Tag Archive: Center for Food Safety


Food Safety News

Remember California’s Proposition 37? It was the 2012 ballot initiative that would have required genetically engineered (GE) food sold in California to be labeled as such.

Prop. 37 would have also prohibited GE foods sold in California from being labeled “natural.” This aspect of the initiative got less attention, but would have had significant repercussions for food labeling and marketing.

Prop. 37 was defeated, with 51.41 percent of California voters voting against it. A similar ballot initiative in Washington, Initiative 522, was also defeated. Many state legislatures have rejected GE labeling bills.

Now, state Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has reignited the GE labeling discussion in California. Evans has introduced Senate Bill 1381, a bill that would require GE food labeling.

Evans’ bill is cleaner and more simple than Prop. 37, according to the Center for Food Safety, which has funded GE labeling initiatives in multiple states. However, SB 1381 is drastically different from Prop. 37 in how it will be decided upon. Prop. 37 was a ballot initiative, which is an option available in some states for passing laws by popular vote, and it was rejected by Californian voters, not the California legislature. SB 1381 will have to go through the California legislative process. Thus, if it is accepted or rejected, the action will be taken by California’s elected officials, not voters.

The bill, if passed, would require GE food to be labeled as genetically engineered, but food containing only some GE ingredients could be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” The bill prohibits punishment for failure to label GE foods if less than 1 percent of the ingredients in packaged food is genetically engineered or if the producer didn’t know they were using – or didn’t intend to use – GE foods.

 

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Food Safety News

After settling a dispute about final rule deadlines for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) earlier this week, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) has filed another lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – this time over food additives.

The suit seeks to vacate FDA’s 1997 proposed rule on substances generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The rule replaces the traditional petitioning process for a manufacturer seeking GRAS status for an additive with a “procedure whereby any person may notify FDA of a determination that a particular use of a substance is GRAS.”

CFS wants the agency to return to the traditional process by which manufacturers formally petition FDA to approve a new food additive as GRAS based on published studies.

FDA’s website acknowledges that the agency began accepting GRAS notices in 1998 even though the procedure was not yet final (and has yet to be finalized) and states that “the agency is evaluating whether each submitted notice provides a sufficient basis for a GRAS determination and whether information in the notice or otherwise available to FDA raises issues that lead the agency to question whether use of the substance is GRAS.”

 

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Organic Connections

 

 

Tell USDA to Reject this GE Apple! Comments are due December 9th, so please sign the petition today.

Tell USDA to Reject the GE Apple!

via Center for Food Safety

After decades of promises from the biotech industry that genetically engineered (GE) food would feed the world, cure the sick, reduce agricultural dependence on toxic chemicals, and save countless crops from imminent collapse, industry is poised to finally release a product they think will solve a problem humans have struggled with for centuries… an apple that doesn’t brown when you slice it… Seriously; we couldn’t make this stuff up.

A public comment period on the GE apple is open through December 9th.

GE apples are being touted as the best thing since…well, since sliced apples. In our homes, we just add a little lemon juice. Gosh! We have been living in the Stone Age!

While these GE apples are a waste of time and money, we don’t want to downplay the real concerns about them. Pre-sliced apples are actually a frequently recalled food product. Once the whole fruit is sliced, it has an increased risk of exposure to pathogens. Since browning is a sign that apples are no longer fresh, “masking” this natural signal could lead people to consume contaminated apples, which is why some folks are calling it the “botox apple.”

 

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WorldTruth.TV

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Small farms, high demands and lax oversight are inspiring fish farmers in China and Southeast Asia to feed their fish, especially tilapia, with animal feces.

TRUE:

In many cases, fish farmed in Asia and imported to the US have been raised on diets of chicken and pig feces

Tilapia is a flat, white fish that comes in nearly a hundred different species, is cheap to raise, easy to cook and recently became the fourth most-commonly consumed fish in the United States, behind shrimp, tuna and salmon. About 82 percent of the United States’ tilapia comes from China, according to USDA documents. But a simple online search of the subject reveals numerous alarming accusations involving Asian fish — particularly tilapia — being raised on diets of animal manure, and thus turning into magnets for food-borne illness. MSN News spoke with a leading food-safety scientist who said that, in fact, Chinese tilapia’s reputation for being unsafe to eat is quite well-deserved.

