Top News From the Food Front: GMO Kerfuffles, Organic Shenanigans, Food Industry Uproars

'Hot off the press!'

GMOs in the news this week disrupt trade with China, while Americans clamor for labeling of genetically modified foods. Does food taste better when it’s organic? What if you only THINK it’s organic? Can you afford to eat food that won’t kill you? Can fast food workers afford to eat food at all? Could you be allergic to meat? Read on for these answers and more, from the week’s top news in food!

Dec. 1 – Dec. 7, 2013: GMOs Disrupt, while Organics Thrive

‘WE DON’T WANT THAT GMO ****!’ — China

From Reuters:

Nearly 2 million tonnes of U.S. corn heading to China face stringent testing for an unapproved genetically modified (GMO) variety after several cargoes were denied entry by state quarantine authorities, taking exporters and grain traders by surprise.

Since mid-November, China, the third biggest customer of U.S. corn, has turned away several cargoes and containers of corn that tested positive for Syngenta AG’s Agrisure Viptera as it has not been approved for import by China.

Unapproved GMO strain puts more US corn cargoes to China at risk

Meanwhile, Americans overwhelmingly want better U.S. regulation of genetically modified food products. Only time will tell whether that actually matters — or whether we’ve already transitioned too far away from representative democracy and towards corporate oligarchy for it to make any difference what actual citizens want their government to do.

Absolute majority of Americans want GMO food to be labeled

Speaking of corporate oligarchy, the usual bad actors are behaving badly. Shocking, right?! Sigh.

Grocers’ Group Spends Record Lobbying Amid Food-Labeling Fights

In keeping with the theme of increased public concern regarding GMOs, and preference for organics, a new study shows that even thinking food is organic makes for a more satisfying taste experience.

Does food taste better when we think it’s organic?

It’s really satisfying when what you do (eating ethically and sustainably grown food, or food you believe to be such) matches what you value (sustainability, environmental stewardship, healthy living) — so this study’s results are interesting but unsurprising.

In similar unsurprising news, given everything discussed above, market prospects for organic growers are looking good!

U.S. Organic Food trend forecasted for growth through 2018

For a neat new approach to organic pest control, check out ‘bee vectoring.’

Pest Control Delivered by Bees

Nifty idea, eh?

This Week in Food Fail

When a ‘regulatory’ agency, whose sole reason for existence is purportedly to serve the public good, cozies up for a nightcap with such company while wearing it’s best sheer silk nightie… my friends, ‘the public good’ has a serious relationship problem.

Behind Closed Doors: Who’s Taking Meetings with FDA on Food Safety?

Today’s USDA Meat Safety Chief  is Tomorrow’s Agribiz Consultant

Speaking of folks working against the public good, GOP determination to deny desperately poor families food assistance looks likely to nix any chance of Congress producing a functional farm bill in the foreseeable future.

Farm bill fading: Little chance for deal as Congress feuds over food stamps, prepares to leave for holiday

Nice work, guys! P.S., your job performance absolutely reeks.

Just so everyone’s clear, cutting food stamp assistance right now is not what the nation needs!

Now Is A Horrible Time To Cut Food Stamps, In 1 Depressing Chart

Poverty: It’s What’s for Dinner (and Fast Food Workers are Tired of Eating It)

You don’t have to eat fast food to support fast food workers. In fact, please don’t! There’s a world of better things to eat. But worker rights are human rights, and the food industry offers some of the worst pay and working conditions to be found in our society.

Fast Food Workers Strike for Living Wage

Fast-Food Workers Across The U.S. Cry Poverty Wages, Demand Better Pay

Give ’em heck, fast food workers!

The Best We Can Do? (NOPE)

If you want healthy food, a new study finds it’ll cost you about $1.50 more per day than if you eat poorly.

New Study Confirms Healthy Diets Are More Expensive Than Unhealthy Ones 

So that’s interesting, as far as it goes; let’s take it a step further, though, and ask ourselves why this sad state of affairs exists. (Hint: subsidization of overproduction of grain for animal feed and high fructose corn syrup. Discuss.)

You don’t have to eat vegan to oppose animal cruelty (but it helps — let’s talk about that later!). Most meat eaters condemn egregious acts of cruelty towards farmed animals; industry knows that, and so must strive for your ignorance. This time, they failed; good!

Record Slaughterhouse Abuse Settlement…as States Try to Stop Investigations

But animal ‘producers’ are ramping up efforts to keep consumers in the dark, by continually escalating the battle to criminalize reporters such as the one who brought these slaughterhouse abuses — resulting in the largest meat recall in U.S. history — to light.

Last week’s roundup featured an appalling story in this news domain, in which an undercover reporter documented horrible cruelty towards newborn calves. SHE was charged with animal cruelty, for filming it and telling people about it.

Read that last part again; then tell me one good reason why this industry deserves anyone’s support.

Vegan Nudge, Vegan Win

As more people explore plant-based eating, research continually pops up to provide motivation for that exploration.

Hives? Rash? You May Be Allergic to Meat

Last week Al Gore was outed as a Team Vegan member; this week it’s Beyoncé and Jay Z making veggie headlines. The celeb couple plans a 22-day vegan challenge, ending Christmas Day. Whether or not they stay on the plant-based path thereafter, it’s another drop in the rapidly filling public awareness bucket: veganism just isn’t as ‘radical’ as it used to be!

29 Celebrities Who Embrace a Vegan Lifestyle

Every high-profile herbivore makes the choice that much more accessible. Making any lifestyle change can be challenging, and anything that removes a barrier (the perceived ‘weirdness’ or oddness of veganism, for example) looks to me like a positive development.

What Else?

As always, I hope you’ll comment below to share any food news that I’ve left out! Subscribe to the EDB newsletter, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to keep up with current events from the food front.

Then meet me back here every Saturday, for a roundup of everything new and noteworthy from the food world!

Image credit: Hot Off the Press photo via Shutterstock.

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