Thursday Roundup: Monsanto and Rats

Jury to rule on raw milk sales • Iowa House member says Speaker wants to bring Farm Bill to the floor • More layoffs in the wind industry • R-CALF says it is being excluded from beef checkoff meeting

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French scientists released a study Wednesday finding that rats fed Monsanto’s transgenic corn or its herbicide Roundup had higher rates of tumors and premature death, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports

Georgina Gustin writes:

The controversial study immediately drew skepticism from researchers in the scientific community and repudiations from the biotechnology industry, which pointed to other studies showing that genetically modified food ingredients are as safe as their conventional counterparts.

At the same time, many researchers and activists said the study’s results underscored the need for more stringent testing and regulatory standards. The French government immediately called for a national agency to investigate the study, possibly leading to a ban on importation of the particular corn variety, known as NK603.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, was performed over two years by Gilles Eric Seralini, a professor of microbiology with the University of Caen in Normandy and a former researcher and expert for the French government.

“This was the longest and most detailed experiment every published, not only on a GMO but on a pesticide,” Seralini said in a call with reporters. “The results are alarming.”

The New York Times has a good explanation of how the study was conducted, here

R-CALF and the Beef Checkoff — The Montana cattle raisers’ group R-CALF USA says it is being barred from attending the Beef Checkoff Industry Input Group, the group that helps decide how beef checkoff money is spent. R-CALF is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withdraw from the meeting unless R-CALF is invited back to the group. 

R-CALF has argued that the beef checkoff funding is being misused by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Here is another R-CALF release on the dispute. 

Gender Gap — President Obama holds a 19 point lead among likely female voters in Virginia, but is running 6 points behind Republican Mitt Romney among men, according to a Washington Post poll. 

Put the two together and Obama is ahead by 8 points in what is an important swing state. 

Exxon Expands Bakken Stake — Exxon Mobile Corp. is spending $1.6 billion to increase its holdings in the Bakken oil field by 50 percent. 

Exxon is buying the Bakken shale assets held by Denbury Resources. The holdings are in Montana and North Dakota and include 196,000 acres. Exxon will control 600,000 acres in the region after the sale.

On The Move — More young adults are leaving home and more people are moving in search of jobs, love or adventure, according to the latest figures from the Census. 

Ag Labor Missing in House Bill — The House is set to vote today on a bill that would expand the number of “green cards” for immigrants with degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, thus the STEM Act. But ag groups say the legislation ignores the need for farm labor.  

Chris Clayton reports about complaints that the House bill excludes the ag sector, despite labor shortages that are causing farmers to lose crops.

Raw Milk Prosecution — A Stearns County, Minnesota, farmer is waiting for a jury to decide if he violated the state’s food safety laws when he distributed raw milk from an Amish farm to buyers in the Twin Cities, the Star Tribune reports

The farmer, Alvin Schlangen, is charged with three misdemeanor counts. The trial went on for three days.

Schlangen’s attorney argued that the farmer wasn’t running a business, but a private food club. 

Who Is Sitting On The Farm Bill? — Rep. Tom Latham (an Iowa Republican) says House Speaker John Boehner wants to bring the Farm Bill to the floor for a vote, but he is being stifled by others in Republican leadership. Politico’s Jake Sherman reports:

Latham, a close ally of Boehner’s (R-Ohio), said on Simon Conway’s radio show in Iowa Tuesday that “Eric Cantor is the one who controls floor activity” and the Virginia Republican “honestly believe(s) that they cannot pass it.”

“John Boehner is not the problem,” Latham said.

Latham is in a tight race in a redrawn district with Rep. Leonard Boswell, a Democrat. Democrats have been making headway against Republicans in agricultural districts by harping on the failure of Republican leadership to move the Farm Bill.

“What they tell me, they don’t want to blow up the alliance with the urban members and the farm state members that we have always had to pass a farm bill,” Latham said. “They think that would be in jeopardy. They tried to come out and say it’s in the best interest for farmers to keep that coalition together and don’t have a bill that fails. I think in my mind you bring it to the floor and you fix it and that’s how you get the votes to do it.”

More Wind Turbine Layoffs — The New York Times reports about a wind turbine outfit in Pennsylvania that has shut down and laid off 92 workers, as the industry retrenches.  As Congress fails to extend the tax credit for wind power, the industry is shrinking.

The Times reports that there have been 1,700 layoffs among turbine makers, down from a peak employment in 2009 of 85,000 workers. 

 

 

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