News bites
Sound Consumer | September 2004


Omega-3 oils

Young adults who consume a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids may be less prone to hostility. A team of U.S. researchers says the results could mean a reduced risk of heart attack, too. The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is part of the evidence that polyunsaturated essential fatty acids may play a role in mental health. (Whole Foods magazine)


Banning ads to kids

A bill to be introduced in the British Parliament would outlaw snack food ads aimed at children. The bill would also require the Food Standards Agency to classify foods as "healthy" or "unhealthy" and require the government to find ways to promote the consumption of healthy foods. Any food deemed unhealthy could not be marketed to children. (Food Marketing Institute)


Certified "predator-friendly"

About a dozen ranchers across the United States are certified by the Predator Conservation Alliance as producing "predator-friendly" meat or wool. The certification involves a refusal to kill natural predators and taking steps to avoid predator conflict. (The New York Times/Associated Press)


USDA rules

A U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian and an attorney representing federal veterinarians are charging USDA officials with pressuring vets to sign documents that falsely certify food items as safe for export. An export certificate confirms a food item produced in the United States was prepared in accordance with the requirements of foreign countries.

One agency veterinarian, who works as a meat inspector, was reprimanded for refusing to sign an export certificate he thought was false. He said USDA management will take punitive actions against employees who question the validity of export certificates or agency policy.

"They have suspended one veterinarian and have pressured others when they balked at signing certificates that were not truthful," said Bill Hughes, an attorney for the National Association of Federal Veterinarians in Washington, D.C., a group that represents 80 percent of the 900 veterinarians. (Agri-business Examiner)


Factory farm pollution

There's evidence that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was influenced by the livestock industry when creating a pollution control plan for factory farms. The GRACE Factory Farm Project and other environmental groups have charged that the administration held closed-door meetings with the livestock and poultry industry when developing an air quality control plan for so-called "Confined Animal Feeding Operations."

According to e-mail documents obtained by the Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act, industry lobbyists even created PowerPoint presentations that were then presented by the EPA to livestock facility owners and workers. The proposed pollution control plan reportedly would exempt factory farms from lawsuits and Clean Air Act violations, allowing them to continue polluting surrounding communities. Critics also say industry activity would be monitored by "third parties" paid by the meat industry. (Agribusiness Examiner)


Drought in the West

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey say that the drought gripping the West could be the worst in 500 years, with effects in the Colorado River basin considerably worse than during the Dust Bowl years. The Colorado River is showing the lowest flow ever on record, about half the annual flow during the Dust Bowl years, 1930 to 1937. The river's highest flow this century was from 1905 to 1922, the years used to calculate how much water Western states should receive under a regional plan. Environmental groups want the water distribution refigured. (Associated Press)


Politics of tuna

In a strongly worded opinion, a federal judge in California ruled that the Commerce Department is not allowed to reduce standards commercial fisheries must meet to use the "dolphin-safe" label on tuna. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled the agency participated in "a pattern of delay and inattention." He also said the lack of scientific evidence in the Commerce Department's case illustrated "a compelling portrait of political meddling" influenced by international trade concerns. (Contra Costa Times /Associated Press)


Food guidelines

As the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA meet to re-evaluate the country's dietary guidelines, lobbyists for various food groups are working to make sure their industry's offerings maintain or increase their presence. Some say the Food Pyramid may be completely rewritten and might take a completely different shape. Meetings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reportedly are rife with lengthy arguments over vitamin D, salt intake and the effect of fiber on stool weight. (The Wall Street Journal/Los Angeles Times)

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