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Myth about hormone use in poultry still spreading

Watt Ag Net | Posted on October 27, 2016

No matter how much those in the poultry industry want it to, the phrase “hormone-free chicken” just doesn’t seem like it will go away.  But the problem is, the myth about hormone use in poultry production is at least partially being perpetuated by the companies that market poultry products.  General Mills, the parent company of soup maker Progresso, is one of those companies guilty of that. In September, General Mills issued a press release stating that it is “now using only 100 percent  antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breasts in all of its 36 chicken soup varieities.”

Fast-food calorie labeling unlikely to encourage healthy eating

Feedstuffs | Posted on October 26, 2016

Researchers from New York University (NYU) have shown why fast-food menu calorie counts do not help consumers make healthy choices in a new study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.  The researchers found that only a small fraction of fast-food eaters — as few as 8% — are likely to make healthy choices as a result of current calorie labeling. The study comes just six months before a federal policy goes into effect requiring calorie labeling nationwide and provides recommendations for improving labeling that could boost the odds of diners making healthy choices.  "Health policies would benefit from greater attention to what is known about effective messaging and behavior change. The success of fast-food menu labeling depends on multiple conditions being met, not just the availability of calorie information," said study author Andrew Breck, a doctoral candidate at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Calorie labeling on fast-food restaurant menus was designed to motivate consumers to change their behavior by providing them with health information. In 2006, New York City became the first city to introduce labeling requirements for fast-food chains, followed shortly thereafter by Philadelphia, Pa., and Seattle, Wash. On May 5, 2017, calorie labeling will go into effect nationwide, as the Food & Drug Administration will require all chain restaurants with at least 20 locations to post calorie information.

Groups challenge federal approval of genetically modified salmon in court | Posted on October 24, 2016

Environmental groups head to court today to challenge a Federal Court ruling which upheld the government's earlier approval of genetically modified salmon.  "This whole approval process has taken place behind doors. There's been no engagement of Canadians on the subject should we genetically modifying animals for food'," argued Karen Wristen, of B.C.'s Living Oceans Society, one of the groups involved in the challenge.  In 2013, Environment Canada approved the production of genetically modified salmon eggs by the biotechnology company AquaBounty in a facility in P.E.I.

GMOs Are 'Safe as Conventional Choices,' says Tufts Study

Ag Pro | Posted on October 24, 2016

Genetically modified foods should be considered “as safe as conventional choices,” according to Timothy Griffin, associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program.  Griffin and 20 other scientists reviewed 900 research publications and concluded in their 398-page report that “genetically engineered crops are as safe as conventionally grown crops.” The extensive two-year review found no apparent health risk or environmental impact of growing and consuming genetically modified crops. Most Americans are familiar with the term genetically modified, or GMOs. Many producers now mark their products with a “GMO-free” label. “Claiming that a food is made without GMOs doesn’t mean that particular food is healthy, and I think that’s where some consumers get hung up,” says  Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health education specialist for University of Missouri Extension. “I like to compare genetic modification of crops to vaccines for humans. In many cases, altering the genes helps the crops fight off certain diseases and pests. Without GMOs, we wouldn’t be able to produce this volume of food that feeds the world,” says Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Hormel sued again over ‘natural’ claims

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 24, 2016

A Florida man, on behalf of a class of consumers, has filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods alleging that the company’s “100% Natural” and “No Preservatives” claims on its product labels are false and misleading, according to federal court documents. The lawsuit, filed Oct. 11 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Division, comes as the Food and Drug Administration mulls whether to formally regulate the term “natural,” which the agency now understands to be that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.”

Clean coal: Firm claims world's first commercially viable, zero-carbon power plant is 'game changer'

Independent | Posted on October 24, 2016

A revolutionary technique to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations has been shown to work on a commercially viable basis for the first time, the company behind it has claimed.  If true, the breakthrough could allow coal to continue to be burned on a large scale around the world without producing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. A 10-megawatt power station in Chennai, India, is currently using CCSL’s system to generate electricity on a commercial basis while capturing some 97 per cent of its carbon emissions. CCSL says it developed a new solvent that makes the carbon capture process up to 66 per cent cheaper than traditional methods, costing $30 per tonne of carbon compared to $60 to $90.

