Friday, October 31, 2003

There's stalkers and then there's stalkers.
As I was saying: "An economics professor says that the introduction of biotech wheat in the next two to six years could cut spring wheat exports in half. " [Bismarck Tribune via corante].
FDA says cloned animals are safe to eat [Times | Post | FDA (pdf)]

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Pork checkoff loses again: now 0-for-5; further down, watch COOL die [more here]; aussie-iraqi wheat hijinks.
Turns out that nitrogen runoff from overfertilization is, among other things, poisoning forests. [Nature]
we have a problem
Too much chicken shit. it's an environmental hazard. Solution: feed it to beef cattle:
Rapid expansion within the poultry industry has resulted in critical environmental concerns in certain areas of North America, due to excesses of nitrogen and other substances entering groundwater, as a result of excess production and application of poultry manure. An obvious possible solution is to develop an acceptable alternative use for excess poultry litter and a commercial proposition is to develop a market for poultry litter products outside the environmentally sensitive area. Although concerns have been raised with regard to the safety of feeding poultry litter to cattle and to humans consuming the meat produced, when poultry litter is derived from commercial caged layer flocks, not receiving medicants, and drug and chemical residues, it normally does not constitute a hazard, particularly when a 15-day withdrawal period is provided.... All remaining steaks (1180) were distributed at random to households to determine consumer acceptance. Treated samples were essentially indistinguishable from control samples in both palatability and consumer acceptance, indicating poultry litter supplements can be utilized in feedlot rations for cattle without compromising either palatability or consumer acceptance.
Jeremiah and Gibson, "The effect of dietary poultry litter supplementation on beef chemical, cooking, and palatability properties and consumer acceptance," Food Research International 36/9-10 (2003), 943-948.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

News that God himself is displeased with Mel Gibson's epic of idiocy reminded me of a choice quote he gave to Peter Boyer in the 9/15 New Yorker:
Gibson is unconvinced by such scholarly interpretations. "They always dick around with it, you know?" he says. "Judas is always some kind of friend of some freedom fighter named Barabbas, you know what I mean? It's horseshit. It's revisionist bullshit. And that's what these academics are into. They gave me notes on a stolen script. I couldn't believe it. It was like they were more or less saying I have no right to interpret the Gospels myself, because I don't have a bunch of letters after my name. But they are for children, these Gospels. They're for children, they're for old people, they're for everybody in between. They're not necessarily for academics...
This is so fucking stupid it's pathetic that I have to bring it up. But, as slacktivist has noted, journalists appear to understand very little about religion (along with, sadly, many other topics):
I bring this up because Horowitz, like far too many journalists, is just this naive and credulous when relating these evangelicals' bizarre theories about the End of the World....

At one point Horowitz even uses the word "biblical" as a synonym for "Manichaen":

George W. Bush ... is a born-again, Scripture-loving Christian who sees the world in stark, almost biblical, terms (�You�re either with us or you�re with the terrorists�).
On what basis is Horowitz deciding that this "stark," dualistic view is "almost biblical"?
Go read the whole thing without my selective quoting.

Returning to Gibson, Boyer at least appears to know what manicheanism is:

Gibson's fiercest detractors see in him a medieval sensibility, an accusation that he would not necessarily find objectionable. He has a Manichaean view of the world, in which all of human history is the product of great warring realms, the unseen powers of absolute good and total evil. He believes in the Devil as fully as he believes in God; that is why his career has evolved to "The Passion," and it is how he accounts for the opposition that the film has aroused.
We will ignore the fact that there is nothing medieval about manicheanism, for the very reason that it was, and remains, by definition, not Christian. Journalists still unable to grasp this fact would do well to read the Catholic Encyclopedia article slacktivist cites.

Perhaps this is putting the cart before the horse: Gibson is not Christian, but, more importantly, he is not Catholic.

