The recent announcement that a genetically modified (GM) salmon had reached Canadian consumers was a rare leap forwards for GM foods. More than two decades after the commercialization of GM plants, this is the first GM animal to reach the market. The fast-growing salmon can reach market size in 18 months, roughly half the time its non-genetically modified counterpart, and requires less feed. This could bring both business and environmental benefits, and the approval may pave the way for other GM animals.Scientists are working on disease-resistant pigs, bird-flu resistant chickens, hornless dairy cows and highly productive sheep. But don’t expect to be eating genetically modified lamb this Passover; the history of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has shown that it takes many years to bring a new technology to market (25 in the case of AquAdvantage salmon) and plenty of innovations never make it.
The second generation GMO Innate potato has received regulatory approval in Canada.Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have authorized J.R. Simplot’s Co. second generation GMO Innate potato to be imported, planted and sold in Canada. The OK comes after the Canadian agencies completed a comprehensive safety assessment, and follows last year’s regulatory approval of three varieties of first-generation GMO Innate potatoes, according to a news release.
The food labeling craze coupled with banner headlines about the dangers of gluten, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and hormones are leading to increasingly absurd results. For example, you can now buy “premium” water that’s not only free of GMOs and gluten but certified kosher and organic. Never mind that not a single drop of water anywhere contains either property or is altered in any way by those designations. While some labels provide useful information that is not readily detectable by consumers, others contain misleading claims that exploit a knowledge gap with consumers and take advantage of their willingness to pay a premium for so-called process labels.In my experience as a food economist, such “fake transparency” does nothing to inform consumers about the nature of their foods. Moreover, it can actually decrease well-being when accompanied by a higher price tag.
More than a year after the Food and Drug Administration signaled that it would soon nail down exactly what the word “natural” means, the agency has yet to provide any guidance — and baffled consumers are suing. They’ve sued Sargento, the dairy giant, because the cows behind its “natural” cheeses are given genetically modified feed.They’ve sued Walmart over its “all-natural” pita chips, which contain thiamine mononitrate and folic acid — both B vitamins that are made synthetically. Since January, court filings show that there’s been an uptick in lawsuits against food companies regarding “all-natural” and “natural” claims — and some lawyers say the FDA’s continued silence is to blame.Nineteen all-natural class actions have been filed this year, as of July 2017. There were 27 such suits for the entire year of 2016.
Today, the FDA announced the availability of guidance for food facilities that explains how to establish and implement a heat treatment, such as baking or cooking, to prevent contamination by disease-causing bacteria. This is the sixth chapter of the draft guidance, entitled “Draft Guidance for Industry: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food,” designed to help food facilities comply with the preventive controls for human food rule, mandated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.The final rule, entitled “Current Good Manufacturing Practices, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food,” published on September 17, 2015, builds on previous food safety requirements and introduces others that together establish a more modern, preventive, and risk-based approach to food safety.This draft guidance is intended to help food facilities comply with specific requirements of the rule, such as developing a written food safety plan, establishing preventive controls, and taking corrective actions. The FDA intends to publish at least 14 chapters of the guidance and will continue to announce the availability of each chapter as it becomes available. A compliance date is approaching on September 18, 2017 for small businesses (those with fewer than 500 full-time employees) that are required to comply with the preventive controls for human food rule.
On Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States introduced a ballot initiative called the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, which calls for a requirement that all pork and veal sold in California be produced without restrictive crates, and that all eggs produced and sold in the state be cage-free. It would make California the only state other than Massachusetts, which passed similar legislation last year, to have such regulations on farm animal welfare. The biggest potential impact of the initiative could be on pork. California does not have a large pork industry, and most of the pork sold here comes from out-of-state producers who would have to comply with the regulations when selling their product here.The next step is for organizers to get more than 365,000 signatures within 180 days in order for the initiative to be placed on the statewide ballot in November 2018.
A new commission supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued a report calling for more surveillance, oversight and restriction of antibiotic use in food animals.
Foodservice and restaurant companies following the recent trend of adopting broiler welfare standards have typically been pledging to adopt standards set by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) by 2024.GAP standards call for the following:Using broiler breeds scientifically proven to have markedly improved welfare outcomes,Providing chickens with more space (maximum stocking density of 6 lbs./sq. ft.) and improved environments, including lighting, litter and enrichments. Eliminating live shackling and dumping and ensuring birds are rendered unconscious through multistep controlled atmospheric stunning. But other questions commonly asked are what is GAP and who are the people that make decisions on behalf of the GAP? GAP is presently governed by a seven-member board. None of the board members are involved in broiler production, although one is involved in pork production and another is involved in beef production. Also present on the board is a Whole Foods Market representative and leaders from four animal rights or animal welfare organizations, including Wayne Pacelle, head of HSUS.
Millennials, by and large, are credited for being the ones who are out to “change the world.” They’re the most in tune with technology. They’re the most likely to go out to eat. And most importantly, they’re the ones who’ve changed the idea of value. However, what if all these things could be synthesized into one? While it’s true that the world of food isn’t being disrupted overnight, millennials are certainly leading the change in the food revolution. From fast casual to farm-to-table, it seems as though every other month we hear about this generation finding something new to sink their teeth into. But there’s a bigger picture at play, and it’s one that’s not going away anytime soon.
Farmers have been selectively breeding plants for thousands of years. They have done so to make them tastier, bigger, or hardier. Technology has moved part of this process out of the farmer’s field and into the scientist’s lab. Now plants like corn and soybeans can be changed by changing certain genes.Like many people, you may wonder if these foods are safe to eat. A recent report looked closely at the scientific evidence to date. Read on to learn the facts about these foods.