FDA Addresses Cultured Meat in Crucial First Step for New Industry

“There are no great mysteries when it comes to cell culture. This technology has been around for a long time,” said Jeremiah Fasano, a consumer safety officer focused on biotech and food additive safety at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Fasano was speaking at a July 12 public meeting in Maryland where scientists, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss a crucial hurdle between much-hyped cultured meat products and consumers: regulation.

The purpose of the meeting was to “give interested parties and the public an opportunity to comment on these emerging food technologies.” The technologies in question are the processes often referred to as cellular agriculture, which scientists and entrepreneurs are working to use to create slaughter-free meat products at scale – often called cultured meat or lab-grown meat. 

Read the full story at www.AgFunderNews.com.


Glyphosate Gets EU Greenlight for Five More Years

On Monday, the European Union voted to extend the license for glyphosate, the best-selling pesticide in the world, for use in the EU for another five years. Glyphosate is sold by most major agricultural input suppliers but is most associated with Monsanto, which markets it under the brand name Roundup.

The decision comes after weeks of votes and protests about the future of the controversial chemical in the EU, which has been far more skeptical than other parts of the world regarding glyphosate and the genetically-modified seeds created to resist it by Monsanto.

Glyphosate is controversial not only because of its link to genetically modified organisms, which have garnered intense public suspicion and also confusion, but also because a 2015 study by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that deemed it “probably carcinogenic to humans”. However, an October Reuters report alleged that the World Health Organization edited “non-carcinogenic findings” out of its 2015 report.

Read the full story at www.AgFunderNews.com.

More than Robotics is Needed to Solve Farm Labor Shortage

Even before President Trump got the opportunity to enact the aggressive immigration crackdown he promised in his campaign, farmers were talking about leaving crops in the fields to rot due to a lack of labor. It came up at a congressional hearing on food waste in May of 2016. In that hearing, John Oxford of the Produce Marketing Association said: “We can import labor, or we can import our fruits and vegetables.” An 2012 NRDC report estimates that 20% of produce grown in the US doesn’t leave the farm either because farmers can’t find enough labor, or because the cost of labor isn’t covered by the potential revenue of the crop.

It came up again before the House Agriculture committee again on July 12 when Wonderful Citrus vice president Paul Heller testified that the industry had lost about 140,000  foreign workers over the last five years, causing labor costs to rise as much as $8,400 per acre.

Record deportations in the Obama era along with anti-immigrant rhetoric from President Trump have “doubled” the labor shortage, said Western Growers Association President Tom Nassif told AgFunderNews. “Without immigration reform and a useful guest worker program in the US, we need to try and develop ways to rely more on our own ingenuity and tech solutions rather than on the government.”

He continued to say that what Washington DC presents as the answer to a lack of immigration reform is the H2A visa. “The H2A program has not worked; the process is lengthy and cumbersome, and the fact that it requires employers to provide housing is a great deterrent,” said Nassif.

Read the full story at www.AgFunderNews.com.

Are School Gardens Here to Stay?

In early October Michelle Obama added a paved walkway to the White House Garden. Additional stone and steel elements were added to the grounds so that changing or removing perhaps her most prominent achievement would be more noticeable, if not more difficult.

Gardening, and specifically school gardens, has been a major element of Let’s Move!, the first lady’s signature campaign. The first lady went on a national garden tour in April, skipping the five boroughs but stopping at nearby Phillips Academy Charter School in Newark. The garden, as well as Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, are a few of the many possible casualties of the upcoming election. And it begs the question – Are school gardens the new normal or are New York City school gardens in similar danger of going by the wayside as priorities change?

There are just under 600 school gardens in New York City’s 1800 schools, according to Grow to Learn NYC, a joint operation between GrowNYC, the city Parks Department, and the Department of Education’s Office of School Food (though the funding comes from the Mayor’s Office).

And players from various corners of the industry agree that the benefits of school gardens are numerous and well-known at this point. Physical activity, time spent outside, connection to food and healthier eating habits…the list goes on.

But does the increase in awareness, and the number of school gardens since Grow to Learn NYC was established in 2010, mean that school gardens in New York City are a permanent part of education in the five boroughs?

Read the full story at www.nycfoodpolicy.com.

Hungry and Homebound

In the photo, an overweight, grey-haired African American woman in a wheelchair eats from a styrofoam container. It isn’t particularly artful or compelling, but the Beth Hark Christian Counseling Center chose to feature this woman on their brochure because her story encompasses nearly everything they do.

The woman in the picture is Miss Mae – as Joan Williams, Executive Director of the Beth Hark Christian Counseling Center calls her. In her 80s, Miss Mae could not long ago be seen daily outside of a Harlem grocery store. Her son, now in prison, would deposit her there everyday so that she could beg for food.

Today, Ms. Mae is under much better care – she has a full time attendant and apartment to herself. This hard-to-digest case is just one explanation for the many forces working against one of the communities most vulnerable to food insecurity – the elderly, disabled or otherwise homebound. So much of New York City’s food assistance options require mobility, the capability to keep track of records and mail documents, or some kind of community or family assistance.

Through Medicare and other services Ms. Mae was able to get the medical and physical care she needed, but even after all the paperwork, recent changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program made it more difficult for her to eat for health at all times. And she still required food to be delivered since it is difficult for her to get around. That’s where Beth Hark comes in.

Read the full story at www.nycfoodpolicy.org.