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Animals
Congress should address the humane treatment of birds at slaughter, but its failure to do so does not absolve the US Department of Agriculture of its responsibility to act. Dzīvnieku brīvība / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

USDA Allows Animal Neglect and Abuse at Poultry Slaughter Plants

By Dena Jones

Undercover investigations at federal poultry slaughter plants over the past decade have documented numerous instances of intentional abuse to animals, including throwing birds against walls, burying live birds in piles of dead birds, breaking birds' legs by violently slamming them into shackles and jabbing birds with metal hooks to remove them from their cages.

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GMO
The USDA's approved "BE" symbol.

USDA Releases Final GMO Labeling Standard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday announced its long-awaited rule on the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered, or GMO, ingredients. Just don't expect the letters GMO to appear on these products.

Under the new "National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard," such items will feature the term "bioengineered" or BE foods.

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Food
Fuse / Corbis / Getty Images

Beef Recall Expands as Salmonella Cases Quadruple in 2 Months

The U.S. government expanded a recall of ground beef Tuesday as an outbreak of salmonella has quadrupled to 246 people in 25 states since the first recall was announced in October, NBC 4 New York reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) announced that the Arizona-based JBS Tolleson, Inc. was recalling an additional 5,156,076 pounds of raw beef that were packaged between July 26 and Sept. 7. When added to the approximately 6,937,195 pounds originally recalled Oct. 4, it makes for a total of around 12,093,271 pounds recalled by the company.

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Politics
Agricultural workers in Salinas, California. Michael Davidson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

200+ Groups Call on Senate to Reject 'Pesticide Industry Loyalist' as USDA's Top Scientist

By Andrea Germanos

Denouncing his "strong ties to corporate agribusiness and pesticide companies," more than 240 groups urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject the nomination of Scott Hutchins, President Donald Trump's pick for chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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Health
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito resting after a blood meal. USDA-ARS

Coconut Oil Repels Bloodsuckers Better Than DEET (Kinda)

You can love it or hate it, but coconut oil certainly has many uses. Now, federal researchers have added one more function of the tropical favorite to the list.

Turns out, coconut oil fatty acids have strong repellency and long-lasting effectiveness against bloodsuckers and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bugs, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in Scientific Reports.

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Under the USDA’s Definition, 90% of Iowa’s Farms Are 'Family Farms'

By Dan Nosowitz

When you think of "family farms," a nice bucolic image probably comes to mind: something small, maybe lower-budget or lower-tech, run by a family.

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GMO
BSIP / UIG via Getty Images

GMO Labeling: Public Interest Advocacy Group Sues Trump Over Secrecy

Last week, Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the Trump Administration for refusing to make public documents surrounding its decision on how to label genetically engineered (GE or GMO) foods. On May 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released long-awaited proposed regulations for the first-ever U.S. mandatory disclosure of foods produced using genetic engineering. Earlier this year, CFS sought the public data and documents about the rulemaking under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the administration failed to make public any information, leading to this CFS lawsuit to force that disclosure.

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Food
Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Reasons Getting USDA Organic Certification Is Really Difficult

As the only government-administered label that addresses farming practices, the organic emblem is vitally important. There literally is no other badge that carries as much weight. USDA certified organic-food sales topped $43 billion in 2016—emphasis on "USDA certified." Ask around at your local farmers market and you're likely to run into a few "all-but-certified" farms (for which there are no statistics). The reason? Organic certification is incredibly difficult. Here's why.

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Food
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Missouri Passes Bill Defining 'Meat' to Exclude Plant-Based and Lab-Grown Foods

Missouri state lawmakers passed an omnibus agriculture bill on Thursday that includes a provision prohibiting plant-based products from being labeled as "meat."

This measure would ban companies from using the term "plant-based meat" to describe their products. It would also prevent any future lab-grown products that hit the market from using the labeling.

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