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House Ag releases SNAP report, eyes overhaul

New York TImes | Posted on December 8, 2016

The GOP majority on the House Agriculture Committee released a two-year review of the program that stops short of making specific policy recommendations, but hints at areas where Republicans could focus: strengthening work requirements and perhaps issuing new ones, tightening some eligibility requirements or providing new incentives to encourage food stamp recipients to buy healthier foods. "There's nothing off the table when it comes to looking at solutions around these areas where we think improvements need to be made," the committee chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said  The report, based on 16 hearings by the committee, recommends better enforcement of some SNAP work programs in certain states, and finds that 42 states use broad eligibility standards that some Republicans have criticized as too loose. It encourages more incentives to get people to buy healthy food with their food stamp dollars, addressing criticism that recipients use public money for junk foods. The report cites Agriculture Department data showing that 10 percent of foods typically purchased by SNAP households are sweetened beverages.


British Medical Journal stands behind article by “Big Fat Surprise” author Nina Teicholz

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 6, 2016

There was plenty of controversy leading up to the federal 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines issued last January, much of it surrounding the recommendations by an advisory panel around meat consumption. Prior to the guidelines being published, Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Die”, published an article in the BMJ (formerly The British Medical Journal) questioning the scientific rigor of the expert panel recommendations. Her article touched off a storm of protests by members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and advocacy and research groups that have long championed a diet high in carbohydrates and low in saturated fats. The groups called for the BMJ to withdraw the article. Today, after a long review, the BMJ publicly declared, “independent experts find no grounds for retraction of The BMJ article on dietary guidelines.”


Americans Don't Trust Scientists' Take On Food Issues

NPR | Posted on December 5, 2016

If you're curious about what people really think about some of the hottest of hot-button food controversies, the Pew Research Center has just the thing for you: a survey of attitudes toward genetic modification, organic food and the importance of eating healthfully. The survey results are published in a 99-page report that can keep you occupied for days. But if you're pressed for time, here are some of the most interesting highlights that caught our eye. 1. A lot of Americans don't care what scientists think about GMOs. 2. Food sympathies don't follow political sympathies. 3. Food issues don't divide people into neat little camps.


US National Organic Standards Board votes to ban new genetic engineering tech from organic foods

Natural News | Posted on December 5, 2016

the United States’ National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) unanimously voted to amend the current US standards for organic foods. Their update will place a ban on ingredients that are derived from new genetic engineering techniques from being used in certified organic products.  The NOSB vote also serves as a recommendation from the organization to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. The board says it will do its best to ensure that genetically modified ingredients that are produced using new genetic engineering technology will not find their way into certified organic foods and beverages. Dana Perls, the senior food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, told TriplePundit, “The NOSB is clear that GMOs do not belong in organic. In the absence of strong federal regulations on the labeling and commercialization of genetic engineering, the organic standard continues to provide consumers with a transparent and clear way to avoid GMOs in the food they eat.”  One of the new methods of genetic engineering that the NOSB is particularly concerned with is called “synthetic biology.”  According to Friends of the Earth (FOE), this new technique designs and creates new organisms that can produce something they would not normally produce, or it can also be used to edit DNA and prevent certain traits from being expressed.


Topless Women Tell Dairy to Stop Stealing Babies’ Milk

PETA | Posted on December 4, 2016

A troupe of topless female PETA supporters with “Milk Is for Babies—Dump Dairy” written on their chests gathered outside the B.C. Dairy Industry Conference in Vancouver on Wednesday. They pointed out that, just like humans, cows produce milk only to feed their babies and that farmers forcibly impregnate cows over and over again on what the industry calls a “rape rack.” Newborn calves are torn from their mothers within 24 hours, and the males are sold for meat while the females are condemned to endure the same vicious cycle as their mothers until they’re killed at around 5 years of age.


Group petitions USDA for cancer-risk warning labels on meat

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 4, 2016

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on Thursday petitioned the USDA to require labels on packages of processed meat and poultry that would warn consumers that eating those products is associated with colorectal cancer.  In its petition CSPI cites findings of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), “which concluded in 2015 that processed meat is ‘carcinogenic to humans.’” 


Anti-hunger advocates slam Cuomo's farm-to-foodbank veto

Fox News | Posted on December 4, 2016

 Anti-hunger advocates and agriculture groups are criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's opposition to legislation that would give farmers a tax break for donating surplus fruits, vegetables and other locally grown products to food banks to address New York state's growing hunger problem. The Democratic governor vetoed the bill this week. It's the second year the bill has passed the Legislature only to be blocked by Cuomo. He says that while he supports the idea, the measure would reduce state revenue and should be handled in the state budget process. Susan Zimet, director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, says Cuomo's opposition is "misguided." She says lawmakers should return to Albany to override the veto.


Bill would force schools to seek USDA waiver for imported food

Capital Press | Posted on December 4, 2016

A California congressman wants to tighten controls on school districts purchasing imported foods for lunches.  A bill by Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat, would add teeth to a current law allowing districts to use food that wasn’t produced in the United States if they obtain a waiver from the USDA. Schools can look overseas for items such as canned fruits and vegetables if the cost of domestic products is significantly higher, but districts don’t always bother seeking the waiver, according to Garamendi’s office. The lawmaker’s American Food for American Schools Act would make the waiver a legal requirement and mandate that waiver requests be made available to the public.


Multi-state Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to dairy bull calves

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 1, 2016

Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings have identified dairy bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of infections in a multi-state outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections.   The CDC is working with Wisconsin health, agriculture and laboratory agencies, several other states, and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to investigate an outbreak that has infected 21 people from eight states.


Cuomo announces Taste NY sales

Governor.ny.gov | Posted on December 1, 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Taste NY initiative has surpassed his goal of doubling gross sales of participating businesses in 2016. In less than one year, total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, concessions and events have jumped from approximately $4.5 million in 2015 to more than $10.5 million to date in 2016. The increase in sales reflects the growing consumer demand for local products, which supports New York’s agriculture industry and small businesses.


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