News bites, March 2014

This article was originally published in March 2014

Supreme Court to hear labeling suit

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a dispute between Pom Wonderful and Coca-Cola. Pom sued Coke in 2008, accusing it of misleading consumers into believing its “Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry Blend of 5 Juices” contained mostly pomegranate and blueberry juices when in fact it’s 99.4 percent apple and grape juices. The case will be decided in June and could impact how future false labeling claims on food are enforced. (

Canada sued for GE salmon

Three environmental groups are challenging the Canadian government’s approval of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Ecojustice, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society say Canada’s approval of the GE salmon is unlawful because it failed to assess whether genetically engineered salmon will become invasive and damage ecosystems and wild salmon stocks. The lawsuit asks a court to invalidate the assessment and require the government to comply with the law before permitting production of the GE salmon. (Center for Food Safety)

Kauai restricts GE crops

The Hawaiian island of Kauai has passed a law requiring disclosure of pesticide use and genetically engineered crop plantings. It also establishes buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals. Three of the world’s largest agrochemical companies — DuPont, Syngenta and a third affiliated with Dow Chemical — are suing to block the law, claiming it’s unconstitutional and that adhering to buffer zones would hurt them economically by reducing the land available for seed production. (Reuters)

Underground London farm

Soon there will be a 2.5-acre subterranean farm that will produce a range of microherbs, shoots, miniature vegetables, edible flowers and other delicacies in an old World War II bomb shelter. The farm will be carbon-neutral with special measures including low-energy LED bulbs and an integrated hydroponics system. Produce will be sold to restaurants, markets and wholesalers. (Twelve Thirty Eight)

Bee theft

“Bee rustling” has increased worldwide. Thieves in Norwich, England stole from a community garden a bee hive containing an estimated 20,000 to 60,000 bees that were hibernating for the winter. In 2012 someone stole half a million bees from a British Columbia beekeeper, and in March 2013, a thief snatched a colony from a Welsh beekeeper. Many apiarists reportedly suspect fellow beekeepers are behind the thefts. (Grist)

Honeybees sniff out drugs?

Honeybees are appearing at some airport security checkpoints. Honeybees have incredibly sensitive antennae and they are surprisingly quick and easy to train if you reward them with enough sugar water. A new device resembling a hand vacuum cleaner draws air over the bees from a sample and the bees are trained to respond to a particular smell by moving in a way that sends information to a screen on the detector. (National Geographic)

Probiotics prevent colic in babies?

A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows that giving an infant a probiotic during the first three months of life may reduce the onset of gastrointestinal disorders including infant colic, acid reflux and constipation. At three months of age, the average duration of crying time for infants given probiotics was 38 minutes (vs. 71 minutes in a control group). The probiotic babies also had fewer regurgitations per day and fewer bowel movements. (

Food companies cut calories

Sixteen leading food and beverage companies say their foods contained 6.4 trillion fewer calories for U.S. consumers in 2012 than 2007. The companies collectively had pledged to remove a trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. With a goal of helping to reduce obesity, they already have exceeded their 2015 pledge by 400 percent. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

Diet soda decline

Over the past year, sales of non-diet sodas have declined 2.2 percent, while sales of diet sodas have declined 6.8 percent. The reason reportedly is that consumers have grown wary over the years of the chemicals in the sweet drinks. To stop sliding sales, the beverage industry is looking at replacing artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharine, with those manufactured from the stevia plant. (

Non-GMO Grape-Nuts

Post Foods has introduced Non-GMO Project Verified Grape-Nuts Original. Post says it also is exploring transitioning other products to Non-GMO. Post’s move closely follows that of General Mills, which released non-GMO original Cheerios in early January, though Cheerios is not third-party verified. (GMO Inside)

Monsanto hot spots

An Associated Press (AP) investigation points to a clear link between use of pesticides sold by Monsanto and worsening health problems in Argentina. The AP documented dozens of cases where pesticides drifted into schools, homes and watersheds, resulting in a quadrupling of birth defects in one area and cancer rates two to four times higher in others. Argentina’s entire soy crop and most of its corn and cotton are genetically engineered and rely on Monsanto’s pesticides. (Associated Press)

Also in this issue

Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

Learn about PCC Farmland Trust’s accreditation, what's happening to the global coffee supply, and the devastating effect of California's drought on agriculture.

Shoppers can help save marine mammals

Consumers can play a role in protecting whales, dolphins and sea lions by choosing American-caught seafood. More than 650,000 marine mammals are killed or seriously injured every year in foreign fisheries after being hooked, entangled or trapped in fishing gear.

Favorite crackers at PCC

At PCC we carry crackers to suit every taste, diet and budget. Whether you're looking for something simple and hearty to serve along a steaming bowl of soup or something artisan to fill out a fancy cheese plate, we've got you covered.