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The summer of 2008 has not been very good for the organic food industry. Below is a compendium of this summer's news items, followed by my remarks.

June 20. The season starts with news of a Which? report that a panel of 120 taste testers found no differences between organic and conventional strawberries although the former cost two to three times as much. (Which? is the UK equivalent of Consumer Reports.)

July 6. Researchers at Bristol University in the UK...

The 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami were devastating to the residents of Japan. However, a U.N. scientific body s investigation adds to the evidence that radiation exposure from the series of meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant did not compromise residents health.

The doses we have seen from the screening of the population ¦are very low, Wolfgang Weiss, chair of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), told the press. He also noted that, of the few workers who had received high doses of radiation, the initial medical follow-up was OK. Weiss attributes the minimal health impact...

A few weeks ago, the world of organic food proponents was rocked by new research that organic food was not any more nutritious than conventionally-grown food. Consumers have long been interested in knowing if the extra money they have been shelling out for organic food is justified and the subject, therefore, is of much interest.

A Little Bit of Background

Food nutrients include minerals (trace elements), vitamins and antioxidants. Up until about ten years ago, people interested in nutritional differences between organic and conventional food concentrated on nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. Nitrates were not thought of as a nutrient but were included in many studies. In recent years, emphasis has shifted to differences in antioxidant content....

I was at a meeting with an agriculture executive and he handed me a print-off from the Whole Foods website, their Organic landing page. A few things were highlighted. "Can that be right?" he asked.

I chuckled at the question. I was pretty confident that if I had the agriculture knowledge in his brain I could donate mine to research but that was his modest way of introducing something that he knows but I may not have been aware of, yet would agree is completely bananas. And I did.

"There is so much wrong with this," I remember thinking as I looked at the Whole Foods page, but writing is no longer my real job. We are opening an office in D.C., we have grown in leaps and bounds in the last year, and if you...

A recent article in USA Today describes how big business can have an impact on food safety. The agricultural industry is increasingly dominated by a handful of high-volume producers, which means no contamination incident is small in size or scope. Add to this the problem of an outdated food-surveillance system that can’t really police the nation’s entire food supply and often prioritizes risks poorly.

So how does big business impact our food system? Is it a good thing to have a few high-volume producers? With the big E.coli outbreak this summer from meat (three batches of hamburger were found contaminated and were responsible for making at least forty...

We recently reported on a study published in BMJ finding that procedures involving radiation to the chest, including chest X-rays or mammograms, may significantly increase the already high risk of breast cancer that women with certain genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2) face.

Not long after our coverage of the topic, we received an updated commentary from the NYU School of Medicine. We d like to share this commentary with our readers, especially since it includes ways that women can reduce this risk:

In North America, breast cancer is the number one cancer diagnosis and the second leading cause of cancer death...

"Attn:" is an activist website that produces extremely popular videos, some of which feature the esteemed scientist (all actors consider themselves scientists) Zooey Deschanel. And like most activist websites, truth comes in a distant second place to eyeballs.

One video making the rounds on Facebook is titled, "Processed Food in America vs. Europe." The video pushes the old trope that Europeans eat food hand-picked from the Garden of the Gods, while Americans eat slop filled with dangerous chemicals. So far, it's received 62 million views.

The lies come early and often. Let's break them down:

"Processed food contains chemicals that are illegal in Europe."...

NYC’s Reduced Sodium Diet

According to the New York Times, “On Monday, the Bloomberg administration plans to unveil a broad new health initiative aimed at encouraging food manufacturers and restaurant chains across the country to curtail the amount of salt in their products.”

“They claim that this will reduce the incidence of high blood pressure, and therefore strokes and heart attacks,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “That is an excellent goal, but only a small percentage of people with blood pressure problems are salt-sensitive. Instead of going after salt in food, I’d promote more regular testing for high blood pressure.”

ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross...

New York, June 15, 1998 The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a public health, consumer advocacy organization, will be holding a news conference to expose the deceptive practices of the food police group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

ACSH will release information obtained while monitoring CSPI's propaganda campaign against the fat free oil, Olestra. CSPI's vendetta to have the FDA approved additive removed as a choice consumers now enjoy in their diet has led the food police group to knowingly engage in deceptive practices.

CSPI's gimmicks will be exposed immediately following their testimony at the FDA's Food Advisory Committee meeting at the Sheraton Reston Hotel, 11810 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston Virginia. CSPI's testimony is scheduled to...

A December 18, 2006 Wall Street Journal piece notes that irradiation of food would help fight food-borne illness, quoting ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan and the author of ACSH's report on Irradiated Foods, Paisan Loaharanu:

The Centers for Disease Control concluded its investigation by noting: "An overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrates that irradiation does not harm the nutritional value of food, nor does it make the food unsafe to eat." According to Paisan Loaharanu, a former director at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "The safety of irradiated...