Tag Archives: contamination

USDA advising organic farmers to get insurance against GMO contamination

Remember Percy Schmeiser? Remember the case in Canadian courts in which he was sued by Monsanto for contamination of his crops with stray Monsanto seeds? And how he lost at the Supreme Court? Following along from that precedent, the onus is clearly, if unfairly, being put on non-GMO farmers whose crops are contaminated with stray GMO pollination or whatnot from the crops of their GMO growing neighbours.

How long will it be before it’ll cost more to insure your non-GMO crop against contamination than it will cost to use GMO seeds in the first place. Meanwhile organic standards will inevitably get diluted to recognize the impossibility of keeping the ubiquitous contamination out. Sadly it looks like the madness that is GMO farming, is becoming ever more entrenched on this continent.

From Tom Laskawy on Grist.org

“One of the big debates in agriculture right now involves “coexistence” between farmers who use genetically modified or GMO seeds and those who don’t. This is far more than an academic debate; in question is the risk of “contamination” of conventional or organic crops by GMO crops. The wind, insects, and even the farmers themselves can inadvertently cause this type of cross-pollination, and it puts organic farms at risk of losing their organic status and conventional farmers at risk of losing sales to countries that don’t allow imports of GMO foods. Continue reading


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CFIA memo to XL Foods inspectors

“Nothing about the CFIA would surprise me”, said Karen Selick, in a comment on a recent post on The Bovine. Well, here’s another case in point. Why should different, and higher, standards apply for meats being exported to Japan, than for meats sold to Canadians? Do Canadians not matter? Are Japanese export customers more important than Canadians? Is that what the CFIA was thinking? For those who might have wondered, when they read the story in the media a few months ago about the massive recall of meat from XL Foods in Brooks, Alberta, how such a thing could happen in a plant where 40 some CFIA inspectors are on the job, the memo described in the story below may be the answer. However, the report on this scandalous memo is not exactly as “out there” as the original recall story.  Merely a few column inches on page 3 of today’s paper. 

From the Toronto Star newspaper:

“Federal beef inspectors were told to ignore contamination on carcasses being processed for sale to Canadians at the XL Foods plant.

A memo from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) meat hygiene supervisor obtained by CTV News instructed CFIA inspectors to closely examine carcasses being processed for shipment to Japan, but to ignore visible contamination on meat for Canadians.

“Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses,” said the memo. Continue reading


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BC fruit growers opposed to GMO apple

From Lucy Sharratt, at Commonground.ca:

“….BC and Washington apple growers, both conventional and organic, have already rejected the GM “non-browning” apple and opposition from orchardists has not wavered for over 10 years. The BC Fruit Growers Association opposes the GM apple and early last year the Washington-based Northwest Horticultural Council asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop the GM apple, saying, “The projected commercial benefits of a nonbrowning apple (which we feel are limited) are clearly outweighed by the marketing problems that the entire United States apple industry would confront.”

Okanagan organic orchardist Linda Edwards says, “At best, market awareness that genetically engineered orchards existed in our area would necessitate expensive testing. At worst, it would be loss of market share to areas where the possibility of this contamination could not occur.” Continue reading


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Pork product responsible for 23% of Salmonella positive results at USDA

From Doug Powell on Barfblog:

Was it the sauce? Photo via Barfblog.

“Pork barbecue with vinegar and pepper-based sauce is the source of 23 per cent of salmonella-positive samples the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed from 2005 to 2010. The contamination has not caused any known illnesses.

Exactly what part of the dish is contaminating it with salmonella isn’t clear. FSIS notes that it “may have come from the addition of contaminated ingredients (such as the pepper) to the sauce, or from cross-contamination of the product or sauce in the post lethality processing environment.” Continue reading


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Bayer pays compensation to farmers over crops contaminated with GMOs

From Bloomberg, via the New York Times:

“A Bayer AG unit will pay $750 million to settle claims with about 11,000 United States farmers who said a strain of the company’s genetically modified rice tainted crops and ruined their export value.

The settlement, announced on Friday, ends scores of lawsuits filed against the Bayer CropScience unit of the company by farmers in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The Agriculture Department said in August 2006 that trace amounts of the company’s experimental LibertyLink strain were found in long-grain rice. Within four days, declining rice futures cost growers about $150 million, according to a complaint filed by the farmers. News of the contamination caused futures prices to fall about 14 percent. Continue reading

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Complex science behind food safety

From Scientific American. Thanks to Karen Selick for pointing this out.

The source for this story.

Editor’s note: The following is an edited excerpt from a chapter in Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking(The Cooking Lab, 2011), a six-volume set consisting of 2,348 pages of text and photography.

Scientific research on foodborne pathogens provides the foundation for all food safety rules. Generally speaking, two kinds of research inform us about issues of food safety. The first is laboratory experimentation: for example, testing how much heat will kill a pathogen or render it harmless. Data from these experiments tell us the fundamental facts about pathogens of interest. The second kind of research is investigation of specific outbreaks of foodborne illness. Continue reading


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Fecal matter on 72% of grocery carts, recent study finds — Globe and Mail

Erin Andersson, writing for the Globe and Mail:

“Yuck. After reading this, you may never look at your grocery cart in the same way again.

A University of Arizona researcher took a swab of 85 carts in four different states and ran tests on what he found: 72 per cent of them came back positive for fecal matter. (Half of them were also laced with E. coli.)

The bacteria was discovered mostly on the handles of the carts, suggesting that a lot of people could do a better job washing their hands after they use the toilet while we’re all scrubbing away in disgust. Continue reading

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Corporate agendas on display at Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement hearings

Here are excerpts from a couple of accounts from Elanor of The Ethicurean blog, who took the time to attend these lengthy National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement hearings and report back. Elanor’s reports give some idea of the level of commitment needed to effect change at the regulatory level in American agriculture today and the extent to which the priorities of trade interest groups determine contemporary farming practices.

Greens farmers, even organic ones have taken to eliminating hedgerows, wild vegetation and wild animals in an effort to please wholesalers and marketers concerned about possible contamination of produce. Picture of a sterile farm courtesy of Wild Farm Alliance

Greens farmers, even organic ones have taken to eliminating hedgerows, wild vegetation and wild animals in an effort to please wholesalers and marketers concerned about possible "contamination" of produce. This picture of a "sterile" farm was used on the Ethicurean courtesy of Wild Farm Alliance.

“I packed a suit for three days of USDA hearings over an industry-proposed national food safety agreement [pdf] for leafy greens. In retrospect, I should have packed a flask. After 11 hours a day of industry muscle-flexing, including a threatened lawsuit, straight whiskey was looking pretty good.

The proposal being considered, first in Monterey and later at six other locations across the country, would create a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, which I’ll explain in a sec. The proposal’s authors are big producer, shipper, and processing associations that helped create a Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement currently in place in California and Arizona. What’s a marketing agreement, you ask?  I know it sounds unbearably dull. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this week, it’s that names are deceiving. Continue reading

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