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Archive for the ‘food and agriculture’ Category

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry. Greater heat stress may lower U.S. milk production 0.6-1.3 percent by 2030.

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Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies
Source: British Medical Journal

Objective
To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men.

Design
Cohort studies.

Setting
Three counties in central Sweden.

Participants
Two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61 433 women (39-74 years at baseline 1987-90) and one with 45 339 men (45-79 years at baseline 1997), were administered food frequency questionnaires. The women responded to a second food frequency questionnaire in 1997.

Main outcome measure
Multivariable survival models were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality or fracture.

Results
During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).

Conclusions
High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.

See also: Editorial – Milk and Mortality

CRS — The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (July 24, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Global wine production totaled roughly 27 billion liters in 2012. The European Union (EU) dominates world production, accounting for nearly 60% of all wine produced each year. France, Italy, and Spain are among the principal EU wine-producing countries. The United States is the world’s second-largest wine-producing region, accounting for 10% of global production. The value of world trade in wine totaled more than $21 billion in 2013. The EU accounted for nearly 60% of the world’s export market for wine, valued at $12 billion in 2013. Other exporting nations include Australia, Chile, the United States, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa.

The United States is a major exporter of wine with about 7% of global exports in 2013. The U.S. wine industry has identified a range of international barriers to trade that may be limiting U.S. wine exports abroad. These include import tariffs; foreign wine producer subsidies and support; preferential market access, such as free trade agreements between the EU and other countries; incompatible foreign wine composition standards; and a range of miscellaneous non-tariff barriers, such as state or provincial government monopolies, import licensing and customs clearance requirements, and wine labeling regulations. An annual report compiled by the U.S. wine industry also highlights a range of concerns in several countries, including concerns regarding trade with several EU countries and other countries worldwide.

CRS — Revision of the Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Rules (September 23, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Revision of the Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Rules (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

High rates of obesity and chronic diseases have prompted federal, state, and local initiatives such as exercise promotion, nutrition education, and food labeling. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, suggesting that consumers need to be more aware of their calorie intake. Labeling of the nutritional content of foods has been recommended by researchers and policy makers as a tool to address the obesity epidemic.

National survey data indicate that the frequency of food label use among consumers has increased in the past decade; however, despite widespread use, certain elements of the Nutrition Facts label are outdated and confusing to consumers. Consumer research highlights the importance of salient and easy-to-understand nutrition information. The purpose of the Nutrition Facts label as a public health tool is to provide consumers with nutrition information that may help them make more informed food choices. Mandating declaration of certain nutrition information on the label may also prompt food manufacturers to reformulate products to make them healthier and more attractive to consumers. Increasing awareness about the nutritional content of various foods may promote healthier eating behaviors among consumers, resulting in lower calorie intake and, over time, decreasing rates of overweight and obesity.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — October 2014

October 27, 2014 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — October 2014
Source: EU Council Library

In the ‘Special focus’ section, how appointments to top-ranking offices in the EU institutions continue to trigger reflections on the policy priorities for the next term and on the broad orientation of the European project; we collected several variations on the theme ‘federation’ and ‘States’, and attempts by think tanks to gauge the relative weight of institutions, or of political forces within them, in the post-2014 election scenario.

And as the October European Council approached, issues of economic and financial governance featured high on the agenda of EU think tanks, with publications on flexibility in fiscal rules, banking resolution, or the threat of deflation.

In the section on EU policies, readers will find material on energy, migration, industrial policy, food safety, gender equality, unemployment insurance and more. An equally rich variety of third countries is covered in the section on external relations.

Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint
Source: Center for Global Development

This paper describes the creation of a database providing estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints for 6 million US households over the period 2008-2012. The database allows analysis of footprints for 52 types of consumption (e.g. electricity, gasoline, apparel, beef, air travel, etc.) within and across geographic regions as small as individual census tracts.

Potential research applications with respect to carbon pricing and tax policy are discussed. Preliminary analysis reveals:

  • The top 10% of US polluters are responsible for 25% of the country’s GHG footprint. The least-polluting 40% of the population accounts for only 20% of the total. The average GHG footprint of individuals in the top 2% of the income distribution is more than four times that of those in the bottom quintile.
  • The highest GHG footprints are found in America’s suburbs, where relatively inefficient housing and transport converge with higher incomes. Rural areas exhibit moderate GHG footprints. High-density urban areas generally exhibit the lowest GHG footprints, but location-specific results are highly dependent on income.
  • Residents of Republican-held congressional districts have slightly higher average GHG footprints than those in Democratic districts – but the difference is small (21.8 tCO2e/person/year in Republican districts; 20.6 in Democratic). There is little relationship between the strength of a district’s party affiliation and average GHG footprint.

Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States
Source: Urban Institute

This study chronicles the experiences of labor trafficking victims from the point of recruitment for work, their forced labor victimization, their attempts to escape and get help, and their efforts to seek justice through civil or criminal cases. The report finds that legal loopholes and lax enforcement enable labor traffickers to commit crimes against workers in major US industries: agriculture, domestic work, hotels, restaurants, and construction. Interview and case file data detail the ubiquity of trafficking, which occurs both in plain sight and behind lock and key. Detailed recommendations propose next steps for policy and practice.

See also: Lax Enforcement and Legal Loopholes Enable Labor Trafficking Victimization; Broadest look ever at victim experiences in five major US industries

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