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  • Chris Roth
    I thought EPGers might be interested in this compilation of Ag news, which I just got around to reading. Sorry for the length...I won t forward any more, but
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2005
      I thought EPGers might be interested in this compilation of Ag news,
      which I just got around to reading. Sorry for the length...I won't
      forward any more, but encourage anyone interested in continuing to
      receive these to sign up with Amigo Bob at orgamigo@....


      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: Ag News You Can Use #67
      Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 08:11:43 -0700
      From: Amigo Cantisano <orgamigo@...>
      To: Recipient List Suppressed:;

      *Ag News You Can Use* is an occasional free source of agricultural news
      collected from and distributed via Internet by Amigo Cantisano. Please
      distribute to anyone you see appropriate. The opinions in the articles
      are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect mine.* Please
      send me any relevant ag news that you would like to see further
      distributed.* Tell your friends to contact me to be put on the list for
      future postings.

      > @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

      > *Natural Pesticide Impairs Bumble Bee Foraging Ability*

      > Pesticide levels previously thought to be safe for pollinators may
      > prove harmful to wild bee health, according to research published in/
      > Pest Management Science/ this month.

      > The Canadian study shows that adult bumble bees exposed to the
      > pesticide spinosad during larval development – at levels they could
      > encounter in the environment – have impaired foraging ability.

      > Bees are important pollinators of crops. In developed countries,
      > approximately a third of human food is reliant on pollinating
      > activity. Wild bees are thought to contribute significantly to this
      > quantity.

      > But although many pesticides are known to be toxic to bees, toxicity
      > testing is largely restricted to direct lethal effects on adult honey
      > bees, if tested on bees at all.

      > The researchers say sub-lethal effects on honey bees could be going
      > unnoticed, and that different bee species could be also be affected.

      > Lora Morandin and colleagues at Canada’s Simon Fraser University
      > tested the effects of different levels of* spinosad* on bumble bee
      > colony health and foraging ability.

      > Spinosad is a natural pesticide derived from the bacteria
      > Actinomycetes. It is used in over 30 countries including North
      > America, Canada and the UK to combat common crop pests such as
      > caterpillars and thrips.

      > Bee colonies were fed the pesticide in a manner that mimicked contact
      > in an agricultural setting. Adult bees and developing larva were
      > exposed to spinosad in pollen.

      > The bees’ foraging ability on an array of ‘complex’ artificial flowers
      > made of centrifuge tubes was then evaluated.

      > High levels of spinosad residues (about 10 times what bees should
      > experience in the environment) caused rapid colony death. Colonies
      > exposed to more realistic levels of spinosad in pollen did not show
      > any lethal effects and only minimal immediate colony health effects.

      > However, bees that were fed realistic levels of spinosad during larval
      > development were slower foragers.

      > They took longer to access complex flowers, resulting in longer
      > handling times and lower foraging rates. The bees also displayed
      > “trembling”, which impaired their ability to land on the flowers and
      > enter the flower tubes.

      > This impaired foraging ability in bumble bees could result in weaker
      > colonies and lower pollination of crop plants, according to Morandin.

      > “Adult bees that have been exposed to a pesticide during larval
      > development may display symptoms of poisoning that are not detected
      > with current tests required by regulatory agencies,” she says.

      > “In order to ensure sustainable food production, agricultural
      > pesticides need to be safe for wild pollinators."

      > The authors conclude that testing of new pesticides should include
      > examination of lethal and sub-lethal effects on wild bees.

      > “Testing new pesticides on some species of wild bees will aid in
      > developing pesticides and use recommendations that minimize impact on
      > wild bees, leading to healthier populations of bees and potentially
      > better crop yields,” says Morandin.


      *Food Democracy Alliance - May meetings and events*

      The Future of Food showing - Wednesday, May 11, 7 pm, Nevada City
      Methodist Church, 433 Broad Street, free admission. Sponsored by NC
      United Methodist Church & Society Committee.

      FDA General Meeting - Thursday, May 12, 7 pm, Briar Patch Community
      Room. We'll be doing final planning for the benefit. Also, reports on
      the activities of our local farmer and outreach sub-groups.

      FDA Benefit: Real Food Potluck and Barn Dance - Sunday, May 15, 4-10 pm,
      Seaman's Lodge, Pioneer Park. Lots of great music! (Additional details
      previously sent out on this listserv. For more info, Rachel or Rita at
      FDA Outreach sub-group - Wednesday, May 18, 7:30 pm, Peace Center, 102B
      Argall Way (across from the Magic Theater). If you would like to help
      with tabling and other outreach, this is the group for you!

      FDA mission:
      +education and action about the hazards of genetically modified
      +support for local farmers and sustainable agriculture

      One of our FDA members is setting up an interactive listserv for those
      who would like to communicate among themselves about GE issues, post
      current developments, etc. To join that listserv, or just check it out,
      go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NCAGE. (NCAGE stands for Nevada
      County Against GE's.)


      *Launching the Stop Feeding Kids GMOs Campaign*

      Today we announce the release of our new campaign to Stop Feeding Kids GMOs!

      Our country's children are fed inadequately tested and unlabeled GMOs
      (genetically manipulated organisms) in their school meal programs, but it
      doesn't have to be this way. It's time we pay closer attention and
      advocate for school meals that don't present hidden dangers.

      We are encouraging school districts to offer, as an alternative, foods in
      schools that pose no harm for the children and for the community.

      We invite you to participate in this campaign and are ready to help you
      with more support as you embark on the process of making changes in your
      school meals.

      Please let me know if you are ready to receive a packet of materials, which
      includes the video, Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals, and a CD titled, You're
      Eating WHAT? produced by Jeffrey Smith, director of the Institute for
      Responsible Technology.

      Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club
      Chair, Genetic Engineering Committee
      Email: lhopwood@...


      *Funds Now Available to Dispose of Used-Treated Grape Stakes*

      FRESNO, Calif., April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Grape growers in eight central
      California counties can now get financial assistance from the Natural
      Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to haul used wooden grape stakes
      treated with chromated-copper-arsenic to authorized disposal sites.
      The NRCS has allocated $450,000 for growers in Kern, Kings, Fresno,
      Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties wanting to
      apply for cost-share funds in order to dispose of
      chromate-copper-arsenate treated wood stakes. The application period to
      sign up for the funds is May 16 to June 17, 2005. The money is being
      made available through the air quality enhancement portion of the NRCS
      Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The approved disposal
      sites are:

      Forward Inc. Landfill
      9999 S. Austin Road
      Maneteca, CA 95336

      American Avenue Landfill
      18950 W. American Avenue
      Tranquillity, CA 93668

      Air quality enhancement is designed to provide cost share incentives and
      technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for installation of
      practices which reduce air pollution. The program targets statewide
      "airsheds" where levels of fine particulate matter (PM-10) have been
      classified as serious, severe, or extreme non-attainment areas as
      defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These areas are
      subject to regulation under the federal Clean Air Act for emissions from
      specific agricultural activities which contribute to increased levels of
      particulate matter.

