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February 16, 2010

Michelle Obama Leads Campaign Against Obesity

President Obama signed a memorandum February 9, 2010, creating a Task Force on Childhood Obesity to support the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, aimed at ending childhood obesity in the United States within one generation. 

From the New York Times:

. . . The much-anticipated “Let’s Move’’ campaign, nearly a year in the making, marks the first lady’s official debut in a high-profile powerful policy role, and it was clear that Mrs. Obama has a broad vision for it. The White House has secured the cooperation of food industry executives, who have pledged to reduce the amount of sugar in school lunches, and beverage makers who promise to more clearly label their sugary drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that, from now on, it will encourage its members to measure the body mass index, an indicator of obesity, of their young patients.

The memorandum notes:

Nearly one third of children in America are overweight or obese -- a rate that has tripled in adolescents and more than doubled in younger children since 1980.  One third of all individuals born in the year 2000 or later will eventually suffer from diabetes over the course of their lifetime, while too many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.  Without effective intervention, many more children will endure serious illnesses that will put a strain on our health-care system. We must act now to improve the health of our Nation's children and avoid spending billions of dollars treating preventable disease.

The President’s memorandum grants The Task Force 90 days to develop an interagency plan of action to achieve its objectives.

This post was contributed by William Mitchell College of Law student Adam Brady.  Mr. Brady is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 16, 2010 in Obesity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fewer than 1% of American farms are organic

The USDA has released a survey finding fewer than 1% of all American farms are organic. From the USDA press release:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2010 – The nation’s organic farms and ranches have higher average sales and higher average production expenses than U.S. farms overall, according to results of the 2008 Organic Production Survey. . . .

“This was USDA’s first wide-scale survey of organic producers, and it was undertaken in direct response to the growing interest in organics among consumers, farmers, businesses, policymakers and others,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “The information being released today will be an important building block for future program and policy development.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that

While organic products have been one of the hottest growing areas in the supermarket, the USDA survey found that they were still a tiny enterprise in the farm belt. . . .

This post was contributed by William Mitchell College of Law student Hiep Phung.  Mr. Phung is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 16, 2010 in Organics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

California Dairy Industry contributed to economic boost

In a recent study, the California Milk Advisory Board concluded that the California Dairy Industry contributed $63 billion to the state’s economy in 2008.  The dairies produced $9.9 billion worth of milk in 2008.  This amount, added to the remainder of the supply chain, equals the state’s $63 billion economic boost.

The board determined that in 2008 a single “milk cow generated $34,165 and four dairy cows equaled one job in the industry.”  The board also determined that “10 on-the-farm jobs led to 222 beyond-the-farm jobs.”  This leads to 408,500 jobs, in the state of California, being related to the dairy supply chain.

Additionally, the chief executive officer of the California Milk Advisory Board stated that California produces “21% of the milk in the country.”

This post was contributed by William Mitchell College of Law student Brian Hansen.  Mr. Hansen is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2010

Scientists Create GM Tomatoes with an Extended Shelf Life

In research study published recently  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal (PNAS), scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi, India, unveiled a tomato which has been genetically modified to extend shelf life.  The Telegraph.co.uk reported that:

  “The fruits remained firm for 45 days, three times as long as normal tomatoes which start  to wilt after just 15 days”

 “As much as 40 per cent of harvested fruit can be wasted because it ripens too quickly,  the researchers from the National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi,  India, estimate.”

The study’s abstract in PNAS, titled Enhancement of fruit shelf life by suppressing N-glycan processing enzymes, describes the basic method of creating the genetically modified tomatoes with an enhanced shelf life:

 “We have identified and targeted two ripening-specific N-glycoprotein modifying  enzymes, α-mannosidase (α-Man) and β-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase (β-Hex). We show  that their suppression enhances fruit shelf life, owing to the reduced rate of softening.   […]  Genetic manipulation of N-glycan processing can be of strategic importance to  enhance fruit shelf life, without any negative effect on phenotype, including yield.”

The Telegraph.co.uk goes on to further discuss the implication of this research:

 “[I]t could be years before the fruits, still in the experimental stages, are available  in  Britain, if ever.  The big supermarket chains, including Tesco, have a policy against  stocking GM foods on their shelves.  GM crops, which opponents have dubbed  ‘Frankenstein food’, can also be sold in Europe only if they have passed rigorous safety  tests and European law states that GM foods have to be clearly labelled, including when  they are sold loose.”

 Link to National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi, India.

This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law student, Noelle Oas.  Ms. Oas is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 14, 2010 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Farmed or wild fish: Which is healthier?

A recent CNN News article examined the debate between the benefits and risks of farmed and wild salmon. A  2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) concludes that the benefits will usually outweigh the risks.  From CNN:

. . . Subsequent research has found that the health benefits of both farmed and wild salmon exceed potential risks, said Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health [and co-author of the 2006 JAMA study]."It's clear that if there is any risk, the benefit is still in the range of 300 to 1,000 times greater from the fact that you're getting the omega-3s," he said.

Read more on CNN

Go to the 2006 JAMA study: Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health,

This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law Student, Scott Allen.  Mr. Allen is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 14, 2010 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack