"Agriculture"

A Jack of All Trades: The King of Silicon Valley Weighs in on International Agriculture

 

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By: Alex Crawley, Staff Member

Although Bill Gates is probably most famous for being the self-made billionaire who created the powerhouse Microsoft, he has recently made headlines for issues far removed from software.[1] Lately, he has been speaking out about the funding for agricultural research, or rather, the lack thereof.[2] In addition to speaking out on BBC’S Today,[3] he recently devoted nearly his entire annual letter on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was twenty-four pages long, to the issue of world hunger and to encouraging investment into agricultural research.[4]

Gates’ letter focuses mainly on the “15% of the world [just over 1 billion people] in extreme poverty.” [5] He is urging more people to “mak[e] the choice to keep on helping extremely poor people build self-sufficiency,” and emphasizing that, while farming is integral to poor countries, rich countries have largely turned their backs on agriculture.[6] Considering that only $3 billion per year is spent globally on agricultural research, he has a valid point.[7]

The Gates Foundation has spent about $2 billion dollars over the past five years to supplement research that would help to alleviate the global food crisis.[8] Gates is especially focused on the research into genetically modified foods, and has specifically praised the work of Norman Bourlaug, a Nobel Prize winner who helped create new strains of wheat that were resistant to wheat stem rust, a fungus that had previously plagued wheat crops.[9] He is advocating for more innovations like this one, especially considering that new forms of wheat rust have since developed and moved from Uganda to Iran and Yemen.[10]

Gates’ position on agricultural research has created some otherwise unlikely allies and piqued the interest of many. The Crop Protection Association Society has endorsed his view internationally, and has agreed that “high-tech food production systems” are an integral part of the answer to “the food poverty crisis.”[11] Meanwhile, U.S. groups, like the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, have also taken an interest.[12]

Gates’ plea comes at a crucial time. The EU’s policies are currently inhibiting innovative agricultural research,[13] and the USDA has recently decreased its research centers in response to congressional budget cuts.[14] The Gates Foundation, however, has given grants to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations[15] and the International Food Policy Research Institute.[16] Hopefully, the Gate’s Foundation good-will initiative will inspire other organizations to invest in this area “where there is less profit opportunity but where the impact for those in need is very high.”[17] Otherwise, “one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation.”[18]

[1] Logan Hawkes, GMO Crops Get Big Backer in Bill Gates, Western Farm Press, 1 (Feb. 1, 2012, 11:21 AM), http://westernfarmpress.com/government/gmo-crops-get-big-backer-bill-gates?page=1.

[2]Gates Foundation Calls for More Ag Research Funding, The United States Agricultural & Food Law and Policy Blog, http://www.agandfoodlaw.com/2012/02/gates-foundation-calls-for-more-ag.html.

[3]Dan Colombini & Mike Stones, Bill Gates and CPA Urge Support for GM Techniques, Foodmanufacture.co.uk (Jan. 25, 2012), http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/World-News/Bill-Gates-and-CPA-urge-support-for-GM-techniques.

[4]Hawkes, supra note 1.

[5]2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 1 (Jan. 2012), http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annual-letter/2012/Documents/2012-annual-letter-english.pdf.

[6] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5 at.

[7] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5at 3.

[8] Hawkes, supra note 1.

[9] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5 at 5.

[10] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5 at 5.

[11] Colombini & Stones, supra note 3.

[12] Bill Gates and CPA Urge Support for GM Techniques, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (Jan. 25, 2012) http://usfraonline.org/2012/01/bill-gates-and-cpa-urge-support-for-gm-techniques/.

[13] Colombini & Stones, supra note 3.

[14] Hawkes, supra note 1 at 2.

[15] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Nov. 2011), http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2011/Pages/Food-and-Agriculture-Organization-of-the-United-Nations-OPP1029955.aspx.

[16] International Food Policy Research Institute, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Nov. 2011), http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2011/Pages/International-Food-Policy-Research-Institute-OPPGD1451.aspx.

[17] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5.

[18] 2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates, supra note 5.

Citrus Canker Compensation

 

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By: Catherine Barrett, Staff Member

Owners of residential trees destroyed during a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker are still awaiting compensation. The story of citrus canker highlights the sad fact that legal compensation is often slow and inadequate.