      For qualified and eligible producers, the EQIP program will provide
      funds for disposal of used grape stakes to approved land fill facilities
      in place of burning or chipping. The elimination of burning will help
      reduce PM-10 emissions and to a lesser extent, potential groundwater
      pollution leaching from piled or chipped stakes.

      Applicants must qualify as agricultural producers and provide evidence
      of ownership or control of the property which the application/contract
      will apply. The treated grape stakes must have been used or originate
      only from the applicants own property and not any other agricultural
      operation. Approved land uses for EQIP and this initiative include
      irrigated and non-irrigated cropland. Application ranking is competitive
      and based upon environmental benefit and cost effectiveness. More
      information regarding this new EQIP initiative, eligible counties,
      practice cost share rates and other application requirements can be
      found at the following
      website:http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/2005/eqip2005.html .

      For more information, contact the local NRCS office in each county or
      USDA-NRCS, 4974 E. Clinton Way, Suite 114, Fresno, CA 93727,
      559-252-2191 extension 110 or 121.


      *Eco-Flower Power Symposium*
      Sustainability Trends For the Floral Industry
      WHAT: An international panel of experts including growers, environmental
      scientists, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, certification and trade
      association leaders will present new standards and address the
      environmental and socially responsible aspects of flower growing and

      WHO: A private event for: journalists, international dignitaries, and
      environmental and floral industry experts.

      WHY: Sustainably grown flowers are already influencing the $16 billion U.S.
      floral industry. In the U.S. alone, the newly emerging organic floral market
      reached $8 million in 2003, growing 52 percent over the previous year. Sales
      are expected to grow 13 percent annually through 2008, according to the
      Organic Trade Association.

      Industrialized growing practices have led to environmental and labor
      concerns raised by scientists, environmentalists and the public. Concerned
      about personal health, social justice and environmental sustainability,
      flower retailers and consumers are increasingly seeking assurances regarding
      sustainable farming methods, and good social practices relating to the
      production and handling of fresh cut flowers.

      DATE: Friday, June 3
      TIME: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
      WHERE: Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, CA
      Refreshments served

      INFO AND RSVP: Michael Straus, Straus Communications, (415) 777-1170,
      (415) 519-8343, Michael@...



      While upholding the primacy of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and
      Rodenticide Act, the US Supreme Court rules 7-2 that it does not
      completely shield pesticide manufacturers for litigation brought by
      farmers who have suffered losses because a product caused damage to their
      crop. FIFRA had been interpreted to mean that because EPA's approval and
      registration of a chemical product for use implied a shield from
      prosecution. The Court said no, overturning lower court decisions in the
      case of Bates V. Dow AgroSciences.

      Bates was one of 29 Texas peanut farmers who watched their crops wither
      away after applications of Strongarm weed killer. Dow denied
      responsibility and the farmers sued, only to have the case thrown out of
      a Texas state court and the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The
      court's new interpretation of FIFRA was opposed by the Bush Administration
      and other industry groups.

      First the good news: a new study that collected data from more than 18,000
      Iowa and North Carolina farmers found no relationship between their long
      term exposures to fungicides, herbicides or fumigants and neurological
      symptoms. Now the not so good news: The study found that farmers who had
      high levels of long term exposure to insecticides, defined as more than
      500 days during their lifetime, had a high level of neurological symptoms
      such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, hand tremors and
      numbness. The insecticide chemicals reported in the study to contribute
      to these symptoms were organochlorines (DDT; no longer on the market),
      organophosphates, carbaryl and pyrethroids. The study will be reported
      in the June issue of Environmental Heath Perspectives and was posted on
      its website in April, although we were unable to find a link for you to
      click to to see the study.


      Until now, agronomists and other crop scientists have speculated that
      increased levels of CO2 in a global warming scenario would have a
      beneficial effect on crop production. That assumption comes from
      greenhouse and other closed chamber studies. Now, a two-day meeting of
      international researchers in London hears differently. Based on open air
      tests using a technology known as Free-Air Concentration Enrichment,
      which provides higher levels of ground level CO2, shows the benefit might
      only be half of what was originally predicted. The greenhouse gas at
      ground level tends to restrict photosynthesis and in some tests reduced
      yields by 20%.

      A paper published in the on-line edition of Science Magazine says that
      proof that global warming is a man-made problem lies in the globe's
      oceans. Researchers from NASA, the US Energy Dept. and Columbia U. say
      the only way to explain the increased temperature of ocean waters is that
      our planet is absorbing more heat from the sun than it radiates into
      space and that is a function of the greenhouse gases being released to
      the atmosphere. They say that the earth has yet to feel the impact of
      increased ocean temperatures and that is one reason the debate over
      global warming goes on. The researchers also dismiss random variables as
      the cause by pointing out their real world findings match computer
      projections. If ocean temps, which they believe are up one degree over
      the past century, rise by 1.8 degrees, large scale sea level increases
      could be possible. Read the abstract at


      *Sierra Club nixes immigration issue:* By an overwhelming majority,
      members of the Sierra Club vote not to support an effort to control
      immigration to the US. While just 16% of Sierra Club members voted, 84%
      of them wanted no part in a new club stand on immigration. Supports of
      tightening immigration policies argued that the influx of people from
      other nations to the US would strain the environment. They put up a
      slate of five directors supporting that position for the election, but
      all are defeated.

      *Oregon Senate says phooey to foie gras: * The Ore. senate passed by an
      18-8 vote and sends to the assembly, a bill to ban the production and
      sale of foie gras in the state. That follows a precedent set by Calif.
      last year when a similar bill was signed into law. It makes you wonder
      if the Ore. legislature has enough to do. There are no foie gras
      producers in the state-in fact there are only two in the nation, one in
      Calif. and one in NY-and not that many people ask for foie gras in Ore.
      restaurants, but apparently the state senate thought it was a matter for
      their immediate attention.


