In 60 seconds: 9/23/13

In 60 seconds: 9/23/13

COOL on agenda at WTO meeting: The government of Canada's request that the World Trade Organization establish a compliance panel in the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) dispute was on the agenda at the Aug. 30 meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). The U.S. exercised its right to block the first request at this DSB meeting. A second request will be made for consideration at the Sept. 25 DSB meeting. The second request cannot be blocked, and the panel will be established at that time. Meanwhile, since a U.S. judge denied a preliminary injunction of the implementation of COOL, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will proceed to fully implement and enforce the May 23 rule, which calls for retailers to label where the meat's source animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

Court sides with California on LCFS: A panel of federal judges overturned an earlier ruling that said California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) discriminated against out-of-state producers. The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Court allows the California Air Resources Board to continue the implementation of the LCFS, which is a key piece of California's landmark global warming law meant to cut the state's dependence on petroleum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A joint statement from the Renewable Fuels Assn. and Growth Energy said they are evaluating both the decision and the dissent and are "contemplating all legal options."

Alfalfa tested for GM contamination: The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced last week that a sample of alfalfa from a field in eastern Washington tested positive for the low-level presence of the genetically modified (GM) pesticide resistance Roundup Ready trait. The grower brought seed and plant samples to the WSDA lab after a broker rejected the alfalfa intended for export because it contained evidence of GM traits. The grower said he did not intentionally plant Roundup Ready alfalfa, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2011. It is unknown if the seed was mislabeled. In a statement, Forage Genetics, a company that sells GM alfalfa seed, said genetic modification is permissible in conventional alfalfa seed. "Varietal purity standards allow low-level presence of impurities, including (GM) traits, in conventional alfalfa seed," spokeswoman Rebecca Lentz said in a statement. "The potential presence of impurities is clearly stated on the label. If growers are growing alfalfa for sensitive markets and want to purchase seed with non-detectable presence of GM traits, such seed is available in the marketplace." In a statement to Reuters, USDA said it will not take action in the case of GM alfalfa contamination.

Animal food additive petition guidance: The Food & Drug Administration released a draft document describing the type of information it recommends companies to provide when they submit a food additive petition for substances intended for use in animal food. The draft guidance, titled "Recommendations for Preparation & Submission of Animal Food Additive Petitions," recommends that petitioners submit to FDA: information to identify and characterize the food additive; information about the manufacturing methods and controls; data to show that the food additive will have its intended effect and the amount needed to achieve the intended effect; the proposed labeling; a description of the method or methods used to determine the strength, purity and quality of the food additive; a safety evaluation of the food additive (including evaluating the safety for people who eat edible products of animals fed the food additive and for the target animal species); proposed tolerances for the food additive; the proposed food additive regulation describing the conditions under which the additive can be safely used in animal food and information to allow FDA to assess the environmental impact from the manufacture, use and disposal of the food additive. The draft guidance, available at www.regulations.gov, is open for public comment for 60 days. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by Nov. 12.

Margin requirements: More than 20 agricultural groups wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and members of the Senate and House agriculture committees last week to express concerns about the commission's new interpretation of capital charge and residual interest rules. The proposal asks futures commission merchants (FCMs) to maintain enough residual interest in a customer fund account at all times to exceed the total of all margin deficits. This would represent a significant change from current requirements in which segregation calculations are made daily, and an FCM must hold sufficient funds at that specific point in time. The new rule changes would likely lead to FCMs asking their customers, including farmers and agribusinesses, to pre-fund their margin hedge accounts. This increase in cost to users could discourage many producers from using the futures market and may force some to look to alternative risk management tools, the groups stated.

Circovirus vaccine: Merck Animal Health introduced a new porcine circovirus Type 2 (PCV2) vaccine, Circumvent PCV G2, for use in pigs as young as three days of age. The new vaccine offers one- or two-dose administration options with a five-month duration of immunity. Merck said Circumvent PCV G2 aids in the prevention of PCV2 viremia, which helps stop infection early in the disease process before tissue damage can occur. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of co-infection from porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and swine influenza virus because the immune system is not compromised. This vaccine also aids in the reduction of virus shedding and lymphoid infection.

Pathogen detection: 3M Food Safety announced the launch of the 3M Petrifilm Salmonella Express System, a new pathogen detection technology that builds on a platform of pathogen detection solutions. The new system provides detection and biochemical confirmation of salmonella in enriched food and food processing environmental samples, including dairy, fruits, vegetables, raw meat, seafood and pet food, with results available in about 44 hours. It provides a shorter time to result, more uniform results and a longer shelf life than conventional agar methods, the company said. The easy-to-use system is an all-in-one method. The 3M Petrifilm Salmonella Express Plate is a sample-ready, chromogenic culture medium that is specific to salmonella and provides a presumptive result. The 3M Petrifilm Salmonella Express Confirmation Disk contains a substrate that facilitates the biochemical confirmation of all presumptive positive salmonella colonies on the plate in four hours.

Training grant: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration announced last week that Kansas State University will receive a $105,000 grant to train workers and employers on preventing explosions from grain dust at mills and elevators. Kansas State will use the funds to develop materials and training in English and Spanish on controlling dust generation when grain is being unloaded and handled. Other topics include avoiding turbulence during handling, better control of bucket elevator operation and use of appropriate sensors and explosion vents.

Fertilizer venture: OCP Group and Bunge Ltd. announced that they have reached an agreement for OCP to acquire Bunge's 50% ownership interest in their Moroccan fertilizer joint venture. The joint venture, Bunge Maroc Phosphore S.A. (BMP), was formed in 2008 to produce fertilizers in Morocco and serve as an additional source of phosphate-based raw materials and intermediate products for Bunge's fertilizer businesses in South America. "Bunge Maroc Phosphore has played an important role in meeting our fertilizer supply needs in South America," Bunge chief executive officer Soren Schroder said. "However, with the sale of our fertilizer business in Brazil, the opportunity for OCP to acquire our interest in the joint venture at this time makes strategic sense for both parties." The transaction is expected to close by the end 2013 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval in Brazil.

Volume:85 Issue:39

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