kind of banana than we do now? They ate the Gros Michel banana, a variety that everyone apparently liked much better than today's ubiquitous Cavendish. What happened? Writes Dan Koeppel — author of "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That...

The banana situation in Montreal

While trying to base my entire diet on food that is grown, raised, and produced close to where I live in Montreal, there are a few items that I have decided simply to eat regardless of their source. At the top of that list sits the banana. I love bananas. Whether they are in my cereal, blended into my...

Fighting climate change: Food miles vs. food choices

If you want to fight global warming with your diet, it is better to change what you eat than where it comes from, according to a recently published article in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology.* Analysis by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, professors in the Department...

Brazil prepares to retaliate against U.S. cotton subsidies

The U.S. Farm Bill that was finally enacted into law last week did little to change farm subsidy policies, despite unprecedented political pressure from a variety of activist groups and individual citizens. But where small groups failed, an international agency and foreign government might have more...

New European chemical safety regulations reach around the world

The European Union is changing the rules for chemicals, requiring that industry demonstrate that a chemical is safe before using it in consumer products such as cosmetics, food packaging, water bottles, and durable goods. This approach, sometimes called "the precautionary principle," is in stark contrast to...

The politics of world food shortages

Note: The comprehensive Digests are on hiatus for the foreseeable future. While we figure how to make them less onerous, we plan to post more news-related short(ish) snippets in addition to our regular feature-length posts. In today's New York Times, Andy Martin reports from Rome on an emergency summit...

“Climate-ready” seeds: Every cloud has a golden lining for these profiteers

Claire Hope Cummings is the author of the new book "Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds." An environmental lawyer for 20 years, including four spent with the USDA, Cummings reports regularly on agriculture and the environment for national media outlets; she has also farmed in...

Déjà chew: The food price crisis in context

We are pleased to be able to share this piece by Daryll E. Ray, who holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy at the University of Tennessee and directs UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC). He is perhaps best known for lead-authoring “Rethinking U.S. Agriculture Policy:...

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