Citrus canker is a highly infectious bacterial disease that affects all types of citrus.[1] The condition causes oily brown lesions on leaves and fruit.[2] A serious attempt to eradicate the disease started in 1994.[3] More than 16.5 million trees were destroyed during the campaign.[4] State workers entered private backyards and felled established fruit-bearing trees as distraught owners watched.[5] Feelings against the “canker gestapo” ran high among some Florida residents.[6]

This is not the first time that a battle with citrus canker has outraged tree owners. The first major outbreak of the disease occurred in 1913.[7] A law was passed requiring the destruction of infected trees, and inspectors searched orchards for signs of canker, burning entire groves if any tree showed signs of the illness.[8] Farmers, facing financial ruin if their trees were burned, tried to keep the burn crews off of their lands with shotguns and lawsuits; neither approach was successful.[9] The destruction of orange trees affected by citrus canker was upheld by state courts in 1917.[10]

Destruction of trees in order to halt the spread of arboreal diseases has historically been upheld as constitutional. Courts have reasoned that “the destruction of a tree affected by a disease… is as fully within the police power of a state as the destruction of a house threatened by a spreading conflagration,” even if the destruction is against the owner’s will and no compensation is provided.[11] Stated differently, because the trees were doomed to die, they were worthless. Consequently, no constitutional taking occurs when they are destroyed. This is still the position argued by the Florida Department of Agriculture: trees exposed to citrus canker have no value.[12]

Between 2000 and 2006, the state of Florida destroyed every citrus tree within 1,900 feet of an infected tree, even if the trees appeared healthy.[13] Citrus canker externally disfigures fruit, but does not harm humans, so the fruit can still be consumed.[14] In an apparent change of course, Florida courts have held in class-action lawsuits by tree owners that the trees did have some value and that destroying them was a taking.[15]

Sadly, the only real winner of this legal battle is the canker. A series of hurricanes spread the bacteria so widely that eradication is no longer possible, and efforts to do so have been abandoned within the state.[16] Despite their victories in court, owners have not yet received compensation for the trees that died in vain.[17]

[1] Citrus Canker Fact Sheet, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry, http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/canker/faqs.html.

[2] Id.

[3] State Refusing To Citrus Canker Pay Outs, CBS Miami (September 25, 2011, 12:16 PM) http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/09/25/state-refusing-to-citrus-canker-pay-outs/.

[4] Susan Salisbury, Citrus canker trial continues for Boca couple seeking compensation, The Palm Beach Post (Nov. 28, 2011, 7:49 PM) http://www.palmbeachpost.com/money/citrus-canker-trial-continues-for-boca-couple-seeking-1274647.html?printArticle=y

[5] Id.

[6] Citrus Canker: A Corporate Love Story, Or Of The Press (Sept. 5, 2011) http://orofthepress.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/citrus-canker-a-corporate-love-story/.

[7] Jean C. Taylor, The Citrus Canker, History Miami http://www.hmsf.org/history/citrus-canker.htm.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Louisiana State Board of Agriculture and Immigration v. Tanzmann, 140 La. 756 (1917).

[11] State v. Main, 69 Conn. 123, 84 (1897).

[12] Salisbury, supra note 4.

[13] CBS Miami, supra note 3.

[14] Id.

[15] Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services v. Bogorff, 35 So.3d 84 (2010).

[16] Fact Sheet, supra note 1.

[17] CBS Miami, supra note 3.

Challenging the GMO Giants: OSGATA v. Monsanto Co.

