Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day



DEC. 30, 2015 — As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the United States population will be 322,762,018 on Jan. 1, 2016. This represents an increase of 2,472,745, or 0.77 percent, from New Year’s Day 2015. Since Census Day (April 1) 2010, the population has grown by 14,016,480, or 4.54 percent.
In 2016, the United States is expected to experience one birth every eight seconds and one death every ten seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 29 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 17 seconds.
The projected world population on Jan. 1 is 7,295,889,256, an increase of 77,918,825, or 1.08 percent, from New Year’s Day 2015. During January 2016, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.
The Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clock simulates real-time growth of the U.S. and world populations at .

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Video Highlights California Farmer’s Struggles With Federal Regulators on Water Issues


WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 22, 2015 – A new video produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation highlights the struggles a California farm family has encountered with federal water regulations. The video also illustrates how the climate regarding water regulations will likely become much worse and encompass the entire nation under the widely-reviled Waters of the U.S. rule.

As the enforcer of water regulations, the Army Corps of Engineers has told fourth-generation tree, vine and wheat grower John Duarte, a member of Farm Bureau in California, that he broke the law simply by plowing his land in rural Tehama County, California. Experts say that under the EPA’s WOTUS rule, the same type of regulatory enforcement could become commonplace, threatening farmers across the nation. EPA has said that farmers have no need to worry about the rule because normal farming is exempt from regulation, but what’s happening to the Duarte family shows how the EPA and the Corps work around that exemption.

“The Corps and EPA aren’t trying to micromanage farmers. They’re trying to stop farmers,” Duarte said. “They’re trying to turn our farm land into habitat preservation. They’re simply trying to chase us off of our land.”

Duarte decided to take his case to court, which was met by a counter-suit from the U.S. Justice Department, seeking millions of dollars in penalties, basically for plowing his field, according to Tony Francois, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing Duarte.

“Anyone who’s being told not to worry about the new WOTUS rule, they should be thinking about this case,” Francois said. “The very thing they are telling you not to worry about is what they are suing Duarte over – just plowing.”

The AFBF video about the Duarte case can be found at: http://bit.ly/1OIV48V.

Additional information about the Duarte case can be found at: https://www.pacificlegal.org/cases/duarte-nursery

AMERICAN PIZZA COMMUNITY SAYS FAMILIES RING IN NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS WITH PIZZA



Washington, D.C. – December 22, 2015 – According to the American Pizza Community (APC), pizza is the shared meal choice among many families during New Year’s festivities when most families are together.  From the convenience of ordering a fresh, hot meal to being a crowd pleaser, most family gatherings and celebratory occasions are marked with orders from local pizza stores including New Year’s Eve and Day.

With more than 34 million ways to order a pizza, it is a communal meal that is meant to be shared, customizable and liked broadly.  In fact, 85 percent of pizza today is consumed at home as families turn to the convenience of delivery and carry-out to share family meals.

Pizza remains a top choice because it is convenient and unique – made-to-order, handmade, freshly-baked, high-quality ingredients.  Consider a few pizza industry fast facts:
There are 3 billion pizzas sold in the U.S. each year.
There are more than 73,000 pizzerias in the U.S.
94 percent of the U.S. population eats pizza (Parade Magazine 2012).
Americans rank pizza fourth on the most-craved food list (American Dairy Association random-sampling survey).
The average family eats pizza at home 30 times a year (PMQ Monthly).
The most popular days for ordering pizza are Super Bowl Sunday, Halloween, the day before Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.


Lux Research Highlights Top 10 Innovative Companies From 2015


Brain-computer interfaces, advanced water treatment, cybersecurity, and more, present new business opportunities based on Lux's ongoing emerging technology scouting

BOSTON, MA – December 22, 2015 – Leading emerging technology research firm Lux Research profiled 1,189 companies across 20 different emerging technology domains during 2015 as part of its ongoing intelligence services.  Drawing on the deep domain expertise of its analysts, Lux Research uses primary research to provide information and analysis on firms developing emerging technologies that impact global megatrends like energy and infrastructure, health and wellness, and information meets matter. 

Each firm gets a “Lux Take” that ranges from “Strong Caution” to “Strong Positive,” to provide a bottom-line assessment of its prospects, with a “Wait and See” rating for companies that still face too much uncertainty for a definitive call.  As the end of the year approaches, Lux analysts selected the 10 companies profiled in 2015 that are poised to make a significant impact on their target industries.

1.    NeuroSky (Positive – BioElectonics; Sensors) -- NeuroSky develops a number of bioelectrical signal detection and processing systems, most notably its electroencephalography (EEG) sensors that have enabled mind-reading brain-computer interface devices like Uncle Milton's Star Wars Force Trainer – and will also enable future diagnostic and monitoring solutions as health care shifts to digital technologies.

