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Will Kellogg's New Attempt To Support Organic Farming Confuse Shoppers Even More?

Supermarket Guru | Posted on May 22, 2016

Kellogg’s Kashi brand CEO David Denholm announced that the company has partnered with Quality Assurance International to support a new program called Certified Transitional, which is designed to provide a market for products from farmers who are transitioning their farmland and crops from conventional to organic.

The cereal maker is committing to buy ingredients that are Certified Transitional, starting with red winter wheat that will be used in a new cereal called Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits.  The announcement comes at a time where consumers are more confused about food labels than ever, and Kashi’s reputation and image continues to be under scrutiny. 

U.S. expert panel says genetically engineered crops are safe to eat

Science | Posted on May 22, 2016

Almost 2 years ago, a group of 20 scientists began hashing out a consensus on the risks and benefits of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The Panels report, released today, is a hefty literature review that tackles mainstay questions in the well-worn GMO debate. Are these plants safe to eat? How do they affect the environment? Do they drive herbicide-resistance in weeds or pesticide-resistance in insects? But it also weighs in on a more immediate conundrum for federal agencies: what to do with gene-edited plants that won’t always fit the technical definition of a regulated GE crop. The authors picked through hundreds of research papers to make generalizations about GE varieties already in commercial production: There is “reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating food derived from GE crops,” and epidemiological data shows no increase in cancer or any other health problems as a result of these crops entering into our food supply. Pest-resistant crops that poison insects thanks to a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) generally allow farmers to use less pesticide. Farmers can manage the risk of those pests evolving resistance by using crops with high enough levels of the toxin and planting non-Bt “refuges” nearby. Crops designed to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, meanwhile, can lead to heavy reliance on the chemical, and spawn resistant weeds that “present a major agronomic problem.” The panel urges more research on strategies to delay weed resistance.

Custom snacks on-demand with 3D printing

Springwise | Posted on May 22, 2016

Consumers will be able to choose from a variety of flavors and textures, such as crispy, crunchy or soft, to build their own multi-layered food on-demand. Having started with starch and cellulose-based products, researchers are now looking into the viability of printing protein concentrates from plants such as oats and fava beans, and whey from dairy. Healthfulness is an important part of the final product.

Technically, the ingredient mix must be able to flow enough to be used in the printing process, and as an emerging technology, additional research is ongoing. VTT’s scientists believe that industrial-scale production is still a few years away because equipment as well as materials must be developed.

Minnesota farmers need Minnesota's U.S. senators to act on food labeling

Grand Forks Herald | Posted on May 20, 2016

Unless the U.S. Senate takes immediate action, Minnesota farmers stand to be seriously hurt within two months by a Vermont law requiring special labels for products made with genetically modified ingredients.   The safety of GMOs is well-established in the scientific community. They have been part of our nation's food supply for more than 20 years without incident. Every major scientific and health organization that has examined GMOs has concluded they are as safe as any other food. Despite the great benefits of GMOs, small numbers of activists are fighting to impose new state laws that would require special labels for food produced with this technology. They succeeded in Vermont, where a GMO-Iabeling law will go into effect in July. In spite of being a small state, Vermont's law will have massive ramifications around the country and especially here in Minnesota.   Food producers understand that these labels will have a stigmatizing effect on their products, with many consumers incorrectly viewing them as a warning. As a result, many food companies have already begun to reformulate their products and only source non-GMO ingredients. Last month, Dannon became the latest food company to make such an announcement, which included a commitment to ensuring their farmers' cows are given non-GMO feed. Minnesota farmers will face immense pressure to abandon GMO technology. This will raise costs and require the use of more resources such as land and water.  It's never been more important for Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken to be our voice in Washington. With her position on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Klobuchar in particular could be a leader in getting a solution enacted. We need it now. Time is running out.