[Vatican II's] reforms bitterly divided the Church, reflecting, to a large degree, the divisions caused by the social movements in the contemporary secular culture. Church progressives embraced the reforms, and, as reform hardened into new orthodoxy, bureaucracies sprang up in the Church which were devoted to interfaith relations. But other Catholics were dismayed by the sudden, drastic changes, arguing that the Church's immutability through the ages was one of its institutional strengths. Most of those Catholics, however discomfited, eventually accommodated themselves to Vatican II; still others left the Church. But some of those who were most appalled at what they saw as a cult of modernity corrupting the Church remained intensely faithful. These Traditionalists, as they called themselves, declared themselves the True Church, and defied the reforms of Vatican II, as well as the authority of the Pope who convened the council, John XXIII, and of all who have occupied St. Peter's chair since.
Any truly pre-Vatican II Catholic would never make such a childish movie, because laypeople were not allowed to interpret the bible. That is the job of a duly consecrated priest, precisely to prevent simplistic cretins like Gibson from doing something dangerous. Get it? That is what priests are for, and that is what distinguishes Catholicism from other christian religions. It is a fundamental pillar of the fucking faith. What kind of moron claims to be Catholic and reads the gospel literally? And why can't journalists, even relatively smart ones, figure it out? You don't even have to care, or know anything about religion to notice when someone's beliefs about it are patently self-contradictory.
a prestol [sic]
Gluttons for punishment can watch 4 minutes of video of douchebag Kozlowski's nouveau riche Sardinian extravaganza -- and don't miss the memo. Any rich fucks out there who still need to pay someone to buy them $9,0000 umbrella stands, I'm available. [via Gothamist]
today in food: carnicerias in SF, pepper in NY, and the worst kind of food porn in LA.

Background: Molly O'Neill on food porn. Also, Saut� Wednesday on the manifold evils of Tyson.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Nasal Rangers. Really.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Those of you truly obssessed with food can spend several days reading the 31-page (so far) egullet thread on celebrity chef Rick Bayless's Burger King ad, which forced Chef's Collaborative to issue a new endorsement policy and Bayless to defend himself. 10/27: normal people weigh in at MeFi.
"Canada should keep an open mind to genetically modified wheat if it wants to keep its foothold in world grain markets, an agricultural economist told western Canadian farmers on Thursday" [Forbes].

Because, you know, people are just waiting in line to buy that shit.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

It takes a nation of morons to hold us back
Here's how it works: pay-per-vote machine politics is displaced by demagogic progressivism that's only a half-lie. Prosperity, living conditions, education for the masses gradually improve to the point that the latter indulge in ideology, and vote accordingly. Education, of course, is not improved enough that said masses might understand "their" ideology, or, indeed, where Canada is, or how to form a possessive, or the difference between Islamic fundamentalism and Arab nationalism. The beneficiaries of this new level of stupidity, namely the elected officials, are too busy jerking off to their dead fetus pictures to do anything about the speculators dismantling the res publica for their own profit. As one of these speculators aptly put it "Is our current situation such that the harder we work, the behinder we get?" Simultaneously alienating our friends and inciting our enemies, we ensure that the latter will soon unleash on us our very own weapons of mass destruction we so vigilantly try to prevent them from acquiring. Our society's last colletive thought will be shock that Sutherland, Clooney, and Schwarzenegger were somehow unable to stop a nuclear bomb singlehandedly.

In case you wanted to know how we got trapped in this swirling shit-spiral of democratic-imperial collapse.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Monsanto is working on transfat-free soybean oil [St. Louis Post-Dispatch courtesy of Monsanto] The problem is that this:
Soybean oil has traits that produce flakier pie crusts, smoother cookie cream, better margarine and tastier chips -- traits that other oils might not be able to match.
is either a lie or irrelevant. Lard makes better pie crust. Margarine is useless. Peanut or corn oil makes better chips, and even if you use soy oil there is no reason to hydrogenate it. Perfect example of "scientific" ass-backwards approach to "nutrition".