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By: Kelly Calder, Staff Member

Transgenic crops[1] have been a point of contention since their introduction, spurring lawsuits, boycotts, and leading numerous groups to publically advocate mandatory labeling of transgenic foods.[2] On March 29, 2011, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (“OSGATA”), spearheaded a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against transgenic seed giant Monsanto, Inc.[3] OSGATA, along with eighty-two other plaintiffs,[4] have sought a declaratory judgment to prevent Monsanto from bringing suit against them for patent infringement for inadvertently utilizing transgenic seeds.[5] Additionally, the plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Monsanto’s numerous seed patents are invalid.[6]

It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will ever get to argue the merits of the case.[7] Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss in mid-July of last year, stating that the plaintiffs lacked subject matter jurisdiction to maintain their action.[8] The plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to the motion,[9] which was accompanied by an amici brief further supporting the plaintiffs’ position.[10] Oral argument on the issue was granted, and the case was heard January 31, 2012.[11] As of the time of this post, a decision has not been reached.[12]

The OSGATA plaintiffs, who are mostly organic farmers, should be able to satisfy the relevant criteria for maintaining a declaratory judgment action. The threat of cross-contamination between transgenic and non-transgenic crops is a very real one for farmers. This was acknowledged by the United States Supreme Court in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms.[13] According to the OSGATA complaint, “if an organic farmer wants to determine whether Monsanto’s patented gene is present in her crop, she must conduct genetic testing, which can be extremely expensive.”[14]

The actions that farmers have to take in order to ensure the purity of their crops increases the costs of operation, and due to the fact that Monsanto has sued several farmers for patent infringement, can influence the types of crops that farmers choose to grow, e.g. causing them to be averse to growing crops that may subject them to liability for patent infringement.[15] The fact that the plaintiffs have taken steps to prevent contamination in order to prevent a Monsanto-initiated lawsuit should do nothing to inhibit their cause of action.[16] Additionally, success at this stage could encourage similar suits and would present vehicle for challenging Monsanto’s patents in cases that could ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

[1] Transgenic: “of, pertaining to, or containing a gene or genes transferred from another species.” Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transgenic (last visited February 6, 2012).

[2] One of these groups is the Center for Food Safety, which actively campaigns for the labeling of transgenic foods. Center for Food Safety, http://gefoodlabels.org/ (last visited February 6, 2012).

[3] First Amended Complaint at 2, OSGATA v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-cv-2163-NRB (S.D.N.Y. June 1, 2011), available at http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Monsanto-Complaint.pdf.

[4] Family Farmers Amplify Complaint Against Monsanto’s GMOs, Reinforcing Their Arguments with Additional Plaintiffs, Public Patent Foundation (June 1, 2011), http://www.pubpat.org/osgatavmonsantoamended.htm.

[5] First Amended Complaint, supra, note 3.

[6] Id.

[7] Farmers and Seed Distributors Defend Right to Protect Themselves from Monsanto Patents, Public Patent Foundation (August 11, 2011), http://www.pubpat.org/mtdoppfiled.htm.

[8] Id.

[9] Brief in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, OSGATA v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-cv-2163-NRB (S.D.N.Y. August 11, 2011), available at http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OrganicSeedMTDOppositionBrief.pdf.

[10] Brief for Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, et al. as Amici Curiae Supporting Plaintiffs, OSGATA v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-cv-2163-NRB (S.D.N.Y. August 10, 2011), available at http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OrganicSeedMTDAmiciBrief.pdf.

[11] OSGATA v. Monsanto: Will Farmers Receive Justice?, OSGATA (February 2, 2012), http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs074/1104248386985/archive/1109213017423.html.

[12] Id.

[13] Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 130 S.Ct. 2743, 2754-55 (2010)(“Respondents also allege that the risk of gene flow will cause them to take certain measures to minimize the likelihood of potential contamination and to ensure an adequate supply of non-genetically engineered alfalfa. . . . [s]uch harms, which the respondents will suffer even if their crops are not actually infected with the Roundup Ready gene, are sufficiently concrete to satisfy the injury-in-fact prong of the constitutional standing analysis.”).

[14] First Amended Complaint, supra, note 3, at 38.

[15] Id. at 50-51.

[16] See supra, note 9; see also MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 130 (2007).