“While there are some really good aquaculture ponds in Asia, in many of these ponds — or really in most of these ponds — it’s typical to use untreated chicken manure as the primary nutrition,” Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia said. “In some places, like Thailand for example, they will just put the chickens over the pond and they just poop right in the pond.”

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Asked to estimate what percentage of Chinese tilapia are raised using animal feces as food, Doyle said “I’d say roughly 50 percent.”

Feeding fish animal feces makes them highly susceptible to bacterial infections like salmonella and E.coli, Doyle said. Furthermore, he said that the large amount of antibiotics that are given to the fish to ward off infections makes the strains of salmonella and E.coli that the fish do catch extremely hard to eliminate.

“It’s incredible to see how much of these antibiotics are applied, and they leave large residues of antibiotics in the ponds,” Doyle said. “We have multiple antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella coming in with these fish.”

Farmed fish now more common than farmed beef

Last month it was announced that farmed fish had overtaken farmed beef in terms of worldwide production for the first time in recorded history. This watershed moment for human food consumption was made possible by a vast network of fish-farming operations that allow enormous quantities of seafood to be raised in a minimal area and with minimal resources.

According to reports, in China and other Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, intense demand for farmed fish and cutthroat competition among farmers drives many of these farmers to cut corners. Feeding the fish with pig and chicken feces is much cheaper than using standard fish food.

An explosive Bloomberg News story published in October of last year and headlined “Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers” revealed in graphic detail fish farms and packing plants in China and Vietnam that are rife with filth and disease, and U.S. inspectors doing what appeared to be a poor job of stopping the tainted fish from entering the food supply. According to the piece, 27 percent of seafood consumed in in the United States comes from China, and yet the FDA only inspects 2.7 percent of the fish that gets imported. Of the fish inspected, the FDA has reportedly rejected 820 Chinese seafood shipments since 2007, including 187 that contained tilapia.

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breakingtheset

Published on Feb 28, 2013

Abby Martin breaks the set on Food Safety, Hactivist Barrett Brown, and Japanese Internment Camps.

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks to Jaydee Hanson, Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety, about finds of horse meat in the UK, and what this says about the potential for food fraud in the US. Abby then talks to Christian Stork of WhoWhatWhy.org about the case of online activist, Barrett Brown, and US government’s fixation on preemptive prosecution of anyone exposing government wrongdoing. BTS wraps up the show with a look the 71st anniversary of the internment of Japanese people in the US following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and how the growing surveillance state is the modern day internment camp.

Neonicotinoid pesticides continue to cause the decline of bee population in the U.S

pesticides

by: Sandeep Godiyal

(NaturalNews) In the most recent news about neonicotinoid pesticides, it was reported that European countries have already decided to ban the continuous use of the pesticides because of the presented scientific evidences showing that they continue to endanger bees. Corporate farms in the U.S.; however, continue to ignore the petition associated to the banning of the pesticides filed and presented by the Center for Food Safety. This is said to lead to the continuous decline of the bee population all over the U.S.

What are neonicotinoid pesticides?

Neonicotinoids refer to a group of insecticides mainly composed of clothianidin, imidacloprid, fipronil and theamethoxam. These are widely recognized as nerve poisons or neurotoxins that are mainly designed to damage the central nervous system of insects, thereby leading to paralysis and death in the most serious cases. Among the insects targeted by these pesticides are vine weevils, whitefly, termites, Colorado potato beetle and aphids. Aside from being a major cause of death and paralysis to insects, neonicotinoids are also capable of producing other symptoms not only in target insects but other pests and living organisms as well, including their interference with the navigation systems of the organisms and damage their natural capability to groom.

EU proposes to ban insecticides linked to bee decline

Three neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides would be forbidden across the continent for two years

Damian on bees : Bees flys over a sunflower in a sunflower field in Lopburi province

Three neonicotinoids would be forbidden from use on corn, oil seed rape, sunflowers and other crops across Europe for two years. Photograph: Narong Sangnak/EPA

Insecticides linked to serious harm in bees could be banned from use on flowering crops in Europe as early as July, under proposals set out by the European commission on Thursday, branded “hugely significant” by environmentalists. The move marks remarkably rapid action after evidence has mounted in recent months that the pesticides are contributing to the decline in insects that pollinate a third of all food.

Three neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides, which earn billions of pounds a year for their manufacturers, would be forbidden from use on corn, oil seed rape, sunflowers and other crops across the continent for two years.

