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05 June 2005
Agriculture News
I think, like news for any other segment of American or global commerce, agricultural news stories need to be read with a scrutinizing eye. Many 'news' blurbs are simply press releases from commodity organizations attempting to divert consumers' attention toward or away from a particular food or product. Many are press releases from one particular corporation needing to promote a new or existing product in the eyes of the public. Few stories are actually 'reported' with proper investigation and balance, most are simply restated press releases. Some are verbatim press releases. These facts do not make them all meritless, just similar to most other types of news articles. You decide.

Here are a few recently published news articles that I found interesting:

GMO corn may be causing health problems. I noticed this news story via a post on the Organic Matter blog. I agree with Chris at Organic Matter, the 'statistical variation' argument is hooey. This is a topic where the danger of wrongly declaring dangerous foods to be safe is far, far greater than the danger of wrongly declaring safe foods to be hazardous. Statistical analysis forces the prioritization of one of these two errors over the other. For matters of public health, the choice should usually be the latter. Subsequent statistical conclusions are then black and white. I suspect these GMO corn safety results fall into a 'gray' area where the opposing sides of commerce and public health disagree on which potential error to accept. To me the answer is obvious. Though as Chris points out, the point is almost, but not quite moot. These modified genes cannot be 'recalled' from the environment. Findings like these may well impact the future release of new genetically-modified organisms though.

Potatoes make USDA's list of top 20 anti-oxidant-rich foods. All potatoes are relatively high in vitamin C - about half a day's dose per spud. Red, yellow or purple varieties are also high in carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments. All these compounds fall into the anti-oxidant category.

USDA expects job opportunities in agriculture and natural resources to increase through 2010.

Small, local farms rise in popularity in Iowa and midwest.

New food pyramid increases emphasis on fruits and vegetables. I don't think I'm meeting my dietary objectives.

Wisconsin is losing farmland to urban/suburban sprawl.

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