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Food and Agriculture

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Lumps of Coal in the House-Passed Farm Bill

There’s an old and well honored legislative strategy of tucking otherwise unacceptable and noxious proposals into must-pass bills. The hope is that House and Senate members, seeking compromise on a final piece of legislation, may be so relieved to get a deal on the big-ticket items that some of the smaller bits can get through, too. Read More

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Do We Need GMOs?

Most observers agree that we are facing big obstacles to producing enough food sustainably in coming decades. Issues of distribution and food justice remain paramount, but production must also be adequate, and the huge impact that agriculture has on the environment must be reversed. Read More

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Talking Turkey: Saying “No Thanks” to the Poultry Rule This Thanksgiving

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate the foulness of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed Poultry Rule. Many critics, including the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, of which UCS is a member, have pointed out that the rule ignores evidence pertaining to human health and worker safety. Others have argued it is inhumane. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a report released earlier this year, found that the proposed rule is based on limited scientific data and inadequate evaluation of USDA pilot projects. Read More

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CDC’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics” Campaign Still Ignoring Animals

“Although previously unthinkable, the day when antibiotics don’t work is upon us. We are already seeing germs that are stronger than any antibiotics we have to treat them.” These are the words Dr. Arjun Srinivasan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used last year to kick off the agency’s educational campaign on antibiotic resistance, “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2012.” Read More

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Beef, the Climate, and Human Health: Changing our Wasteful Food and Land Use System

Today UCS is releasing a new report at the international climate negotiations in Warsaw, entitled “Climate-Friendly Land Use: Paths and Policies toward a Less Wasteful Planet.” The theme of the report is waste and inefficiency — how our current global pattern squanders resources, endangers human health, and damages our climate. Read More

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A Food Day Wish List: More Veggies, Less Corn

Okay, yes, sometimes corn is a vegetable. But most of the time, it’s something else entirely—highly processed corn syrup in a can of soda, for example, or a fast food burger made from a corn-fed cow. Sadly, today the average American is eating too much of those junk foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But while the impacts on public health are dramatic (see this recent report on the costs of diet-related heart disease, for example), that’s not the whole story. Read More

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Small Farms, Not Monsanto, Are Key to Global Food Security

In the land of humongous farms, the critical importance of small farms for food security is a counterintuitive message. But if we look at what most of the largest farms are growing in the U.S. Midwest, or Argentina and Brazil, it is corn and soybeans to feed livestock and biofuel production. Neither contribute much to supplying food—and especially good nutrition—to the billions who cannot afford meat. Meat is a welcome part of many diets, but besides being expensive, is also an inefficient means to produce protein. Read More

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Monsanto Scientist Pockets “World Food Prize”…But For What, Exactly?

At a glitzy awards ceremony this evening at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, three individuals will be awarded the prestigious World Food Prize. To the dismay of many, all three are experts on genetic engineering and pioneers of its early use in agriculture. Two actually work for agribusiness giants—Monsanto and its Swiss rival, Syngenta—that develop and sell this technology. Read More

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Is Biochar a Solution to Climate Change? Maybe, Maybe Not.

A new paper published earlier this week in the scientific journal PLoSOne calls into question whether we know enough about biochar to use it as an important strategy to mitigate climate change. The article, two of whose co-authors formerly worked here at UCS, did a systematic review of the scientific literature on biochar through 2011, and found 311 relevant papers.

But even with all this research, a key question remains unanswered: How long does biochar persist in the soil? Read More

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The Consequences of Killer Cantaloupes

If you follow food safety, you may have heard last week that brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen pled not guilty in federal court to charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Read More

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