It was time for “swift and decisive action”, said Tonio Borg, commissioner for health and consumer policy, who added that the proposals were “ambitious but proportionate”.

The proposals will enter EU law on 25 February if a majority of Europe’s member states vote in favour. France and the Netherlands are supportive but the UK and Germany are reported to be reluctant.

“It’s important that we take action based upon scientific evidence rather than making knee-jerk decisions that could have significant knock-on impacts,” said the environment secretary, Owen Paterson. “That’s why we are carrying out our own detailed field research to ensure we can make a decision about neonicotinoids based on the most up-to-date and complete evidence available.”

Luis Morago, at campaign group Avaaz which took an anti-neonicotinoid petition of 2.2m signatures to Brussels, said: “This is the first time that the EU has recognised that the demise of bees has a perpetrator: pesticides. The suspension could mark a tipping point in the battle to stop the chemical armageddon for bees, but it does not go far enough. Over 2.2 million people want the European commission to face-down spurious German and British opposition and push for comprehensive ban of neonicotinoid pesticides.”

 

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Would you eat biotech fish? FDA approves genetically engineered salmon

 

by: Raw Michelle

 

(NaturalNews)The FDA added that it would take public comments for 60 days before finally deciding on whether or not to approve the salmon.

Criticism of the recent FDA assessment points to the lack of sufficient evidence that the fish is safe for consumption, and the difficulty in measuring its real impact on the environment once mass production begins.

Where does biotech salmon come from?

The controversial fish is developed by AquaBounty Technologies, a small American biotechnology company whose main goal is to find solutions that could increase the productivity of aquaculture. Its most important research consists of developing salmon, trout, and tilapia eggs that produce fast growing specimens. To achieve this, researchers have to modify the very genetic fabric of fish. Their salmon variety has been patented and bears the trade name AquAdvantage Salmon.

The FDA report so far states that “with respect to food safety, FDA has concluded that food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption.”

What the critics say

Michael Hansen, a researcher at the Consumers Union, explained that GE fish could cause allergic reactions that the FDA is unable to anticipate. GE fish will also likely not be labeled accordingly, leaving consumers in the dark about where the fish is coming from.

If the FDA does not heed the public outcry, Congress could still prevent the commercialization of GE fish. Wenonah Hauter, director at the Food & Water Watch, urges consumers to contact their congressmen to overturn what has been called “a dangerous experiment” at the expense of consumer health.

Other concerns about GE fish pertain to its ability to outcompete natural Atlantic salmon. If it is released into the wild, the AquAdvantage salmon could adapt to new pray, survive in tough habitats, and reproduce much faster than its natural counterpart.

Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety concluded that “the GE salmon has no socially redeeming value. It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment.”

Healthy, vegan alternatives to GE salmon

Chickpeas have been hailed by vegans everywhere for their ability to mimic fish, making them an excellent addition to faux fish salads. Chickpeas provide considerable amounts of protein, slow release carbohydrates, folate and zinc.

A delicious vegan “salmon” dish can be prepared by mixing grated carrots, mashed chickpeas, white vinegar, tomatoes, finely grated lemon peel, lemon juice, dill, vegetable oil and a pinch of salt. The mixture can either be consumed raw, or divided into patties and baked for about 25 minutes. For added flavor, vegan “salmon” can be topped with vegan mayonnaise or grated horseradish.

When choosing salmon as a means to obtain healthy fats, many may want to consider chia instead. With 724 mg of Omega-3’s in 28 grams of salmon, and 4915 mg in 28 grams of chia, chia is a clear winner.

Sources for this article include:
http://www.reuters.com
http://www.fda.gov
http://www.guardian.co.uk
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/recipe-vegan-salmon-patties/
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About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created RawFoodHealthWatch.com, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.

Full Speed Ahead for Food Movement, Despite GMO-Labeling Loss

Although a ballot initiative to label foods containing genetically modified organisms failed in California, the organizers behind the measure say their movement is better organized and larger than ever before.

 

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Organizers with the Yes on 37 campaign drive over the Golden Gate Bridge in a sculpture-topped car. Photo by Lynn Friedman.

Supporters of California’s Proposition 37 are not giving up the fight after Tuesday’s rejection. In fact, they’re saying that the organizing around the initiative helped forge a diffuse group of individuals interested in healthy food into a powerful, organized movement.

While the initiative won urban coastal counties such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it lost in the state’s central valleys.

