Food Safety Week
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
July 7, 1994
Volume 2, Number 15
- rBGH NEWS OF THE WEEK
- CODEX MAY NOT BE SO GOOD FOR U.S.
- GERMANY TO BAN BRITISH BEEF IMPORTS
- EXPORTS OF SOUP REACH RECORD LEVELS
- FROST FEARS DRIVE UP COFFEE PRICES
- SNACK FOODS ARE BIG BUSINESS IN U.S.
rBGH NEWS OF THE WEEK
The USDA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) say
consumption of milk by the American public has not dropped since
the federal government allowed recombinant bovine growth
hormone (rBGH or rBST) to go on sale in February. While
consumption declined .02% in April according to the USDA, NMPF said
government figures show consumption has not fallen off and even
rose in some areas of the country. "The consumption figures have
actually been better than the trend over the past 18 months," said
Jim Barr, president of NMPF. He said Gallup polls have demonstrated
an increased consumer awareness of rBGH but figures show
confidence in milk is still high. "The data ... make it clear that the
American public remains secure in the knowledge that milk" is safe
and nutritious, said Barr. NMPF said consumption was up .05% in
February and .01% in March; up from what, however, is not clear. In
addition, the USDA does not track those consumers who still consume
milk and dairy products but have switched to those that are labeled
and promoted as either rBGH-free or organic.
National legislation authored by Representative Bernie Sanders (I-
VT) now has 25 co-sponsors. In a recent article in the ST. LOUIS
POST-DISPATCH, Sanders called rBGH "a classic example of why
ordinary Americans are losing faith in government."
Indeed, despite continuing reports by Monsanto that sales of Posilac
"exceed expectations," opposition to the product remains alive. In
part, the lack of confidence in the ability of the federal government
to make an unbiased decision about a product's merit has fueled
opposition. "There have been so many things in the past that were
supposed to be safe and then 10 years later they find problems,"
Vermont dairy farmer Ron Morrissette. Dr. Robert Levine of the Yale
School of Medicine said it is not economically feasible for the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) to perform all of its own tests on
products. "The costs would be prohibitive. Given all the political and
economic considerations, the system is probably as much as the
taxpaying public is willing to support," he said. Dale Bauman, a
researcher from Cornell University involved in early rBGH trials, said
every development has brought "clashes." "It's a very new
technology. Always when you have a new technology you get
The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a voluntary
labeling bill for milk derived from cows not treated with rBGH. An
earlier mandatory version was voted down. Senator W. Michael
Sullivan (R-Richmond), the bill's sponsor, called it a good "first step"
in informing consumers. The Senate passed the voluntary labeling
legislation as well. As of this writing, the Governor has not yet
signed the bill.
Source: "Consumption of Milk Unaffected by BST Debate," THUMB
FARM NEWS, June 1994; Gordon S. Carlson, "Consumption Since
February Shows BST Hasn't Cut Demand for Milk," FEEDSTUFFS, June
27, 1994; Gordon S. Carlson, "Vermont Lawmakers [sic] Offer BST
Milk Labeling Bill," FEEDSTUFFS, June 27, 1994; "Action Alert,"
NATIONAL FAMILY FARM COALITION, June 1994; Ellyn Ferguson,
"Bovine Hormone Controversial Despite Federal Approval," GANNETT
NEWS SERVICE, June 30, 1994; Scott McKay and Katherine Gregg,
"House Approved Tax Breaks to Attract, Keep Investment Firms,"
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL-BULLETIN, June 21, 1994; Scott McKay, C.
Eugene Emery, Jr. and Russell Garland, "House Approves Tax Breaks
for Companies That Add Jobs," PROVIDENCE JOURNAL-BULLETIN,
June 22, 1994.
CODEX MAY NOT BE SO GOOD FOR U.S.
In seeking a new round of talks on the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) in the mid-1980s, the U.S. believed there was an
opportunity to use the Codex Alimentarius to make decisions about
food safety on the basis of science. Codex, which falls under the
auspices of the World Health Organization, is the body that will now
set international food safety standards for GATT member nations.
Food laws that are not based on science can be considered barriers to
trade under the new rules.
A recent editorial in the journal FEEDSTUFFS criticizes a decision by
Codex to uphold the European Union's (EU) ban on beef imports from
the U.S. over the use of growth promoting hormones. While the
Codex committee decided that scientifically the beef is safe, they said
consumer concerns prevailed. The U.S. drafted a proposal to submit
to the Codex Committee on General Principles, which asks them to
adopt standards based on a thorough scientific review to ensure fair
trade and food quality and safety. After one meeting, the committee
failed to act on the U.S. proposal and is considering meeting in next
summer to discuss it.