      *Hemp bill strung out:* Assemblyman Mark Leno's (D-SF) bill to allow
      Golden State farmers to grow hemp falls two votes short in the Ag
      Committee. The bill would have restricted sale of hemp products to
      within the state. Leno says he will try to bring the legislation back
      next year. Meanwhile, similar bills are pending in Ore. and NH. Calif.
      growers could miss a great opportunity to produce a versatile crop that's
      used in a number of products and now only comes from Canada.

      The gov't Food Pyramid has morphed into a Food Triangle, but it seems
      highly unlikely it will have any affect on the nation's health and
      fitness levels. In fact, the new website promoting the new
      approach-which combines nutritious diet with exercise-is judged too hard
      to navigate by a lot of the folks that need to use it. See for
      yourselves at www.mypyramid.gov <http://www.mypyramid.gov>. And a new
      report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine says just 3% of us
      get it completely right. Here are the numbers: 23% eat five servings of
      fruits and vegetables a day; 22% exercise for at least 30 minutes daily;
      40% maintain a healthy weight (25 or less body mass index) and 76% don't
      smoke. Put it all together and just 3% do it all.



      *CHAD TERHUNE, WALL STREET JOURNAL*: Coca-Cola Co. has agreed to buy out
      Groupe Danone SA's 49% stake in a bottled-water joint venture in North
      America and also to invest more in marketing Danone's Evian mineral
      water over the next five years.
      The companies didn't immediately disclose terms of the deal. Coke is
      expected to pay less than $100 million to acquire Danone's 49% stake and
      to take full ownership of five spring-water bottling plants. In 2002,
      Atlanta-based Coke paid the French food and beverage company about $125
      million for its 51% stake in the joint venture that markets and
      distributes Danone's Dannon brand and other spring waters in North America.
      Coke and Danone have a separate agreement under which Coke markets
      Danone's premium Evian brand. Under the new agreement, Coke has agreed
      to boost marketing spending for Evian by about 20% over the next five
      years. Danone will also contribute some money toward that effort.
      Analysts say the joint venture for Dannon, Sparkletts and other
      spring-water brands has failed to turn a profit since its inception as
      retail water prices have continued to plummet amid intense competition.
      Coke and Danone have been discussing changes to their joint venture for
      the past several months.
      "We have a strong partnership with Danone, and both companies believe in
      the potential of this category," said Don Knauss, president of Coke's
      North American operations. "We believe that this new agreement will
      enable us to be faster and more efficient, and further strengthen that
      Nestle SA is the overall water leader in the U.S. with a collection of
      strong regional brands such as Poland Spring and Arrowhead.
      PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, New York, has the top U.S. bottled-water brand
      in Aquafina, which had a 14.5% market share, according to 2004 retail
      data compiled by Beverage Digest. Coke's Dasani brand, a purified tap
      water, was No. 2 with a 9.5% share.


      IN 2003*
      States received more than $138 billion in subsidies in 2003,
      highlighting the need for deep cuts in agricultural support as part of
      the ongoing Doha Round of trade talks, according to a study made public
      April 21.
      The study, prepared for Dairy Farmers of Canada by the Ottawa-based
      consulting firm Grey, Clark & Shih, claimed the total value of U.S.
      federal government farm subsidies was $113.5 billion in 2003 while the
      total value of state and local government support was $24.8 billion in
      the same year.
      The report was presented in Geneva on the sidelines of a World Trade
      Organization public symposium where the Doha Round farm trade talks was
      addressed. The figures at the federal level are based on actual 2003
      spending levels reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the
      Bush administration's fiscal year 2005 budget proposal.
      Peter Clark, the author of the study, said the figures included
      estimates for irrigation subsidies, which the U.S. government does not
      report in its domestic support notifications to the WTO. Without
      artificially low-cost water provided by state and federal bodies, Clark
      noted, large swathes of U.S. farmland --- ncluding most of California's
      Central Valley --- would be unsuitable for farming.
      The report estimated federal support for irrigation at $1.29 billion in
      2003 while state and local government support was estimated at $21.5
      For the dairy sector alone, the report estimated total federal support
      at $10.58 billion
      while state and local government support was put at $3.24 billion. This
      amount was
      equivalent to 42% of the cost of production for U.S. dairy farmers.
      In its last domestic support notification to the WTO --- covering the
      2001 marketing year --- the United States reported $71.9 billion in
      total farm subsidy spending. This included $14.4 billion in
      trade-distorting "amber box" spending, which was well under the $19.1
      billion U.S. spending cap fixed in the previous Uruguay Round of trade

      An additional $6.83 billion in trade-distorting support was classified
      as "de minimis" and thus exempted from the spending cap, while the bulk
      of the spending--$50.67 billion--was classified as non-trade distorting
      and placed in the "green box" of exempted support.
      The United States has yet to report domestic support spending for
      subsequent years, which would cover the additional spending guaranteed
      under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002.
      Bob Friesen, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA),
      said the
      findings underlined his group's argument that deep cuts in domestic
      support were just as important, if not more so, than reductions in
      import tariffs.
      The United States has emphasized the importance of improved market
      through deep cuts in tariffs as a central objective of the Doha Round
      farm trade talks and is putting pressure on other governments ---
      including Canada --- to lower tariffs and increase in-quota limits under
      tariff rate quota regimes.
      "We don't believe market access is the only issue," argued Friesen, who
      said the U.S. subsidies were costing Canadian farmers C$1.3 billion
      annually in lost sales. "The U.S.-Canada relationship shows that
      domestic support is a huge issue. We have to compete against very, very
      high subsidies in the United States."
      The report argued that the United States is the highest provider of
      domestic support
      among WTO members and that the high level of domestic support provided
      to U.S.
      farmers "provides de facto export subsidies to support and facilitate
      exports of U.S.
      agricultural products."
      "Canada very quickly feels the impact of U.S. subsidies --- the open
      border means that U.S. prices ... set market clearing prices for
      Canadian farmers, particularly grain and oilseed producers. U.S. farmers
      do not need to be concerned about market forces, like supply and demand
      (because) USDA provides a safety net which can be even more generous as
      prices go down."
      In ruling on a complaint filed by the United States against Canadian
      export subsidies for dairy products, the WTO's Appellate Body upheld the
      principle of "cross subsidization," the idea farm goods are being
      subsidized if they are sold abroad at prices lower than the cost of
      Friesen said that three-quarters of U.S. grain and oilseed exports
      benefit from this cross-subsidization effect. Clark added that U.S.
      exports of cotton, rice and peanuts also benefit from
      cross-subsidization --- and thus vulnerable to challenge at the WTO.
      "All of these commodities are currently being exported at prices lower
      than the cost of production," he argued.
      But the Canadian government has so far declined to initiate WTO dispute
      proceedings against the United States, as Brazil successfully did in the
      case of U.S. cotton subsidies, fearing repercussions on the WTO farm
      trade talks.
      "A lot of farmers in Canada feel we should do that," said Laurent
      Pellerin, vice-president of the CFA, in regards to a WTO dispute
      challenge. "But it's never been decided to go down that road. The
      Canadian government is not prepared to support a case, and farmers won't
      go it alone if we don't have enthusiastic support" from Ottawa. [ April
      26, 2005 ]
      /The report, "U.S. Federal and State Agriculture Support," is available
      on the Grey, Clark & Shih Web site at/


