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 Organic Matter – Fall 2008 Minimize


A Compendium of Food and Agricultural News

The Good News
Pesticide News
Genetic Engineering News
Organic Food Issues
Food Safety
Nutrition News


THE GOOD NEWS

Researchers from the USDA Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory and Rutgers University tested ‘Bluecrop’ highbush blueberries grown on five New Jersey farms with the same soil type, weather and harvesting conditions. Organic blueberries contained 46 ORAC units, a measure of total antioxidant capacity, while conventional berries contained 31. Organic blueberries also had 50% more antioxidant activity, 67% more phenolics and 50% more anthocyanins – health-promoting chemicals that give blueberries their dark blue hue. The conclusion published in the
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (July 1, 2008, [link]: "Blueberries produced from organic culture contained significantly higher amounts of phytonutrients than those produced from conventional culture."

Cows that graze on fresh pasture produce milk with more antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids, says a study from the UK’s Newcastle University, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Previous studies had shown that organic milk has higher concentrations of favorable nutrients. This study attributes the benefits to the fresh grass and clover diet of organic cows. Studying milk from 25 farms, researchers found 67% more antioxidants and vitamins in organic than ordinary milk, and 60% more conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fatty acid that can shrink tumors. Organic milk had more vaccenic acid, too, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. And organic milk had 39% more omega-3 fatty acids – which also reduces the risk of heart disease – and lower levels of the less healthy omega-6 fatty acid. The increases were greatest in summer, when cows were on pasture. Cows on most organic dairy farms graze as much as possible. The Cornucopia Institute ranks organic dairy brands on this measure at
www.cornucopia.org. Similarly, The Organic Center, in State of Science Review: Nutritional Superiority of Organic Foods, determined that organic plant-based foods generally are more nutritious than non-organic. (“Study: Organic Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows Contains Higher Levels of Beneficial Nutrients,” press release, Cornucopia Institute, June 4, 2008; “Organic milk is healthier, says study,” by Kate Devlin, Telegraph, London, May 27, 2008)

Another good thing about organic foods: They don’t contain artificial dyes. According to The Baltimore Sun (“
Color Me Concerned,” by David Kohn, July 17, 2008,), “A prestigious British medical journal recommended that doctors use dye-free diets as a first-line treatment for some behavior disorders,” including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the United States, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to ban artificial dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate (also thought to contribute to ADHD) in foods. The FDA says the dyes cause no problems; yet the British Food Standards Agency has suggested that children with ADHD avoid consuming the chemicals. The eight artificial food dyes used in the United States are made from petroleum or coal tar, and research indicates that these nitrogen-containing chemicals interfere with the neurotransmitter dopamine. When British researchers studied the effects of artificial dyes and sodium benzoate on 300 children, at concentrations common in diets, the 8- and 9-year-old children had a “significant adverse effect” from the dyes and sodium benzoate; while 3-year-olds were affected only by the dyes. Dr. David Schab or Columbia University, reviewing 30 years of work, concluded that artificial dyes likely cause “neurobehavioral toxicity” in a small percentage of children – i.e., in millions of children.
 
American Farmland Trust has recognized Washington state farmer Nash Huber of Nash’s Organic Produce as its 2008 Steward of the Land, for his leadership in protecting agricultural land, local food and the environment. Huber manages over 350 acres on the Olympic Peninsula. He protects water quality by participating in public campaigns for water protection and by creating vegetated buffers near creeks, rivers and ponds. The certified “salmon safe” farm also provides migratory waterfowl habitat for dozens of types of birds, and grasses and trees have been planted to ensure quality habitat for wildlife. Huber has helped save hundreds of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat through his work with land trusts and other groups. (American Farmland Trust press release,
Americanfarmlandtrust.org)

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas has allowed a bill that permits farms to plant industrial hemp to become law without his signature. Federal law prohibits cultivating hemp, but Vermont lawmakers believe that federal policy will change, so their law directs the Agriculture Agency to prepare for the change, including drafting rules for hemp cultivation so that farmers can be licensed as soon as federal law changes. North Dakota has done the same.
(ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, June 4, 2008,
www.attra.ncat.org)