10/27: more from USA Today [via Corante]

What does organic mean?
Kummer picks up where Pollan left off:
Flavor, in fact, seems to have fallen fairly far down the list of what motivates consumers and producers of organic food: health concerns and simple market share are taking priority, not only over flavor but also over the environment. Market growth and adoption of the national standards have, of course, brought good things: a wider range of organic products, and attractive rather than gnarled and frankly old-looking fruits and vegetables. As industry encroaches on what was once the domain of artisans, consumers of organic food must decide whether they care about the ideological trappings that used to come with it or simply want organic food to be reliably free of chemicals and pesticides�and the less expensive and easier to find, the better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Cod stocks have sunk to historic lows and are near commercial extinction in many European Union waters despite deep cuts in the fishing fleet and stringent catch quotas, scientific evidence released Monday showed. [ via plastic]
The march of science
You may be surprised to discover that our state of the art food safety methodology -- recently adopted by Europe -- is arbitrarily and poorly implemented.
Regulatory authorities have sought improvement of the microbiological safety of meat in general and ground beef in particular by requiring the implementation of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) systems at all meat packing plants. The procedures currently recommended and employed for developing HACCP systems in the meat industry are based on subjective assessments of the microbiological effects of operations in production processes, and of the actions taken to control microbiological contamination. However, subjective assessment of microbiological effects may be erroneous, with subsequent misidentification of critical control points (CCPs). Obviously, any HACCP system based on notional rather than real CCPs is likely to be ineffective. It has therefore been suggested that HACCP systems at meat plants should be based on microbiological data that allow estimation of the numbers of indicator organisms on product at various stages of processing. Such an approach to CCP identification has been applied to some parts of the production activities at a number of beef packing plants, but not to the whole sequence of processes, from slaughter to grinding, for the production of ground beef at any packing plant.
Duh. It's 2003 and they just fucking figured this out? It's a miracle any of us are still alive.

C. O. Gill, et al., "Identification of critical control points for control of microbiological contamination in processes leading to the production of ground beef at a packing plant," Food Microbiology 20, Issue 6 (2003), pp. 641-50

Monday, October 20, 2003

U.S. biotech companies and research universities have violated strict federal regulations on planting experimental genetically modified crops more than a hundred times in the last decade, the Agriculture Department said on Friday.

The USDA said none of the 115 infractions since 1990 resulted in any harm to U.S. agriculture, the food supply or the environment.

The department published for the first time the number of violations the biotech industry has committed when planting GM corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops not yet ready for commercialization.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Pew has posted the presentations from its conference on gene flow in maize. It is hard to get much out of these slide shows, except for a sense of the incredible diversity, in pictures [pdf] and words:
Update: Even the USDA is worried about declining maize diversity.
Andy Griffin:
Terroir is a French conceit. You know, the French...those odious frog-eaters who brought us the Freedom fry, the Freedom kiss, and the Freedom Poodle, and who incidentally helped pay in guns and gold for our revolutionary freedoms. The French imagine that a well made wine can mingle the light and climate of a vineyard with the sweetness and flavor of its earth. A sip of such a wine can be an exquisite experience of the soul of a place, of it's "terroir." The headiness of an excellent wine is only partly a consequence of alcohol - the rest of the buzz is the delight we feel at an artful agriculture so in tune with its land that a season's harvest can be bottled and stored away for years against that special day and meal when the sparkle, glow, and perfume of times past can be shared again among friends.

I'm not a sophisticated winophile but I like the concept of terroir. The dirt farmer in me that believes terroir could apply as easily to chiles as to grapes and be as meaningful to the whole meal as to the drink. Consider the alternative.