APHIS Announces New Procedures to Regulate Contagious Equine Metritis

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By: Jocelyn Arlinghaus, Staff Member

The beginning of 2012 has heralded new developments in the fight to eliminate contagious equine metritis (CEM) in the United States. CEM is a venereal disease common to horses caused by the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis.[1] It is considered extremely dangerous due to its highly contagious nature.[2] The disease is typically transmitted via sexual intercourse during the mating process, but it may also be transmitted through artificial insemination or contact with hands or instruments that have been contaminated.[3] Common symptoms include vaginal discharge, uterine inflammation, and temporary infertility.[4] Stallions show no physical signs of CEM, which makes detecting and controlling the disease before it spreads extremely difficult.[5] During breeding season, a stallion often infects several mares before the presence of the disease is discovered.[6]

CEM was first diagnosed in England in 1977, but had spread to the United States by 1978 with reports documented in central Kentucky and Missouri.[7] The disease was treated and thought to be eliminated from the United States prior to 2006, when two imported stallions in Wisconsin tested positive for the CEM bacteria.[8] Another outbreak was confirmed in December 2008, when five mares and 23 stallions in eight states tested positive for the CEM bacterium.[9] Although the 28 initially discovered horses were cured of the disease, another 977 horses were exposed to Taylorella equigenitalis in the outbreak, which spanned 48 states.[10] CEM was subsequently discovered in Arabian stallions in May 2010 in California and in July 2011 in Arizona.[11] The USDA’s National Veterinary Service (NVSL) has confirmed that in all cases the infected stallions were contaminated prior to arrival in the United States.[12] Interestingly, the strain of the isolated bacterium in these new cases did not match any strains previously found in the United States, which indicated that the multiple outbreaks were unrelated and therefore developed as a result of separate equine imports from foreign countries.[13] Efforts to eradicate the recent string of outbreaks in the United States continue. Because mares can only be bred during certain times of the year, CEM can substantially impact equine reproductive efficiency.[14] If the disease continues to stabilize in the United States, the equine industry will face great economic losses.[15]

The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) has been taking steps to provide additional safeguards against spreading CEM to horses in United States through importation of infected horses. In 2011, APHIS amended the regulations concerning the importation of horses from countries affected with CEM. The new standards require test mares and imported stallions above a certain age to undergo an additional CEM test to improve the chances of detecting the disease.[16] APHIS has also imposed stricter certification requirements for imported horses 731 days old or less and added new test measures for imported horses more than 731 days old. [17] Yearlings and weanlings require proof that they have not been bread to other horses through artificial insemination in order to be imported.[18]

On January 10, 2012, APHIS announced that it will post lists of states approved to receive imported horses from high-CEM foreign regions to its website rather than including them in the Code of Federal Regulations.[19] This change will not affect the criteria that APHIS uses to determine whether a foreign region should be added or removed from the list or criteria used to approve states to receive horses imported from high-CEM foreign countries.[20] Because these lists will not continue to appear in the Code of Federal Regulations, updates are no longer required to be legislated. [21] This new procedure will enable APHIS to more quickly identify changes in the CEM status of foreign regions and approve states to receive horses from foreign regions where CEM is known to exist.[22] Additionally, this will simplify the process of informing the equine community and the public of any concerns of possible CEM exposure to horses in certain areas of the country. APHIS considers this change to be another step toward eliminating the string of CEM outbreaks and improving the welfare of horses and the equine industry.

[1] Contagious Equine Metritis, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Mar. 2009), http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/fs_CEMrev09.pdf

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, supra note 1.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Contagious Equine Metritis Cases, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/cem/cem_cases.shtml#december (last modified Jan. 26, 2012).

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, supra note 1.

[15] Id.

[16] USDA Announces Interim Rule Regarding the Importation of Horses from Contagious Equine Metritis - Affected Countries, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Mar. 25, 2011), http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2011/03/importhorse_cemacountr.shtml

[17] Importation of Horses From Contagious Equine Metritis-Affected Countries, 76 Fed. Reg. 58 (proposed Mar. 25, 2011) (to be codified at 9 C.F.R. pt. 93).

[18] United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, supra note 16.

[19] Lists of Regions Classified With Respect to Certain Animal Diseases and States Approved To Receive Certain Imported Horses, 77 Fed. Reg. 1388 (proposed Jan. 10, 2012), (to be codified at 9 C.F.R. pts. 92, 93, 94, 96, 98).

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

What’s In Your Orange Juice?