The USDA Agricultural Research Service has developed a new, winter-hardy, early blooming hairy vetch called ‘Purple Bounty’ that can be grown in more of the Northeast and should be available commercially in 2009. Hairy vetch may be managed both as a nitrogen source and as a mulch that smothers weeds. (See
Sustainable Production of Fresh-Market Tomatoes and Other Vegetables with Cover Crop Mulches, by Aref A. Abdul-Baki and John R. Teasdale)

A 2004 study (Kumar, V., D.J. Mills, J.D. Anderson, and A.K. Mattoo, 2004, “An alternative agriculture system is defined by a distinct expression profile of select gene transcripts and proteins,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 101:10535-10540;
www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/101/29/10535) showed that tomatoes grown after a hairy vetch cover crop lived longer, had less disease, and had delayed leaf senescence compared with tomatoes grown under plastic mulch, since the vetch switched on protective metabolic pathways in the tomato plants.
 
University of New Hampshire researchers have received a $380,000 SARE (USDA Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education) grant to study energy and nutrient cycles on the UNH organic dairy research farm. “In a closed system, the only thing leaving the farm is the milk,” says John Aber, professor of natural resources at UNH and the principal investigator on the grant. “The goal is to see whether we can have a closed-nutrient-cycle and energy-independent organic dairy.” In a closed system, for instance, cow manure fertilizes the fields on which the herd grazes. Sawdust from woodlands on UNH’s 300-acre farm in Lee might provide animal bedding, which is becoming increasingly expensive; woodlands might also provide fuel for small cogeneration plants. Methane digestion could produce usable methane from manure. The first step is to assess energy and nitrogen budgets and balances. Already, Aber and his students’ work suggests that energy independence and a closed nitrogen system could be achieved by intensively managing manure; changing the bedding used on the 40-cow farm; increasing the time cows are on pasture; and growing grain, hay, bedding and silage onsite instead of purchasing them. (Univ. of N.H. press release, June 3, 2008. For more, see
www.organicdairy.unh.edu/"www.organicdairy.unh.edu)

Three Oregon Christmas tree farms – all members of
Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers – have replaced chemical sprays with ecological pest management. With help from elementary school kids, Holiday Tree Farms, Silver Mountain, and Yule Tree Farms released 72,000 lady beetles to gobble aphids and mites that might threaten their firs. (Pesticide Action Network North America, May 7, 2008; panna.org)
Green Camden
All the inns and Bed and Breakfast establishments in Camden, Maine, have pledged not to use toxic synthetic chemicals, as has the Town of Camden on its own property, and many citizens. Inns and B&Bs are displaying this certificate, created by Harry Smith.

Thanks to Citizens for a Green Camden, this Midcoast Maine town approved a policy in April (on Earth Day) of keeping town property free of pesticides – and the group has gotten local businesses and residents to do the same. Their work is modeled after that of Castine, the first Maine town to ban synthetic pesticides on its town-owned property. Under the policy, town employees will not use pesticides on town-owned land except when the town manager views situations as emergencies. The policy promotes plant health through soil testing; by using low-maintenance, pest-resistant plants adapted to the area; by controlling weeds with mulch and hand weeding; and by eliminating conditions that support pests.

Laurie Wolfrum, Marsha Smith and Patrisha McLean collected information about maintaining grounds without using harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and made it available at a table at the town office. They brought Paul Tukey (author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual) to town to tell residents how to maintain lawns ecologically. Beginning in May (and ongoing), residents could sign a sheet at the town office pledging that they would not use toxic synthetic chemicals in their yards; and at the end of May, the Citizens group recognized those people.

Next, the Citizens approached the business community. In June they held a celebration to recognize inns that pledged not to use toxic chemicals. Very quickly, all 16 inns and Bed and Breakfast establishments in town joined the effort and received certificates to display at their sites. The local Chamber of Commerce will promote these inns’ green practices. (“Citizens for a Green Camden seeks businesses, residents to pledge no pesticides,” by Holly S. Anderson, VillageSoup/Knox County Times, May 7, 2008; “Innkeepers join green business movement,” Camden Herald, May 7, 2008; “Town now limits pesticide use on public land,” by Susan Milisa Mustapich, Camden Herald, April 24, 2008; personal communication with Marsha Smith)

