USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has preliminarily determined that it will extend deregulation to two lines of genetically engineered (GE) potatoes developed by J.R. Simplot Company for late blight resistance, low acrylamide potential, reduced black spot bruising, and lowered reducing sugars. APHIS previously reviewed and deregulated these GE traits in other GE potatoes. A plant pest risk similarity assessment (PPRSA), preliminary finding of no significant impact (FONSI), and a preliminary determination of nonregulated status has been prepared that will be available for a 30-day public review and comment period upon publication in the Federal Register. APHIS will consider all public comments received on or before Oct. 24, 2016.
The latest food safety scandal in China might be its most damaging. A former doctoral student at one of the country's national testing centers for genetically modified organisms went public with allegations of scientific fraud, including claims that records were doctored extensively, that unqualified personnel were employed under illegal contracts and -- most seriously -- that authorities refused to take action when his concerns were aired privately. China's Ministry of Agriculture responded to a social media storm by suspending operations at the center. That might take care of the current scandal, but the Chinese public's hostility toward GMOs won't go away so easily. Those concerns have only grown over the past decade as the government has increased its support of GMOs, including approval of the state-owned ChinaChem Group's $43 billion takeover offer for the Swiss seed giant Syngenta.
An official of The Hershey Company is confident that consumers will embrace the industry’s new SmartLabel technology on food products. Anti-GMO activists have argued that GMO disclosure statements need to printed on the labels of food products. They say a large segment of consumers either don’t have access to smartphones or won’t take the time to scan labels for the GMO information. But Deborah Arcoleo, director of product transparency with Hershey, says their research shows consumers will use the SmartLabel technology. “We did some research on probability of use, and for the general population the top two boxes—“extremely likely to use” and “very strongly likely to use”—were 72 percent,” Arcoleo says, “and that was consistent across age groups, racial groupings, households with and without children. So it was a pretty general number, that 72 percent.” The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that within five years, more than 80 percent of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products that consumers buy will be using SmartLabel technology. The option of providing biotech information via an electronic label was an important element in convincing food and agriculture groups to support the GMO labeling bill.
Farmed fish has gotten a bad rap, but it’s the only way the world is going to feed the additional 2.4 billion people expected to be added to the Earth’s population in the next 34 years, experts told a sustainable food conference. With the world's arable land maxed out and wild seafood overfished, aquaculture is the one place we can look to produce enough animal protein for all those extra mouths, said Steve Gaines, a professor of marine biology at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead investigator for the university's sustainable fisheries group.
The outcome of a two-day hearing set for today and tomorrow in the Ontario Court of Justice at Newmarket may send raw milk drinkers in Canada down a more political road after years of fighting court battles. The hearing will determine if the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health were correct in January when they filed applications for injunctions against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, the Agriculture Renewal Coop, and any other Canadian who provides, distributes, or recommends raw milk. Speaking for herself and the Agricultural Renewal Coop, Vander Hout says if the applications for injunction are granted, the proceedings would take on the dynamic of “a proper trial.”
Gov. Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 37 into law as 2015 WI Act 46. The legislation -- know as the School Food Safety Bill -- was one of SNA-WI's top legislative priorities this year and was pursued to help equip school nutrition professionals with the necessary tools to enhance food safety and reduce the risk of food borne illness in Wisconsin schools. As you know, all licensed restaurants in Wisconsin must be operated by an individual who holds a certificate of food protection practices issued by the state. The new law (Act 46) championed by SNA-WI would simply extend that requirement to school nutrition programs. More specifically, Act 46 will ensure school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program will have at least one employee on staff who holds a valid food protection practices certificate. Food borne illnesses are preventable and incidents can be reduced with proper food safety education and training. Act 46 provides an easy, yet proven approach to promoting food safety and ensuring the safe storage, preparation, and serving of school meals.
It turns out that millennials, perhaps the most important generation in terms of retail sales, are big consumers of organic food and other products, according to new study results announced today by the Organic Trade Association. About 52 percent of household heads that buy organic food are millennials in the prized 18- to-34-year-old age group, the study concluded. “That's huge and it means we've got a good future ahead of us,” Organic Trade Association CEO Laura Batcha said today at the group's All Things Organic Conference in Baltimore. Behind millennials, 35 percent of household heads that buy organic are in the Generation X category of 35 to 50 years old and 14 percent are baby boomers, 51 to 69 years old. “The millennial consumer and head of household is changing the landscape of our food industry,” said Batcha. “Our survey shows that millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment.”
For as tasty a reputation as it may have, raw milk may equally be the bane of public health officials everywhere. Over the weekend, local and state Colorado health officials jointly announced that an outbreak of the foodborne illness campylobacteriosis had so far affected 20 people. The source of the outbreak was traced to the Larga Vista Ranch in Pueblo County, CO, with all the sufferers having drank raw unpasteurized milk during their visit there. The latest case was found on September 16, while the outbreak is currently thought to have began in early August.
There’s a new food category that is gaining popularity with shoppers, but that’s also becoming an enemy of farmers — both of the conventional and organic persuasion. The Chronicle reported that Clover Stornetta Farms of Petaluma would be adding non-GMO certification to its conventional milk in early 2017, meaning it would require dairy farmers use GMO-free feed with its conventional herds. Milk is not genetically engineered, and neither are dairy cows. Most conventional milk comes from cows given supplemental feed from genetically engineered corn and soy. “Non-GMO milk” is shorthand for milk from cows that do not consume such feed — which is also true of organic milk. “The whole GMO labeling movement has really put a damper on the organics movement,” said author Rebecca Thistlethwaite…. “There are a lot of consumers who falsely believe that when they buy non-GMO it’s meeting certain value standards that they have around sustainability, but without the organic price tag.”
When Massachusetts voters head to the polls in November, supporters of a pro-farm animal ballot question want them to have one question in their minds: What would it feel like to spend their entire lives without enough room to stand up, turn around, stretch their arms and legs and lay down again. Opponents hope voters will have their eyes on their wallets instead, arguing that approving the ballot question will drive up the costs of eggs and meat. The proposal — Question 3 on the ballot — is aimed at improving the living conditions of farm animals, not just in Massachusetts but at any farm that wants to sell eggs and meat in the state.