|'Natural' claims cause a stir |
The terms "natural" and "organic" are not interchangeable, and The Cornucopia Institute believes consumers deserve to know how deceiving the use of the term natural can be and how it undermines the organic label.
The Cornucopia Institute bills itself as an organic industry watchdog whose goal is to empower farmers -- partnered with consumers -- through research, advocacy and economic development in support of ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.
In a report titled, "Cereal Crimes," the institute outlined in detail how there are no legal requirements or restrictions for labeling food as natural.
In many instances, it said, the term "constitutes meaningless marketing hype promoted by corporate interests seeking to cash in on the consumer's desire for food produced in a genuinely healthy and sustainable manner."
The Cornucopia Institute pointed out that, unlike the certified organic label, no government agency, certification group or other independent entity defines the term natural on food packages or ensures that the claim has merit other than when it's used on meat products, for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set requirements.
Aquaculture to provide more of world's fish
- More than 50% of food fish to come from aquaculture by next year.
- Aquaculture helps reduce poverty and improve food security in some areas.
- Aquaculture has not grown evenly worldwide.
Aquaculture is the world's fastest-growing source of animal protein and currently provides nearly half of all fish consumed globally, according to a report published by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The "World Aquaculture 2010" report found that global production of fish from aquaculture systems grew more than 60% between 2000 and 2008, from 32.4 million to 52.5 million metric tons.
FAO said the report also forecasts that by 2012, more than 50% of the food fish consumed worldwide will come from aquaculture production systems.
"With stagnating global capture fishery production and an increasing population, aquaculture is perceived as having the greatest potential to produce more fish in the future to meet the growing demand for safe and quality aquatic food," the report says.
FDA denies citizens petitions on animal antibiotics
The Food & Drug Administration last week denied two citizen petitions that asked the agency to ban certain uses of antibiotics in food animals, according to Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), one of the petitioners.
The petitions, filed by Environmental Defense, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, FACT and the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1999 and 2005, asked FDA to withdraw the approvals for antibiotics given to animals in feed or water for purposes other than disease treatment if the antibiotics are also used in human medicine.
FACT said the Nov. 7 response to these long-standing petitions came after several of the petitioners filed a lawsuit against FDA in May for not responding. In addition to demanding that FDA respond to the citizen petitions, the lawsuit asked that FDA take action on the agency's own safety findings from 1977 and withdraw approval for most uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed.
According to FACT, FDA denied the petitions because "the withdrawal process was too expensive and resource intensive."
In Our Opinion...
Ballot initiative a flawed process
By Andy Vance
IS the U.S. truly a democracy? This is something of a trick question I remember my middle school civics teacher asking.
The U.S. is, on one hand, the best example of democratic society in the history of man. On the other hand, of course, our form of government is more accurately described as a republic.
Why, you might ask, am I pondering the trivial differences between saying we live in a democracy and saying we live in a republic? Because, in part, I find myself questioning the wisdom of the ballot initiative process in states like my own beloved Ohio.
Are things really as bad as you think?
By Mark Klaus
Some days, it seems as if American agriculture is doomed, and perhaps that is largely because it is so easy to get caught up in the media frenzy and become overly emotional to the point of becoming depressed about what the future of agriculture in this country may look like.
One day last week, I was having a conversation with a family member, explaining the current issues facing agriculture. My tone was pessimistic, to say the least.
The discussion ventured into farmland values and concern that the bubble may burst. If this were to happen, we wondered if there would be only a small correction or if it would be drastic, in which case all agricultural landowners would lose great wealth overnight.
Finally, it got to the point where I pointed out that our ancestors had fled nations that were facing political, social and economic stress, and perhaps it's time to think of another migration to a more agriculturally welcoming region of the world.
Industrial entertainment throws stones at 'factory' farming
By Ray Bowman
Television personality and media mogul Oprah Winfrey has had a long-standing beef with the cattle industry. In 1996 Oprah fueled unreasonable Mad Cow fears by swearing off beef. Fifteen years and several lawsuits later, beef still seems to be in Oprah's sights, so it wasn't a big surprise that many protein companies issued a quick "no, thanks" when they were invited to be part of a show last February that featured Oprah and her staff participating in a "Vegan Challenge." Also featured on the show were the foodies' favorite fiction writer Michael Pollan and vegan weight-loss guru Kathy Freston.
