by Marion Nestle

Search results: the honey board

Apr 19 2016

A rare industry-funded study with unhappy results for the Honey Board funder

The USDA has just done a write up on a study it funded in collaboration with the National Honey Board:  Consumption of Honey, Sucrose, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Produces Similar Metabolic Effects in Glucose-Tolerant and -Intolerant Individuals.

This was one of the 12 industry-negative studies I posted to my collection of 168 industry-funded studies from March 2015 to March 2016.

 

The USDA article explains:

Controversy exists over whether all sweeteners produce the same metabolic effects in consumers despite the sweeteners’ chemical similarities. A study conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers indicates that consuming lower amounts of added sugars is a more effective approach to health than finding a sugar that is more neutral in terms of its health effects…Volunteers [consuming honey, white cane sugar, or HFCS] did not show any differences in blood sugar levels based on the dietary sugar source. In addition, blood levels of triglyceride, an indicator of blood fat concentrations (a marker for heart disease risk), increased in response to all three sugars tested.

White cane sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, linked together (but quickly separated in the body).  Honey and High Fructose Corn Syrup are glucose and fructose, already separated, but with slightly higher percentages of fructose.  Biochemically, they are not all that different.

So the results of this study, disappointing as they may have been to the Honey Board, were predictable on the basis of basic sugar biochemistry.

 

May 9 2022

Industry-influenced commentary of the week: soy foods should not be considered ultra-processed

The commentary: Perspective: Soy-Based Meat and Dairy Alternatives, Despite Classification as Ultra-Processed Foods, Deliver High-Quality Nutrition on Par With Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Animal-Based Counterparts.  By Mark MessinaJohn L SievenpiperPatricia WilliamsonJessica KielJohn W Erdman, Jr.  Advances in Nutrition, nmac026, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmac026

Purpose: “This perspective argues that none of the criticisms of UPFs [ultra-processed foods] apply to soy-based meat and dairy alternatives when compared with their animal-based counterparts, beef and cow milk, which are classified as unprocessed or minimally processed foods (group 1). Classifying soy-based meat and dairy alternatives as UPFs may hinder their public acceptance, which could detrimentally affect personal and planetary health. In conclusion, the NOVA classification system is simplistic and does not adequately evaluate the nutritional attributes of meat and dairy alternatives based on soy.

Conflicts of interest: the statement is so long that I will save it for the end.

Comment: This commentary is a critique of the NOVA classification system, which puts foods in four categories by level of processing:

  • Group 1: Unprocessed/minimally processed (fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, meat, milk with no complicated additives)
  • Group 2: Processed culinary ingredients (oils, fats, butter, vinegars, sugar, and salt eaten with added to Group 1)
  • Group 3: Processed (mix of groups 1 and 2, chiefly for preservation)
  • Group 4: Ultra-processed (industrially produced, cannot be made in home kitchens, chemical additives)

By this time, literally hundreds of studies have linked frequent consumption of ultra-processed (“junk”) foods to weight gain and its associated chronic diseases—type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc—as well as high risk for poor outcome from COVID-19.  One carefully controlled clinical trial has shown that ultra-processed diets induce people to unwittingly take in more calories (“you can’t eat just one.”).

Artificial meats and dairy products made with plant proteins clearly meet the definition of ultra-processed.   Are soy products in a different category from those made with pea protein, for example?  Should plant-based meats in general be exempt from being considered ultra-processed?

I don’t think we know yet whether these products are better for health and the environment.  The issues are complicated and we don’t yet have the research or experience.

These authors report conflicted ties—many such ties—to companies making soy products and other products that might be considered ultra-processed:

Author disclosures: MM is employed by the Soy Nutrition Institute Global, an organization that receives funding from the United Soybean Board and industry members who are involved in the manufacture and/or sale of soyfoods and/or soybean components. JLS has received research support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund, Province of Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and Science, Canadian Institutes of health Research (CIHR), Diabetes Canada, PSI Foundation, Banting and Best Diabetes Centre (BBDC), American Society for Nutrition (ASN), INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, National Dried Fruit Trade Association, National Honey Board (the USDA honey “Checkoff” program), International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), Pulse Canada, Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, The United Soybean Board (the USDA soy “Checkoff” program), The Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, The Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Disease in Type 2 Diabetes Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by the Alberta Pulse Growers), and The Nutrition Trialists Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by an inaugural donation from the Calorie Control Council). He has received food donations to support randomized controlled trials from the Almond Board of California, California Walnut Commission, Peanut Institute, Barilla, Unilever/Upfield, Unico/Primo, Loblaw Companies, Quaker, Kellogg Canada, WhiteWave Foods/Danone, Nutrartis, and Dairy Farmers of Canada. He has received travel support, speaker fees, and/or honoraria from Diabetes Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, FoodMinds LLC, International Sweeteners Association, Nestlé, Pulse Canada, Canadian Society for Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM), GI Foundation, Abbott, General Mills, Biofortis, ASN, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, INC Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre (CEFS), Nutrition Communications, International Food Information Council (IFIC), Calorie Control Council, International Glutamate Technical Committee, and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has or has had ad hoc consulting arrangements with Perkins Coie LLP, Tate & Lyle, Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung Zucker eV, Danone, and Inquis Clinical Research. He is a member of the European Fruit Juice Association Scientific Expert Panel and former member of the Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Scientific Advisory Committee. He is on the Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committees of Diabetes Canada, European Association for the study of Diabetes (EASD), Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), and Obesity Canada/Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons. He serves or has served as an unpaid scientific advisor for the Food, Nutrition, and Safety Program (FNSP) and the Technical Committee on Carbohydrates of ILSI North America. He is a member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), Executive Board Member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) of the EASD, and Director of the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials foundation. His wife is an employee of AB InBev. PW is employed by Cargill, Inc, a global food company headquartered in Wayzata, MN. Cargill produces soy-based food and industrial products. JK is employed by Medifast Inc., a nutrition and weight-management company based in Baltimore, Maryland, that uses soy protein in many of its products. JWE is a scientific advisory to the Soy Nutrition Institute Global.

