News bites, March 2016

This article was originally published in March 2016

GMA “Subterfuge”

Washington state’s attorney general has asked a court to penalize the Grocery Manufacturers Association for “intentional subterfuge” during the I-522 genetically engineered (GE) labeling campaign in 2013. He says GMA intentionally shielded from public scrutiny the true identity of the companies that donated more than $11 million to this campaign — without disclosing the true source of the money, “a flagrant violation of state law.” He also asked the court to unseal “confidential” GMA documents. (

New sugar guidelines

Don’t worry about red meat or cholesterol, just avoid the sugar! The U.S. government’s new U.S. dietary guidelines advise limiting sugar to no more than 10 percent of a day’s calories, half of what many Americans consume. Higher sugar consumption is linked to increased risks for diabetes and heart disease — even among people who are not overweight. (

Sugar and breast cancer

The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs. Researchers at the University of Texas determined fructose, specifically in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and breast tumors. Researchers cite sugar-sweetened beverages as a significant contributor to the epidemic of obesity, heart disease and cancer worldwide. (

First offshore fish farming rules

The first-ever federal regulations for large-scale fish farming in the ocean, announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), allow fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico, opening the door for other U.S. waters. The rules allow up to 20 caged fish farms in the Gulf. Environmentalists warn that offshore fish farming will pollute the Gulf and damage wild fish stocks. (The Associated Press)

No more Dolphin-Safe claims?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ordered an end to the popular “Dolphin-Safe” tuna label claim, just weeks after Congress rescinded Country of Origin labels under pressure from the WTO. Public Citizen is citing the end of Dolphin Safe and Country of Origin labels as examples of how international trade agreements affect consumer interests. PCC will continue to label our meats voluntarily with the country of origin. (Public Citizen)

FDA bans imports of GE salmon

Two months after federal regulators approved the nation’s first GE salmon, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on the import and sale of the fish until the agency can publish guidelines for how it should be labeled — a process that potentially could take years. (The Washington Post)

Truth about food miles

Sierra Magazine says “food miles” use less of the total U.S. energy budget than processing and packaging food. It says food transportation requires only 0.5 percent of our total energy, and half that total is not from big trucks transporting food but from shoppers driving their cars to and from stores and restaurants. A previous 2008 study from Carnegie Mellon University found 83 percent of the average U.S. household’s greenhouse gas footprint for food consumption comes from the food production phase. Transportation as a whole represents only 11 percent of life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4 percent. (Sierra Magazine/Carnegie Mellon University)

No GE in Taiwanese schools

A new law has taken effect in Taiwan, prohibiting schools from serving GE foods to students. The change will add about 14 cents to the cost of a lunch. The Ministry of Health and Welfare says all restaurants also are required to label GE foods. (

FDA withdraws chemical approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will withdraw approval for three chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, pizza boxes, pastry wrappers, takeout food containers and paper plates. The banned chemicals are perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), associated with hormon al, reproductive, developmental, neurological and immune systems disruption. The FDA says it no longer can claim “a reasonable certainty of no harm” from use in food contact products. (FDA Department of Health and Human Services)

Venezuela rejects GM seeds

Venezuela has approved a law that will ban GMOs and prohibit seed-patenting. The new law also proposes creation of a national seed institution to audit crops and pursue those who violate the GMO ban. (

“Diet” foods decline

According to market research firm Mintel, few people are purchasing diet products anymore, as shoppers shift toward fresher, less processed foods and more holistic wellness approaches. A survey of 2,000 people found 77 percent said diet products are not as healthy as they claim to be, and 61 percent said most diets are not actually healthy. (NPR’s the Salt)

Also in this issue

Staff picks

This month our staff are raving about Ziva hummus, Wholesum organic, fair trade produce and more!

Umpqua Valley Lamb

Since the 1990s, Umpqua Valley Lamb has supplied PCC with fresh lamb raised on lush pastures in southwest Oregon. Learn about the health benefits, cooking techniques, and four cuts to try.

A voice for the living soil

PCC Farmland Trust farmer discusses how soil acidification is the most far-reaching threat to conventional food production, and how organic farmers improve soil.