2.    Organica Water (Positive – Water) -- In addition to providing significant reductions in energy consumption, sludge production, and overall footprint for wastewater treatment, Organica builds low-cost greenhouses around its treatment plants to reduce odor, allowing it to locate plants closer to wastewater sources and enabling cost-effective reuse within cities.

3.    PFP Cybersecurity (Strong Positive – Connected Objects and Platforms) -- PFP uses a physics-based approach to detecting cyber threats by analyzing the electrical patterns of processors, ideal for securing for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can't support modern security software or are limited by memory or compute constraints.

4.    Norsk Titanium (Positive – Advanced Materials) -- 3D printing is best known for producing customized but pricey plastic pieces – Norsk's plasma arc deposition allows it to 3D-print parts from titanium that are up to 70% cheaper than those made via conventional machining methods, due to greater material utilization.

5.    Nutrigenomix (Positive – Food & Nutrition) -- Offering genetic testing to provide individualized recommendations on seven specific dietary components, Nutrigenomix is a step in the right direction for personalized nutrition.

6.    Fulcrum BioEnergy (Positive – Alternative Fuels) -- Biojet fuel and renewable diesel are going to be major plays in 2016 and Fulcrum is well positioned to make both fuels from municipal solid waste (MSW) – it has strong partnerships along its entire value chain, and is the only Fischer-Tropsch biojet process developer with proven production at some scale.

7.    Zerlux (Positive – Exploration and Production) -- The use of lasers in the oil and gas industry isn't widely known, but Hungarian player Zerlux is a leader, with high-powered lasers for well stimulation, hard-scale removal, and subsea pipeline remediation.

8.    Hillcrest Labs (Positive – Sensors) -- As the number of sensors in products from cars to mobile phones continues to grow, sensor fusion – integrating the interpretation of data from different sensors – is becoming more critical; strategic relationships with Bosch, Atmel, and ARM position Hillcrest to be a dominant player in this market.

9.    ENS Europe (Wait and See – Intelligent Buildings, Sustainable Building Materials) -- More efficient electrostatic filters from ENS Europe can help clean indoor air, much like a HEPA filter does, but the technology has the potential to scale up to clean smog and address other city-wide air quality issues. 

10.  AgDNA
(Positive – Agro Innovation) -- Finding successful business models for precision agriculture has been challenging, but AgDNA has been able to get traction licensing its technology – which integrates data from existing equipment into a decision-support system for growers – to OEMs like John Deere.

See the list of companies that made “Honorable Mention

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Marijuana And Agriculture’s New Legal Frontier


Growers Find Following The Law Tricky
Even Where Legalization Efforts Succeeded
As the legalization of marijuana slowly spreads, one state at a time, so do the laws that govern its production, creating a new area of practice for attorneys who understand the complexities.
“It’s such a highly regulated industry,” says Lindsey J. Weidenbach, an attorney with the law firm of Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward (www.jdsalaw.com) in Wenatchee, Wash.
“I think it’s overwhelming for clients sometimes and that’s why they turn to attorneys because there is a lot of paperwork.”
Growers must confront legal questions right from the beginning, even as they are deciding whether to grow their plants indoors or outdoors.
“In Washington state, if you are growing marijuana outdoors instead of in a greenhouse, you have to put an 8-foot privacy fence around it,” says Weidenbach, who includes agriculture law among her areas of focus.
 “There are security issues, but I also think the state of Washington probably doesn’t want young people to see it.”
Marijuana’s status as an emerging legal frontier is one reason Weidenbach became interested in this branch of law and commerce.
“How often do a new industry and a new area of law pop up?” she asks.
Washington is just one of a handful of states, along with the District of Columbia, where recreational marijuana is legal. The others are Colorado, Oregon and most recently Alaska, which is still working on its rules and regulations. The movement continues with mixed results. In Ohio, voters just shot down a legalization effort.
Because each state makes its own laws, there is no uniformity. For example, in Colorado someone can both grow marijuana and own a retail store that sells it. In Washington, you can’t do both so you have to choose, Weidenbach says.
Banking is another issue that perplexes marijuana growers. Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, banks have been reluctant to allow growers to open accounts.