Rodale Institute has proved that organic practices, or “regenerative farming,” can remove about 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year and sequester it in an acre of farmland. Converting all 434 million acres of U.S. cropland to organic practices would equal eliminating 217 million cars – nearly 88% of all U.S. cars and more than a third of all the cars in the world. Rodale CEO Timothy LaSalle says, "The way that we farm may be the single biggest – and most undervalued – way that we can mitigate global warming." Conventional agriculture, using petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, disrupts the natural carbon storage in soils and contributes nearly 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Rodale researcher Paul Hepperly, Ph.D., says that organic practices could counteract up to 40% of global greenhouse gas output by using soil-building crops and compost to build soil carbon levels while keeping productivity in line with conventional systems. Rodale’s Web site www.hero-farmers.org has practical steps to fight global warming by the way we shop, eat, garden and support our farmers. (“Rodale Institute Begins Mission to Fight Global Warming – with Farms,” Press release, Rodale Institute, April 21, 2008)

Maine residents can receive $5 for each mercury-containing thermostat they return for recycling to the TRC (Thermostat Recycling Corporation). Homeowners can request a TRC mailing label and shipping instructions from
TRC@nema.org or 1-800-238-8192. After the thermostat is received, the homeowner gets a $5 check in the mail. The rebate program offers homeowners a way to safely recycle mercury. Many Maine towns and cities also have mercury collection programs where thermostats can be recycled. The TRC program allows homeowners to recycle old thermostats directly with thermostat manufacturers.

The 2008 Farm Bill provides $78 million for organic agriculture research and education, five times more than the $15 million allocated in the 2002 Farm Bill. These funds will expand competitive grants for developing and sharing organic farming systems information through the USDA’s Integrated Organic Program. The increase is still not a “fair share” of public investment in this area, says the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), as it represents approximately 1% of USDA’s research budget, while organic products have nearly 4% of the U.S. retail food market. The 2008 Farm Bill also provides $5 million to collect economic data about organic production and markets; $22 million to offset part of farmers’ organic certification costs; takes steps to eliminate bias against organic growers in crop insurance programs; and establishes financial and technical support for conversion to organic production. (“Organic Farming Research Foundation Applauds Farm Bill Victories for Organic Farmers and Ranchers,” press release, OFRF, May 27, 2008; For more, see
link)  

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PESTICIDE NEWS

Bowing to pressure from Monsanto and others, the USDA announced on May 21 that it plans to eliminate pesticide reporting at the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The program has tracked national pesticide use and provided critical information for consumer groups, scientists, farmers and environmental groups monitoring pesticide use and hazards. Eliminating the Agricultural Chemical Use Database is a direct attack on consumers’ and farmworkers' right to know about pesticide residues and food safety. Pesticide reporting has become particularly important in the last 10 years as many genetically engineered crops require more and more pesticides. (Organic Bytes, June 10, 2008;
www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_12662.cfm)

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) report that atrazine, the second most widely used herbicide in the United States, can cause serious problems for both fish and humans. Environmental Science and Technology (
ES&TAtrazine20082805.pdf) says the UCSF study of atrazine's endocrine-disrupting effects in zebrafish and in cultured human cells suggests that human gene cells may be more sensitive to atrazine than previously thought. Zebrafish exposed to "environmentally relevant" doses of atrazine in the lab developed slightly higher female-to-male ratios, indicating some feminization induced by the weed killer. Exposure appears to stimulate a gene that encodes aromatase, which converts androgens such as testosterone to estrogens. Estrogen-sensitive breast cancers are often treated with drugs that reduce the level of aromatase and, consequently, the level of estrogen. Researchers found that atrazine activated NR5A receptors in human cell lines, increasing the activity of aromatase. The experiments show definite effects at 2 parts per billion (ppb); the EPA's drinking-water limit for human exposure is 3 ppb. The pesticide is currently under review. According to ES&T, Holly Ingraham, coauthor of the new research, suspects other genes "may be much more sensitive to atrazine and could be linked to other important systems, such as reproduction and adrenal gland function."

