News bites, August 2007 | PCC Sound Consumer | PCC Natural Markets

News bites
Sound Consumer | August 2007

Organic dairy decertified

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has suspended the organic certification of an industrial-scale dairy in California. The Vander Eyk dairy near Fresno keeps 10,000 cows and had been charged in a series of legal complaints with violating the spirit and letter of organic laws. The dairy lost its ability to sell its milk as organic after receiving a notice of suspension from its USDA-accredited certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI). (Cornucopia Institute)

Contaminated food: USDA knew

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly knew for years about food safety problems that eventually killed three people, sickened hundreds, and forced one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history.

Documents and interviews show the FDA had reports of salmonella contamination at a Georgia peanut butter plant in 2004 and 2005, but when company managers refused to provide requested documents, the inspectors didn’t follow up. The FDA apparently also knew of 19 E. coli outbreaks since 1995 at California spinach farms, but relied on producers to police themselves voluntarily. (Washington Post)

Aspartame not safe?

The FDA says there’s no immediate need to review the safety of aspartame, better known as Nutrasweet or Equal. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for a review, based on a new study by Italian researchers. The study of more than 4,000 rats showed that a lifetime of consuming the artificial sweetener raised the likelihood of several cancers, especially leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer. (MSNBC/Reuters)

Pharma-rice has human genes

The USDA has approved a field trial permit for Ventria Biosciences to grow rice that’s genetically modified with human genes to produce experimental drugs. The permit was granted despite 20,000 comments in opposition from citizens, scientists, farming and rice groups and only 29 comments in support. The permit allows cultivation of up to 3,200 acres of the drug rice in the Junction City, Kan., area. (Union of Concerned Scientists/Ecological Farming Association)

Maine regulates big-box stores

Maine’s governor has signed a law meant to restrict the spread of Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers. The law requires developers of stores bigger than 75,000 square feet to conduct studies on the impact to municipal services, the environment and local businesses. A proposed store cannot be approved if it’s likely to cause an “undue adverse impact” on more than one of those concerns. Lawmakers in six states have considered similar legislation in the past two years. (The Wall Street Journal)

Respect the dandelion

A well-known and respected herbalist says that when she visits clients for a consultation, she first walks the property where they live to see what plants are growing. Nine times out of 10, those plants are what the client needs. Dandelion, for instance, is one of the most effective detoxifying herbs, assisting the liver to process the pollution and toxins that surround us everyday. The flower essence of dandelion helps people who are on the go to slow down, release tension and find balance in life. (Honey Gardens Apiaries)

Brain tumors linked to pesticides

Agricultural workers exposed to high levels of pesticides — and people who use pesticides on houseplants — more than double their risk of brain tumors, according to research from France. The findings were based on analysis of 221 cases of brain tumors in the Bordeaux wine-growing region, where most pesticides used are fungicides. The study was conducted by the French Institute of Public Health, Epidemiology and Development. (

Cinnamon keeps blood sugar levels down, study finds

A new study confirms that cinnamon may help control blood sugar levels, a finding of potential importance for treating diabetes. Dr. Joanna Hlebowicz and her colleagues at Malmo University Hospital in Sweden measured blood sugar levels in 14 healthy volunteers before and after eating a bowl of rice pudding. Those who added a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon to their pudding had more moderate blood sugar increases. Cinnamon apparently slows the rate that food passes from the stomach to the intestines. (Reuters)

Let food be your medicine

Women who get most of their calcium from food have healthier bones than women who rely on supplemental tablets, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Apparently this is true even though women who take supplements have a higher average calcium intake. Foods rich in calcium include sardines, sesame seeds, almonds, spinach, kale, cheese and yogurt. (

More about: calcium, cinnamon, dairy, GE crops, pesticides, recalls