This lack of direction, the editorial says, is disquieting. Now that
Codex is part of GATT, the editorial says the U.S. is right to expect
more from Codex. It goes on to recommend that agriculture interests
participate more by supporting the U.S. view and putting pressure on
Source: "Uncertainty Surrounding Codex Is Troubling Part of GATT,"
FEEDSTUFFS, June 27, 1994.
GERMANY TO BAN BRITISH BEEF IMPORTS
Germany has decided to introduce a six-month ban on imports of
British beef over fears about the spread of bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease. German
Health Minister Horst Seehofer said the ban is intended to prevent
the contraction of the disease by humans. The announcement came
after months of negotiating on a common EU policy for controlling
British beef exports. The Bundesrat, the upper house of the German
parliament, is expected to approve the ban on July 8. British
Agriculture Minister Gillian Shephard said she is astounded by the
"blatant illegality" of the move.
Source: "Germany Bans British Beef Over 'Mad Cow' Disease,"
Farming Today, UPI, June 29, 1994.
EXPORTS OF SOUP REACH RECORD LEVELS
According to a report by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service,
exports of canned and dry soup have reached record levels. Last
year, the U.S. exported $73 million in soup -- nearly five times as
much as six years ago. "If the trend continues, the rising tide of soup
sales could pass the $100 million mark by the mid-1990s and
approach $150 million by the end of the century," the report said.
New markets are appearing in Asia and Central and South America,
whereas exports were once concentrated in North America and East
Asia. Panama is the largest market in Central America.
Source: Margaret Scherf, "Farm Scene," AP, July 1, 1994.
FROST FEARS DRIVE UP COFFEE PRICES
Fears about frost damage to this year's coffee crop in Brazil is driving
prices upward. "Prices are skyrocketing," said Judy Ganes, an analyst
with Merrill Lynch. Estimates put Brazil's coffee losses at between
five million and nine million bags out of an anticipated 24 million-
bag total. "That's a pretty hefty sum," said Ganes. She added that
prices could rise for consumers by as much as fifty cents a pound by
the end of the year.
Source: Deborah Hargreaves, "Continuing Frost Fears Drive U.S. Coffee
Futures to 8-Year Highs," FINANCIAL TIMES, June 30, 1994.
SNACK FOODS ARE BIG BUSINESS IN U.S.
Americans consumed more than five billion pounds of snack foods in
1992, earning snack food manufacturers $14 million on potato chips
alone. The Snack Food Association recently released its 1993 Snack
Food Association State-of-the-Industry Report. The report was
compiled using grocery store scanner data provided by Neilsen
Marketing Research. Some snack food facts include:
% Snack foods are most popular in the West Central U.S., where
people consume 24 pounds each per year;
% Pacific and Southeastern regions have the lowest per capita
consumption, eating less than 19 pounds a year;
% Potato chips are the most popular snack food, with the average
American eating seven pounds a year; and
% Tortilla chips edge out potato chips as the most popular snack food
in the Pacific and Southwest.
A complete copy of the report is available for $150, or a summary
for $40, from the Snack Food Association, 1711 King Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314, Tel: (703) 836-4500.
Source: "The Geography of Junk Food," AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS,
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS, June 27-
August 18, 1994, Davis, CA. FFI, contact: Mark Van Horn, Student
Experimental Farm, Department of Agronomy, University of
California, Davis, CA 95616, Tel: (916) 752-7645.
LILLIAN FOUNTAIN SMITH CONFERENCE FOR NUTRITION EDUCATORS,
July 29-30, 1994, Fort Collins, CO. FFI, contact: Pat Kendall or
Jennifer Anderson, Colorado State University, Department of Food
Science and Human Nutrition, Fort Collins, CO 80526, Tel: (303) 491-
7334, Email: foodnutr@ shep.agsci.colostate.edu.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD INFORMATION COUNCIL CALIFORNIA FOOD
ROUNDTABLE, August 4, 1994, San Francisco, CA. FFI, contact: Libby
Mikesell, IFIC, Tel: (202) 296-6540.
NATIONAL GROWTH MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE,
September/October 1994, St. Paul, MN. FFI, contact: Land
Stewardship Project, 14758 Ostlund Trail North, Marine on St. Croix,
MN 55047, Tel: (612) 433-2770.
DOWN TO EARTH: PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF ECOLOGICAL
ECONOMICS, October 24-28, 1994, San Jose, Costa Rica. FFI, contact:
III International Conference of Ecological Economics, P.O. Box 555-
3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH, EXTENSION AND RURAL
DEVELOPMENT, November 21-25, 1994, Montpelier, France. FFI,
contact: Amon Z. Mattee or Thierry Lasalle, Department of
Agricultural Education and Extension, Skoine University of
Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania.
Produced by: Michelle Thom, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
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