I listen every morning to National Public Radio, or N.P.R., "listener-supported radio." At the top of the hour NPR typically airs short commercials from their corporate "listeners." These NPR advertisements are a genre unto themselves and are as interesting as the news they pay for. Take for example the weird corporate koans from ADM, or Archer Daniels Midland. "The shape of the future," ADM promises. What? "If you ask nature the right questions she will answer." Huh? ADM is a colossal agri-biz company. Given their political prominence I'm glad they can speak to nature and interpret her oracular pronouncements about the future. But I talk to nature too and I hear something different about what ought to come.

In one ad from past months an ADM mouthpiece asks us to "imagine the world as one big agricultural field where crops are grown where they grow best." I try and imagine this "shape" of the future. Actually, ADM's vision of a worldwide agriculture almost seems like our present - except for the fact that crops are not now "grown where they grow best," but rather where they can be produced the cheapest. "Best" and "cheapest" are not necessarily synonyms. In a world where A cheap price is contingent on cheap oil to transport product from cheap labor zones to affluent markets. It seems prudent for us to try and save some local agricultural industries from extinction while we can. Do we want all of our crops to go the way of plums, apricots, and garlic? Do we want all our crop lands to follow the fate of the San Fernando and Santa Clara Valleys while we import the garlic, apricots and plums they once produced from overseas? Against the vagaries and excesses of globalism it seems natural that we small local farmers take it upon ourselves to educate the public about the values and flavors to be to be experienced by consuming locally grown, sustainably produced, seasonally appropriate fruits and vegetables. I think of this provincial pro-local attitude as "domestic terroirism." Anybody promoting, advocating, or otherwise enhancing the bonds between their community and their local landscape by celebrating their local earth, their local flavor, is a domestic terroirist. Acts that educate the public about the seasons we are passing through are terroirist acts.

The fun thing is we can all be terroirists. Check the photo gallery link below to see what one local school teacher did with her class this week to help her students appreciate the beauty and bounty of fall on the central coast.

� 2003 Andy Griffin

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Food Porn [from egullet]
Virginia Gewin summarizes GM crop pros and cons in that new free bio journal.
yesterday's papers
(the food sections were really good):
"Spleen," he said, "I think came to me later in life." [Hesser on Henderson].

No sun-dried tomatoes sully the interior of a true hero, no pesto, no Brie, no fancy pants ingredients at all. [Ed Levine fails to be magisterial, but succeeds in making you very hungry]

"They don't want to die," Lauro says. "No, they don't want to die." But he's a hunter and there's not a trace of sympathy in his voice. [In the other Times, Russ Parsons goes sardine fishing out of San Pedro.

"But apart from the recent recall campaign, Zagat is the best example I've ever seen of democracy run amok." [David Shaw reams Zagat (as people are wont to do)]

America's lesser papers have more to say, but how can I be bothered when I have to prepare for Clemens vs. Pedro tonight at Yankee Stadium? You probably don't care about that, in which case the invaluable saut� wednesday will direct you to as much newspaper action as you can handle, including Jeremiah Trotter's belated, semicoherent, and hysterical take on cheeseburger fries:

After a generation of school kids grows up on these, perhaps we will not be able to tell the difference between the heifers and the children, and the feedlots and the schools.
[The question is, is it more miraculous that Trotter is still around, or the SF Examiner?]
Monsanto is giving up on biopharming [NYT]. (they also settled with Bayer CropScience).

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

This is going to discourage a lot of people from exporting food to the US:
The owner, operator, or agent in charge of a domestic or foreign facility that manufactures/processes, packs, or holds food for human or animal consumption in the U.S., or an individual authorized by one of them, must register that facility with FDA by December 12, 2003. A domestic facility must register whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce. A foreign facility must designate a U.S. agent (for example a facility's importer or broker), who must live or maintain a place of business in the U.S. and be physically present in the U.S., for purposes of registration.
This is what we already have for imported meats (see this FSIS page), which is why we cannot get Ib�rico ham, and only recently got prosciutto di Parma, di San Daniele, and Serrano ham.