By: Kelli Hagan, Senior Staff Member
Recently, a U.S. policy has ordered a holding on imported orange juice while samples are tested for a banned fungicide.  Traces of carbendazim, a fungicide that is banned in the U.S. but still used in Brazil, have been found in orange juice imported from Brazil.  Carbendazim has been linked to liver tumors in animals.  Brazilian producers use the chemical to combat a fungus that discolors the outside of oranges and causes trees to drop their fruit prematurely.[1]  The scare started after the maker of Minute Maid juice, Coca-Cola Co., warned that tests found low levels of carbendazim in juice shipments from Brazil, a major exporter. The amounts were well below levels that would cause a health concern, Coca-Cola said, but federal regulators started testing imports.[2]   Some say the U.S. holding period could last up to six months.
How will this affect the American consumer?  Many are predicting that already high prices for orange juice in the store will likely jump further in coming weeks as markets react to potential chemical contamination in the juice.  About 55 million gallons of orange juice consumed in the U.S. per year comes from Brazil, so a cut in imports from there is expected to boost wholesale prices that already are up 20 percent from last year.[3]  However, local orange growers say the chemical scare is changing the way people buy juice – and it's boosting their profits.[4]  As people are becoming more concerned with what they are consuming this could boost local orange growers’ profits.  So maybe the orange juice scare is not so bad after all?  This may continue to book the ever-growing trend of consumers preferring to buy local.  
 
[1] Stephanie Armour et.al. Testing of Orange Juice For Fungicide May Continue Through July, Bloomberg (January 17, 2012), http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-18/testing-of-orange-juice-for-fungicide-may-continue-through-july.html.
[2] Id.
[3] Richard Mullins, Orange Juice Prices Expected to Jump, The Tampa Tribune. (January 18, 2012), http://www2.tbo.com/news/business/2012/jan/18/1/mebizo1-orange-juice-prices-expected-to-jump-ar-348545/.
[4] Josh Salman, Orange Juice Scare Might Promote Business for Florida Growers, Bradenton Herald (January 13, 2012), http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/13/4185575/orange-juice-scare-might-promote.html.

Implications of Rising Hay Costs on Horses

 

By: Stephen M. Frazier, Senior Staff member

One of the main problems facing horse owners is the necessity of hay.  Unlike cattle and other livestock that can be fed a variety of hay, grain, and silage, horses primarily derive nutrition from quality hay.[1] To compound the problem, owners cannot alleviate the financial burden by feeding horses a mixture of grain and hay because, with corn selling for nearly eight dollars a bushel, grain prices are at an all-time high.[2] As a result, owners are stuck paying $18 to $19 per bale of alfalfa - the same alfalfa that was selling for about $9 a bale a year ago.[3]

The next problem with buying hay is quality. When buying hay, purchasers should be certain to purchase hay of sufficient quality to meet the nutritional needs of horses.[4] Failure to adequately inspect the hay could result in purchasing hay of poor quality that will require additional supplementation, such as protein, to meet nutritional needs.[5] According to agricultural experts, the main factors affecting hay quality are “stage of maturity, leafiness, color, foreign matter, odor, and condition.”[6] These factors can be determined by a visual inspection, or by having the hay tested.[7]

Finally, with the increasing cost of hay, farmers should take necessary and adequate precautions to preserve the hay once it is in their possession. Proper storage of hay bales is vital because this can mitigate or prevent deterioration or spoilage of the hay.[8] Ultimately, storing hay inside a barn is the best option, as it greatly reduces the risk of hay loss.[9] However, if such storage is impossible, then bales stored outside should be placed on some sort of surface, ideally gravel or pallets.[10] Furthermore, the bales should be stored in a well-drained area with at least three feet between rows.[11]

The increasing hay prices have left farmers and horse lovers scrambling to acquire hay. In addition, once they are able to locate a source, the price is nearly double that from a year ago.  Therefore, to ensure that farmers get the best value for their dollar, it is important that they take the time to adequately inspect the hay and take the proper precautions to ensure its safekeeping.

[1] Id.

[2] Julie Ingwersen, Midwest turns dry as drought worsens in Plains, Reuters,  Jul 21, 2011,

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/21/us-usa-drought-plains-idUSTRE76K4T52011072.

[3] Wichner, supra note 1.

