News bites, February 2003

This article was originally published in February 2003

Organic at McDonalds?

McDonald’s will start selling cartons of organic milk in its UK outlets in February. The decision only affects milk in cartons and will not extend to other ingredients, such as milkshakes. The company already sells organic milk and ice cream at outlets in Sweden. (CoCoSnips)

GE breeds superweeds

The increased use of genetically modified soybean crops is causing more weeds to develop resistance to one of the world’s leading herbicides. Weeds resistant to Monsanto’s “Roundup” are emerging in Delaware, Maryland, California and in several midwestern states. (New York Times)

Pesticides in food

A study from the University of Washington reports that school children eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are more likely to exceed EPA safety thresholds for organophosphate pesticides than children eating organic produce. Organophosphate metabolites in children eating conventional foods reportedly were nine times higher than in children eating organic foods.

Professor Richard Fenske, research scientist Cynthia Curl, and graduate student Kai Elgethun say the study shows “that dietary choice can have a significant effect on children’s pesticide exposure. To our knowledge, they say “no other studies have tested this hypothesis.” Consumption of organic produce represents a relatively simple means for parents to reduce their children’s pesticide exposure.” (Environmental Health Perspectives)

Irradiated meat

Supermarket chains in new areas of the country are jumping on the food irradiation bandwagon and carrying irradiated meat. Albertson’s is among those who announced a decision in January. (Public Citizen)

Ban on GE fish

Washington state has become the first state in the nation to ban permanently the farming of genetically engineered fish.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission enacted the Dec. 9 ban after environmentalists argued the risk was too great that transgenic fish would escape and interbreed with wild fish.

The move is largely symbolic, at least for now, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any genetically altered fish. Proponents, however, expect to win approval. (Associated Press)

Imports hurt dairy farmers

Dairy farmers face historically low prices for milk this year. The biggest reason reportedly is a substance called milk protein concentrate (MPC), a powder made from what’s left after making other dairy products. Large cheese processors, such as Kraft, allegedly use MPC instead of domestic nonfat dry milk because it’s cheaper.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration never approved MPC as a food ingredient because it doesn’t meet “Generally Recognized as Safe” standards; it’s used in glue and animal feed. To sidestep the FDA, MPC may be listed as “pasteurized process cheese food.” Farmers and activists are campaigning to expose MPC use. (Agribusiness Examiner #201)

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