Shane Commentary

 

Condemnation of Vermont GMO Labeling Law

Aug 27, 2014
    

Recently Vermont passed a law mandating that food products containing ingredients of GM origin should be labeled accordingly. 

Senator Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) sated “This is a marketing ploy by the organics industry so they can get a bigger share of the market”.  He added “if you scare people about what they are eating they are going to change”. McAllister who serves on the State Senate Committee on Agriculture noted that the labeling law was effectively a “Back-door method of legally banning GMOs”.

   
 

Awareness of GM and Labeling

Jul 12, 2014
    

EGG-CITE has commented frequently on the patchwork of proposed legislation and ballot initiatives to enforce labeling of food products containing GM ingredients. The reality is that 95 percent of corn, soy and sugar beets in the U.S. are derived from cultivars modified by insertion of genes which offer benefits in terms of pest resistance or improved yield. The FDA has ruled that it is unnecessary to label food ingredients as being derived from GM since exhaustive research over two decades has failed to demonstrate any nutritional difference or health risks associated with approved GM cultivars.

Rutgers University has determined that 43 percent of survey participants were aware of the availability of GM food but only 26 percent knew that they had already consumed product containing GM ingredients. Surprisingly 40 percent of respondents surveyed in a New York Times poll thought that fruit and vegetables were genetically modified, which is not the case.

   
 

Consumer Reports Comments on Carton Claims

Jul 9, 2014
    

Consumer Reports recently commented on carton claims relating to housing and feeding of flocks producing table eggs. The organization noted that grade and label dating are under the control of The USDA-Agriculture Marketing Services for eggs bearing the USDA grade shield.

Consumer Reports commented on claims for omega-3 and noted that supplementing diets with flaxseed, algae, canola oil or fish oil can raise the level of ALA and DHA to a lesser degree in yolks.

   
 

Funds Provisionally Approved for Biosecurity Laboratory

Jul 9, 2014
    

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $300 million in construction funds for the proposed biosafety laboratory in Kansas to study pathogens which have the potential to cause catastrophic disease in livestock and poultry.

The House Appropriations Committee has also endorsed the allocation for fiscal 2015.  The Department of Homeland Security will erect and administer the proposed laboratory near Manhattan, Kansas.  The project was proposed following the decision that the USDA-APHIS Plum Island Laboratory was obsolete.  Over decades, this facility has conducted research on exotic infections including foot and mouth and Rinderpest and has been instrumental in developing vaccines and implementing training programs to diagnose and control foreign animal diseases.

   
 

A Look Back at the Past

Jun 27, 2014

EGG-CITE is indebted to Don Bell for providing a reprint of a paper published in the Pacific Poultryman during June 1954.

The article authored by Robert H. Adolph, Farm Advisor, San Diego County was entitled “Which Type Wire Floor House?”  In 1953 the San Diego County Poultry Egg Cost Study was conducted by the University of California Agricultural Extension Service to obtain costs associated with housing hens either in single cages, two hens to a cage or in modules.

   
 

Charities Indulging In Speculation

Jun 20, 2014
    

Green Peace which has been active in opposing intensive agriculture issued a statement on Sunday June 15th that it has incurred a loss of $5.1 million in currency speculation.  The 2013 Annual Report according to the press release will show a budget deficit of $9.2 million for the year and includes a statement “This deficit includes the loss of $5.1 million from an ill-judged contract aim at managing currency exchange costs.”

   
 

WSJ Commentary on Organic Farming Contentious

Jun 20, 2014
    

Dr. Henry I. Miller, the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution recently published a commentary in the Wall Street Journal. Miller correctly notes that “organic farming might work well for certain local environments on a small scale but farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones.”

Miller documents low yields compared to conventional agriculture using GMO cultivars and advanced applications of fertilizer. He maintains that organic farming applying manure results in significant release of nitrates into soil and thereafter to groundwater. Composting also generates greenhouse gases. Organic farming systems are also associated with the potential to disseminate pathogens.

   
 

FMCSA Allows Exemption for Transport Restriction

Jun 20, 2014
    

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted a one-year exemption from the 30-minute break provision in the Hours of Service Regulations, which became effective during January 2011.

The ruling allows an exemption from the rule mandating a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift for drivers transporting livestock.

   
 

Biodiesel Boosts Soybean Prices

Jun 17, 2014
    

The U. S. Energy Information Administration has announced that the production of biodiesel in 2013 attained 1.36 billion gallons, a 37% increase over the previous year. This quantity required 5.5 billion pounds of U.S. soybean oil derived from 468 million bushels of soybeans.

What is of interest to U. S. egg producers is the fact that this volume in demand boosted the price of soybeans by 74 cents per bushel and effectively increased the price of soybean meal. Naturally, on the human-nutrition side of the equation, soybean oil was diverted into fuel production, also resulting in a distortion in market price.

   
 

Department of Agriculture to Subsidize Organic Certification

Jun 9, 2014
    

The USDA is inviting applications for federal cost-sharing grants to attain organic certification.  The Agriculture Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program was funded through the 2014 Farm Bill.  Sixteen states have been identified for support.

Commenting on the initiative, the Administrator of Agriculture Monitoring Services Anne Alonzo stated “Consumer demand for certified organic product is strong and growing.  These investments will help more organic farmers succeed and help grow the economy in rural communities across the country”.

