Where’s the beef?

Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings, AKA “Pink Slime.”(Credit: Beef Products Inc.)

The recent media hullabaloo around “pink slime,” or Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings, brings into question whether it is possible to sterilize slaughterhouse scraps that are “notorious for carrying pathogenic bacteria” — and then serve the product for lunch at school. http://bit.ly/GCqRHk

Celebrating an Anniversary in the Arctic Circle

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Syria. Credit: Global Crop Diversity Trust/Britta Skagerfalt

Rarely do you celebrate an anniversary with raw chick peas and fava beans.

But these seeds, from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), highlighted the fourth anniversary shipment for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault—located on the colder side of the Arctic circle in Norway.  The Global Crop Diversity Trust maintains the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center, as a back-up to the living crop diversity collections housed in “genebanks” around the world.

I helped publicize this shipment as part of my work for Burness Communications; click here to read more.

New Global Land Rush Trampling Human Rights

A new rush on land in developing countries is trampling land rights in impoverished communities. Over the past five years, the Liberian government sold or leased more than one third of the country’s land for logging, mining, and agriculture. The government of South Sudan ceded control of nine percent of the new nation’s lands even before announcing its independence. http://bit.ly/xm828y

Extreme Winter Weather–Groundhog Day Edition

January crocuses in Maryland. Credit: Dan Klotz

When is partly cloudy and 70 degrees Fahrenheit considered extreme? When it happens in Washington, D.C., on February 1st and the temperature ends up more than 25 degrees above normal.

On Groundhog Day, the delightful weather makes for an interesting backdrop as the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal showcased another back-and-forth on the political debate about climate change. But the bottom line is: it’s here, it’s extreme, and we need to get used to it.  http://bit.ly/xqLdHm

Do we Really Need to use Human Medicine on Farm Animals?

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration restricted how a critically important drug for humans is used in farm animal production.  What this means, and how industrial farm animal production is a leading contributor of antibiotic resistant bacteria, is the subject of another piece I wrote for NationalGeographic.com. http://bit.ly/x0l057

Photo credit: USDA/Keith Weller

Has the Chesapeake Bay turned the corner in 2011?

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A piece I wrote for NationalGeographic.com looks at how we’ve moved closer to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay in 2011.  A concerted push to cut back on factory farm run-off and other pollution, plus reductions in the amount of Atlantic menhaden caught at the mouth of the bay, could add up to better water quality and a healthier ecosystem.  http://bit.ly/xaPgzq


Sunrise off of Sandy Point State Park, MD. Credit: Dan Klotz