“Often, it ends up becoming an all cash business because of the lack of banking options,” Weidenbach says. “In Washington, there are just two credit unions that allow marijuana growers to open bank accounts.”
Marijuana growers also face other issues that aren’t a concern for the rest of the agriculture world, such as:
• Lack of tax breaks. As far as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned, marijuana is still a controlled substance and not a legitimate business expense for federal income taxes. So, for example, startup costs that might provide a deduction for another business don’t apply. That might make sense with federal taxes, but even in Washington where it is legal, marijuana growers don’t get the tax breaks that family farms and other agriculture operations do, Weidenbach says. “The state of Washington does not treat marijuana as an agriculture product,” she says. “It’s excluded from the tax benefits that others get, which is interesting, because it absolutely is an agriculture product.”
• Growing it at home. Colorado, Oregon and the District of Columbia all allow individuals to grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal use. That’s not the case in Washington state, where only those who possess a state-issued license can grow marijuana for recreational use. (Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow up to 15 plants.) The window to apply for a license has closed and no more are being issued, Weidenbach says, which means anyone who wants to become a grower would need to buy an existing license from someone already in the business.
• Worries about the feds. “There’s always the underlying fear that the feds could come in and shut you down, regardless of what your state laws say,” Weidenbach says. Such fears were allayed somewhat, she says, by a Department of Justice memorandum in 2013 that essentially said federal law enforcement would take a hands-off approach as long as state laws are followed and public policy issues, such as keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors and not crossing state lines, are upheld. But it’s a nonbinding letter. What’s more, there’s always the possibility that after the 2016 presidential election a new administration could take a different view, Weidenbach says.
She says it’s likely the day will come when legalization reaches the federal level, but that might not happen until a majority of states have joined the movement.
“Once the trickle effect is too strong for the IRS and Congress to ignore, we will see some change,” Weidenbach says. “But it’s going to take a while.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

DeLauro Statement on USDA Report on Poultry and Salmonella



WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s revised guidelines assisting poultry processors in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw food products and preventing cases of foodborne illness.

“As a new wave of food-borne illnesses affects the nation, families around the country are gathering for the holidays and are at risk of falling seriously ill from mishandled poultry. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness and is responsible for more hospitalizations and deaths than any other foodborne pathogen,” said Rosa DeLauro. “While the new guidelines issued by the USDA are an important step, the USDA should declare Salmonella an adulterant as part of their work to protect American consumers from foodborne public health threats. American consumers are counting on the USDA to use the authority it has to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths.”

Recently, a number of outbreaks of salmonella and other forms of food poisoning have prompted the USDA to release these updated food guidelines. Today’s updated document is the fourth edition of the “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry” and is intended to offer poultry companies best practices for minimizing pathogen levels and meeting FSIS’ food safety requirements. The guidelines also include information regarding interventions companies can take on the farm, sanitary dressing procedures, processing practices, antimicrobial interventions, and other management practices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that more than 48 million people suffer from food-borne illnesses each year. Approximately 3,000 people die while another 128,000 are hospitalized. In the latest high-profile outbreak of food poisoning, fresh cucumbers killed four Americans and left 157 others hospitalized

APHIS seeks comments on changes to GE wheat regulation


On September 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice of request for comments on changes to requirements for field testing genetically engineered (GE) wheat. The comment period closed on October 26, 2015. USDA is announcing today its decision to require developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat, beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.

The decision to require growers to plant GE wheat under the more stringent permit process rather than the notification process employed in the past, will provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulations at 7 CFR part 340 specify that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimize the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.

This action also strengthens the United States wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.

More information regarding this decision is available at the following URL: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/wheat_permit_change.pdf.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Friends of the Earth's reaction to Sec. Kerry’s climate speech



PARIS, FRANCE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today at the Paris climate negotiations, in time with the release of preliminary text.

Friends of the Earth U.S. President Erich Pica issued the following response:

There is an irony with Secretary Kerry's announcement that the United States is creating the ‘High Ambition Coalition.’ Countries from around the world had high ambitions for the United States to pursue a climate agreement principled on fair shares, justice and ambitious reductions, based on the principles of common but differentiated responsibility. To date, the United States has not delivered on these ambitions and looks like it we will further undermine these basic tenets through the rest of the talks.

While I appreciate the doubling of U.S. grants for adaptation to more than $800 million by 2020, it is still well below the U.S.’s fair share. Adaptation is going to be costly; by Secretary Kerry’s own estimates, the U.S. has spent $160 billion on climate related losses and damage over the past three years. When you look at the global implications of the climate crisis on the rest of the world, the U.S. commitment of $800 million is a mere drop in the bucket.

Finally, while not mentioned in the speech, we remain concerned that the United States continues to undermine countries’ and communities’ ability to recover damages or losses from the impacts of climate change. The concept of loss and damage is an important mechanism that gives countries the ability to hold polluters accountable. This concept of ‘polluter pays’ has long been enshrined in U.S. law.

