March 14, 2013

The CLF Week in Links: Rotting Pigs, Airport Food, GMO Labeling and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director Emeritus

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Chicago's O'Hare already has a vertical garden and an apiary. Will they serve fresh food?

Do ads cause obesity? Here’s a well-written critique of cross-sectional studies of factors associated with obesity that are interpreted to imply causation. To quote, “For every 10 percent increase in food advertisements, the odds of being obese increased by 5 percent.” The author correctly warns that some other factor, related both to frequency and obesity, may be the causal factor.

Shanghai pigs. The Huangpu River, which supplies tap water to Shanghai, is home to the rotting carcasses of about 6,000 pigs. China’s pig farms are often riddled with disease, which leads to illegal trade, and one way or another, sick animals often end up in the food chain.

The end of antibiotics? In the UK, the Chief Medical Officer has warned of global catastrophe if antibiotic resistance is not immediately addressed. Here at home, where eighty percent of antibiotics are used in animals, much of it to promote growth and to ward off infection in the squalid conditions of our CAFOs, these practices continue to fan the flames of Darwinian selection. The result—infections in humans and in animals that are harder and harder to treat.

Overhaul at O’Hare. The food workers union at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have issued a report recommending that the facilities there sell fresh, locally produced, healthy, and sustainable food.

Labels for GMOs. Whole Foods Market has said that by 2018 it will require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores. I’m curious to see what will follow suit—and if it really takes five years.

GMOs in UK. Now it seems that Britain is preparing to champion genetically engineered crops in Europe, in an attempt to overturn entrenched resistance among many EU members, including Austria and France.

Current picks for EPA and Interior. Here are some updates on President Obama’s picks. For EPA, Gina McCarthy is known for being a political pragmatist. For the Department of the Interior, he’s nominated Sally Jewel, the chief of REI, an outdoor recreation company.

Some rare good news about climate change and rainforests. A new study has found that tropical forests such as the Amazon may be more resilient to climate change—in the form of warming and greenhouse gases—than has been thought. The study suggests that these forests might absorb more carbon than they give off. The study has not addressed how severe weather events might affect the forests. Nature

Climate change and the Arctic. New research says climate change has already altered seasons in the Arctic; they’re now more like southern regions. And while tundra plant communities are already becoming shrubbier, scientists say there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen as the change continues.

Climate change and historic Jamestown. Most of Jamestown occupies an island that lies no more than three feet above the tidal James River in Virginia. But the tide is rising, and if current projections hold, all of that low land will be underwater by 2100. Maybe that will convince the climate deniers, if any are still around.

Photo: Christine Grillo, 2012.

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