Both houses of the legislature in Connecticut have approved legislation aimed at requiring the labeling of (near-ubiquitous) foodstuffs with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. The Senate’s version includes an “all jump off together” clause preventing it from going into effect until at least four states have joined in on the idea, which must cumulatively have a population of at least 20 million, and must include at least one state adjacent to Connecticut. [Greenwich Time, Ron Bailey, related ("food companies should just go ahead and slap labels on everything they sell reporting: 'This product may contain ingredients derived from safe modern biotechnology.'")] Earlier here (NY Times is surprisingly sensible on subject), here, here, here, etc.
“Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges early Saturday morning in a trial that drew national attention from supporters of the raw, unpasteurized milk movement.” Hershberger sold his products through what he characterized as a consumer buying club, but prosecutors charged that the set-up was too much like a retail store, with price stickers and a cash register; Wisconsin law bans the sale of raw milk products through a retail store. “‘This is as close to Prohibition as anything I have ever seen, but this time it’s milk and an Amish farmer, rather than liquor and gangsters,’ [defense attorney Glenn] Reynolds said.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Ryan Ekvall, Reason]
Traditional refillable open-spouted vessels and dipping bowls will need to give way to “pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labeling in line with EU industrial standards.” [Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph] In perhaps not unrelated news, a new poll finds Euroskepticism strong in the U.K. [Telegraph]:
When voters are asked the exact question Conservatives want to put to the public in the 2017 referendum, “Do you think that the UK should remain a member of the EU?”, 46 per cent opt to come out, a higher figure than in other recent polls, while just 30 per cent want to stay in.
Update: May 23 (proposal dropped).
“The U.S. FDA announced a plan to investigate and potentially regulate caffeine.” [James Hamblin, The Atlantic; Baylen Linnekin, Reason]
“[T]here is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers,” says an editorial in, of all places, the New York Times. ["Why Label Genetically Engineered Food?"]
And while on the subject of publications outperforming expectations, Slate features a sober look at “cancer clusters,” with George Johnson reviewing a new book on the Toms River, N.J. episode.
How ketchup baron H.J. Heinz became the “main force behind the passage of the Pure Food Law of 1906″ [Tim Carney, Washington Examiner]
Media coverage of a new Jonathan Klick-Joshua Wright study has focused mostly on the evidence that reusable grocery bags are high-bacteria environments and likely vectors for foodborne illness, but Robert Anderson notices another striking conclusion: “The authors estimate that the additional deaths from the plastic bag ban value each saved animal at $87,500.” That estimate includes only actual deaths from foodborne illness, and not the cost of nonfatal illnesses. [Witnesseth]
“The FDA has issued two proposed rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act enacted in 2011.” [Brian Wolfman, Public Citizen, with details and links; The Packer] “The costs to fruit and vegetable growers for complying with the newly proposed produce safety regulation have been estimated at more than $30,000 annually for large farms and about $13,000 per year for smaller farms.” [The Grower] How much do typical US farm households make in a year, you may wonder? According to U.S. government figures (here and here, for example) a large proportion of smaller family farms make little or no profit, and are instead supported by the off-farm earnings of family members. The 2011 law does provide exemptions for some of the very smallest producers, and the FDA also contemplates delayed implementation of rules for some others.
We followed the issue of small farms/foodmakers and the cost of the new law here, here, here, here, here, here (amendments aimed at lessening some burdens on small producers), and on a predecessor bill, here, here, and here.
Jacob Sullum: “New York Times Accidentally Admits That Energy Drinks Are Safer Than Coffee.”
Megan McArdle, in her annual holiday guide to kitchen gadget buying:
If you don’t want quite this much capacity — if you’re cooking for one or two, and hate leftovers — then I recommend getting an older (pre-1990) crockpot off of eBay. In recent years, food safety regulations and fear of liability has caused manufacturers to raise the heat on their slow cookers, which means the food cooks faster. I entertain enough that I reluctantly gave up lower heat for larger capacity (old crockpots tend to come in 2-3 quart sizes, rather than the 5-6 quarts that are standard now.) But only an older crockpot will give you really low and slow cooking.
A small company goes right on defying the Consumer Product Safety Commission: I’ve got more at Cato at Liberty (& see Nick Farr, Abnormal Use).