In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- Researchers think they have found the cause of hive collapse, which has resulted in a 30 to 90% loss of honeybee colonies in the U.S. since 2006. Imidacloprid, an extremely common pesticide, was implicated as a deadly toxin that resulted in nearly complete population loss in a 23-week experiment. Some bees ingest the pesticide through pollen, while others may be fed with high fructose corn syrup derived from treated corn. The toxin can make the bees more susceptible to disease as well as scramble the complex navigation system that helps them return to their hives. Bees are responsible for the pollination of nearly one third of agricultural crops.
- The New York Times checks in on some key pieces of food legislation that are currently stalled in Congress. The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed in January 2011, would require more stringent measures from food producers to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness, but are not yet open for public comment. Last April, an interagency committee drafted a set of nutritional regulations for foods marketed to children under 18, but no action has been taken to implement those regulations. And in 2010, the FDA issued guidelines for food service operations to list the caloric content of food items on menus, but has not followed through. These conversations may be on hold due to the election season, or perhaps due to strong pushback from the food industry.
- Reuters has a fascinating analysis of the current state of the food and beverage industries' relationship with Congress and the White House. The industries have doubled their lobbying efforts over the last three years, with almost $50 million spent on lobbying in 2011 alone. The $1.5 trillion food and beverage industry insists it can regulate itself and resists regulatory initiatives from Congress. This resistance has resulted in backpedaling on programs and legislation related to childhood obesity and nutrition. This piece is lengthy but full of fascinating and revealing information about the behind-the-scenes of food policy.
- The state of New York funded nearly 50 food access programs in this year's round of FreshConnect grants. The FreshConnect program works to improve healthy food access among low-income or low-access communities. Some funded ventures for this year include subsidized CSA programs, farmers markets looking to accept EBT payment, and youth-led produce stands and businesses. Nearly all of the funded programs also have a food donation component, which doubles their community impact. Almost $300,000 in funding was distributed through the FreshConnect program this year.
- A new study for the journal Pediatrics suggests that children from food-insecure households may develop unhealthy eating habits when they are unsure where their next meal will come from. The study found that mothers of low-income households encouraged children to continue eating even when they were full, or withheld food when the children were still hungry. These inconsistencies could set the stage for obesity later in life, as children haven't learned to monitor hunger triggers. The study is an interesting perspective on the childhood obesity trend among low-income populations.
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.