      *Spoof of new food guide pyramid*

      A couple of Minneapolitans discovered that the domain name
      "www.mypyramid.org" was not registered, so they registered it and proceeded
      to build a spoof of the new USDA food guide pyramid. Beware that this is
      They are pointing out the inherent conflicts within USDA
      that have already been mentioned, plus a few other controversies that have
      also seen discussion on SANET. (the real USDA pyramid is at



      America's largest woodpecker, the Ivory-billed "woody," long
      thought to be extinct, has been rediscovered in the bottomland
      forests of Arkansas! Never common, the Ivory-billed was one of
      the first creatures listed as endangered when the Endangered
      Species Act, passed in 1973, sounded an alarm warning of it's
      impending extinction. It had not been definitively sighted in the
      U.S. in 60 years and many people believed that it had been lost
      forever due to logging of its old-growth bottomland forest habitat.
      A compelling description of a sighting that surfaced last year in the
      Cache River National Wildlife Refuge prompted intensive research
      by Cornell. Last week scientists released conclusive evidence, in
      the form of a brief video of one of the birds in flight. Still teetering
      on the brink of extinction, the US Departments of Agriculture and
      Interior have formed a rapid response partnership, pledging habitat
      restoration funds through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program,
      the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve
      Program. Commenting on this endangered species success story,
      Jamie Rappaport Clark, Vice-President for Defenders of Wildlife
      said, "In the end, these incredible birds remind us of a fundamental
      truth of biology - life finds a way, if we just give it enough room"

      For more information, see:



      Researchers in Georgia have found Canada geese that spend time
      near waste lagoons can pick up and shed antibiotic-resistant E.
      coli. The researchers swabbed and sampled the feces of four
      resident flocks of geese: one in a park, one in an industrial setting,
      one that spent a lot of time near a swine waste lagoon, and one in
      an agricultural setting not near a waste lagoon. Many of the
      samples from the lagoon flock were found to harbor antibiotic-
      resistant strains of E. coli. "Furthermore, 72 per cent of those
      isolates were resistant to more than one antibiotic; 48 per cent were
      resistant to three or more drugs." Rates of antibiotic-resistance
      were "much lower" in birds in the non-lagoon agricultural flock.
      "The park birds tested clean." The researchers cautioned, however,
      that their results only prove a "theoretical risk" that geese could
      transmit pathogens from waste lagoons to humans, pets or other
      wildlife; "it doesn't confirm whether in reality they are part of a
      chain of transmission leading to human infection, says Dr. Todd
      Weber, director of the office of antimicrobial resistance at the U.S.
      Centers for Disease Control." Another researcher added, "It would
      be inappropriate to get people concerned about going into parks
      with geese around them," but "Is it worth general hand hygiene
      principles like washing your hands? Absolutely!"


      *USDA Offers Policy Statements on Controversial NOP Items*
      The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP) has
      responded publicly to several recommendations made by the National
      Organic Standards Board (NOSB) related to fishmeal, inerts, antibiotics,
      and the NOP's scope of authority. The NOP will allow fishmeal preserved
      with natural substances to be used as a feed additive or feed supplement
      and will allow only approved known inert ingredients in pesticide
      formulations. Antibiotics will continue to be prohibited for use in
      organically produced livestock. The NOP also determined that personal
      care products may not use the USDA organic seal at this time, although
      individual ingredients may be listed as NOP-certified. The Organic
      Consumers Association has expressed concern that the new directive will
      reduce the demand for organic ingredients and feed stocks from organic
      farmers. Read the NOP's complete policy response
      / PDF 45 kb). URL: http://www.ota.com/news/press/171.html


      *Free Listings Available on New Agritourism Web Site*
      New York small farmer Chris Grant has launched a new Web site that
      serves as a directory for agritourism farms. Agritourism World
      (http://www.agritourismworld.com) features free listings for farms,
      farmhouses, ranches, B&Bs, wineries, vegetable or fruit farms, and other
      land-based enterprises. The site also features agritourism news, an
      agritourism blog, and a comprehensive search engine to help tourists
      find farms by keyword, location, or a wide range of categories,
      including food production type, animal type, amenities, activities, and
      Related ATTRA Publication: Entertainment Farming & Agri-Tourism


      *Weed Control on Organic Farms Workshop*
      May 26, 2005
      Bolinas, California
      The challenge of controlling weeds on organic row crop operations is the
      subject of this workshop, "The War on Weeds." The presenters will
      provide information and options for organic and sustainable farmers to
      battle the ongoing struggle of weed control in organic operations. The
      workshop will include demonstrations of flaming and other mechanized
      weed control tactics. The workshop will be held in the field at Star
      Route Farms.
      URL: http://cemarin.ucdavis.edu/Custom_Program600/


      *Shafer goes 100% solar*
      /Napa producer Shafer Vineyards is the first winery in the United States
      to convert 100% to solar power.

      The winery's system produces 129 kilowatts per hour at times of peak sun
      exposure, which is estimated as enough electricity to power 20 to 30
      typical homes. According to statistics the average American home uses
      about 1,000 kw each month.

      One of the first applications to be tested on the new system was the
      bottling line, which ran on solar power to cork thousands of bottles of
      Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay in January.

      Winery president Doug Shafer said that when the system went live in the
      winter the winery used as much bought-in electricity in three weeks as
      the average home uses in 12 hours.

      In the summer, Shafer said, the sun should provide 100% of the winery's
      needs. It is estimated that during its 30-year lifetime the solar array
      will 'offer an air-purifying effect equal to planting 17,300 mature trees.'

      It is also reckoned that the displaced need for fossil fuels over the 30
      years is the equivalent of not driving 9m miles in cars.

