Although the news came out more than a year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) controversial chicken arrangement with China is still ruffling feathers. As EcoWatch reported in March 2014, the USDA now allows chicken to be sent to China for processing before being shipped back to the states for human consumption. One reason this story is resurfacing is a recent Facebook post by Erin Brockovich, who is outraged that this export/import policy exists.
Most Americans would probably agree with Brockovich that sending homegrown chicken on a 14,000-mile round trip is unnecessary and absurd, especially with China's appalling food safety standards. Even National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super said that the arrangement "doesn't make much sense" economically.
The big question then is why would the U.S. allow frozen chicken to be shipped to China from America, then have a Chinese company cook the chicken, refreeze it and send it back to the states?
The answer, as it was later reported by Newsweek and other publications, is that the USDA's Chinese chicken arrangement is much more about the profitable meat product or beef, than it is about chicken.
According to Vice, "The USDA’s move to bring Chinese plants into the American fold is just the first step in a politically motivated process to get the country to give the U.S. something in return. In 2003, when mad cow disease was discovered in cattle in Washington state, China enacted a ban on imported U.S. beef that continues to this day. With China’s meat consumption on the rise, it makes sense that U.S. beef producers would want to recapture that lucrative market. By starting to accept China’s processed chicken, the U.S. is apparently warming to the idea of soon accepting the country’s raw, unprocessed poultry—a move that might convince China to lift its beef ban."
Brockovich's Facebook post has been causing quite a stir with more than 4,700 likes and 6,200 shares. In the post she calls out the dubious relationship between the respective countries' chicken and beef industries.
Brockovich also added in the comment section: "We export rice to China ... farmed with California water ... so we get chicken? What is wrong with us?"
But the good news is, we're not likely eating U.S. chicken by way of the Far East. Even though a similar process is already being used for U.S. seafood and outsourcing labor to China might be desirable for some stakeholders (China's chicken workers earn about $1 to 2 per hour), lobbyists and chicken industry proponents argue no U.S. company will ever ship chicken to China for processing because it wouldn’t work economically.
Newsweek also reported that the country’s four major chicken companies (Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms) have not yet put any money into this export/import plan, nor have the National Chicken Council or the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.
Tyson Foods even felt compelled to issue an official statement on the matter and respond directly to a concerned Twitter user.
— Tyson Foods (@TysonFoods) July 12, 2015
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
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A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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