Monday, November 30, 2009

'all clear' issued for portland water following e.coli warnings

'all clear' issued for portland water following e.coli warningsfrom digital journal: On Saturday, November 28 the Portland, Oregon Water Bureau issued a warning about the Portland water on the West side of the Willamette River. E.coli was found, but after additional precautions and testing, the Bureau reports the water safe to drink.

According to KOIN Channel 6 in Portland, the Water Bureau observed late today the water in the service area originally cited as having E.coli bacteria in one west-side reservoir has tested safe to drink. But as an added caution the Bureau has advised people to run all taps for a few minutes until the water is cold in the event any of residual contaminated water remains in the pipes...

In the meantime an investigation into the discovery of E.coli is being undertaken to determine the cause of the bacteria having entered Portland water...

The authorities in Portland made a decision to take dramatic action based upon testing of the water in a fashion that would get public attention and response. Portland water has long been touted as drinkable out of the tap, so the experience of the past 24 hours was unusual for people of the region.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

monsanto's control over seed market draws antitrust inquiry

patented seeds are go-to for farmers,
who decry their fast-growing price ...

monsanto's control over seed market draws antitrust inquiryfrom washington post: For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they've come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation's two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according to Monsanto company patents. Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn.

The seeds represent "probably the most revolutionary event in grain crops over the last 30 years," said Geno Lowe, a Salisbury, Md., soybean farmer.

But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers.

The revolution, and Monsanto's dominant role in the nation's agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition.

Now Monsanto - like IBM and Google - has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms.

During the Bush administration, the Justice Department did not file a single case under antimonopoly laws regulating a dominant firm. But that stretch seems unlikely to continue.

This year, the Obama Justice Department tossed out the antitrust guidelines of its predecessor because they advocated "extreme hesitancy in the face of potential abuses by monopoly firms."

but, of course, obamessiah has no problem appointing monsanto creatures to fda/usda in the change administration:
turmoil at usda: vilsack, obamonsanto & you
obama's pesticide-pushing nominee: islam 'isi' siddiqui
why are monsanto insiders now appointed to protect food safety?
obama taps former monsanto vp to head fda working group

Friday, November 27, 2009

food banks go high-tech to feed the hungry

food banks go high-tech to feed the hungryfrom ap: Food banks across the country are undergoing a high-tech revolution, adopting sophisticated databases, bar coding, GPS tracking, automated warehouses and other technologies used in the food industry that increasingly supplies their goods.

It's a long way from handing out macaroni and canned soup from a church basement. While more people can be fed through these innovations, food bank directors say it's also a sad acknowledgment that hunger has become a huge and seemingly unending problem. "What we tell people a lot is that we are a food distribution business wrapped in an altruistic skin," says Jan Pruitt, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas.

Her food bank, along with Food Lifeline in Seattle and the Food Bank of Central New York in East Syracuse, are testing a $60 million effort by Feeding America, an umbrella organization for about 200 U.S. food banks, to create a state-of-the-art national computer network that will greatly automate services.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

turmoil at usda: vilsack, obamonsanto & you

turmoil at usda: vilsack, obamonsanto & youfrom allgov: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has a lot of angry employees on his hands. The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture began reorganizing staff in October, which included downgrading the positions of chief information officer and chief financial officer, along with other changes affecting the jobs of nearly 3,000 workers.

USDA’s CFO, Evan Segal, who only came aboard in July, has left the department temporarily, and may not return at all. Some of the biggest critics of Vilsack’s “reorg” plan are in the Office of Human Resource Management, where all 58 employees were told they would have to move into new jobs, or risk termination.

One USDA staffer told Government Executive the situation was “absolutely chaotic.” The staffer added: “I lived through previous reorganizations, and they are usually clear-cut. But there is no plan in place here. It seems to change day by day.”

related: vilsack urges americans to 'feed a neighbor' this thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

reports say gmo's causing massive pesticide pollution

reports say gmo's causing massive pesticide pollutionfrom food freedom: Two new reports this year on genetically modified foods expose Monsanto and other biotech company lies. The first by Union of Concerned Scientists, Failure to Yield, came out in February. The latest report comes from Organic Center: Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years, and exposes that pesticide use has increased with GM crops.

