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News for May 14, 2010

Doyle wavers on signing raw milk bill

Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday he is "listening closely" to opponents of pending legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk to consumers.

By an overwhelming margin, the state Legislature passed the bill sought by some farmers and consumers who believe that raw, unpasteurized milk has qualities that boost the immune system and can cure a plethora of ailments.

Opponents said the bill raises multiple safety issues because unpasteurized milk may carry pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses.

Earlier, Doyle indicated he would sign the raw milk legislation, under the right circumstances.

READ MORE (Milwaukee Journal Sentinal)]

Organic Food: Dear Mr. President, Go Organic!

What is amazing is that I wasn't the one to tell him this, nor was the first lady (although she quite likely already has). It was the President's Cancer Panel, working under the auspices of the National Cancer Institution. But, they were not just telling him to eat organic foods, they are recommending all of us "to choose, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers." This is not the Coalition for Alternative to Pesticides talking, but the President's Cancer Panel! (Be still my beating heart!)

Why are they saying this? And why are they sounding like they have been reading my book (Clean, Green and Lean)? Because they have actually been reviewing the same research that I have been studying for the last few decades. Multiple published studies have revealed the relationship of small daily doses of environmental toxins to health. In this case, the panel was looking directly at cancer risk.

READ MORE (Huffington Post)]

Generic Foods Investigation: Just How Organic is Your Organic Beef?

Last week we started looking into where private-label organic beef comes from after a reader turned us on to a source in the beef industry. The source told us that some large private-label organic dairies might be selling meat from older dairy cows as organic beef. We’re continuing to follow that story, and this week spoke with Mark Kastel at the Cornucopia Institute, an organic food watchdog group.

Cornucopia was the organization that first drew press and regulatory attention to the practices of Aurora Organic Dairy, one of the largest suppliers of private-label organic dairy milk, which it found to be in violation of organic standards. The organization has been focused on the organic milk industry for the last few years, but Kastel says they are now gearing up to dig into the organic beef and poultry markets, where he says there is “a lot of abuse, especially in private-label.”

READ MORE (The Faster Times)]

What Does It Mean to be "Organic?"

Mike Anderson grew up in the suburbs. He hadn't really intended to be a farmer. But, in college, he spent some quality time on a research farm. Now, he's a full-time agriculturalist with five acres near Sunbury. Sundog Special Crops harvests blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, peas, beans and even sunflowers. And all his products carry a very special label: "Certified Organic."

"Each year, for the past 10 or 12 years, we've seen 15- to 20-percent growth in the demand for organic produce. And this is a market that is not being met," Mike says.

READ MORE (NBC, Columbus, OH)]

USDA Approves Planting of Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus in U.S. South

On May 12, 2010, the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a decision to approve two permit applications for the planting of more than one quarter million genetically engineered (GE), freeze-tolerant eucalyptus trees across seven states in the U.S. South.

The decision allows ArborGen, a forestry research & development firm that is a joint venture of International Paper, MeadWestvaco Corp., and New Zealand’s Rubicon Ltd., to continue its work on genetically engineering commercially desirable traits in eucalyptus species. In the permitted plantings, ArborGen is researching cold tolerance, the alteration of lignin biosynthesis, and the alteration of fertility. The permits authorize the confined planting of the eucalyptus trees on 29 sites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, and allowing trees to flower on 28 of the sites.

READ MORE (Going Green)]

Investigation Update: Multistate Outbreak of Human E. coli O145 Infections Linked to Shredded Romaine Lettuce from a Single Processing Facility

Local and state public health officials in Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee are investigating human illnesses caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) O145. CDC is supporting these investigations and facilitating regular communication and information sharing between the states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As of May 11, 2010, a total of 23 confirmed and 7 probable cases related to this outbreak have been reported from 4 states since March 1, 2010. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is: MI (10 confirmed and 3 probable), NY (4 confirmed and 3 probable), OH (8 confirmed and 1 probable), and TN (1 confirmed).

Among the confirmed and probable cases with reported dates available, illnesses began between April 10, 2010 and April 26, 2010. Infected individuals range in age from 13 years old to 31 years old and the median age is 19 years. Sixty-six percent of patients are male.

READ MORE (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)]

Feds tell court they can decide what you eat

Attorneys for the federal government have argued in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Iowa that individuals have no "fundamental right" to obtain what food they choose.

The brief was filed April 26 in support of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ban on the interstate sale of raw milk.

"There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds," states the document signed by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, assistant Martha Fagg and Roger Gural, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

READ MORE (World Net Daily)]

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