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GENETIC ENGINEERING NEWS

Switzerland has extended its moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) crops, originally imposed in 2005, until Nov. 2010, so that government scientists can research the technology, including its effects on organic farming. The government says that the moratorium has not obviously harmed farming, but, in fact, farmers have been able to market their produce abroad as GE-free. (“GM crops banned in Switzerland until 2012, Animal Feed & Animal Nutrition News, May 29, 2008,
www.allaboutfeed.net/tsal/portlets/ts/core/news_singleeditorsc...)

The moratorium hasn’t stopped Swiss seed company Syngenta along with Germany’s BASF and Bayer and U.S.-based Monsanto from seeking 530 patents on genes believed to help crops withstand stresses caused by climate change, including drought, heat, floods, saline soils and additional UV radiation. The Ottawa-based ETC Group calls the action an intellectual-property grab, possibly removing genetic material currently made available in public plant breeding programs. Monsanto says it will provide the germplasm free in some African countries. (“Firms Seek Patents on 'Climate Ready' Altered Crops,” by Rick Weiss, Washington Post, May 13, 2008;
washingtonpost.com; "Patenting the 'Climate Genes' . . . and Capturing the Climate Agenda," Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, etcgroup.org)

Meanwhile, a three-year-long study at the University of Kansas, started after farmers reported problems with GE soy, found about a 10% reduction in yield of Roundup Ready, GE soy over its conventional equivalent. Researcher Barney Gordon got equal yields of the GE crop when he added extra manganese to the soil – suggesting that genetic engineering cut the ability of the crop to take up this essential element from the soil. Earlier, a University of Nebraska study found that another GE soy variety yielded 6% less than its closest non-GE variety, and 11% less than the best non-GE variety; and U.S. cotton yields have dropped since GE varieties were introduced. Not surprisingly, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development announced in April, after extensive study, that GE crops as currently developed would not solve world hunger: "Assessment of the [GM] technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." (“Exposed: the great GM crops myth,” by Geoffrey Lean, The Independent, April 20, 2009, Independent.co.uk; “GM will not solve current food crisis, says industry boss,” by David Adam, The Guardian, June 27, 2008;
guardian.co.uk)

The Organic Consumers Association's (OCA) and allies are calling for a boycott of all Kellogg's products after Kellogg's refused to source only GE-free sugar. Monsanto's RoundUp Ready GE sugar is due to hit stores this year, exposing millions of consumers to this untested and unlabeled food. (Organic Bytes, July 7, 2008,
http://organicconsumers.org/kelloggs.cfm)

The Organic Trade Association filed a legal complaint against Ohio's Department of Agriculture on June 30, 2008, challenging as unconstitutional an "emergency" rule seeking to prevent labeling that tells a consumer whether cows were treated with rBST (rBGH), Monsanto’s synthetic growth hormone. USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of this hormone. In issuing its rule prohibiting organic products from being labeled "produced with milk from cows that have not been treated with synthetic growth hormones,” the state of Ohio fails to recognize the federal Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and ignores the rights of consumers and organic dairy farmers, says the Organic Trade Assoc. (OTA), which adds that the Ohio rule is unconstitutional, denying free speech rights, violating federal labeling protocols followed by organic dairy farmers, and violating Congress’ sole authority to regulate interstate commerce (of dairy products moving into or out of Ohio). Over 1600 Ohioans wrote to state officials to oppose the measure, but Monsanto’s influence prevailed. A similar action was filed on the same day by the International Dairy Foods Association,
www.idfa.org. (Press Release, Organic Trade Assoc., June 30, 2008, www.ota.com)

Clear labeling of GE products is important in order to track potential health problems of these novel foods. Labeling might help, for instance, determine whether GE foods are linked to Morgellons Disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating the large and increasing number of complaints of Morgellons, characterized by “a range of cutaneous (skin) symptoms including crawling, biting and stinging sensations; granules, threads, fibers, or black speck-like materials on or beneath the skin, and/or skin lesions” and, sometimes, fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain and changes in visions. Fibers taken from Morgellons patients’ bodies do not resemble any ordinary natural or synthetic fibers.

