Whole Foods Vows to Label GMOs by 2018

Story at-a-glance

  • Whole Foods has announced it will make labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients mandatory in its American and Canadian stores by 2018. Many expect other retailers to follow suit
  • About 20 major food companies, including Wal-Mart, recently gathered for a meeting in Washington to discuss potential lobbying for a national GMO labeling program
  • The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) recently announced Continue reading

Pasteurized Milk Found to Contain Painkillers, Antibiotics and Growth Hormones

A single glass of pasteurized milk can contain a toxic chemical cocktail of 20 painkillers, antibiotics, and growth hormones, new research has shown. Using a highly sensitive test, scientists found drug-related chemicals used to treat human illness not only in cow milk, but in goat and human breast milk as well. Among the chemicals were those found in painkillers and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Researchers theorize that some of the drugs and hormones observed are a result of growth hormones administered to cattle, as well as food contamination on the farm.

The Spanish-Moroccan team analysed 20 samples of cow’s milk bought in Spain and Morocco, with the team’s breakdown published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In addition to containing drug-related chemicals such as niflumic acid, mefenamic acid and ketoprofen, the milk studied was found to contain the hormone 17-beta-estradiol. A form of the sex hormone oestrogen, Continue reading

More Farmers are going Organic

Conventional farming methods may gradually be going the way of the buffalo, at least for many smaller-scale farmers who are discovering the practical and financial benefits of switching to organic techniques. The Morning Call (TMC) reports that many dairy farmers are making the transition to organic because they are realizing it is better for their herds, better for the land, better for consumers, and ultimately better for business.

When James Burkholder, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, made the decision to switch his dairy herd of 60 conventional cows to organic, it was almost a no-brainer. The conventional dairy market has seen profitability wane considerably in recent years, and Burkholder told reporters that he and his family had considered starting a new business altogether because it was almost no longer worth their while — Continue reading

The Watermelon You Should Never, Ever Eat

Watermelon fields in eastern China are covered in exploded fruit. Farmers used growth chemicals to make their crops bigger, but ended up destroying them instead.

The farmers used the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron. Even the melons that survived tended to have fibrous, misshapen fruit with mostly white instead of black seeds.

MSNBC reports:

“Chinese regulations don’t forbid use of the substance. It is also allowed in the United States for use on kiwi fruit and grapes … About 20 farmers and 115 acres of watermelon around Danyang were affected … Farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit  Continue reading

Raw Milk Debate Simmers as States, FDA Mull Rules

Clifford Hatch cares for about 20 cows at his family-run farm, producing fresh raw milk that is at the center of controversy over its sale and safety.

Hatch sells raw, or unpasteurized, milk products from a retail shop at his dairy farm, which state regulations allow him to do because the business is located on the same property where his Ayrshire cattle are milked.

He said he might sell 40 to 50 gallons a day at his Upinngill Farm, which started producing raw milk and cheese years ago when local residents began seeking an alternative to dairy from big, industrialized producers whose use of artificial bovine growth hormones was widespread then.

“The system is pretty sensible and reasonably well-enforced,” Hatch said.

But debate is swirling over raw milk in many U.S. states, and the thought of tighter federal rules on its production and sale makes independent producers such as Hatch uneasy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both strongly warn the public against drinking raw milk. They see potential health risks from pathogens like E. coli bacteria, which in some instances can get into milk from an animal’s manure.

But raw dairy advocates say unpasteurized milk is at least as safe as the “superheated” varieties because of the dedication small-batch farmers have to maintaining hygienic facilities.

Some people prefer raw milk, saying it is sweeter and has more vitamins and minerals, “healthy” bacteria and digestive enzymes. They say pasteurizing milk, or heating it to above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, destroys most of those features.

Part of the debate centers on cheese, which is legal under federal law if it is aged at least 60 days to kill bacteria such as E. coli.

But the FDA is mulling extending the aging requirement past 60 days which could, in effect, outlaw some popular raw milk cheeses as well as pasteurized ripened cheeses.

An FDA spokeswoman said on Wednesday the agency is looking at whether the aging requirements for cheese “are sufficient to minimize pathogens,” including salmonella and E. coli.

The FDA’s review could take until late in the year, when it would release results of its risk study, she said.

Some raw dairy proponents fear the FDA could outlaw raw milk production altogether.

“Their policy certainly is very anti-raw milk. It’s always a concern,” said Winton Pitcoff, raw milk network coordinator for the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFAMass).

Some U.S. states are restricting raw milk use already.

Vermont has both deep agricultural roots and a newer local-food renaissance boosting the economy. But the state this month suspended workshops led by an advocacy group teaching people how to turn unpasteurized milk into butter and cheese.

Vermont’s agriculture agency says the state’s 2009 raw milk law limits farmers to selling it to customers for fluid consumption only. But the agency says it will not interfere with how people use or consume raw milk in their own homes.

In ten states, including California, Maine, Connecticut and New Hampshire, people can buy raw milk in grocery stores. But sales are banned in many other states, including dairy giant Wisconsin. Federal law also bans interstate sales of raw milk.

A few states are considering legalization or loosening regulations, among them Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Massachusetts does not allow raw milk sales in grocery stores, but it is considering a bill to let farmers deliver to customers and sell at stands away from their farms.

Raw milk producers can sell a gallon of fresh milk for $6 to $12 – about four times what processors pay dairy farmers for milk they truck to processing plants.

Farmers say the heftier price can make the difference between a farm being profitable or needing to shut down.

The number of dairy farms nationwide has dwindled. In Massachusetts, about 5,000 farms existed in 1950 but today fewer than 180 remain, NOFAMass says.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/02/24/raw-milk-debate-simmers-states-fda-mull-rules/#ixzz1EzZDKmMx