Apr 25 2022

Conflict-of-interest disclosure of the week

A reader, Effie Schultz, sent this one, with a comment that it comes with the longest conflict of interest statement she had ever seen (I’ve noted one that was two pages long in the first item in a post in 2015).

Association of Low- and No-Calorie Sweetened Beverages as a Replacement for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages With Body Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.  McGlynn ND, and 20 other authors.  JAMA Network Open, March 14, 2022. 2022;5(3):e222092.  doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.2092

The research question: Are low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages (LNCSBs) as the intended substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) associated with improved body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors similar to water replacement?

The conclusion: This systematic review and meta-analysis found that using LNCSBs as an intended substitute for SSBs was associated with small improvements in body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors without evidence of harm and had a similar direction of benefit as water substitution. The evidence supports the use of LNCSBs as an alternative replacement strategy for SSBs over the moderate term in adults with overweight or obesity who are at risk for or have diabetes.

Comment: Research on artificial sweeteners remains controversial.  I think we will be arguing forever about their safety and efficacy in helping people lose weight.  Studies with conflict of interest disclosures like the excessively extensive one here do not help resolve the research questions.

I strongly support revealing conflicted interests that might influence any aspect of research design, conduct, and interpretation.  For this study, I would be interested in financial ties or arrangements with companies that might either gain or lose sales or marketing advantages from results showing artificial sweeteners or diet drinks to be harmless or beneficial, as these do.  At issue here is whether financial ties to companies with corporate interests in the outcome of such research bias results or interpretation, consciously or unconsciously.

You have to search through this mess of unnecessary and distracting disclosures to find the ones that matter.  They are there.  You have to search for them.

Much of what is disclosed is irrelevant and, therefore, not helpful.