      'We're welcoming each sunrise with new appreciation,' Shafer said.

      The cost of the solar array - which consists of blue-tinted panels on
      the winery rooftops - was US$980,000, of which half will be returned to
      Shafer in the form of a grant from the California Utilities Commission.

      While Shafer is the first winery to go 100% solar, there are other
      California producers which typically use between 30% and 50% solar power.

      These include Domaine Carneros, Dutch Henry Winery, Long Meadow Ranch
      (100% solar), Frog's Leap (95% solar), Fetzer Vineyards, Rodney Strong
      Vineyards, and Sierra Vista.

      The generation of electricity is the number one source of pollution in
      the United States. In 2001 one of George Bush's first acts as president
      was to withdraw the United States from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on
      Climate Change, an agreement signed by 54 nations.


      A plan currently before the state Water Resources Control Board will tax
      farmers between 12 cents and 30 cents per acre to provide additional
      staff to monitor water quality and runoff from their farms. That
      assessment would be on top of any fees already in place on a regional
      basis. The new money would be used to hire 22 new WRCB staffers to
      monitor water testing reports. The taxing plan will be discussed next
      week and seems to have found favor, with only the machinery for
      administrating it in question.

      The head of the SWRCB has gone on record as thinking this monitoring
      should be done through county ag commissioners. That suggestion has
      raised concerns among environmental group leaders and others who charge
      the ag commissioners are too close to the growers to give the public a
      level of confidence that water quality was being accurately monitored.
      They believe the suggestion to put the responsibility with ag
      commissioners is really an effort to keep regional water quality boards'
      staffs weak.

      Ag inspection stations on the Calif. border intercept two shipments of
      citrus coming from Texas that contain what most likely were Mexican fruit
      flies. The shipments originated at Rio Queen Citrus Inc. in Mission,
      Tex. and Healds Valley Farms Ltd. in Edinburg, Tex. Authorities from the
      two states as well as Ariz. and USDA meet to discuss the problem but it
      comes at the end of the Texas shipping season. Calif.'s border
      inspection system is so lax you have to wonder how they found the
      Mexflies. Or more likely how many pests came into the state undetected.

      Blaming bad farming practices that lead to the overuse of fertilizers and
      pesticides and erosion, a report issued in the European Union says that
      16% of its land is deteriorating in quality. The report also cites
      urbanization, climate change and pollution for the worsening conditions.
      In southern Europe, 75% of the soil has such a low organic content that
      concerns are being expressed, but in general it's eastern Europe where
      more than one third of the damaged soil exists.


      Researchers at the Nat'l Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Japan
      announce the successful insertion of a human gene into rice plants. The
      gene is capable of making an enzyme CYP2B6 that is effective in breaking
      down chemical compounds including herbicides and pesticides. Unlike a
      Roundup Ready plant that has specific resistance to a single herbicide,
      the Japanese plants resists multiple herbicides, allowing rotation of
      herbicides used in rice fields and a lower threat of resistance build up.
      The development will be reported in an upcoming issue of the Journal of
      Agriculture and Food Chemistry.


      *Kern sludge:* Sen. Dean Florez's (D-Shafter) watered down bill banning
      the importation of biosolids (sludge) in to Kern County is passed by a
      state Senate committee. The bill, originally, designed to stop the
      movement of sludge across county lines was substantially weakened by
      Florez when he faced strong opposition from sanitation agencies in urban
      counties. Kern County officials are happy that the proposed law, which
      may provide them a shield from litigation, is moving forward.

      But while Kern officials fight off those terrible sludge spreaders on
      the coast, Fresno City Council considers a contract to send 50,000 tons
      of its sludge to Kern where it would be deposited at Tule Ranch. Kern
      officials are begging their Fresno counterparts to reject the contract or
      at least go slow on approving it.


      *Ventria still unwanted:* Poor Ventria BioScience is homeless once again.
      Peaked by rough treatment at the hands of Californians, the company
      announced plans to relocated to Missouri where some small U. was willing
      to put up $5 million for it. Now, that deal may be off as Ventria says
      it will give up test plantings in Missouri in favor of North Carolina.
      And if that doesn't work the company will look at growing its pharma rice
      in Puerto Rico or South America. Problem here is that opponents of the
      bioengineered rice are just as mobile as Ventria and plan to follow the
      company to NC to protest.

      After two years of planning and negotiation, McDonald's announces a new
      menu item containing fresh Calif. table grapes. The new salads will use
      a variety of red table grapes in the chain's more than 30,000 US stores,
      adding to the volume of Golden State grapes already being sold through
      fast food chains Wendy, Denny's and Arby's. McDonald's initial estimate
      is for 600,000 boxes of grapes to keep its customers lovin' 'em.


      Whole Foods Markets, Inc., the nation's largest natural food chain,
      reported a 22% increase in its second fiscal quarter earnings. The
      increase, in part, is driven by an 11.6% increase in same store sales in
      stores open a year or more. The chain is also expanding rapidly and
      projects a growth in same store sales at between 9-11% over the coming
      year. Overall, Whole Foods is expecting 15-20% growth in the year to come.


      Despite cool April temps and lower than desirable pollination, the Wash.
      State cherry crop appears to be on track to match the levels of the past
      two seasons, placing total volume in the 11 million to 12 million box
      range. In 2003, the state hit a record level of 11.3 million boxes.
      Reports call for fewer clusters of fruit which could mean larger cherries
      heading to market. Harvest will start later this month and officials
      predict larger crops in the years to come thanks to extensive plantings
      to meet global demand that could put future crops in the 14-15 million
      box range.

      But in the southern SJV, cherry growers are facing a far less bright
      scenario. Rains that just seem to keep coming week after week have
      already destroyed much of the early-ripening Brooks varieties (see new
      cherry price report below). If the weekly storms persist later fruit may
      also feel a heavy impact. Ag Commissioners say it's too early to assess
      the damage, but reports from Tulare, Fresno and Kings counties say damage
      runs anywhere from 15% to 100% depending on location. Further north,
      where Bing cherries ripen later, the damage so far is not as severe.

      And cherries aren't the only crop suffering from too much water.
      Strawberries are facing mold problems from the dampness that may cut
      yields in half in Fresno County as well as on the coast where the harvest
      has moved to Monterey County. Monterey's leaf vegetable crops are also
      at risk, either from gaps caused by late plantings or slow growth in the
      cool weather.


