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Why the new organic egg welfare rule won’t raise prices

Watt Ag Net | Posted on July 27, 2017

A new final rule establishing stricter animal welfare standards for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program are being delayed until at least November 2017, but Mid-States Specialty Eggs and Eggs “R” Us Inc. argue the final rule – originally published in January 2017 – won’t hamper the organic egg business or send prices skyrocketing as some are predicting. When in effect, the new rules will require all organic-certified animals to be given enough space to lay down, turn around, stand up, fully stretch their limbs without touching other animals or the side of the enclosure, and otherwise express natural behaviors. The regulation will establish new rules for housing, transportation and slaughter of organic poultry, too. Most importantly for egg producers, outside access will be mandatory. Verandas or porches attached to layer houses will no longer be classified as outdoor spaces. Marion Hostetler, an owner of Mid-States and a member of the Organic Egg Farmers of America, said his company is exceeding this new standard and it’s doing it at a cost where it can sell at a price that beats other major producers. Mid-States and Eggs "R" Us were profiled in the July 2017 issue of Egg Industry. He estimated the size of the organic layer flock is about 15 million to 17 million birds. If 7 million of those birds were taken out of organic production due to the rule, as he said the rule could potentially do, then there could certainly be a market disruption. But in the long term, the market will even out. Even if prices spike, he said, it’s not likely organic eggs will enter the $8 per dozen territory. As of May 2017, Mid-States’ organic eggs sell for $3.99 a dozen

Beware Of The 'Food Babe Fallacy' In Your Mac And Cheese

Forbes | Posted on July 26, 2017

Parents whose kids will only eat a finite list of foods now wonder whether a pantry favorite is off limits, thanks in part to last week’s New York Times story about a study that found “potentially harmful chemicals” in mac and cheese. The group behind the study is calling on Kraft Foods to lead the industry in eliminating phthalates from its products because they can disrupt the production of testosterone, which raises concerns about birth defects, and because they’ve been linked to neurological problems. But several critics say the story is a hyped interpretation of a non peer-reviewed report commissioned by scaremongers with an anti-chemical agenda. Popular Science points out that while phthalates could cause health problems at high enough concentrations, they’re found in much of our food, personal care products and home building materials, making mac and cheese an arbitrary scapegoat. In his blog post response to the mac and cheese scare, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, prolific communicator and director for Science and Society at McGill University, says the “Klean Up Kraft” group behind the report uses “the Food Babe Fallacy” to make its case. 

Italy demands origin labels for pasta and rice

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2017

All packets of pasta and rice sold in Italy will have to include labels of origin showing where the produce was grown, the government ruled on Thursday, in a move it said was aimed at protecting local farmers. The agriculture and industry ministers signed a decree ordering the new labeling policy, saying it would run in an experimental fashion for two years, and criticizing the European Union for not introducing the measure across the 28-nation bloc.

‘Meatless Mondays’ get cut from high school menus

Camarillo Acorn | Posted on July 26, 2017

They called it “Meatless Mondays.” But the all-vegetarian lunch menu offered once a week at Oxnard Union High School District campuses since 2015 was never a big hit with students, officials said.“Vegetarian Day was the lowest participation day” among students eating in OUSHD cafeterias, Stephanie Gillenberg, nutrition services director, told school board members at a recent meeting.Now, “Meatless Mondays,” which this past school year was offered on Fridays, is out.School board members decided June 26 to eliminate the no-meat menu for the next school year as part of cost-saving measures aimed at reining in OUHSD’s more than $4-million annual nutrition services budget.The changes are designed to increase the number of students who buy lunch at school and close a $2-million deficit in the nutrition budget.“We have room for more kids to start eating in our cafeterias,” said Jeff Baarstad, an operations consultant for the district.

Movie ‘What The Health’ claims get debunked

Animal Ag Alliance | Posted on July 26, 2017

Some determined activists will say almost anything to convince people to go vegan. One example of this is “What The Health,” a film you might have seen while scrolling through Netflix. If you’ve watched the movie, it may have left you feeling confused about the nutritional value of meat, milk, poultry and eggs. Several scientists, dietitians and agriculture advocates have started speaking out against the film and helping viewers find factual information to make decisions about their diets. Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise analyzed each health claim made in the film and concluded that 96 percent were bogus and not based on sound science. Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician says the film “cherry-picks scientific studies, exaggerates, makes claims that are untrue, relies on testimonials and interviews with questionable “experts,” and fails to put the evidence into perspective.”

