Government to Bail Out Tainted Tomato Industry?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) plans to introduce legislation to give tomato growers and shippers $100 million in compensation for their losses due to the recent salmonella outbreak.

The WSJ states that the FDA has listed its ban on the tainted vegetable, while the CDC says that there still may be more cases not yet reported which resulted from tomatoes. More than 1200 people were sickened in this latest produce disaster.

Congress has scheduled several hearings next week concerning the salmonella outbreak and why thee was such a lengthy delay in determining the cause.

The sought-after amount is based on an estimate from Florida growers and includes crops abandoned in the field, products thrown out by retailers and tomatoes forced to be sold as low as $5 a box, compared with as much as $20 in a normal market, said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative of tomato farmers. The Agriculture Department hasn’t released a firm estimate of the cost to farmers or distributors.

Call me crazy, but shouldn’t we try to figure out exactly what happened first, before we opt to shovel $100 million dollars to any industry? Especially one which may be at fault?

Consumer advocates oppose the bill. Sarah Klein, a staff attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the food-industry lobby over the years has weakened federal food-safety oversight, and consumers shouldn’t foot the bill now. “We’d like to see the industry focusing on how to prevent these outbreaks for the future to protect consumers and their bottom line,” she said.

Gee, you don’t say?
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Today’s Word: Desertification

Most people know what deforestation is, but how about desertification? They’re related. Let’s take a walk across the planet and even into space!

Desertification (de·sert·i·fi·ca·tion) is:

1. the processes by which an area becomes a desert.
2. the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people.

Simply put, desertification is the gradual transformation of habitable land (think food, shelter, and water) into desert (think less food and water, as as a result less shelter). Desertification is usually caused by climate change or by destructive use of the land often a result of deforestation. Did you know that there are dust storms in Korea are the result of rapid desertification in China?

Why does desertification matter?

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Water. It’s not for everyone.

Recently, the United Nations Human Rights Council lost its battle to make water a basic human right. The Canadian government blocked the resolutions passage in April of 2008.

The Geneva-based body wrapped up an intense three-week session late Friday without passing a German-Spanish resolution intended to enshrine its importance in a world where more than 2 billion people live in water-stressed regions.

It would have also set up an international watchdog to monitor the actions of individual countries.

After its 46 members accepted a consensus resolution – essentially for more study – Canadian representative Sarah Geh told the council: “Canada does not view this resolution as creating a human right to water under international human rights law.”

In his final speech, disappointed German representative Reinhard Schweppe stressed action is urgent. Access to clean water and sanitation, is “a part of human dignity,” he said, adding a child dies every 20 seconds due to water-borne diseases.

Advocates for water rights were devastated by the outcome.

That begs the question, why did Canada block this resolution? Apparently, It’s because of NAFTA.

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