In a joint statement, Fairtrade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA announce split: “Fairtrade International and Fair Trade USA share a belief in the importance of empowering producers and workers around the world to improve their lives through better terms of trade. However, as we look to the future, we recognize that we have different perspectives on how best to achieve this common mission.

As a consequence, Fair Trade USA has decided to resign its membership from Fairtrade International (FLO) effective December 31, 2011.
As we go our separate ways, both Fairtrade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA are committed to maintaining the benefits we have achieved for farmers and workers, for business partners and for our supporters, and to growing impact over time. We are working together on transition plans.

This transition planning and the consequent operational changes will take some time for both parties to develop, but we are announcing the decision as early as possible out of respect for our many stakeholders. Further communication will follow in the coming weeks.”

For more from Fair Trade USA, see fairtradeusa.org.

Yielding to pressure from parents, health advocates, and lawmakers, the chemical industry has conceded that the toxic plastics chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) should not be used to make baby bottles and sippy cups.

The American Chemistry Council announced that it has asked the federal Food and Drug Administration to revise its regulations to “clarify for consumers that BPA is no longer used to manufacture baby bottles and sippy cups and will not be used in these products in the future.”
“The chemical industry spent millions this year fighting efforts in California and other states to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, and now it supports protecting babies and toddlers from this toxic chemical,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group. “This is a stunning reversal.”

“The American Chemistry Council has decided to stop defending the safety of BPA in plastic food containers for kids,” Cook said. “After hanging tough for years, it has made a 180-degree turn that has left its credibility in tatters. The industry should drop any further objections to phasing out BPA in baby formula containers and other canned food.”

For more on the story, see www.ewg.org.

Food & Water Watch released a report that provides scientific and political background behind the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) food in the United States, and its potential impact on consumers, the environment and farmers. The report, Genetically Engineered Food: An Overview, outlines how the genetic engineering of crops and animals for human consumption is not the silver bullet approach for feeding a growing population that the agribusiness and biotechnology industries claim it is. Conversely, studies find that GE plants and animals do not perform better than their traditional counterparts and raise a slew of health, environmental and ethical concerns.

The report outlines the potential risks of GE foods including increased food allergies and unknown long term health effects in humans; the rise of superweeds that have become resistant to GE-affiliated herbicides; the ethical and economic concerns involved with the patenting of life and corporate consolidation of the seed supply; and the contamination of organic and non-GE crops and livestock through cross-pollination and seed dispersal.

For more information and a link to the report, see www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

Something is mostly missing from Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot, and Fruit Gushers, according to a complaint filed in federal court in California: fruit.

Labels state those General Mills snacks are “fruit flavored,” “naturally flavored,” a “good source of vitamin C,” and low in calories, fat, and gluten, according to the complaint filed on behalf of a California mother by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and the consumer protection law firm Reese Richman LLP. But obscured on labels is the fact that the so-called fruit snacks are mostly sugars (some from fruit concentrate and some from corn syrup), artificial additives, and potentially harmful artificial dyes.

Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups are made from pears from concentrate, corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, citric acid, acetylated monoglycerides, fruit pectin, dextrose, malic acid, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), unspecified “natural flavor,” and Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. Even with the pear ingredient, the product provides little of the beneficial fiber or nutrients associated with real strawberries.

For more on the lawsuit, see www.cspinet.org.

The consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch released a new analysis detailing the troubling implications of expanding factory fish farming off U.S. coasts. Coming on the heels of the federal government’s announcement this summer of its National Aquaculture Policy, the organization’s report, Fishy Farms: The Government’s Push for Factory Farming in Our Oceans, finds that achieving the government’s goals for the industry would come at a tremendous cost to both wild fish populations and the marine environment.

Factory fish farming involves the growing of thousands of fish in open net pens or cages, where wastes, including excess feed as well as any antibiotics and chemicals used to treat the cages, flow directly into the ocean. The raising of high-value, top-of-the-food-chain carnivorous fish requires a high concentration of protein fishmeal and fish oil that comes from the capture of small wild fish. Escapes from open ocean pens are common, and when farmed fish escape they can compete or interbreed with wild fish, altering natural behavior and weakening important genetic traits. They can also spread disease to wild fish.

The report calculates that, if the government used factory fish farming to reach its stated goal of offsetting the U.S. seafood trade deficit, 200 million fish would need to be produced in ocean cages off U.S. coasts each year. This would necessitate the use of at least 41 percent of the entire current production of fishmeal worldwide for feed.

The report recommends more research for land-based, recirculating fish farms that can create jobs in inland communities and have low environmental impacts.

For more information and a link to the report, see www.foodandwaterwatch.org.