[4] Daren Redfearn, Hay Purchasing Guidelines, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences Extension News, Apr. 20, 2011, http://extensionnews.okstate.edu/archived-articles-1/2011-archived-articles/Hay%20puchasing%2 0guidelines %20doc.pdf.

[5] Id.

[6] Mindy Riffle, Weather could impact hay supply, Country World, June 21, 2011, http://countryworldnews.com/news/headlines/900--weather-could-impact-hay-supply.html.

[7] Id.

[8] James Rogers and Robert Wells, Rain Effects on Hay, Noble Foundation, Sept. 2007, http://www.noble.org/ag/forage/raineffects/index.html.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

Agriculture and Antibiotics: A Healthy Mix?


by Sarah Baker, Staff Member

The great majority of Americans enjoy their commercially produced meat—hotdogs, chicken, steaks, bacon, and ham. We spend less on our packaged protein, trust the safety of the greater food supply, and are well served by modern agriculture methods, or so it would seem.

But, at what cost to our health?

This question is one the Obama administration has been asking over the past year in its efforts to ban antibiotics from being used in healthy animals. Patty Khuly, Antibiotics Benefit Farm Animals (and People) But at What Cost?, USA Today, March 11, 2010 available at http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/pets/2010-03-10-dolittler11_N.htm. Intended to promote growth and prevent disease, the animal agricultural industry feeds hogs, chicken, and cattle a daily dose of antimicrobial drugs. As a result, the animals grow larger, faster and healthier. Id. However, antibiotic resistance is an emerging threat.

When antibiotics are supplied to healthy animals in low doses for a long duration of time, resistance to the drugs build up, enabling bacteria to survive and multiply instead of being destroyed. The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, Antibiotic Resistance and the Industrial Animal Farm, http://www.saveantibiotics.org/resources/PewAMRfactsheetfinal1.pdf (last visited Oct. 26, 2010). Humans can acquire the resistant bacteria by eating meat from these animals or by not using proper sanitation techniques during food handling or preparation. Id. Many of the antibiotics given to animals are very similar to those used to treat humans, including tetracyclines and penicillins, among others. Id. Therefore, the bacteria becoming resistant to the drugs in animals are also likely to be resistant to those drugs when proscribed to sick humans.

The impact of bacteria resistance is finally gaining some attention on the national political scene. Some recent findings show that up to seventy percent of U.S. antibiotics go to healthy farm animals to offset crowding and poor sanitation on industrial farms, and 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 human deaths each year are caused by foods containing E. coli and salmonella, which are increasingly becoming antibiotic resistant. Id. Statistics of this magnitude are too frightening to be ignored.

President Obama has proposed a ban on non-therapeutic antimicrobials in animal feed. Opponents, however, argue that the use of antibiotics in the animal agricultural industry keeps animal sickness manageable in crowded environments, and costs low in the supermarket. Khuly, supra. As a meat loving people, however, we must consider the implications of current agriculture practice and long-term health consequences. I’ll take a burger, minus the antibiotic resistant bacteria, please.

Recession May Provide Opportunity for Senator to Stifle EPA’s Regulatory Authority under the Clean Air Act

By: Addison Schreck, Staff Member

In December of 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had conclusively determined that greenhouse gases, previously notorious primarily for their effects on the environment, also threaten public health. msnbc.com, EPA: Greenhouse Gases are Dangerous to Humans, Dec. 7, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
id/34311724/ns/us_news-environment/
. In making this determination the EPA cleared the way for regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. This announcement peaked the interests of environmentalists and the fears of big businesses across the country.


Even more recently, on February 2nd, Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska (R)) introduced a resolution intended to strip the EPA of the aforementioned ability to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act. John M. Broder, Senators Want to Bar E.P.A. Greenhouse Gas Limits, N.Y. Times, Jan. 21, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/science/earth/22climate.html. In addition to curtailing the EPA's ability to regulate six of the primary gases blamed for global warming, the bill seeks to restrain the EPA from finding that U.S. fuel production of biofuels, such as ethanol, is responsible for forest clearing and cropland expansion. Charles Abbott, House Bill Would Prevent EPA Regulating Carbon, Scientific American, Feb. 3, 2010, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=house-bill-would-prevent.


