Food supply no safer since the spinach scare
USDA advisory board: Cloned food isn’t organic
Marker-assisted selection vs. genetic engineering
Burger King moves toward more humane practices
Adventures in eating: The 100-mile diet


. Food supply no safer since the spinach scare

Most Americans have returned to buying spinach since last fall’s
outbreak of foodborne illness that killed three people and sickened
hundreds. But according to the chief medical officer of the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), the underlying problems that allowed spinach
to be contaminated with fecal matter carrying

E. coli
bacteria haven’t been solved, and another outbreak involving leafy
greens is likely. The agency’s own documents show that it knew for
years about the situation that led to the spinach outbreak, but lacked
the resources to enforce food safety regulations, relying instead on
producers to implement voluntary measures. The FDA’s ineffectiveness is
just another good reason to choose organic food and/or buy from local
farmers you can trust. Read more from

The Washington Post.


USDA advisory board: Cloned food isn’t organic

organic label should exclude not just cloned animals and products like
milk, but clones’ offspring and all successive generations as well,
according to a recent decision by the advisory board to the National
Organic Program (NOP). After the FDA announced in December its
intention to allow cloned products in the food supply, the NOP stated
that cloned animals would not be considered organic, but until now it
was unclear whether the offspring of clones would be excluded too. The
board’s recommendation has not yet been officially incorporated into
the organic standards. Read more from the Cornucopia Institute.


Marker-assisted selection vs. genetic engineering
selection (MAS) is an advanced form of conventional breeding that can
be an alternative to genetic engineering. Instead of inserting a
foreign gene into a plant, as in genetic engineering, marker-assisted
selection screens for useful genes that are already present in the
plant or a related wild plant. Genetic “markers” associated with these
genes are identified and can be quickly tested for during the breeding
process. After the individual plants that contain these genes have been
identified, those plants can be used to breed the next generation. The
technique can significantly reduce the time needed to develop a plant
with the desired traits. Since the desired genes occur naturally in the
plant and are simply selected for during the breeding process, it’s
possible to get the desired traits without the risk of introducing
genes from different species into crops. MAS can also allow the
breeding of complex traits that were not feasible by previous methods.
Although not a panacea, MAS is a sophisticated and promising new
approach to an age-old technology.


. Burger King moves toward more humane practices

to consumer concerns, the world’s second-largest hamburger chain will
begin purchasing cage-free eggs and crate-free pork. Burger King’s
initial goal is to purchase two percent of eggs from cage-free
suppliers and 10 percent of pork from farms that keep sows in pens
rather than crates, with plans to expand the program over time. The
company also will favor poultry slaughterhouses that use controlled atmosphere killing, a slaughter method that is considered more humane than electrical stunning. Read more from

The New York Times.


. Adventures in eating: The 100-mile diet

new book chronicles the adventures of a Vancouver couple who spent a
year eating food produced within 100 miles of their home. Aware that in
North America the average distance traveled by produce from farm to
fork is 1500 miles or more, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon embarked on
this experiment to reduce their environmental impact. The story of
their year,

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and A Raucous Year of Eating Locally,
bursts with lively descriptions of home-grown meals, clever
substitutions (a turnip-bread sandwich?), connections with local
farmers, and surprising discoveries about the food and environment of
their region.