Vitaly Citovsky, professor of molecular and cell biology at Stony Brook University in New York, found that “all Morgellons patients screened to date have tested positive for the presence of Agrobacterium, whereas this microorganism has not been detected in any of the samples derived from the control, healthy individuals.” Agrobacterium is a soil bacterium that causes crown gall disease in plants and is widely used to transfer genetic material into GE plants. San Francisco physician Raphael Stricker notes, “There’s almost always some history of exposure to dirt basically either from gardening or camping or something” in Morgellon’s patients. He suggests that the disease is transmitted by ticks: Of 44 Morgellons patients tested in San Francisco, 43 had the bacterium causing Lyme disease; and most patients who took antibiotics for Lyme experienced remission of Morgellons symptoms. Mae-Wan Ho and Joe Cummins say that if this connection with Agrobacterium is confirmed, then genetic engineering might be implicated in the creation of new disease agents. Agrobacterium is known to transfer DNA into chromosomes in human cells. Most Morgellons cases are in the United States, the leading country for producing and releasing GE crops. (“Agrobacterium & Morgellons Disease, A GM Connection?” by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins, Institute of Science in Society
press release, April 28, 2008. More on Morgellons Disease.)

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ORGANIC FOOD ISSUES

In June, the USDA announced that Promiseland Livestock, LLC, a 22,000-head cattle producer, had "willfully" violated the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 by failing to keep adequate records to confirm that all its cattle were managed organically. Promiseland management also repeatedly refused to openly share records with USDA and prevented agency officials from conducting an unannounced inspection at its facilities.

The investigation and USDA’s attempt to strip Promiseland’s certification result from Cornucopia Institute's investigation of Aurora Dairy, the largest U.S. supplier of private-label organic milk and supplier to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and other major retailers. The USDA found that Aurora confined cattle to giant feedlots instead of grazing as law requires; and it brought in conventional, non-organic cattle. That led federal investigators to Promiseland, with facilities in Missouri and Nebraska, the largest U.S. supplier of organic dairy replacement animals. The USDA was criticized last fall when Bush administration officials overruled career civil servants in the Aurora controversy. Instead of decertifying Aurora, as officials at the National Organic Program recommended, USDA allowed the corporation to continue to operate under a one-year probation. Promiseland also overrode USDA recommendations when political appointees changed the producer’s proposed revocation to a two-year suspension. Connecting dots, Kastel notes that "Aurora Dairy has supplied Dean Foods with milk for their Horizon brand, Promiseland is the leading supplier of cattle for organic factory farms, Covington and Burling, the powerful Washington lobbying and legal firm, has represented them all, and they have all been certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI) acting as an agent for the USDA. Calling an operation with 22,000 head of cattle ‘organic’ is a joke.”

In May, Cornucopia filed its third legal actions against Dean Foods regarding its Horizon Organic milk, claiming that Horizon supplier Fagundes in Snelling, California, confined the majority of its cows to a filthy feedlot rather than providing fresh grass and pasture. Cornucopia has asked the USDA Inspector General to investigate appearances of favoritism at the agency that benefited Dean Foods. Based on Cornucopia research, the USDA did sanction or decertify two independent factory farms supplying Horizon, but USDA dismissed both legal complaints against Dean Foods itself, apparently without investigating or visiting Dean's largest industrial dairy in desert-like central Idaho.

Also regarding organic dairy, Cornucopia found earlier this year that management at the farmer-owned coop Organic Valley was buying a small percentage of its milk from Natural Prairie in Texas, which milks over 5,000 cows. Challenged by their farmer-owners, Organic Valley management said the purchasing arrangement was temporary and that the Texas operation offered some level of grazing, which Cornucopia disputed. In July, Organic Valley’s board of directors decided to stop buying from Natural Prairie. (Cornucopia Institute, press releases, June 13 and 19 and May 12, 2008; 
www.cornucopia.org)

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FOOD SAFETY

While the big guys get off, small, local producers suffer under USDA, which, this spring, informed Bob Sewall and Mia Montello of Sewall Orchard in Lincolnville, Maine, that their wholesale cider must be pasteurized. Refusing to convert their product line from a whole, living food to what they define as apple juice, Sewall and Montello decided to drop their wholesale cider business – a blow to the farm income. They will continue to sell cider directly to consumers at farmers' markets and on-farm. Look for their cider booth at the Common Ground Country Fair.