   
 

Doubt over Source of S. Heidelberg

Jun 9, 2014
    

The ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infection among consumers has resulted in 574 cases in 27 states during the past eleven months. Originally the approximately seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, many of which are drug-resistant, have been linked to product processed by Foster Farms. This major West Coast producer was ranked 10th in the U.S. in 2013, with weekly production approaching 6 million broilers from three primary processing plants.

   
 

Need for Iodine Supplementation of eggs?

Jun 6, 2014
    

The Council on Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has issued a recommendation that women of child-bearing age need to maintain an intake of at least 115 micrograms of iodine (usually as the absorbable potassium salt of iodine) to achieve the required intake for either pregnancy or breast feeding. This is set at 290 micrograms (mcg) of iodide per day.  There are special challenges for women following a vegan diet or those using sea salt which is not supplemented with iodine.

   
 

McDonalds Introduces New Promotional Character

Jun 4, 2014
    

The Wall Street Journal of March 21st reported on the introduction of a new McDonald’s character, Happy to promote healthier menu options which appeal to children.  As part of the launch, McDonald’s is introducing low-fat yogurt and has increased the content of fruits and vegetables in Happy Meals™.

   
 

The UK Introduces Testing of Eggs for Origin

Jun 4, 2014
    

FarmingUK reported on the potential application of stable-isotope assay to determine the source of eggs. At the present time, initial trials have demonstrated that it is possible to determine whether an egg was produced in the UK or elsewhere and even if it was derived from Scotland, England or Wales.  Additional samples and testing are required to develop a database which can identify regions within the UK.  The program is under the auspices of the British Egg Industry Council which is committed to preserve the integrity of the British Lion Egg Brand.

   
 

Honey Bees and Neonicotinoid - Revisited

May 23, 2014
    

The emergence of Colony Collapse Syndrome (CCS) in honey bees has served as a rallying point for activists antagonistic to intensive agriculture and who are opposed to the use of agricultural chemicals to achieve high yields. A number of claims have been made regarding the cause of CCS with premature and scientifically unjustified banning of the neonicotinoid class of insecticides.

It is acknowledged that honey bees are critical to the pollination and hence production of many crops including apples, almonds and beans. It is estimated that insect-pollinated crops collectively account for 25 percent of food consumed in the U.S.

Legislators in Minnesota have requested the Department of Agriculture to evaluate the effect of neonicotinoids. If justified, the Department has been authorized to introduce restrictive regulations based on the apparent decline in the populations of honey bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators.  This follows regulatory action in Europe where the class of insecticides has been banned for many applications.

   
 

Division within the Organic Movement

May 21, 2014
    

The Cornucopia Institute representing the most extreme segment of the organic production fraternity has condemned the USDA and what they regard as “big agriculture” for inconsistency and failure to adhere to “purist” organic principles. Dissension was aired openly at the recent meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in San Antonio TX.

At issue is a directive from the USDA that the NOSB must adhere to obligations mandated by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. Of concern to the Cornucopia Institute is the fact that some members of the NOSB represent large producers and distributors of USDA-certified organic products.

   
 

Survey Suggests Consumers will Pay More for Local Foods

May 16, 2014
    

The Second Annual A.T. Kearney Survey of U.S Shoppers has indicated that consumers are willing to pay a premium for “local foods” in their report entitled From Trend to Opportunity: Embracing the Local Food Movement.  Approximately 70% of consumers responded that they would pay more for local food and that 1/3rd were willing to spend as much as 10% extra.  James Rushing a partner at A.T. Kearney stated “given that the research found a strong correlation between fresh and local, large retailers can build awareness of their fresh products simply by sourcing and marketing local products more effectively”.

   
 

Midwest Attorneys Generals File U.S. Supreme Court Brief

May 14, 2014
    

The Attorneys General representing 21 Midwest and other ethanol- producing states have filed a brief requesting U.S. Supreme Court intervention and review of a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals verdict.

At issue is the discrimination imposed by the state of California on out-of-state fuels based on the Low Carbon Fuels Standard.  In 2011 a court ruled that the standard was unconstitutional since it violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  In September 2013 this ruling was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

   
 

Rise of Gluten-Free Claims at the Expense of Organic

May 2, 2014
    

A recent article by Toby Amidor in U.S. News and World Report confirms the rise in gluten-free claims on restaurant menus between 2010 and 2013.  Concurrently the descriptor “organic” is less prominent, replaced by terms such as “signature” and “made from scratch”.

Due to the high cost of serving organic foods, restaurants are attempting to maintain margins during a period of reduced spending on meals consumed outside the home by substituting alternatives for USDA Certified Organic ingredients.  It is also acknowledged that a proportion of certified organic foods are in fact imported which has resulted in concerns over integrity.

   
 

The High Cost of Controlling Production

Apr 25, 2014
    

In response to a recent article documenting the annual budget for the American Egg Board which documented the expenditure of $20 million annually, Dr. Nati Elkin of Israel responded by noting that the annual budget of the Israel Egg and Poultry Board is now $38 million.  This figure does not include any subsidies to farmers or support, which is derived from other budgets. 

The expenditure which amounts to $4.75 for every resident of Israel is assigned to administration costs and inspection of small farms to ensure compliance with hen-permits. By comparison the AEB budget of approximately $20 million which is expended for research, promotion and publicity is equivalent to 6 cents per US consumer annually.