Venezuelan flag

Not likely, but pressure will be applied in other ways: Direct intervention by U.S. military forces in Venezuela is deemed unlikely by this analyst. That being said, the political and humanitarian crises in the South American country is becoming untenable. Venezuela is a security threat to all of its South American and Latin American neighbors, as well as the U.S., as the exodus of hungry people continues unabated. The U.S. will likely apply pressure in other ways. A recent example is seizure of assets owned by key officials and their families. This pressure will become unrelenting in the next week or two.  Beyond that, opposition support is being increased.  The situation could become exceedingly ugly in the coming weeks and months. The humanitarian crisis is also likely to intensify. READ MORE

ANIMAL WELFARE

Major investor prods McDonald’s on animal safety: Concerns about chicken welfare practices at McDonald’s have prompted a leading pension fund trustee to fire off a warning letter to the multinational. The letter, from Thomas P DiNapoli, trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, is over the potential financial and reputational risks associated with the company’s welfare practices. The fund holds shares of an approximate market value of $343 million in McDonald’s stock. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Walmart, Sam’s Club seek produce traceability: To combat foodborne illnesses, Walmart and Sam’s Club have asked suppliers of fresh, leafy greens to trace their products all the way back to the farm using blockchain technology. Suppliers are expected to have all these systems in place by this time next year. The change comes after E.-coli-contaminated lettuce sickened 200 people and killed five this spring. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Researcher seeks to validate pathogen die-off rates: When a sample of pre-harvest agricultural water (as defined by the current Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule) tests positive for indicator E. coli above specific thresholds, the FSMA rule calls for a specific waiting period between irrigation and harvest, based on best available pathogen die-off rates. Renata Ivanek, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, says there is an urgent need to further validate die-off rates for different commodities and under different environmental conditions. READ MORE

GLYPHOSATE CONTROVERSY

Detox Project takes off: The Detox Project – which certifies products as “Glyphosate Residue Free” – has been overwhelmed by industry inquiries over the past six months as food brands seek not just to get certified, but more often, to “use us as a consultancy service” to find out how the herbicide got into their products and what, if anything, they can or should do about it, says founder Henry Rowlands. READ MORE

Study says glyphosate may be harmful to bees: Glyphosate, a commonly used weed killer, could be wiping out bee populations around the world, scientists have warned. The herbicide appears to destroy the so-called good bacteria in honey bees’ guts, leaving the insects more prone to infection and even death, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. READ MORE

SUSTAINABILITY

ReGrained inks deal for $2.5 million: ReGrained, a San Francisco company that upcycles millions of tons of high-protein, high-fiber grain generated by the brewing industry into a product called SuperGrain, has just raised $2.5 million to scale its proprietary processing technology and commercialize its ingredient business.ReGrained began as a frat house homebrewing experiment several years ago at the University of California, Los Angeles. READ MORE

Starbucks commits funding for smallholder farmers: In response to critically low coffee prices in Central America, Starbucks has announced a commitment of up to $20 million to temporarily relieve impacted smallholder farmers with whom Starbucks does business, until the coffee market self-corrects and rises above the cost of production. These funds will go directly to smallholder farmers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador. READ MORE

TARIFFS

Milk may be deal-killer: Despite ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Canada over a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal, the two countries remain at an impasse over dairy. According to Politico, one senior Trump administration official says the debate over dairy is starting to look like a deal breaker. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Assassin identified: One of the trained assassins wanted for poisoning Sergei Skripal is a decorated colonel in Russian military intelligence who received the country’s highest award from Vladimir Putin in a 2014 ceremony that was shrouded in secrecy. Col. Anatoliy Chepiga is a highly decorated GRU officer upon whom was bestowed Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation—leaving little doubt that Putin was aware of the assassination attempt. Read more HERE and HERE.

MISCELLANEOUS

Washington vineyard donates grapes: Despite the theft of nearly its entire crop of grapes, a Virginia winery will be able to raise a glass of its 2018 vintage to a new friendship. Washington state’s Alexandria Nicole Cellars has offered to donate the replacement for more than two tons of grapes stolen from Firefly Hills Vineyard two weeks ago. READ MORE

DOJ requests rehearing on chlorpyrifos: The Department of Justice has requested a rehearing of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision directing the EPA to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos within 60 days. Although banned for home use, chlorpyrifos is still used to protect more than 50 crops from pests such as insects and worms. Exposure above recommended levels has been linked to neurological problems and developmental disorders in children. Read more HERE and HERE.