A journalist covering family-farm issues is challenging the government regarding National Animal Identification System (NAIS) records. The USDA wants all livestock owners – even those keeping animals as pets – to register their premises with the government, voluntarily for now. Many livestock owners object but say that even without registering and without their knowledge or consent, they were placed in the program's database. Freelance journalist Mary-Louise Zanoni is seeking disclosure of the USDA's National Premises Information Repository (NPIR), a list of contact information for livestock premises. She also wants USDA to reveal how many livestock owners have requested removal from NPIR and how many such requests USDA has honored. The NPIR is being compiled as the first step in the USDA NAIS; the second step entails assigning a unique ID number, usually in the form of a microchip or distance-readable Radio Frequency ID tag, to each animal. The third step would have livestock owners report all changes in ownership and significant changes in location or status of an animal to a private database that will charge for each report. Zanoni, represented by Leonard G. Brown, III, of the Lancaster, Penn., law firm Clymer & Musser, P.C., submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the NPIR livestock list last fall. Initially, APHIS indicated that it planned to disclose some 17,000 pages of NPIR records to Zanoni but later denied her request, citing FOIA's Exemption 6, which sometimes lets an agency withhold "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." Zanoni says that basic contact information is not exempt. The 2008 Farm Bill Section 1619 was added, with no public debate, to shield much USDA information from public disclosure. (Press release, June 2, 2008, Leonard G. Brown, III, Clymer & Musser, P.C., 717-299-7101)

Consumers Union has asked the USDA to reverse itself and allow Kansas-based Creekstone Farms to test its slaughtered cows for mad cow disease. Last year, Creekstone won its suit against the USDA for the right to test and label its meat as “tested for BSE.” USDA appealed, arguing that the same rapid test used by the agency to screen for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow, is “worthless” when used by a private company. Currently, the USDA tests only 0.1% of slaughtered or dead U.S. beef cattle, while Japan tests every cow entering the food system.

While the test used by USDA can miss a case of mad cow disease if it is in an early stage of incubation, it can catch the disease in later stages, before the animal shows symptoms. The European Union, using the same test on healthy-appearing cattle, found over 1,100 cases of BSE between 2001 and 2006. (Consumers Union press release, June 10, 2008. See also
http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/)
 
The European Food Safety Authority’s final cloning risk assessment says that more testing is required to determine whether or not foods from new cloning technology are safe for human consumption. The decision casts doubt upon the U.S. FDA assessment announced in January, saying that animal clones and their offspring are not demonstrably different from naturally raised livestock and need no additional testing. However, studies reviewed in the FDA’s own risk assessment uncovered troubling abnormalities and defects in animal clones that could threaten public safety. Moreover, as cloning uses recently developed technologies, no historical data exist to determine the safety of these foods for long-term human consumption. (Center for Food Safety press release, July 24, 2008, 
www.centerforfoodsafety.org)

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NUTRITION NEWS

A study at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., suggests that plant foods may help preserve muscle mass in older people. The typical American diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and other acid-producing foods. In general, such diets generate tiny amounts of acid each day, and with aging, a mild but slowly increasing metabolic "acidosis" develops. Since acidosis appears to trigger muscle-wasting, the researchers looked at links between measures of lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue-producing fruits and vegetables. Such diets could help neutralize acidosis. Foods can be considered alkaline or acidic based on the residues they produce in the body, rather than whether they are alkaline or acidic themselves. For example, acidic grapefruits are metabolized to alkaline residues. Volunteers whose diets were rich in potassium had a mean of 3.6 pounds more lean tissue mass than those with half the higher potassium intake. That almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue typically lost in a decade in healthy people aged 65 and above, say the authors. (USDA Agricultural Research Service News Service, Rosalie Marion Bliss, May 23, 2008;
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr"www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr. The study was published in the March 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)

Eating raw (but not cooked) cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) just three times per month cut the risk of developing bladder cancer by 40%, say researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo who studied the diets of 825 people without bladder cancer and 275 with the disease. Not smoking reduced the risk even more. (“Raw Broccoli, Cabbage Slash Bladder Cancer Risk by 40 Percent; Cooking Destroys Benefits, by Mike Adams, NaturalNews, July 18, 2008,
www.naturalnews.com/z023655.html; “Consumption of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables is Inversely Associated with Bladder Cancer Risk,” by Li Tang et al., Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 17(938-944), April 1, 2008; http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/17/4/938)

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