The deck was unquestionably stacked, but the Cargill Company, realizing a lot was at "steak," decided to call Winfrey's hand and walked away from the table the big winner. Cargill's Fort Morgan plant manager Nicole Johnson-Hoffman was immediately catapulted from businesswoman to agri-media "rock star" as a result of her performance on the show.
The beef industry can now take some solace in the fact that they are not the only target the Oprah Media Machine is seeking to roll over. I guess it seems a little disingenuous to me for Industrial Entertainment to be throwing stones at so-called factory farming, as they do in the November issue of "O, The Oprah Magazine" which features an article entitled "One Woman Takes a Brave Stand Against Factory Farming."
GIPSA rule stays in ballpark
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's sweeping proposal to change the playing field for hog and poultry growers and buyers and sellers of livestock apparently was defused by more than 60,000 public comments and significant congressional consternation.
The competitive markets rule USDA sent to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Nov. 3 was far less overreaching than had been feared.
Now, the rule, developed by USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) and known as the "GIPSA rule" -- actually broken into two rules -- mostly affects the relationships between contract poultry growers and integrators.
OMB will have 45 days to review the main rule, after which it will be published in the Federal Register as a final rule and will become effective 60 days later.
USDA did indicate that it may not be done yet as it said some provisions in the proposed rule are "items for further consideration" that it may re-propose.
The rule was originally proposed last year. It immediately drew opposition from livestock, poultry and packer/processor organizations that said the rule would disrupt years of progress from farms to consumers and drew support from other groups that said the rule would rebalance the opportunities between the concentrated, large-scale and independent, moderate-scale sides of the industry.
|USDA announces record farm exports |
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its final tally for agricultural exports in fiscal 2011. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement: "Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion - exceeding past highs by $22.5 billion - and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home. Furthermore, agriculture continues to bolster our nation's economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year. This year, that surplus hit $42.7 billion, a record, and next year looks equally strong for the U.S. agricultural economy thanks in part to President (Barack) Obama signing new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will add an additional $2.3 billion to our export total and support nearly 20,000 American jobs."
Vilsack noted the importance of the Asian Pacific to U.S. exports, explaining, "For the first full fiscal year, China was the lead export market for farm products, buying almost $20 billion of goods such as soybeans, cotton, tree nuts and hides. ... Partnerships with growing markets like those in Vietnam and China are integral to the strength of the U.S. economy in the decades ahead."
Food & Farm
with Ray Bowman
Food & Farm is dedicated to providing fact-based information about your food and those that produce it.
On this week's show, Cargill's Mike Martin talks with us about the lessons learned from the Oprah show. Plus Corrine Fetter, director of The North American International Livestock Exposition, fills us in on what to expect at this year's NAILE.
Click here to listen
Food & Farm can be heard each Friday at noon EST and each Saturday at 9 a.m. EST on America's Web Radio
Feedstuffs 2012 Market Outlook Webinar
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
10:00 a.m. Central
Feedstuffs Editor Rod Smith will present the Feedstuffs 2012 Market Outlook during our annual Webinar on Wednesday, November 16 at 10:00 a.m. Central. The 90-minute session is FREE and will provide a detailed current-year review and year-ahead projection of critical markets affecting your business.
Click here to register
Study outlines benefits of atrazine
U.S. consumers and society benefit from atrazine and other triazine herbicides by up to $4.8 billion per year due to increased yield as well as decreased producer costs and reduced soil erosion, according to a new study released this week.
The findings show U.S. sorghum farmers benefit by more than 13 additional bushels per acre of yield with the use of atrazine, and with the savings to corn of seven bushels per acre, those yields help save the U.S. beef, dairy, pork, poultry and egg industries more than $1.4 billion per year.
Other key findings include that over five years, the triazines provide between an $18 billion and $22 billion benefit to the U.S. economy. The triazines prevent up to 85 million metric tons of soil erosion per year-enough to fill more than 3 million dump trucks. Atrazine and the other triazine herbicides help reduce emissions by up to 280,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, and growers are using atrazine to control new herbicide-resistant weeds.
To view more information about the study, click here.