May 06, 2007

Food, Farm and Biofuel Reports

United States

Mental Masala of the Ethicurean on introduction of the Safe Food Act of 2007, which "calls for the creation of a single cabinet-level Food Safety Administration with a singular mission: safe food. The bill aims to increase the frequency of inspections of food processing plants, create a method to trace food ingredients to their points of origin, and to step up monitoring of food imports. Unlike the current FDA, the administration will have the power to order mandatory recalls of unsafe foods."

Tom Philpott writes at Grist about a promising farm policy marker bill that would promote local food systems over mass-produced commodities. The chances that it will be written into passed legislation this year are slim to none, but it does provide useful ideas for future farm bills.

Residents of an assisted living center in Moultrie, GA are making biodiesel and soap from the leftover glycerin.

Corn ethanol is booming but it may not live up to its market hype. Further, it seems harder and harder to describe it as 'green,' as many proponents do: "Still, the Environmental Protection Agency, at the urging of ethanol interests and Corn Belt politicos, in April relaxed the pollution standards for ethanol plants. The threshold of emissions before a site must install the latest pollution controls was 100 tons annually; the EPA change more than doubles that guideline, to 250 tons."


Is it time to consider blocking all food and drug imports from China, now that in addition to adding melamine to food, they've been allowing export of poisonous diethylene glycol for use in medicine and food? David Goldstein notes that some of the diethylene glycol has been sold as glycerin, which is also used in pet food. An Ethicurean news round up also notes that Chinese catfish with unauthorized antibiotics have been banned in Mississippi and Alabama.

Bird flu: Reappears on a duck farm in Vietnam. Thousands of chickens culled in Bangladesh.

Oil palm biodiesel investment spreading in Indonesia. The spread of palm oil cultivation has been disastrously cutting into orangutan habitat, and though the Malaysian goverment objects to the claim and says they're only converting former rubber plant plantations, but independent observers say that they're tearing through virgin forest like nobody's business.

Good news on the organic front as "researchers told a U.N. conference Saturday that a large-scale shift to organic agriculture could help fight world hunger while improving the environment," which at least the rest of the world might pay some attention to.

While India has criticized the latest WTO report for failing to address the concerns of farmers in developing nations, in this discussion on bringing contract farming to India to make farm products more attractive to large corporations and chain stores, there was a group conspicuous by its absence ... "At the centre of the discussions were farmers although there were no farmers' representatives at the workshop conducted here jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research."

Natasha is currently an intern with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, an organization dedicated to outreach and education in sustainable agriculture and food systems issues. The opinions expressed in this post are her own and are not representations on behalf of MFAI. For regular legislative alerts about food sustainability issues, sign up with the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.

Posted by natasha at May 6, 2007 10:43 AM | Agriculture | Technorati links |

One more US one for you:
New York Sun Works floats into Hudson River Park carrying green tech, veggies, and the rallying cry for urban food production.

Posted by: tjewell at May 6, 2007 08:13 PM