Warning for US egg producers: Beware of free-range hens

Watt Ag Net | Posted on October 20, 2016

Glenrath Farms has a profitable egg business, one of the U.K.’s largest, whose hens lay around 1.5 million eggs per day. John Campbell, the company's chairman, told the audience at the United Egg Producers’ Annual Board Meeting & Executive Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, on October 18, “I strongly advise any egg producer to avoid free range. It (free-range rearing for hens) is a disaster waiting to happen.”  What makes these statements remarkable is the fact that Glenrath Farms has made a lot of money supplying free-range eggs to U.K. consumers. When asked about why his company got involved in free-range egg production, given Campbell’s opinion, he said, “We did it because we made a lot of money.” He explained that while free-range production can be very profitable, it requires a lot of small flocks which are very hard to manage. Giving the hens outdoor access increases disease risk, exposes them to predators and requires more labor and management.

In push for G.M.O.s, China battles fears of 8-legged chickens

NY Times | Posted on October 20, 2016

For many in China, the term “genetically modified food” evokes nightmares: poisoned seeds, contaminated fields, apocryphal images of eight-legged chickens.  China and the global agricultural industry are betting billions of dollars that they can change those perceptions. They are starting with farmers like Li Kaishun.  Mr. Li is an agricultural thought leader. The 39-year-old millet, corn and peanut farmer in China’s eastern Shandong Province quickly adopts new techniques to bolster production, such as mixing pesticides with his seeds before he plants them as a way to reduce overall pesticide use. He rents land from local farmers, giving him 100 acres in a country where the average farm takes up only one-quarter of an acre.  The next innovation he wants: genetically modified crops. That view appeals to DuPont, the American seed giant, which offers Mr. Li and his family discounts on seed, pesticides and fertilizers to cultivate those views.  Many Chinese officials see G.M.O. science as a way to bolster production in a country where large-scale farming is still uncommon — a legacy of the Communist Revolution, when land was stripped from landlords and given to peasants. China also hopes to better feed its growing and increasingly affluent population on its own. But even if China succeeds in building a vibrant industry, it has to persuade a frightened public that genetically modified food is not another Chinese food scandal in waiting.

New Jersey Has a Bold Plan to Turn Supermarket Food Waste Into Energy

Grub Street | Posted on October 20, 2016

A new proposal by Jersey lawmakers is poised to make the Garden State a serious player in the food-waste fight. Under a bill that’s moving through the legislature, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, and other establishments that produce considerable food waste (104 tons per year at first, then 52 tons after the first three years) would be required to separate and save all leftover scraps. These scraps would then be converted into renewable energy used to power homes, schools, and businesses statewide. In terms of design, the idea is similar to the new food-waste rules in New York City, but would obviously be for the entire state of New Jersey. As the bill is currently worded, so-called “large food-waste generators” located within 25 miles of an authorized waste-to-energy facility could either ship over their unused food, or pay a fine and continue heaping it onto the $160 billion food-trash pile Americans create every year. According to statistics, New Jersey also ranks fifth-worst in the nation in terms of renewable-energy generation, right next to Delaware and Rhode Island, so this bill could also finally give the state some mid-Atlantic bragging rights.

L.A. schools allow chocolate milk back in

Los Angeles Times | Posted on October 20, 2016

After a five-year drought, chocolate and strawberry milk are making their way back into public school lunchrooms in Los Angeles.   With a vote of 6 to 1, the Los Angeles Unified School District loosened a district-wide ban on sugary, flavored milk that took effect in 2011. The board approved a pilot program to study the effects of reintroducing flavored milk in a small group of schools, all of which must volunteer to take part in the experiment. t is not that board members believe children aren’t consuming enough sugar. Rather, the decision to re-examine milk offerings stemmed from concern that the district is throwing out an obscene amount of food — 600 tons of organic waste each day, according to a 2015 district study. Much of what’s being taken to the landfill is the plain milk that schools are encouraged by federal law to offer, but that students aren’t enthusiastically drinking.