Tag Archives | USDA

World Must Be About To End: USDA Promotes Meatless Mondays

A searingly hot summer that’s affecting 88% of the United States’ corn crop has the government forecasting meat prices up to 5% higher next year. Perhaps that what caused the USDA, normally a staunch meat booster, to promote Meatless Mondays. This seemingly sage advice (vegetables are farm crops too, remember) to take a weekly day off from meat has many Americans even more hot and bothered. Amy Harmon reports for the New York Times:

The message seemed innocuous enough, coming as it did from the federal agency tasked with promoting sustainable agriculture and dietary health: “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias,” read a United States Department of Agriculture interoffice newsletter published on its Web site this week, “is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative.”

Thousands of corporate cafeterias, restaurants and schools have embraced the idea of skipping meat on Mondays in favor of vegetarian options, an initiative of the nonprofit Monday Campaign Inc.

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Big Food Companies Corrupting Organic Standards

Texarkana Roadtrip (CC)

The organic food movement in the United States has become a victim of its own success, with corporate food giants buying up most of the successful organic brands and dominating the standards board, writes Stephanie Strom in the New York Times:

Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and “whole earth” grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food — or as he might have it, so-called organic food — has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store.

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USDA’s Wildlife Services Has Killed Over 50,000 Harmless Animals (Including Bald Eagles)

Fair to say there is a serious problem within government when it accidentally kills a symbol of its country…? Disturbing report from Tom Knudson in the Sacramento Bee:

…in most cases, they have officially revealed little or no detail about where the creatures were killed, or why. But a Bee investigation has found the agency’s practices to be indiscriminate, at odds with science, inhumane and sometimes illegal.

The Bee’s findings include:

• With steel traps, wire snares and poison, agency employees have accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 that were not problems, including federally protected golden and bald eagles; more than 1,100 dogs, including family pets; and several species considered rare or imperiled by wildlife biologists.

• Since 1987, at least 18 employees and several members of the public have been exposed to cyanide when they triggered spring-loaded cartridges laced with poison meant to kill coyotes. They survived – but 10 people have died and many others have been injured in crashes during agency aerial gunning operations over the same time period.

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Is Your Favorite Ice Cream Made with Monsanto’s Artificial Hormones?

Ice Cream dessert 02Monsanto has been in the news again, with a U.S. District Court ruling that the USDA has to at least go through the motions of regulating the company’s genetically engineered sugar beets. Monsanto, you may know, is not likely to win any contests for the most popular company. In fact, it has been called the most hated corporation in the world—which is saying something, given the competition from the likes of BP, Halliburton, and Goldman Sachs.

This has gotten me thinking about, of all things, ice cream, and of how Monsanto’s clammy paws can be found in some of the most widely sold ice cream brands in the country. These brands could break free from Monsanto’s clutches. So far they haven’t, but maybe this is about to change.

Ben & Jerry’s gets all their milk from dairies that have pledged not to inject their cows with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH).… Read the rest

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Congress Declares Pizza A Vegetable For School Lunches

pizzaPizza contains two tablespoons of tomato paste and thus will remain the healthy, vegetable portion of children’s lunch across the nation. The move draws criticism from nutritionists but kudos from the head of the American Frozen Food Institute, reports MSNBC:

Congress wants to keep pizza and french fries on school lunch lines, fighting back against an Obama administration proposal to make school lunches healthier.

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year, which included limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line and delaying limits on sodium and delaying a requirement to boost whole grains. The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. USDA had wanted to prevent that.

Food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes, and some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.

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Scientist Warns That Roundup Ready GM Seeds Could Cause Crop Collapse

Roundup_herbicide_logo

The Institute of Science in Society‘s Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports that a USDA senior scientist has sent an “emergency” warning to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding a new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock:

An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US [1, 2]. The letter, written by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”

The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorize unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1 February, in the hope of convincing the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium instead on deregulation of Roundup Ready (RR) crops.

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USDA Report Shows Rocketing Food Prices – Global Revolution?

source: www.fao.org

source: www.fao.org

The back story to the revolutionary overthrow of longstanding dictatorships in the Middle East is that the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, et al couldn’t afford even basic foods and weren’t going to stand for the elites hoarding all their countries’ resources any longer.

The U.S Dept. of Agriculture’s Outlook Forum suggests that syrocketing food prices will continue, with possibly disastrous consequences around the world. Adam Gordon analyzes the situation for Forbes:

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual “Outlook Forum” in Washington D.C., usually draws a polite trickle of insiders and commodities traders, but on February 24 the forum’s venue was overrun with 2,000 attendees.

At the event, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber warned of record farm prices for corn, wheat, and soyabeans for 2011, and resulting US food inflation of at least 4% this year and next as prices work their way through the supply chain.

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Legal War Starts Against GM Alfalfa Seeds

Roundup_herbicide_logoI’m sure I’m not the only one who feels utterly betrayed by the Obama Administration’s capitulation to corporate interests — Monsanto and the agribusiness giants in this case — in approving the use of genetically-modified “Roundup Ready” alfalfa seeds without any meaningful protections for organic and non-GM farming. Fortunately there is a very strong litigation culture in the United States. I encourage everyone to join the battle to reverse the U.S. Government’s decision. UPI reports on the first legal salvo:

Washington is endangering consumer and farmer rights and hurting the environment by green-lighting genetically modified alfalfa, a public-health group said.

Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell of the non-profit Center for Food Safety vowed to seek a court order immediately reversing and voiding the U.S. Agriculture Department’s approval of “Roundup Ready” alfalfa — the fourth Roundup Ready crop approved for U.S. commercial-farming use, after soybeans, corn and cotton.

“We will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment and consumer choice,” Kimbrell said.

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