Vermont’s immediate impact is becoming clearer

Food Business News | Posted on May 20, 2016

The patchwork of state laws requiring food and beverage companies to label products that contain bioengineered ingredients is emerging and underscores the challenging situation the industry faces if a federal statute that addresses the issue is not passed into law. As state legislators from around the country propose legislation they are not only creating unique sets of regulations with which companies must comply, but they are putting a greater strain on the ingredient supply chain.  Fortunately, regulators in Vermont have sounded a conciliatory tone regarding implementation and enforcement of the bioengineered labeling law beginning July 1. The state’s attorney general made clear that his enforcement priorities will focus on what are deemed “willful violations” and will not bring enforcement cases based solely on a company’s failure to remove improperly labeled products that were distributed before July 1.  

Examining Two Ways To Enhance Tomato Flavor

Growing Produce | Posted on May 19, 2016

Researchers divided 60 tomatoes into three groups — refrigerating one group, keeping a second group at room temperature and dipping the third group in 122°F water for 5 minutes to simulate blanching.  The results showed that refrigeration greatly reduced 25 of 42 aroma compounds and reduced volatile levels overall by 68%. Blanching also greatly reduced 22 of 42 compounds and reduced volatile levels overall by 63%. The results spell out why it is better to store tomatoes — and wash them before use — at room temperature.

US Foods could raise $1 billion in IPO | Posted on May 19, 2016

U.S. Foods Holding has registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to price its planned initial public offering between $21 and $24 per share. The company intends to price its 44.44 million shares, with an overallotment option for an additional 6.67 million shares. At the maximum price, the entire offering is valued up to $1.23 billion.

Fruit of the poisonous tree… How far down do GMO roots extend?

Food Navigator | Posted on May 16, 2016

‘Fat-free,’ ‘non-dairy,’ ‘all-natural’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘gluten-free’ . . . are all in recent history’s hit parade of terms perceived by many consumers as a sign that that a product is somehow ‘better’ or ‘healthier.’  The most recent term to join this hit parade is ‘non-GMO.’

In California, Couple's Return to Meat Sparks Vegan Uproar

ABC News | Posted on May 16, 2016

At the Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain in California, waiters serve plates of vegan rice bowls, vegetable pizzas and tempeh sandwiches with names such as "Gracious," ''Warm-Hearted" and "Magical."   The last two weeks, though, have been anything but kind.

Angry patrons and animal rights activists are calling on vegans to boycott the restaurants after learning that owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart have begun eating meat and consuming animals raised on their private farm.  "The brand has betrayed my trust by turning around and killing the animals that trust them on their property," said Anita Carswell, a communications manager for In Defense of Animals who says she won't eat at Cafe Gratitude again.

Though the restaurants continue to serve only plant-based food, the couple's decision has provoked a heated backlash in a state where vegan restaurants and juice bars can be as easy to find as burgers and barbecue.  Death threats were left at the couple's Be Love Farm in Northern California and demonstrators gathered outside a Cafe Gratitude restaurant in Los Angeles last week. Meanwhile, groups such as In Defense of Animals are calling on the couple to turn their farm into an animal sanctuary.

As Big Candy Ditches GMOs, Sugar Beet Farmers Hit A Sour Patch

NPR | Posted on May 16, 2016

Sugar, you might think, is just sugar, no matter where it comes from. But not anymore.

About half of all sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Now, for the first time, sugar traders are treating these as two different commodities, with two different prices.

It's all because about eight years ago, nearly all the farmers who grow sugar beets in the United States decided to start growing genetically modified versions of their crop. The GMO beets, which can tolerate the weedkiller glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, made it easier for them to get rid of weeds.  They really didn't expect any problems.

Just in the past two years, though, that's changed. Many food companies have decided to label their products as non-GMO. And because practically all sugar beets in the U.S. are genetically modified, those food products are now using sugar derived from sugar cane grown in Florida, Louisiana or outside the U.S. There isn't any genetically modified sugar cane.