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USDA Clears Arizona to Test SNAP Fraud Prevention Improvement

USDA | Posted on December 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cleared the state of Arizona to test a program aimed at limiting fraud and reducing illegal trafficking in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit (EBT) cards. The two-year waiver, granted by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), will allow the state to require direct contact with SNAP benefit recipients who request a replacement EBT card more than two times in a 12 month period.

Perdue: SNAP changes won't threaten 2018 farm bill

Politico | Posted on December 13, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that he did not believe that GOP-desired changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, like stricter work requirements for able-bodied adults, would disrupt Congress' ability to pass a farm bill."I think the coalition that has passed the farm bill for years will be maintained," Perdue said during a speech at the National Press Club, referring to the long-standing alliance between anti-hunger and agriculture groups that has been crucial to securing votes for farm bills."By and large, there is a bipartisan group of people that believe able-bodied adults without dependents shouldn’t rely on supplemental nutrition assistance forever," he added.Perdue didn't directly answer a question about whether recent actions by the USDA to give states greater flexibility in administering SNAP were part of President Donald Trump's broad review of welfare programs.

Food Stamp Fight Looms In Congress After Tax Code Overhaul

Huffington Post | Posted on December 12, 2017

Democrats have warned that after passing a tax bill that adds to the national debt, Republicans will say it’s all the more urgent to cut Social Security and Medicare.While overhauling those popular programs is a long-term Republican goal, in the near-term conservative lawmakers are more eager to cut food stamps.Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), founder of the House Freedom Caucus, told HuffPost on Tuesday that the influential bloc of conservative Republicans will push for “welfare reform” legislation next year that would add new restrictions on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.“That’s what’s coming,” Jordan said, adding that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) support the idea. ”It’s got huge support. We just need to get it done next year.”

Tyson terminates contract with Atlantic Farm in response to undercover video

Meat + Poultry | Posted on December 12, 2017

Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, Arkansas, terminated its contract with Atlantic Farm, a poultry production operation, after undercover video footage depicting animal cruelty was released by an animal rights group on Dec. 6. A representative from Compassion Over Killing posing as an employee recorded undercover video footage of what Tyson officials referred to as “egregious, inexcusable” actions by workers at the facility over the course of several weeks.

Antibiotic confusion

Pig Progress | Posted on December 12, 2017

There appears to be lightyears of interpretation differences between the supporters and critics of antibiotic reduction. It’s clear that reducing antibiotics usage in one country or on one farm is not the same as reducing them in another. Depending on many factors, think of e.g. levels of biosecurity, legislation, farm size, professionalism of nutrition, to name a few, the way to interpret ‘reducing antibiotics’ is a different issue from place to place.

Salmon open flood gates for human consumption of GM animals

Financial Times | Posted on December 9, 2017

When it was revealed over the summer that genetically modified salmon was now being sold in Canada, the backlash from anti-GM environmental groups was fierce. The source of the stink was a two-line disclosure in the quarterly earnings of AquaBounty Technologies, a US biotech company, which stated it had sold a small amount of its AquAdvantage salmon. Engineered to grow at twice the rate of regular salmon, it is also believed to be the first example of a genetically engineered animal bred and sold for human consumption. The road to market has certainly been a long one. AquaBounty won approval to sell in Canada in 2016 after a six-year wait. But obtaining the green light from regulators is only one part of the story. Many consumer and environmental groups remain outright opposed to GM salmon being sold at all. Although the AquAdvantage salmon are all sterile, a common concern is that fertile GM species could escape into the wild and hurt natural species by interbreeding or beating them in the competition for resources.

FDA Releases Annual Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed in 2016 for Use in Food-Producing Animals

FDA | Posted on December 7, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today published its annual report summarizing sales and distribution data for all antimicrobial drugs approved for use in food-producing animals. The 2016 report shows that antimicrobial sales decreased from 2015 to 2016, with domestic sales and distribution of all antimicrobials decreasing by 10 percent and domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials decreasing by 14 percent. In previous years (between 2009 and 2015), overall sales volumes increased annually.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Dannon alleging consumers misled by 'all-natural' dairy products from cows fed GMOs

Genetic Literacy Project | Posted on December 7, 2017

A judge has granted Dannon’s motion to dismiss a high-profile false advertising lawsuit alleging shoppers were misled by its ‘all-natural’ claims on dairy products from cows that may have eaten GM feed.In a complaint against Dannon led in New York last year, plaintiff Polly Podpeskar alleged that reasonable consumers would not expect yogurts labeled ‘all-natural’ to use milk from cows likely fed a diet containing genetically engineered soy or corn.The case has been watched closely given how widely 'natural' claims are used on dairy products from cows that may have consumed GM feed.

This Robot Handles The Entire Process Of Growing Lettuce By Itself

Fast Company | Posted on December 5, 2017

Inside a warehouse in the middle of the suburban office sprawl of San Carlos, a Silicon Valley town south of San Francisco, hundreds of heads of lettuce and herbs grow next to a mobile robot designed to move the plants as they get bigger. In a lab next door, engineers tweak robots that can handle every part of the growing process, from planting seeds to packaging harvested heads of lettuce for a grocery store.By early 2018, Iron Ox, the startup behind the R&D farm, plans to open an 8,000-square-foot production farm nearby–all fully automated, in a system that the company says can make local, pesticide-free food production as cheap as traditional agriculture in the field.In the company’s system, a robotic arm plants seeds in a tightly-packed tray, where the seeds germinate in nutrient-filled water. As the plants get bigger, the arm can transplant them to a tray with more space, and then transplant them again a couple of weeks later. Moving the plants maximizes the number of plants that can grow in a tight space.The robotic arm also uses a camera to scan each plant and note any problems. “We can actually observe is it the right size, is it the right color, does it have any pest pressure or mildew or anything like that,” he says. Plants with mildew, which can easily spread, can be automatically removed. The robots can use machine learning over time to optimize how the plants are grown.

'I Was Poisoned': Can Crowdsourcing Food Illnesses Help Stop Outbreaks?

NPR | Posted on December 5, 2017

In 2008, Patrick Quade ducked out of his office at Morgan Stanley in Manhattan and stopped at a corner deli for a BLT wrap. The next day he suffered explosive diarrhea and was vomiting so violently, "it was like some force was just wringing my stomach out." When he called the deli to report the incident, they said they were not to blame and hung up on him. "Food poisoning kills 3,000 people a year," says Quade. "I thought to myself, I don't know for sure it was the deli. But what if 30 or 40 people in the neighborhood went to that deli and also got sick? Who would know?"Quade, who is now 46 years old, had no website coding experience and no background in food safety, but shortly after that incident, he founded, a crowdsourcing website where individuals can report food-poisoning incidents, public health officials can receive instant local alerts, and the food industry can be apprised of outbreaks early on.Today, Quade works on his site full time, boasting over 1.7 million page views and more than 75,000 reports from 90 countries and 46 U.S. states since the site's inception. In addition, 20,000 consumers and 350 health agencies subscribe to the site's daily alert service; custom alerts are available for state department agencies.