News bites, April 2017

This article was originally published in April 2017

When we eat matters

It’s common knowledge that what we eat plays an important role in health, but a new report finds that when we eat also is significant. A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that eating more of your calories earlier in the day may help keep the heart healthy, and people who consume breakfast regularly have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The author of AHA’s statement says that each of our individual tissues and organs have their own internal clocks, turned on or off by feeding or fasting, that control blood sugar, cholesterol and our immune and digestive systems. (CBS News)

PCC opposes seed megamergers

PCC joined agricultural and environmental organizations in a letter urging the U.S. Attorney General and Department of Justice to investigate and oppose more proposed mergers in the seed and pesticide sector: by Dow Chemical with DuPont; Monsanto with Bayer AG; and Syngenta with ChemChina. If all three deals close, the three resulting companies would control more than 61 percent of the world’s commercial seed sales, nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market. (Friends of the Earth)

Labeling Roundup

In California, a judge has ruled tentatively the state can require Monsanto to label its herbicide, Roundup, as a possible cancer threat. The state’s Environmental Protection Agency officially put Roundup’s key ingredient, glyphosate, on a list of chemicals hazardous to human health under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It requires any chemical that threatens human life to have a “clear and reasonable” warning label. (Los Angeles Times)

Quinoa bred for less bitterness?

Quinoa now has huge potential as a staple food crop thanks to an international team of scientists that recently mapped the plant’s DNA. Researchers at Washington State University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia say they hope breeders can use the newly discovered information to help breed quinoa with improved traits such as higher tolerance to heat and less bitterness. Their discovery could shave up to two years off the 10-year process of bringing healthier, tastier new varieties to market. (WSU)

New GE potatoes approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have approved three types of genetically engineered (GE) potatoes — the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co., which produces the potatoes, says they’re genetically engineered to have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a lower amount of a chemical that’s a potential carcinogen created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

New group fights food industry spin

The CEO of snack company KIND, Daniel Lubetzky, has pledged $25 million to fund a new public health advocacy group, Feed the Truth, in order “to offset self-serving industry agendas at the expense of public good.” The organization will operate independently and will provide resources such as infographics, relevant studies, media stories and other documents in an effort to bring more transparency to the industry and help educate consumers. (Feed the Truth)

Germany bans meat at government functions

Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment has banned meat from being consumed at all official government functions, citing meat production’s substantial contribution to greenhouse gas emissions as the reason. The member of the Social Democrats said vegetarian food is more climate-friendly and the decision is meant to set a positive example for all German government departments. (

Mediterranean diet prevents pain?

Eating a Mediterranean diet could decrease the chances an overweight person will experience regular pain, new research from The Ohio State University suggests. The study upheld previous research showing that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience pain, and found that anti-inflammatory foods including fish, nuts and beans were key to preventing or reducing the pain. Eating more fish and plant-based proteins such as nuts and beans was linked with less pain, regardless of body weight. (

Perfluorinated chemicals in packaging

Five Washington state representatives introduced a bill in Olympia (HB 1744) to prohibit manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers from selling or distributing food packaging with perfluorinated chemical additives. The proposal is part of a “Healthy Food Packaging” campaign by Toxic-Free Future, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and other environmental health organizations. PCC submitted testimony in support of the bill and is working on our first-ever packaging standards to address perfluorinated additives. (Toxic-Free Future)

Dairy industry takes on alternative “milks”

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D., Wisconsin) has introduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act, legislation supported by groups that represent Big Dairy, which essentially would make the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforce an existing guideline that limits the use of the word “milk” to products that come from cows. If the bill succeeds, companies selling almond, soy, hemp and other plant-based “milks” would have to stop using the term and alternative forms of cheese also would be affected. (Civil Eats)

Also in this issue

PCC Board of Trustees report, April 2017

Board meeting, Ends Policies, Global Ends, and more

Honoring Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, Saturday April 22, we asked the founder of the first Earth Day in 1970, Denis Hayes, to share his priorities for agriculture and food in times of climate change. Here's what he said.

Tender local, organic asparagus

Few vegetables herald spring better than slender, bright spears of fresh asparagus. And it's tough to find better asparagus than the harvest from these three local farms, longtime PCC partners whose devotion to organics is unparalleled.