Agriculture

Expert calls for "Green Super Rice" to be developed
October 2, 2007 08:15 AM - Reuters

A hybrid high-yielding rice that is rich in nutrients, resistant to pests and drought and which requires fewer fertilizers and pesticides should be developed, a Chinese agricultural expert said on Tuesday.

Writing in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Qifa Zhang of Huazhong Agricultural University in China's central Wuhan city, said genes for at least 10 of these desired traits have been isolated and were available for breeding purposes.

China Suspends Soybean Imports From US , Beetle Infestation Discovered
September 29, 2007 06:55 PM -

Beijing, China - China's quality control administration said on Friday that it found live khapra beetles in soybeans imported from the United States. The beetle is a much-feared pest that can destroy soybean stores.

A statement from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the 460 tons of soybeans shipped by the U.S.-based Scoular Company contained the beetles and "other species of harmful insects," without elaborating. Ragweed seeds were also detected in the 21 containers.

Researchers Challenge Assumptions Of GMO Agriculture
September 29, 2007 06:42 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Manhatten, Kansas - A  researcher is challenging the assumption that genetically engineered plants are the great scientific and technological revolution in agriculture and the only efficient and cheap way to feed a growing population. They are working on non-GMO methods to accelerate plant breeding. It's called "market-assisted selection". The research is focused on breeding methodology, finding more efficient ways to breed better varieties of corn, sorghum, wheat or barley that yield higher, require less irrigation and are resistant to diseases in farmers' fields. The work was recently published in an edition of the scientific journal Crop Science.

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.

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