      In spite of a 2001 law mandating better working conditions for the state's
      shepherds, a new report shows that their working conditions haven't
      improved. Of 22 shepherds interviewed by Central Calif. Legal Services,
      fully 20 had no toilet facilities. Fourteen had no heat and two-thirds
      of the group had no showers or access to a cell phone or radio in case
      they needed emergency medical attention. The law passed in 2001 was
      designed to improve these conditions but sheep ranchers say that foreign
      competition for wool and synthetic fabrics has driven the prices they
      receive down to the point where they can't provide these amenities for
      their shepherds.


      What's a poor SF caviar lover to do? With the collapse of the Russian
      sturgeon fishery with the fall of the Soviet Union, getting your daily
      fix of the fishy eggs hasn't been easy. Some Bay Area residents will do
      anything for just a taste. So it comes as no surprise when Calif. Fish &
      Game officials arrest several Russians and confiscate the caviar they
      find in their auto body shops as being poached from the Sacramento/San
      Joaquin River Delta. There, the endangered White Sturgeon has become
      much more endangered as the Russians seized an opportunity to charge
      middlemen up to $140 a pound for the eggs, with the final price to
      consumers going even higher. Exactly why the caviar was being bottled in
      auto body shops was not explained, but then again, it was in San


      *FARM BUREAU NEWS*: A new weekly public television show that celebrates the
      miracle of American agriculture and the farm and ranch families that
      help make it possible will hit the airwaves this fall, it was announced
      today. America’s Heartland will profile the people, places and products
      of U.S. agriculture.
      The magazine-style, half-hour program will focus on our national love
      for the land, our fascination with food and the bedrock American values
      of family, hard work and independence that make our agricultural system
      the finest in the world.
      In announcing the ground-breaking series today, the series’ two flagship
      supporters --- Monsanto Company and the American Farm Bureau Federation
      (AFBF) --- along with the show’s producer, KVIE, the public television
      affiliate in Sacramento, California, said they are proud to collaborate
      with other U.S. agriculture groups to raise awareness of the significant
      contribution that agriculture makes to the quality of American living.
      America’s Heartland supporting contributors include American Soybean
      Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council,
      United Soybean Board and U.S. Grains Council.
      America’s Heartland will help viewers better understand the nation’s
      farm and ranch families and the challenges and opportunities they face
      as they produce food and fiber for Americans and people in other
      countries. "American farmers play an important role in the stewardship
      of the land and foods we eat --- it is important that they are
      recognized by non-farming communities for their hard work and devotion,"
      said Kerry Preete, vice president of U.S. crop production at Monsanto
      "America’s Heartland will provide metropolitan audiences an important
      opportunity to learn more about the story beyond the grocery store
      shelves and usher in a greater respect for farmers’ and ranchers’
      Series supporters also believe America’s Heartland will help raise
      public awareness of the agricultural industry, particularly among the
      nation’s opinion leaders, and highlight the important role farmers and
      ranchers play in feeding, clothing and fueling the world.
      "We believe America’s Heartland will provide an opportunity for
      consumers to get reacquainted with American farmers and ranchers, the
      people who produce their food," said Bob Stallman, president of AFBF.
      "Americans, for a number of reasons, are removed from their agricultural
      roots. America’s Heartland will help bridge that disconnect. America’s
      Heartland will show the diversity of American agriculture --- the
      variety of operations and people in the profession. America’s farms are
      still predominantly operated by farm families and not large
      corporations, as many people think. America’s Heartland will put a face
      on those families and give them a voice."
      Stallman said Farm Bureau is proud to team up with Monsanto, a leading
      agricultural technology company that has helped farmers become more
      profitable, productive, and efficient in meeting the needs of American
      consumers, and KVIE, which has already proved its ability to tell
      agriculture’s story to the public through its eight years of producing
      the California Heartland series, which was one of the most-watched
      series in the 50-year history of California public television.
      America’s Heartland is as much about the way of life of the people
      working and caring for the land as it is America’s food and agriculture
      system. Each half-hour program will be shot entirely on location in
      digital widescreen format, according to Jim O’Donnell, Director of
      Program Marketing for KVIE.
      The first season of the program will consist of 20 original programs,
      one or more of which will break from the established format to cover a
      single topic or theme.
      The series will premiere the first week of September 2005.
      The series will be distributed to each of more than 300 public
      television stations in America by America’s Public Television, the
      single largest provider of programming to public television stations.
      "We project that the first season of the program will be available in
      markets totaling more than 60% of the nation’s viewers --- approximately
      100 stations reaching more than 71 million households," O’Donnell said.

      People interested in seeing a sneak peek of the series may view an
      introductory trailer at the website: www.americasheartland.org
      America’s Heartland is a weekly television program that celebrates the
      miracle of American agriculture and the farm and ranch families that
      help make it possible.
      The American Farm Bureau Federation is the nation’s largest farm
      organization with affiliates in 49 states and Puerto Rico. Monsanto
      Company is a leading industry provider of technology-based solutions and
      agricultural products that improve farm efficiency and food quality. .
      KVIE, Sacramento is the creator and producer of America’s Heartland, a
      weekly series celebrating the generous earth of our nation and the
      people who work it. KVIE is a PBS member station and one of the most
      prolific producers of content for public television in America.

