November 16, 2005 3:53 PM
FEED – Food & Environmental Electronic Digest - November 2005
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- Organic standards weakened by last-minute rider
- The health hazards of farmed fish
- Country-of-origin-labeling delayed again
- Panera Bread reports spike in sales after introducing antibiotic-free chicken
- Conservation Security Program targeted
- Playing Games with Public Health animation
1. Organic standards weakened by last-minute rider
The 2006 agricultural appropriations bill passed by Congress in late October included a last-minute addition that weakened organic standards. The rider would clear the way for widespread use of synthetic additives and processing aids without the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board. Currently the organic industry is allowed to use a small number of such substances after approval by the Board. In addition, the amendment would extend to 12 months the time over which producers may substitute non-organic for organic ingredients in case an ingredient is not available with no public notification. To read an article from The New York Times, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/01/business/01organic.html?ex=1132203600&en=1f67f4cc0eef9f9b&ei=5070.
2. The health hazards of farmed fish
A new report from the Center for Food Safety highlights the health hazards of aquaculture fish. The aquaculture industry, which produces about a third of the fish sold worldwide, uses antibiotics, fungicides, dyes, and hormones to compensate for crowded conditions, encourage rapid growth, and improve the appearance of the final product. Farmed fish also accumulate higher levels of environmental contaminants than wild fish. Imported farmed fish are particularly dangerous because they can contain drugs that have been banned in the United States, like chloramphenicol, an antibiotic linked to cancer and aplastic anemia. The report advises consumers to read labels to be certain where their fish comes from and urges the Food and Drug Administration to tighten standards. To read the report, “The Catch with Seafood: Human Health Impacts of Drugs and Chemicals Used by the Aquaculture Industry,” visit http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/thecatchwithseafoodaquaculturereport.cfm.
3. Country-of-origin-labeling delayed again
For the second time, Congress has deferred for two years the implementation of mandatory country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) on food products other than seafood. COOL would allow consumers to distinguish between domestic and foreign products and to choose items produced in the United States, in nearby countries, or in countries with strong food safety regulations. Consumer advocates and the sustainable agriculture community were delighted when COOL was adopted by Congress as part of the 2002 farm bill. This labeling requirement is overwhelmingly supported by the public according to a poll by Public Citizen. Its implementation is now delayed until September 30, 2008. To read an expose on how big agribusiness achieved this rollback, visit http://www.citizen.org/documents/COOL.pdf.
4. Panera Bread reports spike in sales after introducing antibiotic-free chicken
Panera Bread reported unexpectedly high earnings for its third quarter and profits of $30 million over earnings this time last year. The company, which operates nearly 800 bakery-cafes nationwide, attributed its success partly to new menu items featuring chicken raised without antibiotics. For an Associated Press story on the earnings, visit http://www.wtopnews.com/index.php?nid=111&sid=596556.
5. Conservation Security Program targeted
Congress is considering budget reconciliation bills that cut the Conservation Security Program (CSP) so severely that new CSP enrollments may end after this year. When the Senate Agriculture Committee was asked to shave three billion dollars off its budget, it chose to achieve 27 percent of these savings by pulling $821 million from the CSP, a program that provides financial incentives for sustainable farming and ranching practices and that constitutes only one percent of federal agriculture spending overall. The full Senate passed this measure on November 3. The House is now considering its own budget reconciliation bill that would cut more than $500 million from the CSP. Once the House passes its bill, the issue will go to conference committee. To learn more about the cuts to conservation programs in the two budget reconciliation bills, read American Farmland Trust's policy update at
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November 16, 2005 3:54 PM
6. Playing Games with Public Health animated movie
Check out this short animated movie, which addresses the problem of antibiotic resistance in a gameshow format. Playing Games with Public Health is available at http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/video/flash.html.
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