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News archive: August 2006

“Stop messing with our food”

A Daily Express reader responds to the National Farmers’ Union’s letter about measures the government has taken to prevent bystander exposure to pesticide spraying. Sophie Mepham writes, “I would like to know why so much is done at the spraying stage to protect us when we end up ingesting the very chemicals Mr Clark says farmers try to protect us from. The Government, farming and food production industries need to wake up to the use of these potentially dangerous chemicals on our everyday food and their impact on our health. It is no surprise that the organic food market is becoming increasingly popular. Stop messing with our food.”

More obese people than hungry people for the first time

The United Nations has just issued a stark warning: that death from excess has now overtaken that from deficiency. Eight hundred million people are hungry, but a billion are overweight – and the figure is rocketing up. (The Daily Telegraph)

Asda reducing food miles

Asda is running a ‘pilot’ scheme to allow farmers to deliver food direct to Asda stores. The scheme will run in Cornwall, using mini distribution hubs at farms taking part. The scheme has already been running in Cumbria where farms double up as distribution centres. One farmer from Cumbria estimates the scheme is cutting down on ‘thousands and thousands’ of food miles. (Asda Press Centre)

Coke and Pepsi Pesticide Challenge

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo faced mounting pressure yesterday when two more Indian states banned the sale of their soft drinks at government-run schools, colleges and hospitals over allegations they contain high levels of pesticides. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh joined five other states in banning the sale of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other drinks made by the Indian subsidiaries of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

The Centre for Science and Environment said last week its tests on 57 samples of soft drinks made by the US giants revealed they contained residues of pesticides 24 times higher than Indian standards allowed. It said almost all soft drinks sold in India contain high levels of pesticides, but it focused on Coca-Cola and PepsiCo because the two account for nearly 80 per cent of India’s $2bn (£1bn) soft drinks market. The companies issued a joint statement last week saying both “comply with stringent international norms and all applicable national regulations”. (The Independent)

Allotments Gain Popularity

Inner-city eco-warriors are increasingly putting their wellies on and getting down to the allotment to grow their own organic food. (BBC News)

Pesticides can trigger MS and Parkinson’s disease

Pesticides can cause brain damage and trigger conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, according to scientists. A landmark study claims that chemicals routinely used by farmers in the UK and around the world can result in neurological diseases. The research was carried out by the Energy & Environmental Research Centre at the University of North Dakota. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health, laboratory tests on rats revealed damage to the brain and to the gastro-intestinal system. The research team is now evaluating how humans are exposed to pesticides in order to establish what measures are needed to minimise any adverse effects. (The Daily Mail)

Allergies linked to Parkinson’s disease

Millions of people who suffer from chronic allergies to pets, dust and spores are up to three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life, research suggests. A study by US scientists has shown that sufferers of allergic rhinitis, a condition that causes symptoms of having a “permanent cold”, appear to be at much greater risk of the degenerative neurological condition. The research, which explored possible links between conditions that cause inflammation and the breakdown of brain cells, found a marked increase in cell death in rhinitis sufferers. Hay fever showed the beginnings of a similar trend in the study but did not reach statistical significance, the scientists, based at the Mayo Clinic, said. The full paper was published in the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Neurology. (The Times)

Tesco to open a store in Las Vegas

Tesco, which takes £1 of every £8 spent on the UK high street, is planning to open stores in Las Vegas, the Financial Times reports. It’s looking for sites for its Fresh & Easy range of mini-supermarkets in Las Vegas, the fastest growing city in America, with a huge population of night workers and a lack of good quality food retail outlets open outside of normal business hours. (The Financial Times)

New free local organic Food Guide for Wales

The new 2006/2007 ‘Where to Buy Local Organic Guide’ has just been published, offering free information on over 100 outlets in Wales. The 24 page bilingual guide, produced by Organic Centre Wales and sponsored by Rachel’s Organic, was launched at The Royal Welsh Show. This edition is one of a series produced in conjunction with the Soil Association. Get your free guide from Organic Centre Wales on 01970 622248 or from Tourist Information Centres, Farmers Markets, farm shops and whole food shops around Wales.

Cuba’s Organic Revolution

Almost five decades after the now ailing Fidel Castro and his comrades overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized power in Cuba, another revolution, largely unnoticed by most visitors and tourists, is well underway on this Caribbean island. An organic farming revolution that may turn out to be as important as anything else that has been achieved during Castro’s 47 years in power. Spurred into action by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disastrous impact this had on its subsidised economy, the government of Cuba was forced to take radical steps to feed its people. The solution it chose – essentially unprecedented both within the developed and undeveloped world – was to establish a self-sustaining system of agriculture that by necessity was essentially organic. (The Independent)

Branston Pickle gets greener

Premier Foods, maker of Branston pickle and Angel Delight, is considering powering some of its plants with wind turbines as it battles against rising energy costs. Like many British manufacturers, Premier has had to put up prices in recent months to compensate for hefty energy bills. Now oil prices are so high it is seeking alternative ways to power its factories. Robert Schofield, Premier’s chief executive, said yesterday: “We are reviewing all ways of taking energy into our business. We are looking at combined heat and power where you recycle your own energy. Those kinds of equations didn’t work on lower levels of oil pricing, but they are starting to look interesting now.” (The Guardian)

Rising allergies linked to food wrappers

A study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency found that one-third of packaging tested was contaminated with latex, which in some cases transferred to the food. Chocolate bar and ice cream wrappers containing latex can trigger potentially fatal allergic reactions in sensitive people but there is no law for it to be listed on labels, experts have warned. (The Independent; The Telegraph)

Hydrogenated Fat Ban

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have announced deadlines for removing hydrogenated oil from their products. Hydrogenated oils are the main source of trans fats in our diet and the World Health Organisation says consumers should eliminate all trans fats from their diet. Their consumption has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and obesity. (The Daily Express pg 1; Daily Mail pg 31)

200 Million Chickens In Agony Every Year

Factory farm cruelty on a massive scale has been revealed with evidence that more than 200 million chickens reared in Britain every year suffer deformities because of the appalling way they are raised. More than one in four birds kept in cramped hot-house conditions develop leg problems – the vast majority of which still make it to the supermarket, according to a Government-backed study. The study was undertaken by the food and farming ministry DEFRA and carried out by experts at Bristol University. It reveals 27.3 per cent of birds raised by five major UK producers had moderate to severe leg disorders with this figure rising to 71.7 per cent with one of the five companies. The companies are among the biggest producers in the country that supply the major supermarkets. (The Daily Mail)

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