      For more information, see: www.kvie.org <http://www.kvie.org>


      *BRAD CAIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS*: When Sen. Vicki Walker watered down a
      bill to ban the sale of soda pop and other sugary snacks in Oregon
      schools, she said she wanted to protect local schools' ability to decide
      such matters.
      Left unsaid, however, was the fact the Eugene Democrat and other
      lawmakers got campaign money last fall from a soda pop industry group
      that has lobbied against the junk food ban in the 2005 Legislature.
      Walker and two other members of the Senate Education Committee that
      rewrote the bill each got $2,000 campaign contributions from the Oregon
      Soft Drink Association, which gave a total of $91,000 to lawmakers last
      fall. The other committee members who got $2,000 were Sen. Ryan Deckert,
      Dem.-Beaverton, and Sen. Jeff Kruse, Rep.-Roseburg.
      Walker, who is considering running against Democratic Governor Ted
      Kulongoski next year, said the campaign money had nothing to do with her
      decision to delete the ban on pop and candy sales.
      "That wasn't the issue at all," said Walker, who is chairwoman of the
      Senate education panel. "The issue involves all the foods we serve to
      children. It's broader than just banning soda pop and vending machine
      candy in schools."
      While the campaign contributions to Walker and the others are legal, a
      spokeswoman for a campaign watchdog group said the donations should
      raise eyebrows.
      "With campaign contributions, the special interests are buying access to
      lawmakers. Once they've got access, they can build a relationship. And I
      think that does influence how votes go," said Andi Miller of Common
      Cause Oregon.
      A health care activist who pushed for the soda pop and junk food ban in
      schools said she thinks soft drink industry lobbyists were instrumental
      in persuading the senators to kill the ban.
      "Who knows exactly what goes on behind the scenes, but we believe they
      played a significant role in this," said Mary Lou Hennrich, executive
      director of the Community Health Partnership.
      Rob Douglas, a lobbyist for the Oregon Soft Drink Association, referred
      inquiries on the matter to Kathy Kaiser, area manager of the Coca-Cola
      Bottling Co. of Oregon.
      A phone message to Kaiser wasn't immediately returned Friday, but in
      testimony before Walker's Senate Education Committee in March, Kaiser
      said the state "should not legislate eating habits."
      "Parents and local schools should be the ones to determine what students
      should be eating," Kaiser said in her prepared testimony.
      Advocates of a junk food ban said soda pop and other sugary snacks are a
      leading cause of childhood obesity and that soft drink industry
      representatives have been fighting bills around the country to limit
      their ability to market their products in schools.
      Just this past week, in Connecticut, about a dozen industry lobbyists
      were sent to the Capitol in Hartford to try to scuttle a similar bill
      that's pending in that state's Legislature, according to one activist.
      "The place was crawling with pro-soda pop people," said Lucy Nolan of
      End Hunger Connecticut, a group which has been trying to get junk food
      out of schools in favor of healthier foods.

      A spokeswoman for a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that's often
      been called the "food police" said it appears lawmakers in Oregon "did
      cave in to the soft drink manufacturers."
      "They started out with a terrific bill, and they ended up with nothing,"
      said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
      Walker disgrees.
      While the new version of the bill bans no foods or beverages, she said,
      it requires local schools to adopt a "wellness policy" that includes
      goals for nutrition education and physical activities.
      "I just think this is a very thoughtful approach," the Eugene lawmaker
      said. "To me the question is, how are we going to get parents and
      children involved in the discussion of childhood obesity?"
      Further, Walker said backers of the original bill "just wanted to ban
      something" and that doing so would have "accomplished nothing."
      But a California health care advocate notes that Governor Arnold
      Schwarzenegger has come out in favor of a bill to ban soft drinks in all
      public schools and that the soda pop industry "is the only major
      opposition to this bill."
      "That should come as no surprise to anybody," said Harold Goldstein of
      the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. "They want to keep
      selling their products to our children in public schools while they are
      a captive audience."
      Despite the apparent death of Oregon's ban on soda pop and other school
      snacks in the 2005 Legislature, backers of the effort aren't giving up.
      Hennrich, the Community Health Partnership representative, noted that
      it's taken years for legislatures in other states to overcome industry
      opposition to enact laws curtailing the marketing of those products.
      "We have an epidemic of obesity going on," she said. "We need to have a
      statewide standard for what kids eat and drink in schools.


      extremely disappointed at the capitulation to industry by the Bush
      administration, which today withdrew a proposed rule that would have
      required the public disclosure of the names of retail outlets where
      recalled meat and poultry products have been sold, thereby making it
      easier for consumers to identify and return contaminated food.
      Currently, press releases from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
      (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) list only the name of the
      producer, the type of food and a code number not the stores where the
      item was distributed. Further, consumers practically need a degree in
      forensic science to decipher all of the codes to determine whether the
      food sitting in the refrigerator is being recalled.
      If this weren't enough, the confusion and the finger pointing among
      local, state and
      federal agencies that resulted from the recall of meat from the
      Washington state cow diagnosed with mad cow disease in December 2003
      should have provided enough evidence that the current recall system is
      not working properly. (In that case, California officials notified
      counties that meat from the infected cow had been sold in stores in
      their jurisdictions, but USDA rules forbid the state or county from
      telling consumers which stores sold the meat.)
      With the health and welfare of consumers at stake, we should have a
      recall system that gets information about contaminated food to the
      public as expeditiously and clearly as possible. FSIS had apparently
      recognized this shortcoming when it sent this proposed rule to the
      Office and Management and Budget in February for review. However, some
      in the food industry don't want to make it easier for consumers to
      return their products, so they vehemently opposed and successfully
      blocked the rule.
      It is appalling that Bush's devotion to the meat industry trumps his
      commitment to the public health. This was a commonsense solution to a
      weak policy.


      New guidelines set by the National Academies of Sciences would permit
      the development of human-animal hybrids. The creation of these new
      species would be allowed for the sake of research. According to the
      standards, this would be permitted "under circumstances where no other
      experiment can provide the information needed." The standards also
      recommend "strong scientific justification" for experiments where human
      cells are used to develop major aspects of the brain of the new animal.
      In addition, newly developed human-animal species are not allowed to
      breed with each other. These standards are voluntary, and human-animal
      hybrids are already under production. Learn more and speak your mind:


      Government officials from 130 nations are currently meeting in Uruguay
      to discuss methods of eliminating twelve of the world's most toxic
      pesticides and chemicals. Specifically, these toxins, such as DDT and
      PCBs, are referred to as Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs). They are
      known to kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause
      cancer and reproductive disorders, and interfere with normal infant and
      child development. According to Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the
      United Nations Environment Programme, eliminating POPs will be expensive
      but "will save lives and protect the natural environment - particularly
      in the poorest communities and countries."


      The University of Hawaii has released a new study that shows people who
      consume processed meats have a 6,700% increased risk of pancreatic
      cancer over those who consume little or no meat products. The study was
      done over a period of seven years on nearly 200,000 people. Researchers
      pin the blame on sodium nitrite, a chemical used in nearly all processed
      meats, including sausage, hot dogs, jerkies, bacon, lunch meat, and even
      meats in canned soup products. Although these same meats can be
      purchased without sodium nitrite, consumers must seek the few products
      that are labeled as such. The USDA attempted to ban sodium nitrite in
      the 1970s, but was blocked by the meat industry, which relies heavily on
      the chemical to add color to processed meats, making them look more
      appealing. Author and nutritionist Mike Adams said of this and other
      similar study results, "Sodium nitrite is a dangerous, cancer-causing
      ingredient that has no place in the human food supply."