Secretary Kerry wants the Paris agreement to be a floor for the future. It will not be stable without a firm commitment to fair shares, justice and common but differentiated responsibility.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Almond Industry Launches Major Strategic Effort to Accelerate Innovation and Sustainability

Almond Board of California (ABC) launches major new strategic effort designed to make the almond industry even more efficient and sustainable [1] .

MODESTO, Calif., Dec. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Almond Board of California (ABC) today launched Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM), a major new strategic effort designed to make the almond industry even more efficient and sustainable.1 "Through our Accelerated Innovation Management program, the Almond Board will accelerate its investment in sustainability1, almond tree and farming research, and step up efforts to develop new partnerships and collaborations, which will drive four major initiatives to move the entire industry forward," said Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California. The four major initiatives are:

Water Management and Efficiency - A focus on accelerating almond farmer transition to more efficient irrigation scheduling and management practices to get the most crop per drop of water. This initiative, which builds on the 33 percent reduction in water used per pound of almonds achieved by the industry over the last 20 years2, includes a range of activities from working with farmers to fine tune irrigation techniques to adopting more advanced water management technologies.
Sustainable 1 Water Resources - An exploration of how to best leverage a unique strength of the California Almond industry, its acreage, for accelerating natural flood-year groundwater recharge of aquifers. California's aquifers are collectively the state's largest water storage system and water recharged through this program would benefit all Californians, not just farmers. A second part of this initiative will look for opportunities to recycle water from multiple sources, such as municipal wastewater, as a way of increasing overall water availability for farmers and all Californians.
Air Quality - Investigating various ways the almond industry can help meet the Central Valley's exacting air quality standards.  This will delve into the various ways almond production impacts air quality and evaluate opportunities to decrease emissions. From analyzing industry fossil fuel use to small- and large-particle pollutants, all components of almond farming that impact air quality are under scrutiny. This initiative will identify alternatives that will result in cleaner air for all those who live in California's Central Valley – farmers, their families, and surrounding communities.
22nd Century Agronomics - A recognition that we need to better understand and then adopt the technologies that will lead California farming into the 22nd century. Almond Board of California will lead a comprehensive exploration of almond farming techniques, bringing an exploratory mindset to consider all options as to what innovations and technical "leap frogs" will be needed to sustainably1 farm in the future. Each component of almond farming will be considered, from land preparation and varietal development, to equipment and processing.
Waycott noted significant progress already on two of the initiatives – Sustainable1 Water Resources and Air Quality -- and said that the industry will keep consumers and customers apprised of major research projects in these and the other initiative areas in the months and years ahead.

"Our recent partnership with Sustainable Conservation is exploring the potential of using California almond orchards for accelerated recharge of Central Valley groundwater. Research this winter will channel excess winter flood water into almond orchards in several test sites, including Merced, Stanislaus, and Fresno counties where a UC Davis study will track soil moisture and water movement, tree response, detailed root development and growth response," Waycott said.

"On air quality, the Almond Board, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and others are carrying out a new USDA-funded pilot project designed to give both almond and corn growers greater access to greenhouse gas markets like those under California's cap-and-trade program," Waycott said.  The project builds on nearly ten years of funding by the Almond Board of California to improve nitrogen management and better understand greenhouse gas emissions, particularly nitrous oxide (N2O), from almond orchards.

The EDF project also dovetails with Almond Board-funded research to understand better the energy flows and the associated greenhouse gases over the average 25 years of an almond orchard's life.  Life Cycle Analysis research on growing almonds by UC Davis showed that the industry could become carbon neutral, or even negative, if policy changes and production advancements work hand-in-hand.3

"Farmers are innovators. Since almonds were first planted in California, over 150 years ago, almond growers have adapted, changed, and pushed ahead to improve best practices and develop new technologies. The Almond Board's research programs have driven this innovation since their inception in 1973 and through this new program, we carry on and accelerate that important tradition," Waycott said.

"We will make investments today that will put the entire industry in a stronger position 10, 20, or 30 years from now. Already a leader in the size and value of our crop to California, the AIM initiatives will take our industry's leadership to the next level with innovation responsive to the changing California business and agricultural environment. Above all, we want Californians to know almonds are a desirable and high-value use of precious resources entrusted and allocated to growing food in California," Waycott added.

AIM will complement the California almond industry's legacy of continuous improvement through over 40 years of research. With a more nimble and adaptive program, AIM will implement commonsense guidelines, develop innovative practices and cultivate advanced technologies that will lead to continued improvement in efficient and sustainable1 farming.

