Saturday, January 29, 2011

as oil and food prices rise, arab states buy up farmland in africa

as oil and food prices rise, arab states buy up farmland in africafrom green prophet: In response to the recent food riots in Algeria and Tunisia, and to rising oil prices (the price/barrel of crude is, once again, nearing $100) some Arab states (including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) have been buying-up farm land in parts of Africa. In late 2010, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation announced that food prices had reached a higher level than even those back in 2008 (which resulted in food riots in several places around the world). Hedging their bets against a food shortage in their own countries, these wealthy Gulf region nations are hoping to put into production the vast swaths of ag-land they've recently purchased in Ethiopia, Sudan (and the smaller tracts they've grabbed in Kenya and Mozambique) - with the yields intended to feed their own -- exclusively. Critics, like the NGO GRAIN, argue that this land grab will displace small African farmers, and only add to that continents' own food shortage problems.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

fda official: "just eat a goddamn vegetable"

from onion news network: During the Daily Briefing, Tucker Hope reports that the FDA is urging Americans to put something green in their dumb mouths.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

usda admits involvement in south dakota mass bird deaths

usda admits involvement in south dakota mass bird deathsfrom allgov: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has assumed responsibility for the deaths of more than 300 birds in Yankton, South Dakota. But the USDA insists it had nothing to do with other mass die-offs of birds recently in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky. The South Dakota killings were a result of the department’s Wildlife Services Program, which used DRC-1339 to poison a feedlot in Nebraska, across the state border from Yankton. The feedlot owners had complained that starlings were eating their feed and defecating in inappropriate areas. Starlings were introduced into the United States in 1890 by Eugene Schiffelin, who imported them from England and released them in New York’s Central Park. Since the 1960s, the government has eradicated large numbers of birds under its Bye Bye Blackbird operation, which has involved multiple species. In FY 2009 alone, the program killed more than 4 million birds and animals, including 1,259,714 starlings, 1,046,109 cowbirds and 969,889 red-winged blackbirds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Department of the Interior, also has killed blackbirds, grackles and starlings for public health or economic reasons.

updates: 10k cattle dead in vietnam: cows, buffalo part of mass die-off - what in the world is happening out there?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

usda cracks down on honey laundering

usda cracks down on honey launderingfrom allgov: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is continuing its pursuit of illegal, and sometimes dangerous, imports of foreign honey into the United States. After the government in 2002 imposed a tariff on honey imported from China, the world’s largest producer of the product, Chinese businesses began using third-party countries to launder honey into the U.S. On August 31, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted five companies and eleven individuals for trying to pass off Chinese honey as coming from Russia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. In some cases, Chinese-produced honey was found to contain the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which can cause serious health problems. Other contaminants have included traces of pesticides or industrial pollutants. The USDA is now attempting to adopt a new federal regulation requiring any imported honey sold in the U.S. to contain a country-of-origin label.

Monday, January 17, 2011

maryland orchard to pasteurize cider after e. coli scare

maryland orchard to pasteurize cider after e. coli scarefrom barfblog: In October, 1996, 16-month-old Anna Gimmestad of Denver drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, Calif. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider --and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believe that some of the apples used to make the cider may have been insufficiently washed after falling to the ground and coming into contact with deer feces... Yesterday, Baugher's Orchard and Farm in Westminster, Maryland, announced to local fanfare - and some customer distress - that it will change the way it produces apple cider in the future after E. coli infections were linked to the product this fall.

read more about pasteurization here, here & here

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

food skyrockets to highest prices ever

food skyrockets to highest prices everfrom natural news: Figures recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) index of 55 food commodities indicates that worldwide food prices hit a record high in December. Though the costs of some food commodities like rice, corn and soy actually decreased, oil seeds and sugar jumped significantly due to various factors including erratic weather and droughts, according to reports. In the past, such ups and downs on the commodity market did not immediately affect actual food costs for consumers, but some experts say that this is no longer the case, and that "food inflation" will occur right alongside the commodity price gains. And rapid food inflation has already taken place in India, for example, with recent reports indicating that the country experienced an overall food inflation rate of 18 percent in 2010.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

epa to reduce fluoride levels in water due to 'unwanted health effects'

epa to reduce fluoride levels in water due to 'unwanted health effects'from washington's blog: Today [jan7], the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a reduction in allowable fluoride levels in U.S. drinking water:
HHS’ proposed recommendation of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water replaces the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams. This updated recommendation is based on recent EPA and HHS scientific assessments to balance the benefits of preventing tooth decay while limiting any unwanted health effects.
As AP notes:
A scientific report five years ago said that people who consume a lifetime of too much fluoride — an amount over EPA's limit of 4 milligrams — can lead to crippling bone abnormalities and brittleness. That and other research issued Friday by the EPA about health effects of fluoride are sure to re-energize groups that still oppose adding it to water supplies.

related update: studies conclude cavity levels falling worldwide; even in countries that don't fluoridate

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

leaked document: epa knowingly approved bee-killing pesticide

leaked document: epa knowingly approved bee-killing pesticidefrom natural news: A Colorado beekeeper recently obtained a leaked document revealing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows a popular crop pesticide is killing off honey bees, but has allowed its continued approval anyway. Despite opposition from its own scientists, EPA officials first gave the a-okay to Bayer CropScience's toxic pesticide clothianidin in 1993 based on the company's own flawed safety studies. But now it has been revealed that the EPA knew all along about the dangers of clothianidin and decided to just ignore them. By now, most people know that honeybees are dying off at an incredibly disturbing rate. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), a condition where bees stray from the hive and never find their way back, is nixing millions of nature's pollinators every year. Previous studies have pinpointed various environmental toxins as the primary culprits, including toxic pesticides like clothianidin.

Monday, January 3, 2011

pennsylvania allows gas fracking waste to be dumped in local waterways

pennsylvania allows gas fracking waste to be dumped in local waterwaysfrom activist post: It was revealed today by the AP that the state of Pennsylvania is allowing "wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium" to be flushed into local waterways. This wastewater is a result of natural gas extraction method called "fracking" which has been a sore spot with the affected community. The protests against gas fracking in the Marcellus ShaleGasland was released area of Pennsylvania have increased in size since the movie, which brought great awareness to the environmental damage caused by this method... It was revealed in September that any opposition to this poisonous practice is being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security. Peaceful protesters were shocked to find out that they were on an 'extremist' watch list compiled by a foreign company who was contracted to monitor dissent, apparently on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

animal farms get bigger & bigger

animal farms get bigger & biggerfrom allgov: The last two decades witnessed the continued disappearance of small- and medium-sized farms, thanks to the ever-expanding presence of corporate-owned “factory” farms, according to Food and Water Watch. In a new report, the agricultural watchdog organization found the number of dairy cows on factory farms (those with more than 500 cows) nearly doubled, from 2.5 million in 1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. “The growth of factory-farmed dairies in western states like Idaho, California, New Mexico and Texas shifted dairy production away from traditional dairy states like Wisconsin, New York and Michigan,” reads the report.