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Digest – News: The California conundrum, Monsanto at large, and tuna testing (not to be tried at home)

A new growth export market - the revolving door: U.S. government agencies are imploring foreign countries to bring their food safety regulations up to the (arguably pretty low) U.S. par, but the buck doesn't stop there: countries like India are being pushed to develop regulations on GM crops, industrial...

Digest – News: Salmon synergy, Whole Foods less whole, rotation’s right

Slammed by synergism: Researchers expose juvenile coho salmon to combinations of commonly-used agricultral pesticides. For two-thirds of the pesticide combinations, they find that the effect of the combination is greater than the sum of the impacts of the individual pesticides (i.e. the combo has...

Digest – Features and blogs: No flies on me, tomato realities, Osterholm revolves

The 'fix' is in: Sources say that the Obama Administration will nominate Michael Osterholm to head the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service on Monday, in clear violation of its own anti-revolving-door policy. Osterholm is a longtime supporter of food irradiation, but that's not all - if you have any...

Down (and out) on the farm: When even the good years don’t look so good

In late 2006, I was driving by corn fields in eastern Iowa when Tom Ashbrook's  NPR show "On Point" came on the radio. The topic was ethanol. Among the commentators was an ag economist from Iowa State -- which seems to produce ag economists at a rate close to that at which Iowa produces corn -- who...

Digest – Blogs, etc.: Frogs in the coal mine, what the government’s not telling us

Don't ask, don't tell: Tom Philpott wonders why, after two studies released last month showed detectable levels of mercury in products containing high fructose corn syrup, the FDA by its own admission has no plans to look into the issue. How nice that the agency would rather trust the claims of an industry...

Digest: Vilsack’s tightrope, the urban bounty, and a new era for “micro-farms”

Music to our ears: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who some in the good-food movement have blasted for his ties to agribusiness, sounds a sweet note by calling for a "new day" for the agency in which it serves both farmers and the nation's 300 million eaters. Is it all talk, or will we see some action?...

Digest – News: Peanut crime spree, spinach gets zapped, lonely locusts

Busting a nut: With the list of recalled peanut products topping 400, the Department of Justice begins a criminal investigation of the processing company behind it. The Food and Drug Act prohibits companies from knowingly transporting contaminated products across state lines, something the Peanut...

PR debacle for HFCS: Care for some mercury with your oatmeal?

That much-debated sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, is going to need more than a pricey PR campaign to fix this one. After one set of scientists found mercury — yes, everyone's favorite brain-impairing element — in almost half of commercial HFCS, another bunch of scientists decided to get specific and...

Taxing cows to curb climate change

When you fill your car's tank, you pay a gas tax. Someday, when you fill your belly with cheese, milk, or steak, you might have to pay another type of gas tax — one levied on the methane and nitrous oxide emitted by the cows that produced or became your food. Bacteria in a cow's gut help digest what the cow...

Dope shit: Who to thank, and why, for antibiotics in your veggies

Manure, my favorite topic of conversation (particularly at parties), is pretty awesome. It has been a staple crop fertilizer virtually since humankind began cultivating its own food. It's everything synthetic fertilizer wishes it could be: Chock full of nutrients, it is — assuming you raise animals —...

Stirring up some shit: New report on federal funding for factory farms’ waste and other programs

Agriculture policy in this country has been geared for 30-odd years toward one goal: the production of ever-cheaper food. But as is by now painfully obvious, cheap food has foisted its real costs onto the environment, public health, workers and animals. Taxpayers bear that burden indirectly in the form of...

Produce perversions part 1: Living with the underbelly

Updated on 11/29 to clarify that perchlorate is from rocket fuel, not jet fuel. Thanks, Marc! (I admit that I thought they were the same thing; that is why I do not work for a defense logistics company.) 2008 has been, let's just say it, a pretty lousy year for food safety. Southern California meatpacker...

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