News bites, July 2005

This article was originally published in July 2005

Parents and diet

Kids might start thinking twice before reaching for candy or chips at the school cafeteria. Mom or Dad might be watching. MealPay is a computerized checkout system being used in four Atlanta-area school cafeterias. Parents are able to log on to the Internet and find out what their children have been buying in the lunch line. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Nike says no to GE cotton

Genetically engineered cotton is on the way out in India. After years of poor crop yields, hundreds of villages across India have pledged to go GE-free. Under increasing pressure in India and across the world, the Nike corporation has announced it will no longer use genetically engineered cotton in its products. (Organic Consumer’s Association)

New York City phases out pesticides

New York City is leading the nation to protect public health by enacting a law to phase out use of pesticides that cause cancer or developmental disorders. The phase-out must occur by November 2006 and will affect applications on all city land. The legislation also will require commercial landscapers to give neighbors prior notice before spraying pesticides. (Beyond Pesticides)

Sugar, refined carbs linked to cancer

A new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers and Prevention offers evidence that consuming refined carbohydrates can promote cancer. Research shows that foods with a high glycemic value — those that raise blood sugar levels quickly, such as corn syrup, sugar and refined flour — accelerates cancer cell growth and tumors in the body. The study compared dietary habits of 1,800 women in Mexico. (American Association for Cancer Research)

Soft drinks linked to obesity, diabetes

It seems that a soda a day promotes weight gain and diabetes. Research involving 50,000 U.S. nurses shows that those who drank just one serving of soda or fruit punch a day gained weight more quickly than those who had less than one soda a month. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes also increased 80 percent among those consuming a daily soda or punch. The risk applies to drinks sweetened with either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. (

Mad cow cover-up

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has refused to respond to allegations that it has been covering up cases of mad cow disease in the United States for more than a decade. Lester Friedlander, a former USDA veterinarian, testified to a Canadian House of Commons committee that he was told by USDA officials as far back as 1991 that if his testing laboratory ever found evidence of mad cow, he was to tell no one.

He and other scientists say they know of cases where cows tested positive for the disease in laboratories, but were ruled negative by the USDA. A USDA veterinarian who was in charge of monitoring cattle for the fatal disease confessed to sketchy testing since 1997.

On the eve of retiring, Dr. Masua Doi said, “I want to hand it over to someone to continue, to find out. How many did we miss?” Dr. Karl Langheindrich, who runs a test lab in Georgia, also says the appropriate animal parts are not sent to him for accurate testing. (Organic Consumers Association)

Schools say no to irradiated meat

The Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA recently conducted a nationwide survey of school districts to gauge interest in ordering irradiated meat for the 2005-06 school year. The answer: none. No school districts have placed orders. Last year, a number of school districts in Texas, Minnesota and Nebraska initiated orders for irradiated ground beef but cancelled after learning prices were 29 to 80 cents higher per pound. (Public Citizen)


California lawmakers are considering a mandate that consumers be warned about acrylamides, a carcinogen that forms when starchy foods are fried, toasted or baked. The law would apply to food manufacturers, restaurants, hotels and retailers. Idaho’s Governor is lobbying to exempt French fries from the list of foods that must have warnings. (Associated Press/Food Marketing Institute)

GE-free zones in Canada

Canadians are creating a web of zones across the country that are free of genetically engineered plants, animals, crops and trees. The GE-free Canada campaign is a nation-wide, grass-roots effort by farmers, environmentalists and ordinary citizens concerned about food safety and who’s controlling the food supply.

Salt Spring Island, B.C. and Powell River, B.C. have passed municipal resolutions declaring themselves GE-free Crop Areas. Prince Edward Island is holding legislative committee hearings on whether to make the province GE-free. Across the prairies, numerous municipalities have passed resolutions banning GE wheat. The campaign’s goal is to have 50 communities declare themselves GE-Free in the next two years. (Council of Canadians)

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