What is interesting domestically is that the FDA may have more power to inspect meat plants than the FSIS (USDA), which is responsible for making sure that the meat is safe now. So agribusiness will still be free to sell us shit-soaked carcasses, while the FDA can shut them down if one of their minimum wage indentured servants looks fishy.

It is perhaps also slightly ironic that these "burdensome paperwork" requirements sailed through at a time when agribusiness, and its lackeys at the USDA, is bitching and moaning about Country of Origin labelling.

[cross posted at the cheese diaries]

Monday, October 13, 2003

Some other white girl goes native in Spain. The bullfights, they're so exotic and... primitive!

If you find the frisson overwhelming, the Times thoughtfully put a Michael Pollan article on the -- yawn -- "obesity epidemic" in the same magazine.

Actually, though, you should read it; it's a lucid explanation of how american farm policy fucks everyone (except ADM and Cargill) -- and it turns out this is all the fault of someone named Earl Butts.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Using data gathered since 1981 growing corn and soybeans on its experimental farms in east-central Pennsylvania, the Rodale Institute said Friday that soil where organic farming was practiced retained 15 percent to 28 percent more carbon than conventionally farmed soil, the equivalent of 1,000 pounds of carbon, or 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide, per acre foot of soil.
Among many other relevant questions, Alan Guebert asks: "Have you noticed that live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are poised to crack the unheard-of price of $100 per cwt. next week? Funny how prices can soar 30% when just 6% of supply -- the level of Canadian beef imports to the US -- disappears and people still want to eat. "
New IFPRI fish report:
projects that fish consumption in developing countries will increase by 57 percent, from 62.7 million metric tons in 1997 to 98.6 million in 2020. By comparison, fish consumption in developed countries will increase by only about 4 percent, from 28.1 million metric tons in 1997 to 29.2 million in 2020. Rapid population growth, increasing affluence, and urbanization in developing countries are leading to major changes in supply and demand for animal protein, from both livestock and fish.

To meet this growing demand, fish farming, or aquaculture, an already booming industry, will continue to expand, since most of the world's existing wild fisheries are tapped to capacity or beyond. In fact, the study projects that more than 40 percent of fish eaten by consumers in 2020 will come from fish farms. Aquaculture production is expected to nearly double in the next two decades, climbing from 28.6 million metric tons in 1997 to 53.6 in 2020.

The Times is on a meat roll. Read this if you don't understand why the USDA is useless (it's not entirely their fault), and what's wrong with HACCP.
On 11 days the inspectors at the plant even found the manure on numerous carcasses that had already been through special cleansing washes of hot water and acid....

"We have not been putting the public at risk and that's the bottom line," Mr. Bernard said.

Wilkinson et al., "Hybridization Between Brassica napus and B. rapa on a National Scale in the United Kingdom," Science express abstract:
Measures blocking hybridization would prevent or reduce biotic or environmental change caused by gene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops to wild relatives. The efficacy of any such measure depends on hybrid numbers within the legislative region over the life-span of the GM cultivar. We present a national assessment of hybridization between rapeseed (Brassica napus) and B. rapa from a combination of sources, including population surveys, remote sensing, pollen dispersal profiles, herbarium data, local Floras, and other floristic databases. Across the United Kingdom, we estimate that 32,000 hybrids form annually in waterside B. rapa populations, whereas the less abundant weedy populations contain 17,000 hybrids. These findings set targets for strategies to eliminate hybridization and represent the first step toward quantitative risk assessment on a national scale.
Science news; nsu; BBC:
The researchers conclude: "We infer that widespread, relatively frequent hybrid formation is inevitable from male-fertile GM rapeseed in the UK... the substantial numbers of predicted long-range hybrids means physical isolation would tend only to suppress rather than prevent hybrid formation."

But they add: "The presence of hybrids is not a hazard in itself and does not imply inevitable ecological change... an estimate of hybrid abundance represents only the first step toward a more quantitative assessment of risk at the national level."

