Agriculture

U.S. meat firm expands beef recall due to E.coli
September 29, 2007 03:41 PM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Topps Meat Company LLC has expanded its recall to include 21.7 million pounds (9,800 tonnes) of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, the Elizabeth, New Jersey-based company said on Saturday.

The beef has a "sell by date" or "best if used by date" between September 25, 2007, and September 25, 2008. All recalled products will have a U.S. Department of Agriculture establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and/or in the USDA legend.

On Tuesday, the company announced a recall of 331,582 (150 tonnes) pounds of frozen ground beef products.

Senator seeks to overhaul food safety system
September 28, 2007 04:05 PM - Missy Ryan, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The assistant Senate majority leader says Congress should phase out the splintered U.S. food safety system and come up with a better way to ensure the food Americans eat is safe.

Assistant leader Dick Durbin told a food-policy conference on Friday that he would try to attach the phase-out to the farm policy law being written this year. Twelve agencies share authority over food safety at present.

"I hope this is going to be the kind of catalyst that is going to move us toward change," Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told a food policy conference on Friday.

Agrilandia Farm: Italy’s Slow Food Culture Comes to Beijing
September 28, 2007 10:10 AM - Lila Buckley, Worldwatch Institute

Nestled in the dusty northern suburbs of Beijing, the village of Baige Zhuang seems like an unlikely birthplace for fine Italian wines and cheeses. But since 1999, Agrilandia Italian Farm has been producing handcrafted organic red wines, fruit wines, cheeses, and conserves in Beijing’s remote suburbs, in an attempt to bring the philosophy of Italian ecological agriculture to the Chinese capital.

Nutrient Pollution From Farms and Livestock Hurts Amphibians
September 28, 2007 10:07 AM - Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch Institute

Minnesota - Remember the uproar in 1995 when school kids in Minnesota began finding frogs with extra limbs? The mutated amphibians looked like props in some sci-fi movie, and scientists quickly began searching for the culprit behind the deformities. Speculation centered on pesticides, increased UV radiation, and infection from parasites-  which ultimately turned out to be the "villain."

Lawmakers Say Food Safety System In Crisis
September 27, 2007 12:52 PM - Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are skeptical of imported food and other products after repeated safety scares, said lawmakers on Wednesday, who want to give the Food and Drug Administration more power to inspect imports and recall defective ones.

The "system has pretty much fallen apart from top to bottom," said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. "People are shocked by the continuing number of food safety issues we have."

Pesticide Exposure Tied to Asthma in Farmers
September 27, 2007 08:38 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

Exposure to several commonly used pesticides appears to increase the risk of asthma, US researchers report.

This finding stems from a study of nearly 20,000 farmers, which was presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Stockholm.

'Healthy' restaurants help make us fat, says a new study
September 25, 2007 08:43 AM - Cornell University, Chronicle

If you're like most, you eat worst at healthy restaurants.  The "health halos" of healthy restaurants often prompt consumers to treat themselves to higher-calorie side dishes, drinks or desserts than when they eat at fast-food restaurants that make no health claims, according to a series of new Cornell studies.

Australia gives more money to drought-hit farmers
September 25, 2007 07:39 AM - Reuters

The Australian government on Tuesday announced an extra A$714 million ($621 million) to help farmers survive a record-breaking drought.

About 65 percent of Australia's viable agricultural land is currently in drought, with 23,000 farming families on some form of drought relief payments.

Frog deformities blamed on farm and ranch runoff
September 24, 2007 07:49 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Horrific deformities in frogs are the result of a cascade of events that starts when nitrogen and phosphorus from farming and ranching bleed into lakes and ponds, researchers said on Monday.

These nutrients from fertilizers and animal waste create dramatic changes in aquatic ecosystems that help a certain type of parasitic flatworm that inflicts these deformities on North American frogs, researchers said.

"You can get five or six extra limbs. You can get no hind limbs. You can get all kinds of really bizarre, sick and twisted stuff," Pieter Johnson, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

Offer Your Guests and Staff the Best Coffee: Fair Trade Certified
September 24, 2007 01:20 PM - Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News

There is a pretty good chance you are drinking coffee while reading this column. I am one of those rare individuals who has never had a cup of coffee. Never. That’s probably a good thing with the price of java rising faster than petroleum. Speaking of which, did you know that coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity? It is just behind petroleum. According to San Francisco-based Global Exchange, coffee is the United States’ largest food import.

The United States primarily purchases coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Vietnam. It also buys coffee from Indonesia, Costa Rica, Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Uganda, Thailand, Nicaragua, India, and Papua New Guinea. Take another look at the caffeinated concoction swirling before you. It traveled a long way to get to your coffee cup.

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