"For decades, the Almond Board has invested millions of dollars in critical research leading to important advancements which continue to support almond growers as good stewards of the land," Waycott said. "In fact, over the last two decades, industry-funded research overseen by the Almond Board has allowed farmers to reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent. Our research has also helped develop orchard practices that better promote healthy environments for honey bees and ensure the safety of workers, local communities and ecosystems. The California almond community understands the value of critical research, and we're doubling down on this important work."

Friday, December 4, 2015

FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O26 Infections Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants


Update: December 4, 2015

Three additional states have reported people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing  Escherichia coli O26 (STEC O26) since the last update, Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Fifty-two people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have now been reported from a total of nine states:  California (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (1), and    Washington (27).
The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at  Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.
 The investigation is still ongoing to determine what specific food is linked to illness.
What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?  

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O26 infections that have been linked to food served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in several states.

As of December 4, 2015, the CDC reports a total of 52 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 from a total of nine states: California (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (1), and Washington (27). There have been 20 reported hospitalizations. There have been no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and no deaths. Of the three most recent illnesses reported in November, only one ill person, whose illness started on November 10, reported eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before their illness began.

Investigators are also using whole genome sequencing, an advanced laboratory technique, to get more information about the DNA fingerprint of the STEC O26 bacteria causing illness. To date, whole genome sequencing has been performed on STEC O26 isolates from 21 ill people from California (2), Minnesota (2), New York (1), and Washington (16). All 21 isolates were highly related genetically to one another. This provides additional evidence that illnesses outside the Pacific Northwest, could be related to the illnesses in Washington.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has reopened all of its restaurants in Washington and Oregon that had been closed  in response to the investigation. Chipotle Mexican Grill worked in close consultation and collaboration with health officials throughout the investigation to determine whether it was appropriate to reopen these restaurants. Chipotle reports  taking the following actions, among others, prior to opening:

Confirming that all microbial testing performed by the company did not yield coli (more than 2,500 tests of Chipotle's food, restaurant surfaces, and equipment all showed no E. coli)

Confirming that no employees in these restaurants were sickened from this incident
Expanded testing of fresh produce, raw meat, and dairy items prior to restocking restaurants
Implementing additional safety procedures, and audits, in all of its 2,000 restaurants to ensure that robust food safety  standards are in place
Working closely with federal, state, and local government agencies to ensure that robust food safety standards are in place
Replacing all ingredients in the closed restaurants
Conducted additional deep cleaning and sanitization in all of its closed restaurants (will conduct deep cleaning and sanitization  additionally in all restaurants nationwide)
The FDA continues to work with Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants as well as federal, state and local agencies in gathering information about the supply chain(s). The FDA will continue to provide updates on the investigation as they become available.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of E. coli O26?

People usually get sick from STEC (Shiga toxin-producing coli) 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the organism (germ).
Most people infected with STEC develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps.
Most people recover within a week.
Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination.
People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
STEC infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample for Shiga toxins.
Clinical laboratories are required in some states to send Shiga toxin-positive specimens from ill people to the state public health laboratory for identification of STEC and PulseNet testing.
Who is at Risk?

People of any age can become infected. Very young children and the elderly are more likely than others to develop severe illness and HUS, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill. In this particular outbreak, the age range of ill patients is 1 - 67 years.

What Do Consumers Need To Do?

Consumers who have recently become ill after eating at a Chipotle should contact their health care provider.

Who Should be Contacted?

Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or to consult the FDA website.

WESTERN GROWERS URGES RENEWED COOPERATION ON WESTERN WATER BILL




IRVINE, Calif., (December 4, 2015) -- Statement by Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif regarding recent developments in the negotiations related to proposed Western drought legislation:

“For months, House Republicans have been working in good faith with Senator Feinstein, other western Senators, as well as the federal and state administrations, to craft bipartisan legislation offering some relief to California and other western states suffering from the drought.  We share the frustration many feel over the fact that compromise legislation that could help California take advantage of the coming El Nino storms has not been passed yet.  Time is running out, and we cannot accept failure.

I believe that House Republicans and Senator Feinstein are equally committed to achieving success, and that great progress has been made to close the remaining gaps between the parties.  I urge all the parties involved to resist an escalation of public criticism of the other parties.  Retreating to the seeming safety of partisanship is understandably tempting, but we know from past experience that it will only doom any hope of passing compromise legislation that provides our members water relief.  We urge all parties to resist the pull of partisan positioning and recommit to negotiation with a sense of urgency in light of the dwindling time left to take advantage of coming winter storms.”