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The proverbial beef is to be found in yesterdays Times, where Marian Burros discovered, much to everyone's surprise, that no one wants irradiated beef, and Jim Robbins explained how sustainable ranching is good for everyone -- complete with the requisite please-don't-disturb-my-head-so-comfortably-embedded-in-my-asshole quote from the NCBA:
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, an industry trade group, says the concerns over how beef is raised and slaughtered are baseless.

"It's a marketing distinction, not a distinction based on safety or nutrition" or taste, said Kim Essex, a spokeswoman for the group. "There's a high level of consumer confidence in the beef supply."

To some, the decline in farm numbers reflects the natural evolution of better technology and a competitive marketplace. To others, it represents a serious threat to rural communities, food supply, and environment. [C S Monitor]

Wednesday, October 08, 2003 indemnity will be provided in respect of liability arising from the spread or the threat of spread of genetically modified organism characteristics into the environment or any change to the environment arising from research into, testing of, or production of genetically modified organisms.
Insurance companies are refusing cover for farmers considering growing GM crops or for conventional farmers anxious to insure against GM contamination of their crops. [Guardian]
Journal abstract time, yay!
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 50 (8):

Valeria Negri, "Landraces in central Italy: where and why they are conserved and perspectives for their on-farm conservation," 871-885:

Four hundred and twenty-seven landraces belonging to different plant species (forages, cereals, pulses, garden crops and fruit trees) were found on-farm in central Italy during exploration and collecting missions carried out since 1981. Open field crops are mostly grown under modern agricultural techniques by relatively young farmers on quite large farms for Italian standards. Garden crops are mostly grown by elderly farmers, running small farms or home gardens and using traditional farming systems which include the use of mechanical tools for soil preparation and occasionally the use of chemical fertilisers. There is no unique situation in on-farm conservation and management in the investigated area: the main factors involved appear to be a fragmented habitat and the presence of relatively elderly farmers. Most landraces are directly used by farmers' families, but a part is sold at local and wider markets. The main reasons why these landraces have been maintained on-farm are: their resistance/good productivity under difficult or harsh climatic conditions, traditional reasons or organoleptic peculiarities, which make them highly valued and expensive on the local and city markets and/or simply because they are appreciated by the families. Three example cases of effective on-farm conservation are presented. Social problems seem to be the main cause of genetic erosion. Perspectives and constraints to on-farm conservation and management are briefly discussed.
Lu�s Maciel et al., "Genetic relationships and diversity among Brazilian cultivars and landraces of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) revealed by AFLP markers," 887-893:
The genetic variation and relationships among 31 accessions of Phaseolus vulgaris L., and two representatives of Vigna unguiculata L., were evaluated by AFLP analysis. A total of 263 DNA fragments across all materials were scored using nine primer combinations, averaging 32 per primer. More than 95% of the amplification products showed polymorphism, indicating high variation at the DNA level among these accessions. Pair-wise genetic similarity (Jaccard's coefficient) ranged from 0.553 to 0.840, with a mean of 0.765. Twenty-three accessions (70%) clustered into three groups. A majority of the commercial cultivars (91%) clustered within a single group, whereas the landraces were distributed along all the variation. An apparent correlation with phaseolin types was detected. Results of this study suggest that Brazilian landraces truly represent the overall genetic variability of Phaseolus vulgaris, confirming the multiple origins of these materials, and their potential as a source of variation for breeding programs.
Agribusiness 19 (4):

William Lin, et al., "StarLink: Impacts on the U.S. corn market and world trade," 473-488:

