Expert urges farmers to take lead on food safety

DENVER (AP) — A food safety expert told Colorado farmers Thursday that last year’s deadly listeria outbreak traced to Colorado cantaloupe proved that they cannot rely on third-party inspections to guarantee their produce is safe.

MORE: Listeria-linked cantaloupe farm had rated high in audit
STORY: FDA cites dirty equipment in deadly cantaloupe outbreak

Larry Goodridge, associate professor at the Center for Meat Safety and Quality in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, told farmers that they bear primary responsibility for food safety.

“Each farm or processing facility has to be able to assess their own risks,” Goodridge told the governor’s annual forum on Colorado agriculture in Denver. “Everybody who produces food has to be responsible for the safety of the food they produce. You cannot rely on third parties. You just can’t.”

The listeria outbreak traced to Jensen Farms in eastern Colorado last year was blamed for the deaths of 32 people. It infected 146 people in 28 states with one of four strains of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jensen Farms was given a “superior” inspection rating by a third-party auditor just before the outbreak.

PostPartisan – The firing of Shirley Sherrod — and the cowardice of Tom Vilsack

The firing of Shirley Sherrod — and the cowardice of Tom Vilsack

From everything I’ve read, I’m told that the firing of Shirley Sherrod, the once and probably future Agriculture Department official in Georgia, is about race or dishonest journalism or the vagaries of the 24-hour, incessant news cycle. Permit me a dissent. It is mostly about cowardice.

The coward in question is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who, even though from Iowa, fired Sherrod in a New York minute, and by extension and tradition –“The buck stops here,” remember? – Barack Obama himself. Where do they get off treating anyone so shabbily?

Sherrod was caught on video supposedly telling an NAACP meeting last March that she had not given a certain farmer the service he deserved because he was white. A clip of that speech made the rounds of right wing blogs and media outlets — Fox News, for instance — and in no time Vilsack ordered the woman canned. He moved with what would have been commendable dispatch had he first heard her side of the story, viewed the entire video and asked what its source was. The answers should have stopped him in his tracks.

The full video showed that Sherrod, after repressing some racial antipathy, treated the farmer with dignity and efficiency — and, anyway, the entire event took place more than 20 years ago. Had Vilsack seen the entire video, he would also have learned that Sherrod’s story had a moral: She learned that poverty, not race, is what mattered. Since this is America, it is God who taught her that.

But that full video was not shown by the right wing blogger Andrew Breitbart.

Asia Times | Surviving against the Odds by S Ann Dunham


She had a dream

Surviving against the Odds

by S Ann Dunham

Reviewed by Dinesh Sharma

Almost 20 years after she completed her doctoral dissertation and 15 years after she prematurely passed away due to cancer, S Ann Dunham’s dream to publish her life’s work has finally been realized.

Due partly to the efforts of an esteemed group of economic and cultural anthropologists, who worked with her for more than 30 years, and in no small measure to the new-found fame of herchildren, Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng, her research in the remote villages of Java has found a growing audience that even she could not have imagined.

Caught between the Beat generation and the hippies, Dunham was a product of the radical ideals of the 1960s and raised her children with the same idealism and values, recalled Alice Dewey, professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii, who was a mentor and friend of Dunham.

When US President Barack Obama accepted the Noble Peace Prize, he fulfilled one of the cherished dreams of his mother to be a peacemaker. "She would be so proud of him right now," said Alice Dewey as she became tearful. "Ann Dunham was becoming well known in her own right and getting recognized for her development work before she passed away.

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?

With the election of Barack Obama, there is a lot of hope and optimism about the potential for health care reform.

There is also some nervousness.

The nervousness originates from those who think that the current economic crises will inhibit reform efforts.  That somehow the price tag of reform will scare people away from health care reform.  I am encouraged by an insightful article by Ezra Klein on Obama’s choice of Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

According to Klein, Peter Orszag believes that health care reform is the key to the fiscal future.  Since it his office that will pin the price tag on any health care proposal, his biases matter.

Others are worried that Obama might be soft on insurance companies.

I am not a great friend of the insurance companies.  I deal with them every day.  But neither am I a knee-jerk opponent of insurance companies.

Insurance companies reflect the markets they operate in.  And health insurance companies function in a market that brings out their worst qualites.

Unlike home insurance, or auto insurance, there is no legal or market mandate to have health insurance.  This allows health insurance companies to avoid insuring the very people that need it the most – high risk (read sick) individuals.

Outside of the Medicare supplemental insurance market, there are very few limitations on what should be covered or not covered in a health insurance plan.  This gives insurance companies the license to put restrictions and exclusions in their policies as they, or their customers, see fit.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Barack Obama – Can we re-imagine health insurance?