“The Organic Consumers Association is a million strong,” said Ronnie Cummins, the founder and director of that group said on a conference call on November 7. “We have 5 million people on our email list and we’re looking forward to continuing this battle.”

Proposition 37 would have required the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and banned the use of the word “natural” to market products that contain GMOs. While the initiative won urban coastal counties such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it lost in the state’s central valleys.

“We just didn’t have the funds to compete on the air” in those regions, said Stacy Malkan, media director at California Right to Know. “Many of those voters were getting their news from TV and we couldn’t compete with them.”

Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, and Pepsi poured nearly $50 million dollars into opposing the measure—about seven times what its supporters were able to raise—and spent most of the money on television and radio ads.

Throughout the campaign, the truthfulness of advertisements opposing the measure came into question. At one point, the No on 37 campaign ran an ad that identified Henry I. Miller, an opponent of the measure, as a professor at Stanford University. The campaign was forced to pull the ad after Stanford announced that Dr. Miller was not a professor there.

Multiple strategies going forward

Despite these frustrations, the mood was bright on Wednesday among supporters of Proposition 37, who were already discussing plans to introduce a similar ballot initiative in Washington state in 2013. Such an measure would need 325,000 signatures in order to significantly exceed the requirements for inclusion on the ballot, and organizers on the ground have already gathered half of that, according to Cummins.

 The mood was bright on Wednesday among supporters of Proposition 37, who were already discussing plans to introduce a similar ballot initiative in Washington state in 2013.

Activists are making preparations for a similar effort in Oregon, although signature gathering there has yet to go into full force. Meanwhile, GMO-labeling bills have been introduced in the state legislatures of Connecticut and Vermont, which do not have a ballot initiative process.

Alongside efforts to implement GMO labeling in individual states, the food movement is putting pressure on the federal government. Dave Murphy, co-chair of the Yes on 37 campaign, explained that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 1992 that GMO crops are “equivalent” to traditional crops and therefore did not require labeling.

Right2KnowMarch
A Farm Bill Only Monsanto Could Love
Three provisions in the bill would make it more difficult to regulate the safety of genetically modified crops.

“We believe that there is evidence that GMO crops are not equivalent and now is the time for the FDA to review that policy,” Murphy said. He added that the “Just Label It” campaign had collected more than one million signatures on a petition asking the FDA for a review and that the Center for Food Safety has said it is prepared to sue if the administration fails to respond.

Another achievement of the Yes on 37 campaign was the education of consumers, Cummins said. People had previously thought that products marketed as “natural” were “almost organic but cheaper.”

The Yes on 37 campaign opened the conversation and changed that, he said. “‘Natural’ is a marketing term and has nothing to do with health or environmental sustainability.”


Cecilia Garza and James Trimarco wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. James is web editor at YES! and Cecilia is an online intern.

 

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Radioactive Oatmeal Found in Hong Kong Supermarket

Low-level radioactivity was discovered in a packaged oats product from Japan on sale at a retail outlet in Hong Kong, a spokesman for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said Wednesday.
After testing a sample from the package, the Hong Kong-based CFS said radioactivity levels were low enough that there is no health concern for anyone consuming the oatmeal.

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“The oats sample was collected from a local supermarket for radiation testing under the regular food surveillance program, the CFS spokesman said.  “The test result showed that a low level of the radioactive substance, Caesium-137 (Cs-137), was detected at 7 Bq/kg.”
The CFS spokesman said the radioactivity level is far below the 1,000 Bq/kg safety guideline established by the international Codex Alimentarius Commission.
CFS did not order a recall of the product because the dietary exposure shows the internal dose of Cs-137 even at high consumption, figured at 90 grams per day, would not be enough to result in adverse health effects.
Hong Kong, one of two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China (the other being Macau), has been conducting daily tests for radioactivity of food from Japan since March 12, 2011.
One day before that, a powerful 9.0 earthquake struck Japan, causing a devastating tidal wave and leading to the melt down of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
With the farmland environment around the Daiichi plant poisoned with radioactivity, Hong Kong CFS has conducted nearly 91,000 tests of food imported from Japan to weed out any that are radioactive.
Just 171 Japanese food samples have been found to be radioactive by the Hong Kong testing program. With the packaged oats, high consumption would result in a radiation dose lower than one might receive during a chest X-ray.
Hong Kong tests for Iodine-131, Caesium-134 and Caesium-137. It has detected these elements in fruits and vegetables, meat and aquatic products, and various beverages and cereals.
In most cases, the findings do not exceed Codex levels or the importer for disposal surrendered the product.
CFS said it will “review and adjust”  the monitoring  of food from Japan based on “recommendations from international authorities to safeguard food safety.”
The “hot” packaged oats found at the Hong Kong supermarket were Nihonshokuukin Premium Oatmeal, produced by Nippon Food Manufacturer in Hokkaido, Japan.  The 300 gram package has a best before date of Nov. 16, 2012.