CFSAF Calls on Congress to Pass Uniform, National Food Labeling Standard


(Washington, D.C.) – The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food today sent a letter signed by 46 national organizations calling on Congress to act this year to pass a uniform, national labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The letter comes as agriculture and business groups continue to urge key House and Senate leaders to include a federal preemption of state food labeling laws in the omnibus appropriations bill to be voted on in the days ahead. The letter notes that state labeling mandates are inconsistent with both established labeling precedent and an overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the safety of GMOs.
Vermont’s labeling mandate goes into effect next July, and congressional action is the only thing that will prevent American families from facing higher grocery prices and more confusing food labels.
“It is imperative that Congress take action now to prevent a costly and confusing patchwork of state labeling laws from taking effect next year and spreading across the country. Congress must include language in the Omnibus Appropriations bill to ensure that food companies, farmers, ranchers, and consumers won’t face the significant increased costs of state GMO labeling laws,” the letter stated.
In July, the U.S. House passed a bill that created a uniform, national labeling standard with significant bipartisan support.  Both chambers of Congress have also overwhelmingly voted down mandatory GMO labeling proposals.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Congress should reject Obama's $3 billion Green Climate Fund


Dec. 3, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging Congress to include language in the upcoming omnibus spending bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016 that would block any funds from being used to finance the United Nations (UN) Green Climate Fund:

"Congress should just say no to Obama's $3 billion promise to the UN Green Climate Fund by explicitly stipulating in the omnibus that no funds shall be spent on it. The reality is that the U.S. commitment to the Green Climate Fund is anticipated to dramatically expand in the years to come to more than $25 billion annually as part of a $100 billion a year global wealth transfer to developing economies.

"Sen. Jim Inhofe has been at the forefront of this issue, and we urge Congress to follow his lead in ensuring that not one taxpayer dollar goes to the UN Green Climate Fund that will simply redistribute $100 billion a year to developing economies.

"We already subsidize developing economies with world trade rules that grant special and differential treatment, and the new Paris climate deal will exempt developing economies from the punitive regulations that the U.S. adheres to. Not to be outdone, then those same countries will receive $100 billion a year that U.S. taxpayers will disproportionately fund. This is just another bad deal, and U.S. taxpayers will have to pay for it — again. It's time that Congress just say no."

To view online: http://getliberty.org/congress-should-reject-obamas-3-billion-green-climate-fund/

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

USDA Report Warns Climate Change Likely to Impede Progress on Global Food Security



PARIS, Dec. 2, 2015 — Climate change is likely to impede progress on reducing undernourishment around the world in the decades ahead, according to a major scientific assessment released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on global food security and its implications for the United States. The report, entitled Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System, identifies the risks that climate change poses to global food security and the challenges facing farmers and consumers in adapting to changing climate conditions. Secretary Vilsack released the report during the COP-21 Paris Climate Conference.

In the absence of response measures, climate change is likely to diminish continued progress on global food security through production disruption that lead to constraints on local availability and price increases, interrupted transport conduits, and diminished food safety, among other causes. The risks are greatest for the global poor and in tropical regions.

President Obama has pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. U.S. agriculture is helping meet this goal, and American farmers, ranchers and foresters have demonstrated their leadership in recognition that their contributions send a strong message to the rest of the world.

"The past six years have been a success story in terms of global food security. Two hundred million fewer people are food insecure today than they were six years ago. The challenge we now face is whether we can maintain and even accelerate this progress despite the threats from climate change," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The report we are releasing today highlights these challenges and offers pathways to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change."

"The report found that climate change is likely to cause disruptions in food production and a decrease in food safety, which in turn leads to local availability limitations and increases in food prices, with these risks greatest for the global poor and in tropical regions," said Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President or Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Accurately identifying needs and vulnerabilities, and effectively targeting adaptive practices and technologies across the full scope of the food system, are central to improving global food security in a changing climate."

Food systems in the United States benefit from a large area of arable land, high agricultural yields, vast integrated transportation systems, and a high level of overall economic development. However, changes in climate are expected to affect U.S. consumers and producers by altering the type and price of food imports from other regions of the world, as well as by changing export demand, and transportation, processing, storage, infrastructure that enable global trade.

Climate risks to food security increase as the magnitude and rate of climate change increase. Higher emissions and concentrations of greenhouse gases are much more likely to have damaging effects than lower emissions and concentrations. The author team reviewed a range of scenarios. Under scenarios with continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions the number of people at risk of undernourishment would increase by as much as 175 million above today's level by 2080. Scenarios with lower population growth and more robust economic growth coupled with lower greenhouse gas emissions resulted in large reductions in the number of food insecure people compared to today. Even in these scenarios, higher greenhouse gas emissions resulted in more food insecurity than lower emissions.

