Sound Consumer | May 2007
Irradiated vs. pasteurized
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a rule to revise regulations on labeling irradiated foods. Under the proposal, companies would have to label irradiated food only when the treatment causes a “material change” to the product. FDA also is proposing to let companies use the term “pasteurized” to describe irradiated foods. (Associated Press)
Forests vs. timber
The value of Washington’s forests is more than the value of its trees. Many mushrooms, for instance, such as chanterelles, morels and oysters, grow wild in forests where they are a source of agritourism, while oysters and shiitakes are cultivated on timber and timber byproducts. Mushrooms bring in more than $17 million per year and rank 28th in value among the state’s agricultural commodities. (Washington State University)
Sterilize all almonds?
Starting in September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will require all California almonds to undergo chemical fumigation with propylene oxide and/or high-temperature treatments. The only exemption is organic “raw” almonds, which won’t be fumigated but will undergo steam-heat treatment. (Cornucopia Institute)
Organic kiwi advantage
Researchers at the University of California Davis are reporting an organic advantage in kiwi. They grew two plots of kiwi, side by side, one organic, the other using pesticides and chemical fertilizer. The organic kiwi had 18 percent more polyphenols, which are associated with reduced cholesterol and improved circulation. They also had a 27 percent higher level of antioxidants, which help protect against damage to cellular structures and DNA. (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture)
Warm winters hurt maple sugar industry
In Vermont, global warming is wreaking havoc on the sugar maple industry. Warmer-than-usual winters are causing the sap to rise in sugar maple trees almost a month earlier than 10 years ago. Some sugar makers say they fear for the survival of New England’s maple forests. (The New York Times)
Shareholders challenge Dean Foods/Horizon Organics
For the second year in a row, socially concerned investors in Dean Foods have filed a shareholder proposal asking management to address concerns about “factory farms” that provide milk for the Horizon Organic brand. Dean Foods is appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission to prevent shareholders from voting on the proposal. Farms owned by Dean Foods in Idaho and Maryland are under investigation by the USDA. (The Cornucopia Institute)
Hawaii to ban GE coffee and taro?
The Hawaii State House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit outdoor planting of genetically engineered coffee. The Hawaiian Senate passed a 10-year ban against planting and research on GMO taro, a staple crop. Both, however, died before final approval. (Ecological Farming Organization)
GE cotton failing
A study conducted by Cornell University found that genetically engineered “Bt” cotton is failing in China; farmers are incurring losses rather than making profits.
Researchers found that Bt cotton cut pesticide use significantly the first three years but then farmers had to spray as much as anyone and their average income was eight percent less, partly because Bt seed costs three times more than normal seed. After seven years, pest populations increased so much that farmers had to spray their crops up to 20 times per season. (Gene Campaign, Delhi, India)
GE alfalfa seed sales stopped
A federal judge has vacated the USDA’s approval of genetically engineered “Roundup Ready™” alfalfa and ordered an immediate halt to sales of the seed. The injunction ordered by Judge Charles Breyer in the northern district of California follows his ruling in March that the USDA violated environmental laws by approving the alfalfa without a full Environmental Impact Statement. (Center for Food Safety)