The concerns voiced by Murkowski, which include predictions of increased agriculture costs come as no surprise after the alarms raised by the national business community in past years. Deborah Zabarenko, CO2 Regulation Could Hit 1 Million U.S. Firms, Reuters.com, Sept. 16, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1529571120080916. The senator's resolution would require a majority vote in the Senate, and if the resolution does advance through the House it would face the near certainty of veto by President Obama, "because it would rob him of a critical regulatory tool." John M. Broder, Senators Want to Bar E.P.A. Greenhouse Gas Limits, N.Y. Times, Jan. 21, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/science/earth/22climate.html.


The mood in the United States is one of hope, hope that we have seen the worst of the recession. Whatever legislation or regulation comes into existence, the tenuous economic situation the in which the country and world are positioned must be taken into account. So many of the jobs lost in the current recession are said not to be coming back, and we are seeing entire professions virtually disappear, whether to overseas markets or the relentless march of time. Catherine Rampell, The Growing Underclass: Jobs Gone Forever, N.Y. Times, Jan. 28, 2010, available at http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/the-growing-underclass-jobs-gone-forever/. However, the promotion of growth does not mean that progress on the climate change front must come to a halt. At least one side of the debate sees hope in the possibility of so called "green jobs," and if the old industries are no longer interested in doing business within our borders, then what's so wrong with reinventing ourselves? Carol E. Lee, Obama Focuses on Green Jobs, Politico, March 23, 2009, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/20360.html. Necessity has always been the mother of invention, a quick look at today's headlines, and it's obvious, it's time to get inventive.

The Impact of Agriculture on Rebuilding Haiti

By: Sunni Harris, Staff Member

After a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, countries around the world sent search and rescue teams to find trapped victims and treat injured people. Elise Labott et al., Aid Begins Flowing to Haiti, Jan. 14, 2010, http://www.cnn.com
/2010/WORLD/americas
/01/13/haiti.aid.response/index.html (last visited Feb. 1, 2010). While it seems that Haiti still has many immediate needs (e.g. food aid), the relief efforts have shifted to focus on long-term sustainability. Lisa Bryant, Relief Efforts Shift to Rebuilding Haiti's Agriculture, Jan. 25, 2010, http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/disaster/Relief-Efforts--Rebuilding-Haitis-Agriculture--82598607.html (last visited Feb. 1, 2010). It seems that agriculture will have a huge impact on whether Haiti can survive and rebuild as a country.


On January 29th 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced an investment plan to restore Haiti's agricultural ministry. Adriana Brasileiro, UN Group Urges $700 Million Investment in Haitian Agriculture, Jan. 29, 2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=at_vFIabEsso (last visited Feb. 1, 2010). The FAO has urged international donors to invest $700 million over the next eighteen months for the purpose of "repairing infrastructure, boosting national food production and creating employment for the thousands of people fleeing the Caribbean country's capital." UN News Centre, UN calls for donors to back $700 million agricultural recovery plan, Jan. 29, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33619&Cr=haiti&Cr1 (last visited Feb. 1, 2010). However while this plan spans eighteen months, there is an immediate need for $32 million "to buy seeds, tools and fertilizers so Haitian farmers can start planting in March." Adriana Brasileiro, UN Group Urges $700 Million Investment in Haitian Agriculture, Jan. 29, 2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=at_vFIabEsso (last visited Feb. 1, 2010). Dr. Diuff, director-general of the FAO stated, "to prevent this urban disaster [from] becoming a rural tragedy… it is crucial that we save the upcoming planting season," UN News Centre, Post-quake recovery in Haiti begins with farmers, UN agency says, Jan. 21, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33543&Cr=haiti&Cr1 (last visited Feb. 1, 2010).


Other short-term measures in the FAO plan include: repairing a major sugar refinery, protecting watersheds, steps to ensure reforestation, the reconstruction and reinforcement of collapsed riverbanks and damaged irrigation channels, and the rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of roads. UN News Centre, UN calls for donors to back $700 million agricultural recovery plan, Jan. 29, 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33619&Cr=haiti&Cr1= (last visited Feb. 1, 2010).