Tractor preparing to spray pesticides in a field

Farmers’ suicide rate far surpasses that of veterans: Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, is a psychologist and one of the nation’s leading farmer behavioral health experts. He often answers phone calls from those in crisis. And for 40 years, he has worked to understand why farmers take their lives at such alarming rates – currently, higher rates than any other occupation in the United States, more than double the rate of veterans. The rate might actually be higher, because an unknown number of farmers disguise their suicides as farm accidents. The U.S. farmer suicide crisis echoes a much larger farmer suicide crisis happening globally: an Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days; in the UK, one farmer a week takes his or her own life; in France, one farmer dies by suicide every two days; in India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Cruise ship illness cause identified: The cause of a cruise ship outbreak that sickened nearly 200 passengers and crew was Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin, according to a follow-up to a report last month of a gastrointestinal outbreak.  The outbreak occurred on board a Princess Cruises vessel called Crown Princess. Clostridium perfringens is a type of bacteria that can be found in a variety of foods, particularly meats, meat products, and gravy. Complications from C. perfingens occur when food is left at an unsafe temperature, and bacteria multiply in the food prior to consumption.READ MORE

Novel methods developed for toxicity testing: Toxicology testing plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of FDA-regulated products. During the development and evaluation of almost all FDA-regulated products, testing is performed on people or animals to identify any potential risk from chemical, physical, or biological agents. Today, novel methods such as organs on a chip or mathematical modeling are being developed for toxicity testing that are generating unique opportunities to improve our ability to quickly and more accurately predict potential toxicities and reduce associated risks. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Smithfield Foods must evaluate potential groundwater contamination: A U.S. District Court judge in North Carolina has directed Smithfield Foods to proceed with an evaluation of potential groundwater contamination from swine waste at 11 hog facilities in the state, according to court documents. The judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs Waterkeeper Alliance and Sound Rivers, which had asked the court to order Smithfield’s Murphy-Brown unit to allow a consultant to conduct further data collection under terms of a 2006 consent decree. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

China may need a billion bushels of corn: Earlier this year, China announced they would require ethanol blends in all fuel by 2020, which could require an addition one billion bushels of corn per year. This announcement gave U.S. corn producers hope that this could bump corn prices in the coming years in preparation. There are some reports coming from China that 70 percent of their current corn stocks aren’t usable, and they will need to replenish their current stocks with fresh corn. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

New school lunch rule gets an ‘F’ from consumer groups: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new School Meal Flexibility Rule has drawn sharp criticism from leading consumer groups, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) claiming the new rule slows down progress on combating obesity and sodium reduction. The American Heart Association agrees with CSPI that the new rules deserves an “F.”  READ MORE