In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

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[Photograph: Darrren Hester on Flickr]

  • The European Union has implemented a ban on battery cages for egg-laying hens. Battery cages are very restrictive, and are often the subject of scrutiny by animal welfare and food safety groups. The law, passed in 1999, was given a 12-year lag time so that egg producers could adjust production methods to meet the new standards. Since the implementation three weeks ago, some grocery stores have pledged not to carry battery cage-laid eggs. The EU has said it will take legal action against 13 countries which have not yet begun regulating egg production.
  • As part of an ongoing series examining protein sources and consumption, Grist has a piece on the complicated case of soybeans. Though soy is often one of a vegetarian's primary sources of protein, the beans aren't always sustainable. They're often grown on monoculture farms, and a very small percentage of that crop is grown organically. The article mentions other environmental and health consequences of soy that complicate its position as a "green" alternative to meat.
  • Marion Nestle, of Food Politics, has heard that the office of Management and Budget is considering combining the food safety operations of the FDA and USDA to form one joint food safety committee. The agencies have long been critiqued by policy experts and consumer advocates for miscommunication and poor regulation related to food safety issues. A joint committee could help tighten oversight of food manufacturers and reduce outbreaks of illnesses. For now, though, it's just a rumor.
  • Robert Kenner, the filmmaker behind Food, Inc., has partnered up with the Just Label It! campaign to produce a new video on GMOs. Just Label It! encourages consumers to push the FDA to label processed foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. There is much debate about what negative health effects, if any, are caused by consuming GMOs. The short film focuses on our right to know what is in our food, so that we can make informed decisions about what to eat.
  • NPR's food blog The Salt describes food policy initiatives in several different cities. Food policy councils and community groups are working together to help inner-city residents get access to fresh food, mapping food availability in their neighborhoods, and raising awareness of food sourcing within the community. Many changes can be made at the national level, but cities can often pilot creative and influential food programs before the federal government catches up.

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.

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