Farming

Monsanto Presents: Big Ag 101 – Playing at a Campus Near You

lab_studentsWhen government officials insist on making science-based decisions in food and agricultural policy, what happens when the research is increasingly funded by huge corporations with a vested interest in the results? According to a new report by GAP coalition partner Food & Water Watch, almost 25 percent of agricultural research funding at land-grant universities came from private donations in 2010.

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Mad Cow Discovery Ignites Concerns

Cattle1Tuesday's announcement of the fourth case of mad cow disease discovered in the U.S. has sparked much debate about current testing and other preventive food safety measures.

According to the USDA, the California dairy cow had been "euthanized after it developed lameness and became recumbent," which is the required step with any downer cow over 30 months old that is too sick or tired to stand – due to a federal law implemented in 2009. The ban on slaughtering downer cattle (which are at greater risk for mad cow disease) resulted from an undercover video released by the Humane Society of the United States showing slaughterhouse workers abusing and dragging downer cows to force them to slaughter.

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Good Thing the HSUS Egg Farm Exposè Isn't from Iowa or Utah…

eggsThis morning GAP coalition partner, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), released undercover video of deplorable conditions found at a major egg factory farm in Pennsylvania.

NYT writer Nicholas Kristof asks, "Is an egg for breakfast worth this?" He reports the investigator's findings:

Mice sometimes ran down egg conveyer belts, barns were thick with flies and manure in three barns tested positive for salmonella, he said.

...

In some cases, 11 hens were jammed into a cage about 2 feet by 2 feet. The Humane Society says that that is even more cramped than the egg industry’s own voluntary standards — which have been widely criticized as inadequate.

An automatic feeding cart that runs between the cages sometimes decapitates hens as they’re eating, the investigator said. Corpses are pulled out if they’re easy to see, but sometimes remain for weeks in the cages, piling up until they have rotted into the wiring, he added.

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Monsanto Bullies Vermont Over Genetically Engineered Labeling

gmo_label_poster_attPhoto via MillionsAgainstMonsantoOnce again, Big Ag has flexed its intimidating corporate muscle to stop food integrity efforts in their tracks. Biotech giant Monsanto has threatened to sue the State of Vermont if it passes legislation requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Now, despite overwhelming public support and backing from a majority of Vermont's House Agriculture Committee, legislators have put a hold on future voting on the bill.

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Court Orders FDA to Act on Antibiotic Use in Animal Agriculture

cow_feedGreat news! A federal court ruled Thursday that FDA must finally stop lagging when it comes to regulating the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and follow through on its 1977 proposal to ban the non-therapeutic use of two common antibiotics in animal feed, unless the makers of the drugs can prove their safety.

Yes, the FDA proposal was in limbo for three-and-a-half decades until the agency quietly abandoned it in December 2011, only to limit use of a less common antibiotic in January.

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Win for Farmworkers! Toxic Strawberry Pesticide Methyl Iodide Taken Off Market

strawberry_attPhoto via wikimedia user Hannah 50More than a year after a lawsuit challenging the approval of methyl iodide in California was brought to court, the maker of the controversial strawberry pesticide suddenly dropped the product from the U.S. market. This week's announcement by chemical giant Arysta is a welcoming turn of events for the farmworkers, scientists and environmental watchdogs whose voices have been repeatedly ignored – despite claims of human health effects including cancer, brain damage and miscarriages among those who come into frequent contact with methyl iodide.

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While Iowa Ag Gag Becomes Law, FIC Fights in Utah

CAFO_hogsDespite efforts to prevent Iowa's "Ag Gag" legislation, including a FIC op-ed that appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette last week, Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law on Friday.

This is disconcerting news, however unsurprising (as the Associated Press points out) given Branstad's "strong ties to the state's agricultural industry." Iowa is a big player in the food industry as the nation's leading pork and egg producer, and this bill will make it even more difficult for whistleblowers to shine a light on unsafe practices that threaten citizens.

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