Category Archives Media Coverage

The December passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the Farm Bill, has resulted in several publications speculating about the effects of the bill's legalization of industrial hemp on the cannabidiol (CBD) market. The law, which removed "hemp" from the definition of "marijuana" in the Controlled Substances Act, may "make CBD production legal and cheaper," according to Forbes, while MarketWatch explains that CBD "will remain largely off-limits" in the near future. Rolling Stone predicts that CBD is "poised for [a] boom," while Vox suggests that "CBD is bound to become even more visible," although "[i]ts legal status remains unclear." Fortune notes that cultivating hemp will be legal but heavily regulated, and the shutdown of the federal government has delayed cultivation approvals during the period when farmers are planning crop rotations and sourcing seeds for 2019, according to PBS NewsHour. Meanwhile, California legislation banning the use of CBD in…

Vox Media's podcast The Impact has examined New York City's and Chicago's approaches to combating obesity, including Chicago's imposition of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). A reporter first speaks to employees of an initiative in New York that encourages corner-store owners to stock more healthy foods, and she finds that the results have been middling. The podcast then turns to Chicago's tax on SSBs, which was enforced for two months before it was repealed. "The Cook County soda tax became so toxic that nobody wants to talk about it anymore," the reporter reveals. "This was by far the hardest episode of our season to report because people kept turning down my interview requests. I asked six different county commissioners to talk to me for this story. Five of them said no." "Right now, there isn't great evidence that healthy corner store initiatives have a big impact on obesity. There's…

The Associated Press has detailed the efforts of Recombinetics, a company that develops genetically engineered (GE) animals, to seek regulatory and public approval of its work. The company CEO reportedly told the news outlet that it aims to assuage fears about GE animals by focusing on how they can help ease animal pain, such as breeding cows without horns so that farmers can stop removing the horns to keep the cows from harming each other. This approach has apparently led to some support among animal-welfare groups; the Humane Society of the United States supports GE pigs bred to no longer require castration, AP reports, although the organization does not give "blanket approval" for the technology. "If you edit for your chicken to be the size of an elephant, that's not good," the organization's vice president of farm animal protection reportedly said.

According to the BBC, advocacy group Action on Sugar has called for restaurants to stop serving "freakshakes," milkshakes with added "chocolates, sweets, cake, cream and sauce." The group reportedly surveyed restaurants for nutritional information on their freakshakes and found that some contained as many as 1,280 calories, or "more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds." The group called on the U.K. government to "introduce legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products."

Russia has created a poultry-breeding program to reduce its dependence on meat imports, Bloomberg reports. The country has used Soviet technology—which created "a bigger and tastier version of Gallus gallus domesticus" that apparently nearly went extinct following the collapse of the government—to establish a program that aims to reduce foreign imports of food products. Bloomberg also notes that a "replacement program for potatoes" has been approved, while a program for sugar beets is in progress. "To our knowledge, no country has a large-scale poultry breeding program that competes with the major corporations," Bloomberg quotes a scientist with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization as saying. “They thought we wouldn’t be able to compete with them in a million years,” one of the scientists who worked on the Soviet project reportedly told the news outlet. “Now it’s a completely different situation. Friends are friends, but you know how it goes.”

Food Navigator reports that a market research company has predicted a "coming flood of mainstream investment in cannabis in general and the edibles sector in particular." The firm suggests that legalization of cannabis products across the United States could create a market between $40 billion and $70 billion. Growth in the edibles category outpaced growth in other cannabis categories, the report authors note, with sales especially focused on the candy and chocolate categories, which account for about 60 percent of edibles sales. On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters passed a ballot measure to allow recreational marijuana in the state, making it the tenth state to legalize cannabis products; a similar measure in North Dakota failed to pass. Missouri and Utah voters also approved a ballot initiative to allow marijuana for medical purposes, which is now legal in 33 states.

Edible cottonseeds have been approved for commercial cultivation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and await Food and Drug Administration approval, according to Bloomberg. Texas A&M University has reportedly been developing the product—which apparently tastes "like hummus"—for more than two decades. Bloomberg compares the nutritional value of cottonseeds to other tree nuts such as almonds or walnuts; in addition, cottonseeds could be "fed to carnivorous fish like salmon and trout that eat ground-up fish," according to the article. The university's work “opens up the opportunity that eventually every cotton plant will have this technology in it,” a vice president at Cotton Inc. reportedly told Bloomberg. “There’s no reason to leave a toxin in a domesticated plant.”

The New York Times has reported on the Orthodox Union's efforts to determine whether meat grown in a lab from animal cells can be kosher. The reporter follows a rabbi tasked with researching the process. The rabbi distinguishes between products grown from muscle cells—which must be from an animal properly slaughtered in kosher standards rather than still alive—and products potentially grown from animal saliva or hair, which are reportedly under research. The latter products would not be considered meat under Jewish law, the New York Times notes. “The identity of a given cell, and ensuring that its identity is preserved and verifiable, would be crucial to our being able to certify a product,” the report quotes the rabbi as saying.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reportedly found that one-fifth of meat samples tested contained DNA not attributable to the animal source indicated on the label. FSA conducted 665 tests from 487 businesses suspected of "compliance issues," including restaurants and supermarkets, and purportedly found that some samples contained DNA from as many as four animals. The products included mincemeat, sausages, kebabs and curries. An FSA spokesperson reportedly told BBC that the results were "not representative of the wider food industry."

In a forthcoming Brooklyn Law Review article, professors from George Washington University Law School and Lund University argue that one solution to the definition dispute between cow's milk and plant-based milk producers may be to label plant-based milks as "mylk." Gambert et al., "Got Mylk? The Disruptive Possibilities of Plant Milk," Brooklyn L. Rev., forthcoming 2019. The professors assert that plant-based milk producers should embrace a new word, such as the "whimsical" and "creative" "mylk," to avoid negative associations with "milk with an 'i,'" including "exploitation and oppression – of women, people of color, and nonhuman animals." "At the end of the day, the 'milk wars' on both sides of the Atlantic serve as a barometer of plant milk’s role as a disruptive force in the millennia-long relationship between humans and milk. By replacing the 'i' with a 'y,' plant milk – or mylk – advocates can signal to the…