Beets Mysteriously Destroyed, Japan Lifts Wheat Ban, and More in Food Policy

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.


[Photograph: Flickr]

40 Tons of Sugar Beets Torn Up in Oregon

In this week's strangest food news, over 40 tons of sugar beets were destroyed on a Syngenta-owned farm in Oregon. Officials are reporting that the beets were removed from the ground by hand, not by a machine— meaning some seriously dedicated people were working for several consecutive nights to destroy this crop. The FBI is investigating this as-yet anonymous attack. Many are speculating that the crops were destroyed as a protest against GMO crop production. About 95% of the US crop of sugar beets is GMO.

Japan Lifts Ban on US Wheat

After a two-month ban, Japan has resumed imports of Oregon-grown wheat. The ban began when traces of GMO wheat were found in Japan's shipment from the region. Though Oregon officials maintained that the GMO wheat originated from only one field, Japanese importers remained skeptical. Northwestern farmers were relieved to learn of the lifted ban, given that they are in the heat of harvest season and dependent on overseas sales. Japan will continue to check American wheat imports for GMOs for an undisclosed amount of time. Though there is no research indicating that GMOs are unsafe for human consumption, skepticism and fear of GMOs are widespread across many countries, including the U.S.

Causes of Colony Collapse Discovered

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has become an all-too-common phenomenon in bee colonies across the country. Farmers, grocers, and consumers are all concerned that a decreasing bee population will threaten many of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Researchers knew that CCD was associated with Nosema, a parasite that was killing the bees. But reasons for the sudden Nosema outbreak were unclear until now.

New research from the University of Maryland and the USDA indicates that even at sub-lethal levels, commercially-used pesticides and herbicides threaten bees' biological defenses. After consuming pollen contaminated with pesticide, bees were much more likely to contract Nosema. Researchers are hoping this discovery will lead to better labeling of fungicides and herbicides, and will warn farmers of the dangers of spraying in areas near pollinating flowers.

About the Author: Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website.