PRIVATIZED MEAT INSPECTION: AN IMPORT U.S. CONSUMERS CAN’T AFFORD
National consumer organization Food & Water Watch objected to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Federal Register Notice that gives a green light to a privatized inspection system for all Australian beef, sheep, and goat products exported to the United States. The Australian inspection system, devised in the late 1990s and called the Meat Safety Enhancement Program (MSEP), removes most government inspectors from the slaughter line and replaces them with company-paid inspectors.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, says “Food safety is a government public health function. As such, consumers expect a food inspection system that is free from industry influence and employs independent government inspectors who are well-trained and can protect the public without industry intimidation.” To read the full story from Food & Water Watch, see www.foodandwaterwatch.org


FARMERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS CHALLENGE LATEST FEDERAL APPROVAL OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SUGAR BEETS
In defiance of earlier court ruling, the USDA allows continued growing of this controversial, illegally planted crop, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challenged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups, who have vowed to overturn it.

Judge Jeffrey White of the federal district court for the Northern District of California found in earlier rulings that growing the GE sugar beets is likely to cause irreparable harm to the groups’ members and the environment, and “may cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered sugar beets and related Swiss chard and table beets,” and ordered the federal government to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before allowing the GE sugar beets to be grown. The USDA is continuing to work on the court-ordered EIS, but considers new documents sufficient to allow growers to continue growing the controversial crop illegally planted, in defiance of the earlier court ruling.

The introduction of previous Roundup Ready crops over the last decade, such as soy, cotton, and corn, have led to a 382 million pound overall increase in herbicides. It has also led to the spread of herbicide resistant weeds on millions of acres throughout the United States and other countries where such crops are grown, as well as contamination of conventional and organic crops.
For more information, see the Center for Public Safety’s website: www.centerforfoodsafety.org.


NEW MAP REVEALS HOT SPOTS IN EMERGING GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS
Volatile food markets and food insecurity contributed to the civic unrest that recently brought down Egypt’s president. To better understand the unfolding reality of global food price volatility, ActionAid and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released an interactive map showing which countries are at highest risk of a food crisis due to recent food price hikes.

“The US stubbornly continues to subsidize corn ethanol even as the ripple effects of burning our food for fuel are being felt by citizens around the world,” said Sheila Karpf, legislative and policy analyst at EWG. “When we send seven times as much corn to ethanol plants as we keep in our own stockpiles, the diversion of just a few more bushels sends shockwaves through commodity markets and food price indices.”

Food prices are at record-breaking highs, contributing to the recent political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. These events point to the potential for a broader global food crisis that could threaten economic recovery and political stability in dozens of countries across the globe.

For more from EWG, see www.ewg.org.