© Food Safety News

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Biotech Riders in Proposed Farm Bill Stir Controversy

It was a battle over agricultural biotechnology that didn’t happen — at least not in the House Agriculture Committee’s July 11 markup of its version of the proposed new Farm Bill.
After a long day of discussing, and then voting on, more than 100 proposed amendments, the wearied-looking legislators finished the markup without addressing some controversial biotech riders tucked into Title X: Horticulture.
But that doesn’t mean heated debate over these riders won’t flare up as the Farm Bill makes its hopeful way toward approval in September.
Critics of agricultural biotechnology say that genetically engineered crops can be harmful to human health and to the environment. They point to warnings from an array of scientists that the artificial insertion of genetic material into plants could cause significant problems such as an increase in the levels of known toxicants in food, the introduction of new toxicants or new allergies, and the reduction of the nutritional value of food.

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On the other side of the health divide, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates recently reaffirmed its support of biotechnology in the production of safe, nutritious food. AMA also pointed to the continuing validity of federal regulation, saying that food produced through biotechnology poses no more risk than food produced in conventional ways.
In an effort to boost the public’s understanding of this new way of producing food, the International Food Information Council Foundation has released five videos featuring leading physicians in the fields of pediatrics, food allery and obstetrics who answer frequently asked questions about food biotechnology.
In 1992, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration established a policy declaring that there is no substantial or material difference between genetically engineered foods and foods that haven’t been genetically engineered.
Even so, many consumers are wary, if not downright opposed, to this new technology.
In a July 12 press release, the Center for Food Safety vowed to continue its strong opposition to the bill’s attachments, describing them as “irresponsible and unnecessary changes to USDA regulations” that would severely weaken the agency’s oversight of genetically engineered crops, and thus “fundamentally erode science-based review.”
Remaining optimistic, the Center expects the riders to be eliminated on the House floor when the full House considers the draft version of the Farm Bill, or when the House and Senate bills go to conference.
On the other side of the biotech fence, Karen Batra, spokesperson for Biotechnology Industry Organization, BIO, told Food Safety News that the organization doesn’t want to speculate on how Congress will vote on a final package, “but we are pleased with the bipartisan support shown in the committee for clarifying the US regulatory system for ag biotech.”
The fact that the provisions remain in the proposed bill is good news, she said, because they offer common-sense modifications that would benefit an approval system that has become “duplicative, unpredictable and costly.”
Summary of the Riders
According to the summary of the proposed bill, the biotechnology provisions in Title 10 reiterate that the USDA is authorized to regulate the introduction and cultivation of products of biotechnology if the products pose a plant pest risk.
When a petition for deregulation of a biotech variety is received, a comprehensive plant pest risk assessment is conducted. Once it is determined that the product poses no plant pest risk, the authority to regulate the product under the Plant Protection Act ceases and a final decision is made to deregulate the product.
Recent petitions for deregulation have taken several years, though the actual review takes only weeks, and USDA regulation provides for a maximum limit of 180 days.
The current framework of the Plant Protection Act, which is intended to ensure the safety of biotechnology crop reviews, has been impeded by numerous procedural lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits have been proven to include frivolous claims and have been based on extraneous statutes that conflict with USDA’s statutory mandate to regulate based on plant pest risk.
These challenges have strained the limited resources of the USDA, imposed millions of dollars in unnecessary costs on taxpayers and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs on our national economy, and endangered the United States’ leadership role in this new and beneficial field of science.
Agricultural biotechnology is an evolutionary technology with revolutionary potential to feed an ever-increasing world population, while enhancing environmental stewardship.
In conclusion, says the summary, the provisions “will ensure that the transparent, comprehensive and scientifically-based review of these products occurs in a timeframe that facilitates continued innovation and adaptation of new tools to meet the challenges of food security.”