THE READER
December 2005

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2005 Farm Tour Report

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Newsbites

 

Gathered from the Organic Consumers Association and Nukewatch’s Pathfinder newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

School Districts Reject Irradiated Beef

This spring, the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA conducted a nationwide survey of school districts to identify their interest in irradiated meat products for the 2005-06 school year. The results encouraged irradiation opponents: Not a single school district placed an order! The positive disinterest marked a significant change over last year when schools in Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota all ordered irradiated beef. The turn around is attributed to the higher price of the treated meat and general public resistance to the technology. -NWP

Higher Level of X-Rays Allowed for Irradiating Food

The past winter, the FDA quietly announced that it was allowing the irradiation industry to dramatically increase the permitted dose of X-rays used to irradiate food. At the higher dose rates, 7.5 million electron volts, trace minerals in food (potassium, magnesium, nickel, etc.) can become radioactive, according to the FDA. The FDA and Sterigenics, the irradiation company that sought the rule change, claim that the radioactivity will be short-lived. However, the FDA has not conducted studies of a diet of foods exposed to huge X-ray doses. Consumer groups including Public Citizen complained that the public should not have to tolerate radioactivity caused by food industry treatments.

Lab animals fed irradiated foods have been observed suffering from increased stillbirths, mutations, tumors, organ damage, stunted growth and premature death. -NWP

Senate Debates Cutting Food Aid To 150,000 Impoverished U.S. Children

The Senate is currently debating cutting $3 billion from farm conservation and food stamp programs. Spearheaded by Senator Saxby Chambliss, the proposal would eliminate food stamps for more than 300,000 impoverished people. Currently, more than half of all food stamp recipients are children, and a quarter are senior citizens. While millions of Americans are looking for ways to cope with the aftermath of hurricanes and drought, powerful members of the Senate are being swayed by agriculture industry lobbyists, who are pushing for food stamps cuts while supporting massive tax payer subsidies to the nation’s wealthiest industrial agriculture operations. “Right now the difference between life and death for many Americans is the food stamp program,” said Sen. Max Baucus. “We should not, we cannot, cut the very nutritional programs that are literally saving lives.” -OCA

Low Income Kids Create Healthy Food Ad Campaign

Bus riders in Seattle are seeing many of the traditional junk food advertisements on the buses converted into pieces of art made by children. According to students in the area, they had never seen an advertisement for fresh fruits and vegetables, but could list countless junk food ads they see daily. Thanks to several local grants and a wealth of creative thinking, a small group of local organizers created an innovative program to improve the nutrition of low-income inner city kids by teaching them gardening, cooking and food self reliance skills. The program has helped nearly a thousand minority and low income kids create their own advertisements for healthy foods, which are posted on city buses. The same program is now offering opportunities for low income inner-city students to tour local farms and to learn about gardening. -OCA

Mmmm...Clones!

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce a new policy that would legalize the sale of milk and beef for from cloned cows. Hundreds of cloned pigs and cows are already living all across the U.S. but can not yet be sold for human consumption. A 60-day public comment period will follow the FDA proposal. -OCA

Indoor Composing

Just because winter is on its way doesn’t mean you have to stop composting. It’s quite easy to set up a small, clean and effective indoor composting system that will turn your food waste into the best organic fertilizer on the planet. Learn how at http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/compost.cfm.