      *Mommy, Is Aunt Sally In The Rice Puffs?*
      by Don Fitz
      Would it be worse to find a finger in your chili or guzzle human DNA
      when you down a beer? In the recent furor over the potential for
      "pharmed" rice to destroy Missouri's rice growing industry, something is
      being downplayed: corporations are proposing to put human DNA into
      plants whose neighboring cousins could end up being eaten (or drunk) by

      Ever since Ventria Bioscience announced its intentions to plant
      genetically engineered rice, it faced strong opposition from
      environmentalists and local rice farmers. "Pharming" is an experimental
      method of inserting human or animal genes into plants so they will
      become biofactories for producing pharmaceuticals. Ventria claims that
      its pharmed rice would produce the proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme,
      which would go into medicines for dehydration and diarrhea. But Friends
      of the Earth spokesperson Bill Freese says that Ventria is just as
      likely to use its rice to make granola bars, yogurt or poultry feed.

      In 2004, Ventria's application to pharm 120 acres of rice in California
      was turned down. Seeking a state with even less environmental concern
      than that governed by Arnold, the company looked to John Ashcroft's
      Missouri. Its politicians readily promised support and $30 million in

      The Missouri project would allow up to 204.5 acres of such rice to be
      grown. It would not only be the largest pharmed crop in the world - it
      would dwarf the typical pharmaceutical crop of less than an acre.

      Rice farmers are not at all happy with the idea of such a large field
      being planted next to theirs. If the pharmed rice spreads, it could
      contaminate their fields. Pharmaceutical rice could be spread by
      cross-pollination, floods, rice-eating birds, rice grains in farm
      equipment, or human error in distribution. Risks from pharmed rice
      include allergic reactions, aggravation of bacterial infections, and
      autoimmune disorders.

      Farmers might be less nervous if Ventria had liability insurance. But
      instead of purchasing enough insurance, Ventria has its public relations
      artists spin the yarn that dangers are too little to worry about. "It
      can't happen here" is the essence of its message.

      But it has happened. The StarLink corn incident of 2000 led to a $1
      billion recall. In 2002, a half million bushels of soybeans in Nebraska
      had to be destroyed. Iowa burned 155 acres of pharmaceutically
      contaminated corn.

      As Ventria was touting the pharming of its rice as risk-free, on the
      other side of the globe Greenpeace campaigner Sze Pang Cheung announced
      the illegal release of genetically contaminated rice in China. That Bt
      rice that could cause allergic reactions in people.

      The gnawing question remains. Doesn't Ventria's arguing that accidents
      never happen instead of showing that it has insurance to cover accidents
      suggest that the company doesn't believe its own press releases?

      The Missouri chapter seemed like it might be over when Anheuser-Busch
      announced on April 12 that it would not buy Missouri rice if genetically
      engineered rice were grown in the state. Like Monsanto, Busch is
      headquartered in St. Louis. Busch is both the largest brewer and the
      biggest purchaser of rice in the country.

      As soon as the beer threat hit the news, Missouri politicians repeated
      their act of falling over each other while rushing to serve the genetic
      engineering industry. Just three days later, Governor Matt Blunt
      announced that a deal had been brokered between Busch and Ventria. The
      beer giant would drop its threat to boycott Missouri rice and Ventria
      would promise that its pharmed rice would be grown at least 120 miles
      from other Missouri rice fields.

      As the politicians patted themselves on the back, Missouri rice growers
      maintained their doubts. The rumor went out that Ventria plans to get a
      field near Mark Twain's home town of Hannibal in the northern part of
      the state. But it might not be as easy to pharm rice in northern
      Missouri as it is in the boot heel, the state's southernmost region.
      Farmers have a strong suspicion that once Ventria gets its foot in
      Missouri's door and the controversy is out of the news, the corporation
      will slither down the Mississippi to the state's prime rice-growing fields.

      There is a deeper side to this story that is being sidestepped: Why
      would sales plummet if pharmed rice genes got into regular rice? Part of
      it is the risk to public health. But reporters are not asking people who
      eat rice (virtually all of us), "Do you want to have human genes in what
      you eat and drink?"

      Perhaps beer drinkers are not the only ones who don't want to taste a
      little bit of Uncle Fred. Maybe mommies don't want to give their
      darlings wee morsels of Aunt Sally in their rice puffs before waving
      them off to school.

      This brings to mind a problem which plagued the meat packing industry a
      century ago. Upton Sinclair wrote in The Jungle that sometimes
      packinghouse workers

      "fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never
      enough of them left to be worth exhibiting -- sometimes they would be
      overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the
      world as Durham's Pure Leaf Lard!"
      Most people would see gobbling up a finger in a bowl of chili as
      cannibalism. But what about the tip of a finger? If you eat food cooked
      with lard which includes fragments of a slaughterhouse worker, is that

      Is it cannibalism to eat food with one human gene? What about 50 human
      genes or an entire human chromosome?

      To use the language of the genetic engineering industry, we could say
      that human DNA in rice is "substantively equivalent" to human flesh in
      hamburger meat or human remains in Durham's Lard. Of course, there are
      differences. Genes are incredibly small in comparison to boiled human
      flesh. But those human genes would be present in every cell of every
      contaminated plant you put into your mouth.

      This is not something that suddenly arose with Ventria rice in
      Missouri's boot heel. Genetic engineering researchers have been putting
      human genes into animals for years for medical purposes, such as trying
      to make pig hearts human-compatible. Gen Pharm bioengineered Herman, the
      first transgenic dairy bull, for siring cows that produce milk with a
      human protein.

      Scientists with the US Department of Agriculture put human growth
      hormone genes into pig embryos to produce faster growing hogs. The
      project did not stop because its originators woke up at night pondering
      the morality of what they were doing. Rather, it was abandoned because
      the resulting pigs were so deformed that some could not support their
      own weight.

      But other laboratories could well overcome these failures and
      successfully implant even more human material into plants and animals.
      If one gene worked pretty well, could 20, 100 or 1000 genes work even
      better? In 1997, Japanese researchers reported inserting a complete
      human chromosome into mice to produce human antibodies.

      How much human material spliced into a living organism makes its
      products "essentially human?" This ethical dilemma is deafening by the
      silent treatment it is given.

      Imagine that you doze off one night while watching Buffy slay the bad
      guy. You wake up thinking you heard an ad for "Angel Beer" that is
      fortified by inserting genes from human blood into rice that's sold to
      the brewery. It might be hard to tell if it was a nightmare or the
      latest biotech venture into Missouri's boot heel.

      Eating food with human genetic components would certainly run counter to
      the moral or religi<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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