Each time I receive FEED, I'm astonished by how much of our food supply is manipulated and how little we know of this. As a result, I'm now posting the newsletter from the Union of Concerned Scientists so that those of you who are also concerned can be more informed about what actually is going on. PR
FEED – Food & Environment Electronic Digest - October 2007
USDA fails to solve mystery of contaminated rice
Certified organic farmland in U.S. is growing
Genetically engineered crop pesticide hurts aquatic insects
Aurora Organic Dairy flouted organic rules
A new, drug-resistant strain of E. coli in Britain
1. USDA fails to solve mystery of contaminated rice
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) still doesn't know how rice destined for human consumption was contaminated by an unapproved genetically engineered variety in 2006. (See FEED stories from last September and last December.) The USDA blamed missing records for its failure to find answers after an investigation that consumed 14 months and 8,500 staff hours and included 45 site visits in six states. The agency has also said it will take no enforcement action against Bayer CropScience, the company that developed the experimental rice. The contamination has taken a tremendous economic toll on U.S. rice growers and exporters. Because the USDA does no routine testing and does not require companies to keep records, more such incidents are expected. Read an article in The Washington Post, or read the USDA’s press release.
2. Certified organic farmland in U.S. is growing
The United States now has more than four million acres of organic farmland, including some in every state, according to USDA data. Read more . . .
3. Genetically engineered crop pesticide hurts aquatic insects
Genetically engineered crops that produce Bt pesticide may significantly impact ecologically important aquatic insects. Scientists discovered that the insects, caddisfly larvae, were feeding on Bt corn pollen that washed into streams from nearby fields. The team then fed Bt corn pollen and leaves to two species of caddisfly larvae in the lab, and found that it reduced the growth rate of one species by more than half and killed another species. The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates Bt crops, has never required testing for harm to aquatic insects. Because caddisfly larvae are an important food source for fish and other organisms, this previously unknown impact of Bt corn may be a serious problem. Read the abstract in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
4. Aurora Organic Dairy flouted organic rules
A USDA investigation found that the country's largest organic dairy, Aurora Organic Dairy, was violating the federal rules of organic production. Read more . . .
5. A new, drug-resistant strain of E. coli in Britain
In England and Wales, around 30,000 people a year are infected with a new strain of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. The new strain, an extended-spectrum B-lactamase (ESBL)-producing strain that causes urinary tract infections and can also lead to blood poisoning, is also starting to show up in U.S. hospitals. According to one expert, it is more dangerous than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Doctors have few drugs available to treat such infections. The problem of antibiotic resistance is growing worldwide, in part due to agricultural practices that feed antibiotics to animals that are not sick. Read more from The Daily Telegraph.