After deciding to keep food stamps as a federal program, the House
caved in to pressure from Republican governors and agreed to provide
states with more flexibility in handling food stamps. Under the revised
plan, states will be allowed to administer their own food stamp
programs if they move to a system known as Electronic Benefits
Transfer (EBT), whereby food stamp recipients are given a card which
functions much like an automatic teller card. The House also agreed to
include provisions which would allow states to sanction food stamp
recipients who do not meet specific work requirements.
Source: Hilary Stout, "House Leaders Agree to Give States More
Flexibility With Food Stamps," WALL STREET JOURNAL, March 2
1995; Robert Pear, "G.O.P. Leaders in House Agree on Alternative to
Food Stamps," NEW YORK TIMES, March 2, 1995.
Two Reps Seek Anti-Trust Cereal Investigation
Last week, Representatives Charles Schumer of New York and Sam
Gejdenson of Connecticut asked Attorney General Janet Reno to
investigate possible anti-trust violations by four big cereal companies.
The congressmen allege that the big cereal producers price their cereals
under a price leadership scheme, forcing competitors to match each
other's high prices rather than undercut one another. They note cereal
prices have increased 90% since 1983 while the costs of production
have decreased, and that 85% of the market is controlled by four
companies. The companies targeted are General Mills, Kellogg, Quaker
Oats and Post.
In other cereal news, the man who used an unapproved pesticide on 19
million bushels of General Mills oats, costing the company $85,000, has
been sentenced to five years in prison. Y. George Roggy, owner of the
Minnesota company Fumicon, was convicted of 12 felonies related to
the case. The company also recently reached a tentative agreement after
a lawsuit was filed in the case. Under the proposed settlement filed in
a Cook County, Illinois court, the company would report compliance to
the opposing side's attorneys until $10 million worth of cereal "claims"
are redeemed at retail value. The company would also pay $1.75
million to six law firms throughout the country.
Source: "Congressmen Ask Cereal Price Investigation of Four
Companies," MILLING & BAKING NEWS, March 14, 1995; Tony
Kennedy, "Roggy Gets 5-Year Sentence in General Mills Pesticide Case,"
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, February 23, 1995; "General Mills
Offers to Settle Lawsuit," AGRI NEWS, March 9, 1995.
Arizona Senate Committee Passes Food Defamation Law
The Arizona Senate Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee
passed a bill this month that would allow people who defame the
character of agricultural commodities to be sued. The bill is intended
to protect producers and trade groups from economic harm by
allowing them to collect damages from anyone found to have engaged
in the "willful or malicious public dissemination of false information
that the food product is not safe for human consumption." Critics say
the bill runs afoul of the First Amendment.
Source: "'Veggie Hate-Crime' Law Wins Passage in Arizona Senate
Panel," AGRI NEWS, March 16, 1995.
CGIAR Says Sustainable Systems Necessary for Food Security
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
(CGIAR) said new technologies are needed to develop sustainable
agriculture systems that will foster food security in the developing
world. Such technologies would reduce the amount of food aid from
developed countries, which promote dependence. Local farmers
should grow food for their communities while protecting the
environment, said Ismail Serageldin, CGIAR chair and World
Bank vice president. He also suggested that genetic engineering and
molecular biology could increase crop yields.
Source: Gordon S. Carlson, "New Food Technologies Needed for
Farmers in Third World," FEEDSTUFFS, March 13, 1995.
Consumer Trends See More Vegetarians Among College Students
About 15% of the nation's 15 million college students consider
themselves vegetarians, according to a recent survey by the National
Restaurant Association. The motivating force is fat concerns rather
than animal welfare or environmental concerns and more female than
male students proclaimed that vegetarianism is "in."
Source: "Veggie Generation on the Rise," CHEF, February/March 1995.
U.K. Farmers to Enter Contracts With Retailer
The FINANCIAL TIMES reports that U.K. farmers will now be able to
grow produce under contract for the retailer Tesco. Under the
arrangement, farmers will be given advanced detail of consumer
trends so they can plan their production. In return, the store will buy a
fixed amount of produce at a guaranteed price. The program, called
Producer Contracts, will be tested this summer with four Tesco contract
growers. If the trials are successful,Tesco predicts that within three
years, over half of its fresh produce could be bought under the producer
Source: "Farmers to Have Direct Contacts with Supermarket,"
FINANCIAL TIMES, February 26, 1995.
Texas farmers are reportedly cutting back on their use of recombinant
bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). A nutritionist said more
than half of his clients have been forced to cut back on the production
increasing drug due to weather, management and risks associated with
the use of rBGH. Mike Connor said, "This year, topside 25 percent are
using it and they are using it on fewer cows."
At its annual meeting, the Dairy Farmers of Canada backed away from
a resolution calling for a moratorium on rBGH similar to the one
currently in force in the European Union. Instead, the group backed
another resolution calling for a shorter moratorium until more studies
address animal health concerns and consumer confidence,. In
addition, rumors abound that rBGH is being smuggled into Canada
from the U.S.
In Vermont, where a mandatory labeling law is stalled in the courts,
the state House of Representatives has designated $25,000 to fight the
lawsuit filed by four industry groups. In getting the funds designated,
supporters of the law argued that it would be pointless not to defend
An editorial in the Minnesota farm journal AGRI NEWS says the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) has not done enough to respond to
farmer complaints about rBGH. The editorial criticizes the agency for
relying on Monsanto, manufacturer of Posilac, the first rBGH product
to be commercialized, to investigate farmer complaints. "Such a lack of
official oversight signals to BST critics that the FDA isn't taking this
issue seriously. It also gives the appearance that Monsanto has too
much power over the regulation of its product," says the editorial.
Source: "Texans Cut Back on rBST," DAIRY PROFIT WEEKLY, March
6, 1995; Mike Wettstein, "Canadian Dairy Farmers Confused on BST,"
THUMB FARM NEWS, February 20, 1995; "House Designates $250,000
to Fight BST Lawsuit," BURLINGTON FREE PRESS, March 16, 1995;
"FDA Slow to Respond to BST Herd Complaints," AGRI NEWS,
MARCH 9, 1995.
THE COWLEY REPORT -- FOOD & DRINK, 1989-1993 examines
international takeover trends in the food and beverage industries. The
report costs U.S.$375 and is available from Cross Border Media
Statistics, Keizersgracht 319, 1016 EE Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Tel:
(31) 020 422-0203.
Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American
Great Plains, May 8-10, 1995, Lincoln, NE. FFI, contact: Dr. Donald
Wilhite, International Drought Information Center, P.O. Box 830728,
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, Tel: (402) 472-6707, Fax:
(402) 472-6614, Email: email@example.com.
Food Safety News is produced by the Institute for Agriculture and
Trade Policy, Mark Ritchie, President. Editor: Michelle Thom. E-mail
versions are available free of charge for subscribers. For information
about fax or mail subscriptions contact: IATP, 1313 Fifth Street SE, Suite
303, Minneapolis, MN 55414. For information on subscribing to this
and other IATP news bulletins, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IATP provides contract research services to a wide range of corporate
and not-for-profit organizations. For more information, contact Dale
Wiehoff at 612-379-5980, or send email to: email@example.com.