FEED – Food & Environmental Electronic Digest - September 2005
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- Update: Baytril finally off the market!
- Hurricane Ophelia hits pharma rice in North Carolina
- Safe alternatives to antibiotics for livestock
- Iowa county offers tax breaks for organic farmers
- Engineered crop outcrosses to distant relative
1. Update: Baytril finally off the market!
After losing another administrative appeal, Bayer threw in the towel and finally allowed its poultry antibiotic Baytril to go off the market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cancelled the drug effective September 12, but Bayer still had the option of a judicial appeal. UCS applauds the FDA for its tenacity in defending its decision over the five years of the Bayer appeals. Read an Associated Press article about the ban.
2. Hurricane Ophelia hits pharma rice in North Carolina
Hurricane Ophelia headed straight for fields of pharmaceutical-producing rice near Plymouth, North Carolina, as it as it traveled up the east coast in mid-September. The hurricane’s high winds and heavy rains threatened to scatter rice plants and seeds, a possibility that the U.S. Department of Agriculture discounted when it approved Ventria Bioscience’s applications to plant pharma rice in North Carolina earlier this year. The pharma crops are genetically engineered to produce human proteins. Two more months remain in the hurricane season.
3. Safe alternatives to antibiotics for livestock
In preparation for a 2006 ban on antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock, European researchers are developing alternative products for growth promotion and disease prevention. Among the new products are plant-based feed additives for livestock and a dozen probiotics, which contain live “friendly” bacteria whose presence can prevent the invasion of harmful bacteria. In Canada, the University of Guelph is working on a therapy for pigs based on phages, bacteria-killing viruses that can combat E. coli infections. For more information, check out:
- MeatProcess.com, a site run by a European news media organization
- An article about phage therapy in Ontario Pork
- The official European Union project website.
4. Iowa county offers tax breaks for organic farmers
Woodbury County, Iowa, is the first county in the United States to offer farmers tax incentives to convert to organic farming. The incentives add up to about $50,000 in property tax rebates for each of the five years needed for the conversion. The county hopes to develop an organic industry niche. Read an Associated Press article about the program.
5. Engineered crop outcrosses to distant relative
According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, genes for herbicide resistance moved from genetically engineered oilseed rape into a distantly related weed called charlock during a field trial in the United Kingdom. Although the transfer of genetically engineered traits to related weeds is a common occurrence, these two species were so dissimilar that scientists considered outcrossing between them to be virtually impossible. The event raises concerns that a larger group of weeds than previously suspected will be able to pick up genes from engineered crops. Genetically engineered crops are not grown commercially in the UK. Click here for more information.