Effective adaptation can reduce food system vulnerability to climate change and reduce detrimental climate change effects on food security, but socioeconomic conditions can impede the adoption of technically feasible adaptation options. The agricultural sector has a strong record of adapting to changing conditions. There are many opportunities to strengthen agricultural economies and bring more advanced methods of crop production to low-yielding agricultural regions. Other promising adaptations include reducing food waste through innovative packaging, expanding cold storage to lengthen shelf life, and improving transportation infrastructure to move food more rapidly to markets.

On April 23rd, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced USDA's 10 Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture, a comprehensive set of voluntary programs and initiatives that is expected to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2025 - about 2 percent of economy-wide emissions. The ten "building blocks" span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage, and generate clean renewable energy. USDA also supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis.

'Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System' was prepared as part of the United States National Climate Assessment and part of the President's Climate Action Plan. USDA led the production of the report on behalf of the thirteen Federal Agencies of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Thirty-one authors and contributors prepared the report, representing nineteen federal, academic, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental institutions in four countries.

New Crop Insurance Video Tackles Common Farm Policy Misperceptions


(OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) Investing in farm policy and crop insurance benefits all Americans, according to a new video released today by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).

The two-minute educational piece was made public as Congress works to reverse harmful cuts to crop insurance made during last month’s Budget Agreement.  If those cuts remain in place, agricultural leaders fear it would cripple private-sector delivery of crop insurance, and with it a key component of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Farm policy critics often use misinformation and misperceptions about agriculture to attack crop insurance, and NCIS produced its video to help combat those efforts.

“Instead of getting a check in the mail, farmers now get a bill,” the video explained. “And, because private insurers deliver the system and help shoulder risk, taxpayers aren’t left footing the whole bill when disaster strikes.”

The $4 billion a year farmers now spend to buy insurance protection stands in sharp contrast to the days of direct government payments and $70 billion in disaster bills before crop insurance’s rise to prominence, noted the video.

The piece also tackled the often-misunderstood issue of private-sector returns for delivering crop insurance.  Under a 2011 agreement between the government and crop insurers, 14.5 percent was targeted as an expected gross revenue.

“But those returns aren’t guaranteed and haven’t materialized,” NCIS said in its video.  “Actual gross revenue turned out to be 5.7 percent – not even half the targeted amount.  When you subtract expenses, crop insurers lost 1.4 percent from 2011 to 2014.”

The cuts included in the recent congressional budget package would lower returns by another 38 percent, further compounding private-sector losses and making it extremely difficult for crop insurance providers to stay in business.

“Unless this trend is reversed and the attacks on crop insurance stop, farmers will be left without the tools necessary to manage falling commodity prices and extreme weather,” the video concluded.  “Taxpayers will be left holding the bill once again.  And worst of all, because every American eats, every American will be harmed.”

The full video can be watched here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

KIND Snacks Urges FDA to Redefine “Healthy”



Company, with Support of Nutrition Experts Petitions U.S. Food and Drug Administration to Update Guidelines Established 20+ Years Ago



 KIND Snacks, with support from leading nutrition, public health and public policy experts, has filed a Citizen Petition urging the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to update its regulations around the term healthy when used as a nutrient content claim in food labeling. http://dnr.vnr1.com/2015/11/30/KIND_Snacks

KIND Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky explains that wholesome and nutrient-rich foods like almonds, salmon, olive oil and avocados cannot be labeled as healthy because of these foods inherent fat content.

The petition also reflects the importance of eating whole foods and foods made with wholesome and nutrient-rich ingredients as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

Currently, the FDA mandates that the word “healthy” only be used as a nutrient content claim to describe individual foods that contain 3 grams or less total fat and 1 gram or less of saturated fat per serving. Fish and meat must have 5g or less total fat and 3g or less saturated fat per serving to use healthy as a nutrition content claim.

The policy effort, which cites evidence from multiple nutrition studies and current federal Dietary Guidelines, is supported by a number of leading health and wellness experts including Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPhD, Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts; Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways; and Connie Diekman, Registered Dietitian and former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

‘Food Science Fun’ Connects Students to Science



WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2015 – The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched a new resource on its My American Farm educational site aimed at connecting students to the science of food and food production.

“Food Science Fun” is a new guide that contains 10 activities related to food science. The guide is designed to equip volunteers and professional educators with powerful tools for facilitating a food science day camp, or activities at a fair, other special event or in the classroom.

The resources contained in the guide were pilot-tested at several science day camps in California and Indianapolis. Nearly 3,000 students were reached during the testing period.

