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Archive for the 'Food Safety' Category

Democrats Take Control: Push Biotech

Monday, November 20th, 2006

The two Democrats poised to take control of the House and Senate Ag Committees are both signatories to a recent letter that reads in part:

The EU has avoided for too long its WTO obligations … The illegal discrimination against biotech products on nonscientific grounds must cease.

Welcome Senator Harkin. Welcome Representative Peterson. We’re so glad you’re back in charge and working on the important things first.

The outgoing chairs were also signatories to the letter.

State GMO Bills

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

In Vermont the Governor is set to veto a bill that would allow farmers to sue manufacturers of genetically modified seeds for damages if their crops are contaminated by the GMOs. The Governor says that he is worried that the bill would discourage seed companies from selling their seeds in the state. The biotech industry opposes the bill, but says that they would continue to sell seed in the state if the bill became law.

At least the state legislature in Vermont sent this bill to the Governor’s desk and not the premeption bill that is being sent to a number of other Governor’s desks.

Pharma Crops, Farmers and Rural Communities

Monday, December 12th, 2005

A new report written by Iowa State Economics Professor Robert Wisner and commissioned by the Union for Concerned Scientists examines the potential benefits and risks of pharmaceutical crops for farmers and rural communities. The report website is here.

To gain support for pharma crop production at the state level and state subsidies for their industry, pharma crop proponents have touted the substantial benefits that these new crops would bring to farmers and rural America. However, these claims were never backed up by economic analyses.

To fill this gap, UCS commissioned Dr. Robert Wisner, University Professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, to take a close look at the economic benefits and risks of pharma crops to growers and rural communities. Dr. Wisner, one of the nation’s leading agricultural economists, found some drug and biotechnology companies may profit from “pharma crops,” but farmers and rural communities are likely to see few if any benefits.

After careful review of Dr. Wisner’s report, UCS concludes that pharma crop proponents’ claims are inflated and, importantly, whatever benefits do materialize, most farmers will not be major beneficiaries.

I’m reading through the report summary now, and it seems to be well done.

Bacteria Plumes

Monday, December 12th, 2005

In the latest issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene there is an article on bacterial plumes that emanate from the air surrounding swine confinement operations (no link yet). The researchers measured bacteria in the air plume at upwind and downwind locations around confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The data show a marked increase in bacterial CFUs/m3 inside the facility (18,132 CFU/m3 average) versus upwind (63 CFU/m3 average) and a steady downwind decrease out to approximately 150 m. Staphylococcus aureus was found to account for 76% of the organisms recovered.

Attempts to litigate against CAFOs based on the nuisance of unpleasant odors have had mixed success in the courts. Perhaps cases based on excess bacterial loads in the air would be more successful.

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