A recent article in Forbes highlighted the consumer response to Triscuit’s Non-GMO label, after the cracker brand announced its new Non-GMO Project label last month. Hundreds of consumers commented, criticizing the brand for pandering to “ignorance and fear.” “Another cynical business trying to cash in on fear and scientific illiteracy surrounding a technology that could do a lot of good,” writes one critic. “So long and thanks for all the crackers.” The comment mirrors several that point out that “GMO” technology is a tool, not an end product that can be boxed and sold. GMO, which stands for “Genetically Modified Organism,” has no tangible meaning but has become shorthand for any organism with traits created with modern molecular genetic engineering (GE) techniques.
Of all the cartons of organic eggs sold in the United States, more than 1 in 10 originates from a complex here that houses more than 1.6 million hens. They’re sold under the Eggland’s Best label.“The entire process is organic,” Greg Herbruck, president of Herbruck's Poultry Ranch says in a promotional video. The USDA allows Herbruck's and other large operations to sell their eggs as organic because officials have interpreted the word “outdoors” in such a way that farms that confine their hens to barns but add “porches” are deemed eligible for the valuable “USDA Organic” label. The porches are typically walled-in areas with a roof, hard floors and screening on one side.As for how densely organic livestock may live, the USDA rules do not set an explicit minimum of space per bird, although the regulations do say henhouses should accommodate the “natural behavior” of the animals. And like other large organic egg producers that use porches, Herbruck said the hens are confined to the barns and the porches for their own good.“The use of organic porches reflects Herbruck’s commitment to the hen health and food safety that our customers and consumers demand,” Herbruck said in a statement. “Porches keep the hens safe, allowing them to be outdoors while protecting them from wild birds like ducks and geese, and predators like vermin that spread disease and can hurt or kill hens.”
Bogus “organic” products may be reaching the United States because of lax enforcement at U.S. ports, according to a new audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, a finding that helps explain previous reports that millions of pounds of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans had reached American ports. The USDA lacks procedures to check that a shipment meets organic standards, the report found.The USDA “was unable to provide reasonable assurance that … required documents were reviewed at U.S. ports of entry to verify that imported agricultural products labeled as organic were from certified organic foreign farms,” according to the report released Monday. "The lack of controls at U.S. ports of entry increases the risk that nonorganic products may be imported as organic into the United States and could create an unfair economic environment for U.S. organic producers.” The inspector general's report adds that the confusion at the ports is so deep that some “organic” shipments — legitimate or not — are fumigated after arrival with pesticides prohibited under USDA organic rules. The investigators visited seven U.S. ports and discovered, through documents and interviews, that if an organic shipment shows evidence of a pest or disease and “the shipment’s owner elects to treat the organic agricultural products, they are treated using the same methods and substances used for conventional products. There are no special treatment methods for organic products. This practice results in the exposure of organic agricultural products to” prohibited substances.The report from the inspector general comes as the USDA faces growing doubts about whether food granted the "USDA Organic" label actually meets organic standards.
More than one-third of Americans do not know that foods with no genetically modified ingredients contain genes, according to the new nationally representative Food Literacy and Engagement Poll we recently conducted at Michigan State University. For the record, all foods contain genes, and so do all people. The majority of respondents who answered this question incorrectly were young and affluent, and also more likely than their peers to describe themselves as having a higher-than-average understanding of the global food system. The full survey revealed that much of the U.S. public remains disengaged or misinformed about food. These findings are problematic because food shapes our lives on a personal level, while consumer choices and agricultural practices set the course for our collective future in a number of ways, from food production impacts to public health.
The National Milk Producers Federation’s “Peel Back the Label” campaign aims to combat “deceptive food labeling” from dairy brands like Dean Foods and Dannon — which have touted Non-GMO Project certification. NMPF President Jim Mulhern told Food Navigator that non-GMO sourcing methods are not more sustainable and that there are no safety benefits or nutritional differences from cows given conventional feed. He describes the companies as “playing upon food safety fears and misconceptions” in the report.“[M]y concern is that this kind of marketing threatens the use of technology that’s allowed farmers to use crop inputs that are much safer than what they were using 20 years ago,” Mulhern told Food Navigator. “You can reduce your fuel usage, make fewer trips to the field, do no-till farming, improve water quality and improve yield.”
he FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the food regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to better protect public health by, among other things, adopting a modern, preventive, and risk-based approach to food safety. As a key element of the preventive approach to better protect public health, FDA published in the Federal Register the final rule entitled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption" (the produce safety rule, or the rule) (80 FR 74354, November 27, 2015). The produce safety rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The regulations are found at Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 112 (21 CFR part 112). The rule became effective on January 26, 2016, but compliance dates are staggered – see section II. F “When Do I Have to Comply with the Rule?” We have prepared this Small Entity Compliance Guide in accordance with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (Pub. Law 104-121). This guidance document is intended to assist small entities in complying with the rule set forth in 21 CFR Part 112 concerning Produce Safety. The rule is binding and has the full force and effect of law.
Milk futures have taken a beating over the past month with prices experiencing very few days of higher closes. Technically, futures should be about ready to rebound in price retracing some of the losses experienced during that period of time.The bottom line is that there is just too much milk and product out there to warrant much higher prices. Yes, prices could increase to some extent and hopefully we will experience Class III futures back to $17.00 again before the end of the year, but there is significant lost ground to regain. Summer weather is now basically behind us and with it any impact from sustained hot weather. The next item on the horizon is holiday and end of the year demand. That certainly can reduce inventory and available fresh supply, but we much remember that milk continues to be produced every day and demand must exceed supply in order to reduce inventory. If the current trend remains intact, we will end this year with higher levels of cheese in inventory than last year. This would make it the fourth consecutive year of higher inventory at the end of the year for total cheese and the fifth consecutive year for American cheese.
A bubble in Oregon’s revered craft beer industry? Sales have slowed and some breweries have closed, but the state Office of Economic Analysis isn’t going on a bender about it. Senior Economist Josh Lehner, who has written extensively about the economic impact of the state’s “alcohol cluster,” said it’s likely the industry is maturing. Some shakeout is not unexpected.In a post on the department website, Lehner said making good local beer, as breweries and brewpubs around the state do, is no longer enough to assure success.As craft beer sales slow, however, more breweries will struggle to retain market share, he said.“I do think the brewery closure rate will increase in the coming years,” Lehner reported. “It is likely to converge toward the rates seen in other industries.“Currently, the growing and largely successful beer industry is enticing even more breweries to enter,” he said. “Eventually this will lead to (over)saturation and for closures to rise as a result.”
As more people live into their 80s and 90s, researchers have delved into the issues of health and quality of life during aging. A recent mouse study sheds light on those questions by demonstrating that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity, but improves physical strength.
The New York City Department of Education announced Wednesday that all public school students, regardless of family income, will receive free lunch. The program — called Free School Lunch For All — aligns with the start of the school year.