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It’s hard to keep track of all the food and farming news each week – especially if you’re a busy Slow Food volunteer. Our staff has begun compiling all the important food news we see, so Slow Food members can stay up-to-date. Here’s last week’s big news:

Monsanto pesticide-poisons give rise to “superweeds”

Rise of the Superweeds (NY Times)
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.

And in response…
NYT’s superweeds coverage is welcome but myopic (Grist)
It’s a happy day when the New York Times treads some of Grist’s well-worn paths. This time, it’s about how overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has given rise to “superweeds” and an exhausting chemical treadmill.

Food & Farm Policy

VIDEO – Veggies Gone Wild! (Human Rights Watch)

Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States. They often work 10 or more hours a day with sharp tools, heavy machinery, and dangerous pesticides. Farmworker children drop out of school in alarming numbers.

Senators Challenge Know Your Farmer Program (Ag Law)
Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia, Ranking Minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack challenging the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. The letter notes that “[w]hile the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmers program.” The Senators complain that the program does not direct funding to “conventional farmers” but instead is “aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”

Supreme Court hears arguments on genetically modified seeds (LA Times)
The battle over genetically modified crops is being waged before the U.S. Supreme Court — the first time the nation’s highest court is specifically weighing in on genetically modified organisms and the federal approval process that allows them to roll out from the laboratory to the nation’s farm fields.

Where do farm subsidies go? Now we know! (Food Politics)
Yesterday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the latest update of its highly entertaining farm subsidy database. The links cover $245 billion in federal farm subsidies distributed from 1995 -2009. The site lets you search for subsidies by state, county, congressional district, and specific farm, and by commodity. There is also a national summary.

School Food

D.C. Council approves tough school lunch, exercise standards (Washington Post)
The D.C. Council unanimously approved stringent school nutrition and exercise standards on Tuesday. The measure calls for District public and charter schools to add more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the meals of about 71,000 students. It also encourages schools to buy food from organic farms in Maryland and Virginia, adds thousands of students to the free-lunch program and will eventually triple the amount of time that students have to spend exercising.

Food Safety

Romaine Lettuce Recall in 23 States over E. coli (Huff Po)
An E. coli outbreak possibly linked to tainted lettuce has sickened at least 19 people in Ohio, New York and Michigan, including students on three college campuses, prompting a recall throughout much of the country.