Blog | February 16, 2012

Ethan’s Farm and Food News Roundup

EthanRodale Books has published a speech by Prince Charles from last year’s Future of Conference in Washington, D.C. Called “On the Future of Food,” the speech addresses problems with the current food system and some practical solutions to fix them. Click here to watch excerpts from the speech.

Another lawsuit is shining a spotlight on the impact of Monsanto products on farmers. A French court has found the biotech giant Monsanto guilty of chemically poisoning a French farmer with its Lasso weed killer back in 2004. The farmer suffered from headaches and memory loss after accidentally inhaling the pesticide, and claimed that the product did not include sufficient warnings about the dangers of the chemicals in the Lasso mix.

A mysterious foam that forms on the top of manure pits is causing CAFO pig barns to spontaneously explode. Scientists believe that dried distiller grains and concentrated antibiotic use are tainting the pig’s manure, causing the growth of bacteria that leads to the foam. The foam traps gases like methane and when a spark ignites it causes an explosion. About a half dozen barns in the Midwest have exploded since the foam was discovered in 2009.

The Humane Society of the U.S. and the United Egg Producers, typically at odds, have partnered to bring major change to the egg industry. This unprecedented partnership is asking Congress to pass a law (just introduced this week) that’s supposed to improve the lives of egg-laying hens. If passed, it would be the first federal law that takes into account the emotional lives of farm animals. Specifically, it would force egg producers to build new, roomier housing for hundreds of millions of birds.

And change is coming to the pork industry too, as McDonald’s announced it will require its pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows. As this article states, McDonald’s buys 1% of the pork sold in the U.S. so their practices could have a major impact.

Although we tend to think of farming as a spring, summer and fall trade, winter plays an important role in the farming process. Cold weather kills bacteria and pathogens, and allows the ground to store energy for upcoming harvest. Without freezing temperatures, there could be a host of problems that return to the fields in the spring and that has some farmers concerned.

And in case you missed this video that’s been making the rounds, check out this sheep-herding rabbit!

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