Millennials spend more on necessities than older generations

USA Today | Posted on July 25, 2017

There's plenty of speculation out there about why Millennials aren’t buying homes, investing in the stock market or even buying diamonds. But a new report found that Millennials spend significantly more on necessities like groceries and gas than older generations.On average, people between the ages of 18 and 36 spend $2,300 more per year on groceries, gas, restaurants, and cellphone bills than those who are 37 and older, according to a study from the other hand, Millennials spend $1,130 less on travel and television than their elders.

An open letter to animal welfare activists

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 20, 2017

If you are truly concerned about the welfare of animals and the quality of their lives, you should start thinking globally. If you’re sincere about your love for animals, you should make every attempt to go to the animals that are in the most deplorable situations and work hard to improve their conditions. The United States, in comparison to almost any other country, already has such high animal welfare standards that your efforts here can only make an infinitesimally tiny impact toward your stated animal welfare goals. Temple Grandin and others like her have already done most of the lifting in this country, so there’s generally not much more you can do to improve animal welfare here.But you can find plenty of other countries where you could make a more significant impact.Exciting news: it’s time for you to travel…

What happens when milk needs to be dumped?

Superior Telegram | Posted on July 20, 2017

Last year, a little more than 2 million gallons of milk from the region including Wisconsin and Minnesota were dumped, according to data from the Federal Milk Marketing Order. That’s enough to fill three Olympic-size swimming pools. But, the amount of milk dumped each year is small compared to total production. Last year, Wisconsin cows produced more than 3 billion gallons of milk, second only to California. So what actually happens to the milk that's dumped? It’s not just poured down the drain, explained Brian Holmes, professor emeritus of biological systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, because milk can actually cause farmers’ wastewater systems to fail."The fats would float to the surface and that creates that cake," he said. "A drain field relies on infiltrating the water into the soil, and all those milk proteins and sugars and some of that fats will seal up the soil so that the liquid can't drain into the soil." Often the best thing to do is to load the milk onto a manure spreader and spread it over a farm field. Holmes said it’s still important to be careful not to apply too much too quickly."You might have a runoff situation," he said. "And if it runs off and gets into a stream, then you'd be in trouble with contaminating a stream."

Panera Bread Takes A Page From Food Babe's Playbook

American Council on Science and Health | Posted on July 20, 2017

ani Hari, the infamous "Food Babe" who says that we shouldn't eat anything that we can't pronounce, has a new emulator: Panera Bread. It pains me to write this article because I love Panera Bread. They know me by my name at the restaurant at which I typically eat. However, their management and marketing team have decided that mocking science is the best way to sell food, and this loyal customer is going to fight back.A few years ago, Panera launched a "clean food" campaign. That sounds innocent, but the implication is clear: Our food is clean, and their food is dirty. Scaring people about the safety of our food supply is a dishonest tactic shamelessly deployed by organic activists and companies such as Whole Foods and Chipotle. In both cases, that strategy backfired. The very companies that Whole Foods accused of selling dirty food are now beating Whole Foods at its own game. And things went even worse for Chipotle. After it bragged about going GMO-free, Chipotle poisoned its customers with E. coliSalmonella, and Norovirus. So, from a purely strategic viewpoint, Panera is making a huge, unnecessary gamble. If and when a food poisoning outbreak happens at one of their restaurants, it's going to make their "clean food" campaign a target of derision. Now, Panera Bread has decided to up their anti-science tactics. On Twitter, they are mocking big, scary-sounding words from chemistry -- a page straight out of the Food Babe's playbook.They are taking aim at butylated hydroxyanisole, more commonly known as BHA, a widespread artificial preservative. Is there anything wrong with BHA? No. The FDA says it's safe.But it doesn't matter what the FDA or scientific data says. Panera Bread is declaring war on "artificial" ingredients because it knows that there is money to be made hyping the widespread, unscientific fallacy that "natural is better." And if it has to throw science under the bus to make a few extra bucks, well... that's just business. It's nothing personal.*

Bananas with boosted vitamin A developed in Queensland to save African lives | Posted on July 20, 2017

Bananas genetically modified by Queensland researchers to be vitamin A-enriched are being grown in Uganda, in a breakthrough hoped to save the lives of thousands of east African children.