The “Food Science Fun” guide can be downloaded for free on the Fairs and Events Hands on Activities page on My American Farm.

The My American Farm educational resource is a special project of the Foundation. The site and resources are made possible through the generous support of title sponsor DuPont Pioneer. To take advantage of the free My American Farm resources, games and activities, visit www.MyAmericanFarm.org.

TCA and Rolling Strong to Launch Driver Wellness Program


 
Beginning January 2016, carriers will have a cost-effective way to boost driver health and retention

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The trucking industry is losing many professional truck drivers to the health problems that arise from a sedentary lifestyle. That’s why the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is partnering with Rolling Strong, a leading authority on driver wellness, to offer a new driver wellness program that will launch in January 2016.
TCA Wellness, powered by Rolling Strong, will provide every participant with access to thousands of health-check stations across the country, annual bio-screenings, and a driver-centric smartphone app with practical, tested-in-the-field guidance about nutrition and exercise on the road. They will also receive unlimited phone support from TCA-approved, CDL health-coaches who are specifically trained to work within the difficult limits that professional drivers experience every day.
“The studies are alarming… drivers are gaining weight, not exercising much, and developing serious problems like sleep apnea and diabetes,” said Keith Tuttle, TCA’s chairman. “This, in turn, undermines their ability to work, meaning less money to provide for their families. From the trucking industry’s standpoint, it means fewer drivers and more recruitment costs. We see Rolling Strong as an innovative solution; their approach not only boosts driver health and fosters driver-retention, but also delivers an unprecedented return on investment for users.”
The new wellness partnership will provide trucking companies with the means to establish a customized, in-house wellness program that exactly matches their needs and perfectly fits their available budget. The baseline program, as outlined above, will cost TCA members less than two dollars per driver, per month. Non-TCA-members and state associations are also welcome to participate, at a slightly higher cost.
An exciting part of the new wellness partnership will be “Rebuilt,” a program designed by Rolling Strong that is tailored to drivers who fail their CDL physical or receive a short-term DOT certification card. “Rebuilt” has an 85 percent success rate for getting medically disqualified drivers back on the road within 30 days. “Rebuilt” is home-based and can commence on the very day following a medical examiner’s decision to take a driver off the road. It includes daily coaching, in-home exercise equipment, a special 28-day food supply, and, when necessary, medical referrals. In addition, the required re-testing is a covered expense.
Covenant Transport, a long-time TCA member based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been working with Rolling Strong for some time and is very pleased with the results of their “Rebuilt” program. According to Joey Hogan, company president, “It is no exaggeration to say that Rolling Strong has added thousands of dollars to our bottom line over the last few years. In the present trucking economy, it can cost $8,000 to put a new driver behind the wheel, and many of us are turning away business and parking tractors because we just don’t have the drivers. The team at Rolling Strong has kept an impressive number of drivers on the road who would otherwise have been lost to us.”
Debbie Sparks, TCA’s vice president of development, agrees. “The truck driver shortage only gets worse when we lose experienced people because of health problems — especially when certain medical conditions can potentially be avoided with the proper intervention. TCA is really looking forward to helping our members save valuable professional truck drivers via the ‘Rebuilt’ initiative,” she said.
For carriers experiencing high turnover, an effective tool can be intervention during orientation, with a health-syllabus specifically designed for new drivers. Companies with an older workforce, who are seeing increased failures on CDL re-certifications due to BMI, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels that are too high, may need to become part of the distribution mechanism for a Healthier Meals option. As a safety net, carriers can utilize the TCA Wellness monitoring and pre-physical program that will flag problems before a disqualification occurs. In short, Rolling Strong’s account executives will work with risk management and human resources staff to develop exactly the right wellness regime for each participating company.
“Our driver wellness tools make a real difference,” said Bob Perry, aka "The Trucker Trainer,” the founder of Rolling Strong, and executive director of TCA Wellness, powered by Rolling Strong. “We have developed a comprehensive solution  that makes a trained CDL wellness coach available at major terminals for three or four hours per week. This face-to-face interaction can greatly enhance driver health and support driver compliancy. I’m pleased that driver health is being recognized by a well-respected transportation organization such as the TCA. This partnership allows us to stay true to our core mission: to provide professional drivers with simple lifestyle changes to maintain their livelihood and get home safe to see their families!”
To learn more about TCA Wellness, powered by Rolling Strong, contact tcawellness@rollingstrong.com. To stay up-to-date on TCA Wellness, powered by Rolling Strong as it is unveiled in January, please visit www.truckload.org and follow the organization on Facebook—www.truckload.org/Facebook—and Twitter—www.truckload.org/Twitter.