New bill would allow beef to carry 'no mad cow' label

Even though this is only California, this would be a good thing - it would allow beef producers to test and label their own cattle as being "BSE-free". Which, rather unbelievably to some, is not the case now...

Current USDA regulations forbid me from testing any of the cattle I send to slaughter for BSE! The logic is rather, well, interesting:

Ben Higgins of the California Cattlemen's Association said it could scare consumers into thinking beef without the label is somehow unsafe.

"A notion like this perpetuates the notion that BSE is a legitimate food-safety risk," he said. "You have a much greater chance of being killed on the way to the store to buy beef than contracting BSE."

This is remarkably like the argument used by Monsanto in the 2003 Maine labeling case. There, dairies were prevented from stating on the label that their milk was free from bovine growth hormone, on the premise that this implied that being free from such artifical stimulants was better for you! Well, doh! And Monsanto won!

The food industry is currently embroiled in the controversy over obesity - some in the Nanny State would like to see Big Macs regulated out of existance. And they're fighting back by championing consumer choice and stressing individual responsibility. But these actions by industry members speak far louder to me than their words: they don't want accurate labeling, nor do they want consumer choice.

Supermarket shoppers can buy grass-fed beef, organic beef, Black Angus and so on -- but if a bill sponsored by a local lawmaker passes, consumers will also get to look for the "no mad cow" label.

(link) [RecordNet]

00:00 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link


The Internet Archive Sued Over Stored Pages

"... he who controls the past, controls the future." - George Orwell

The Internet archive, which has been storing snapshots of millions of webpages since 1996 has been sued by the firm Harding Earley Follmer & Frailey, Philadelphia. The firm was defending Health Advocate, a company in suburban Philadelphia that helps patients resolve health care and insurance disputes, against a trademark action brought by a similarly named competitor. In preparing the case, representatives of Earley Follmer used the Wayback Machine to turn up old Web pages - some dating to 1999 - originally posted by the plaintiff, Healthcare Advocates of Philadelphia. Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal

(link) [Slashdot: ]

00:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link


Organic farms produce same yields as conventional farms

I honestly wouldn't have believed this if it wasn't backed by Cornell research. With livestock and vegetable operations I can attest personally to the fact that organic is every bit as productive as standard methods, but grain farms around here get some pretty spectacular yields with "Green Revolution" techniques - lots of herbicide/pesticide use. Going organic is generally dismissed around here by grain farmers as completely impractical for their crops. But this seems to prove otherwise, and is supported by some hefty data, and could help lower the cost of production. All those chemicals get expensive ...

For corn and soybeans, organic farming yields the same size crop with a lot less fossil energy input and impact on the environment than conventional farming, according to a new study whose lead author is David Pimentel of Cornell University. Bioscience (Vol. 55:7, 2005).

(link) [EurekAlert!]

00:00 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link


Googling May Break Copyright in Canada

Proof that idiocy is rife in governments world-wide...

Could it be possible that Canada will make Google or any other Internet search and archiving engines illegal? Bill C-60, which amends the Copyright Act and received its first reading in the House of Commons on June 20, suggests it could be illegal for anyone to provide copyrighted information through "information-location tools," which includes search engines.

(link) [Slashdot]

00:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link


Can pokerbots beat humans?

This is really one of the last frontiers in game programming - can a machine consistantly beat a human in a game involving "soft" logic, bluffing and luck? One things for sure - putting on the infamous poker face won't be a problem ...

Brian Edwards of Jacksonville, Fla., is a mild-mannered website administrator for Blue Cross Blue Shield. He doesn't live in a mansion and keep thousands of dollars of cash on hand like many top poker players. Nor does he wear a wacky mask or special glasses, which some top players now do. He doesn't need to. Edwards has the ultimate poker face in his "poker robots": poker-playing programs that he codes in his spare time.

(link) [U.S. News & World Report]

00:00 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link