StarLink disrupted the U.S. corn market during the 2000/01 marketing year as a result of inadvertent commingling. The potential, upper-bound volume of marketed StarLink-commingled corn from the 2000 crop located near wet and dry millers prior to October 1, 2000, is estimated at 124 million bushels. The percentage of corn shipments that tested positive mostly ranged from 5 to 10%, varying by mode of transportation. Price differentials between StarLink-commingled and StarLink-free corn commonly ranged between 7 and 12 cents per bushel during the early stage of the incident. These differentials eroded quickly due largely to Aventis' compensation of additional transportation costs when StarLink-commingled shipments had to be rerouted to approved uses. While StarLink had a negative impact on U.S. corn exports, most of the reductions in exports to Japan and South Korea during the period from November 2000 through March 2002 were due to increased competition from rival exporters.
Schroeter and Azzam, "Captive supplies and the spot market price of fed cattle: The plant-level relationship," 489-504:
Numerous articles in the agricultural economics literature investigate the empirical relationship between the spot market price of fed cattle and the volume of packers' precommitted, or captive, supplies of cattle. In this article, we use an extensive data set on the cattle procurement activities of four large packing plants in the Texas Panhandle from early 1995 through mid-1996 to examine this relationship at the plant-level. We find evidence to support the hypothesis that plants that anticipate near-term future deliveries of captive supply cattle that are high relative to their regional-market rivals' degrees of reliance on captive supplies tend to pay spot market prices that are below average. The effect, while statistically significant, is relatively small in magnitude, however.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Another installment of the JAFC series on Iberian Pig: E. Cantos, et al., "Phenolic Compounds and Fatty Acids from Acorns (Quercus spp.), the Main Dietary Constituent of Free-Ranged Iberian Pigs," JAFC 51 (21) 2003) 6248-55: "These results suggest that dietary acorn polyphenols, and/or some derived antioxidant metabolites, could also be responsible for the reduced lipid oxidation observed in free-ranged Iberian pigs."

In unrelated culinary news, a Tsukiji walk-through [via MeFi].
10/15:Also see this eGullet thread.

OIG report reams USDA on Greeley/ConAgra recall [DenverPost | report (pdf)]:
The Colorado slaughterhouse found contaminated meat at least 63 times in the weeks before 18.6 million pounds of beef was recalled last year.

The USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service did not look at tests -- done by ConAgra -- that showed meat contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Because of its policies, the USDA believed it did not have the authority to review those tests. The USDA can only act on tests it conducts, not those done by the plant. Prior to the recall, ConAgra was exempt from USDA tests and conducted its own checks for E. coli. Investigators found, however, that the plant did not review its policies for preventing contamination after E. coli-laced meat was found repeatedly from April 8 through July 29, 2002. Between May 30, when the contaminated beef was produced, and June 30, when the recall was announced, ConAgra found E. coli nearly three dozen times.

See the Economist on GM soy in Brazil.

Friday, October 03, 2003

this book looks pretty good, if you want to read even more about GM crops.
Gijs A. Kleter and Ad A. C. M. Peijnenburg, "Presence of potential allergy-related linear epitopes in novel proteins from conventional crops and the implication for the safety assessment of these crops with respect to the current testing of genetically modified crops," Plant Biotechnology Journal 1�(September 2003), 371-380 shows how conventional crop breeding can generate just as many novel (potentially) allergenic proteins as transgenic crops, concluding:
Based upon these results, it appears that novel proteins in conventional food crops and transgenic proteins in genetically modified crops do not show any particular difference in the outcome of the screening for linear IgE-binding epitopes. From this perspective, it may be concluded that both groups should be subject to the same safety assessment procedure.
[Blackwell Synergy via Denis Murphy in AgBioView]

Thursday, October 02, 2003

A federal judge yesterday denied class-action status to an antitrust lawsuit that accused some of the world's biggest agricultural seed companies of conspiring to fix prices. [NYT]

Also in the Times: "Bayer CropScience decided to cancel a planned trial of genetically modified oilseed rape, saying Wednesday that the [UK] government's insistence on publishing the crop's location would make it vulnerable to vandals."

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I have nothing to say about gypsy child weddings. But you should probably read this: The Roma family called the investigation "a masquerade against the royal household."

©2002-2005 by the author