There is one fact about genetically engineered foods that there is no debate about: no one wakes up in the morning eager to buy gene-altered food. There’s good reason for this. Genetically modified foods do nothing for the “eating public.” They provide no extra nutrition, flavor, safety or any other trait that people actually want. Instead, these food products only offer risks, which include potential toxicity, allergenicity, and lower nutritional value.

This presents a tough problem for the Monsantos of the world, who are pushing these GM foods. How can you sell something to the public that offers no benefits to them? And, because of their lobbying power, the biotech companies have ensured that their products are not labeled. So Monsanto’s real request of the public is “be unknowing guinea pigs for foods that make us a lot of money and offer you nothing but risk.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

food insecurity: more americans going hungry

food insecurity: more americans going hungryfrom allgov: The Great Recession has left millions of Americans hungry not only for jobs but even food itself. A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows “food insecurity” rose dramatically in 2008—to the highest levels since the federal government first began keeping track of this problem in the mid-1990s.

Nearly 50 million people experienced trouble getting enough to eat during some part of last year, up from 37 million in 2007. The increase of 13 million Americans was far higher than even the most pessimistic observers expected, according to The New York Times.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service concluded that nearly 6% of the country (or about 18 million people) suffered from “very low food security” that caused Americans to skip meals, cut portions or not eat at all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

obama's pesticide-pushing nominee: islam 'isi' siddiqui

obama's pesticide-pushing nominee: islam 'isi' siddiquifrom mother jones: When Michelle Obama announced plans to plant an organic garden at the White House, nearly everybody thought it was a great idea. Everybody except for the pesticide industry. Representatives from a branch of the industry's main trade association, CropLife America (CLA), wrote to the First Lady asking her to respect the role of "conventional agriculture;" they added in a separate note to supporters that the thought of the White House's chemical-free vegetables made them "shudder." But the public swipe at the president's wife didn't stop the administration from nominating senior CLA executive Islam "Isi" Siddiqui to a key post: chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). If confirmed, Siddiqui will be responsible for, among other things, negotiating international agreements governing the use of pesticides.

CLA is the American branch of CropLife International, a powerful global lobby; its members include agriculture giants such as Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, and DuPont. Siddiqui joined the CLA in 2001 as a registered lobbyist, and since 2003 has served as its vice president of science and regulatory affairs. In that position, he's played a critical role in setting CLA’s domestic and international agenda.

Chiding Michelle Obama for not using "crop protection products" in her garden is one of the milder tactics CLA has deployed in service of its cause. During Siddiqui's tenure at the organization, it has lobbied aggressively to weaken domestic and international regulations on pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

obama's pesticide-pushing nominee: islam 'isi' siddiquiIn 2005, the group participated in secret talks with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and Budget on permitting pesticide testing on children. In 2006, CropLife America helped secure an exemption for American farmers for a worldwide ban on methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting pesticide. It has also actively worked to remove what it terms "trade irritants" on pesticides under NAFTA. In its 2008 annual report, CLA highlighted its "relentless" efforts to persuade negotiators to cut language "discriminatory to pesticides" from the 2008 Farm Bill. Meanwhile, its parent organization has fought to eliminate all tariffs on pesticides in World Trade Organization trade negotiations.

After the nomination was announced, more than 80 organizations—including environmental groups and organic and local farm interests—wrote to the Senate Finance Committee in protest. "The Obama administration has said they're not going to put lobbyists in these roles in government, and [Siddiqui] was a lobbyist, he worked for industry," explained Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist working on food and environmental issues at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The question is whether he can take a scientific, unbiased perspective on what works and doesn't work, rather than a trade agenda that primarily [supports] large US companies and the technologies they prefer."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

what's really in that burger? e.coli & feces both allowed by usda

what's really in that burger? e.coli & feces both allowed by usdafrom natural news: There are 14 billion hamburgers consumed each year in the United States alone. The people who eat those burgers, though, have little knowledge of what's actually in them. Current USDA regulations, for example, openly allow beef contaminated with E. coli to be repackaged, cooked and sold as ready-to-eat hamburgers.

This simple fact would shock most consumers if they knew about it. People assume that beef found to be contaminated with E. coli must be thrown out or destroyed (or even recalled), but in reality, it's often just pressed into hamburger patties, cooked, and sold to consumers. This practice is openly endorsed by the USDA.

But E. coli may not be the worst thing in your burger: USDA regulations also allow chicken feces to be used as feed for cows, meaning your hamburger beef may be made of second-hand chicken poop, recycled through the stomachs of cows.