You may well disagree with that assessment.  Judge for yourself.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Ms McGlynn reported receiving a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)-Masters Award during the conduct of the study and being a former employee of Loblaws Companies Limited outside the submitted work. Dr Khan reported receiving grants from CIHR, International Life Science Institute, and National Honey Board outside the submitted work. Dr Chiavaroli reported being a Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellow and receiving joint funding from the Government of Canada and the Canadian Sugar Institute. Mr Au-Yeung reported receiving personal fees from Inquis Clinical Research outside the submitted work. Ms Lee reported receiving graduate scholarship from CIHR and the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto outside the submitted work. Dr Comelli reported being the Lawson Family Chair in Microbiome Nutrition Research at the Joannah and Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition, University of Toronto, during the conduct of the study and receiving nonfinancial support from Lallemand Health Solutions, donation to research program from Lallemand Health Solutions, personal fees from Danone, sponsored research and collaboration agreement from Ocean Spray, and nonfinancial support from Ocean Spray outside the submitted work. Ms Ahmed reported receiving scholarship from the Toronto Diet, Digestive tract, and Disease Centre (3D) outside the submitted work. Dr Malik reported receiving personal fees from the City and County of San Francisco, Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP, and World Health Organization outside the submitted work and support from the Canada Research Chairs Program. Dr Hill reported receiving personal fees from General Mills and McCormick Science Institute. Dr Rahelić reported receiving personal fees from the International Sweeteners Association, Abbott, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Merck, MSD, Salvus, and Sanofi outside the submitted work. Dr Salas-Salvadó reported receiving personal fees from Instituto Danone Spain, nonfinancial support from Danone Institute International, personal fees as director of the World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, financial support to the institution from Fundación Eroski, and financial support to the institution from Danone outside the submitted work. Dr Kendall reported receiving grants and/or in-kind support from Advanced Food Materials Network, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, CIHR, Almond Board of California, Barilla, Canola Council of Canada, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, Peanut Institute, Pulse Canada, Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, and Unilever; receiving nonfinancial support from General Mills, Kellogg, Loblaw Brands Limited, Oldways Preservation Trust, Quaker Oats (Pepsi-Co), Sun-Maid, White Wave Foods/Danone, International Pasta Organization, California Walnut Commission, Primo, Unico, International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), and Toronto Diet, Digestive tract, and Disease Centre (3D) outside the submitted work; receiving personal fees from McCormick Science Institute and Lantmannen; and being a member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) Executive Board and Dietary Guidelines, a member of the expert committee of the DNSG Clinical Practice Guidelines for Nutrition Therapy, a member of the scientific advisory board of the McCormick Science Institute, a scientific advisor for the International Pasta Organization and Oldways Preservation Trust, a member of the ICQC, an executive board member of the DNSG, and being the director of the Toronto Diet, Digestive tract, and Disease Centre (3D) Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials Foundation. Dr Sievenpiper reported receiving nonfinancial support from DNSG of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), grants from CIHR through the Canada-wide Human Nutrition Trialists’ Network (NTN), PSI Graham Farquharson Knowledge Translation Fellowship, Diabetes Canada Clinician Scientist Award, CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes and the Canadian Nutrition Society (INMD/CNS) New Investigator Partnership Prize, and Banting & Best Diabetes Centre Sun Life Financial New Investigator Award during the conduct of the study; receiving grants from American Society for Nutrition, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, National Honey Board (the US Department of Agriculture [USDA] honey checkoff program), Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS; formerly ILSI North America), Pulse Canada, Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, United Soybean Board (the USDA soy checkoff program), Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Disease in Type 2 Diabetes Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by the Alberta Pulse Growers), and Nutrition Trialists Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by an inaugural donation from the Calorie Control Council); receiving personal fees from Dairy Farmers of Canada, FoodMinds LLC, International Sweeteners Association, Nestlé, Abbott, General Mills, American Society for Nutrition, INC Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, European Food Safety Authority, Nutrition Communications, International Food Information Council, Calorie Control Council, Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre, International Glutamate Technical Committee, Perkins Coie LLP, Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, Danone, Inquis Clinical Research, Soy Nutrition Institute, and European Fruit Juice Association outside the submitted work; serving on the clinical practice guidelines expert committees of Diabetes Canada, EASD, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and Obesity Canada/Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons; being an unpaid scientific advisor for the Food, Nutrition, and Safety Program and the Technical Committee on Carbohydrates of IAFNS; being a member of the ICQC, executive board member of the DNSG of the EASD, and director of the Toronto Diet, Digestive tract, and Disease Centre (3D) Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials Foundation; his spouse is an employee of AB InBev. No other disclosures were reported.

Reference: For a summary of research on the “funding effect”—the observations that research sponsored by food companies almost invariably produces results favorable to the sponsor’s interests and that recipients of industry funding typically did not intend to be influenced and do not recognize the influence—see my book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.

Jan 11 2021

Sponsored research study of the week: mangos and skin wrinkles (I’m not kidding)

I learned about this one from a press release: “Can eating mangoes reduce women’s facial wrinkles?”

new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, finds eating Ataulfo mangoes, also known as honey or Champagne mangoes, may have another benefit — reducing facial wrinkles in older women with fairer skin. The study was published in the journal Nutrients.

Postmenopausal women who ate a half cup of Ataulfo mangoes four times a week saw a 23 percent decrease in deep wrinkles after two months and a 20 percent decrease after four months.

Surely, this can’t be serious?  Who paid for this?

The study: Prospective Evaluation of Mango Fruit Intake on Facial Wrinkles and Erythema in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Pilot Study.  Vivien W. Fam, Roberta R. Holt Carl L. Keen, Raja K. Sivamani .  and Robert M. Hackman.  Nutrients 202012(11), 3381; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113381

Method: Women were given either 85 g or 250 g of mangos to eat every day for 16 weeks.  Their wrinkles were photographed and measured before and after.

Conclusion: “The intake of 85 g of mangos reduced wrinkles in fair-skinned postmenopausal women, while an intake of 250 g showed the opposite effect.”

Funding: “This study was supported in part by a grant from the National Mango Board (NMB)…which also supplied the fresh mangos for the study. The NMB had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation, or publication decision.”

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Comment:  I love mangos (despite being somewhat allergic to them), but come on.  According to the press release, the researchers “said it’s unclear why consuming more mango would increase the severity of wrinkles but speculate that it may be related to a robust amount of sugar in the larger portion of mangoes.”  Another interpretation is that mangos have no effect (which makes more sense).  In any case, this study did not compare mangos to any other fruit.  This is a classic case of an industry-sponsored study coming out with results favorable to the sponsor’s interests and allowing those interests to be announced in a press release.  The authors may think industry sponsorship does not create a conflict of interest, but much evidence strongly suggests that it does (I reviewed that evidence in my book, Unsavory Truth).

Feb 11 2020

California’s almond crop: the bee business

Almonds are great foods, and almond trees are beautiful, especially when in bloom (a lovely thought on a bleak winter’s day).

To produce almonds, the blossoms have to be pollinated, a job done by bees.

The bees don’t just appear spontaneously.  Getting them to orchards is a for-profit business enterprise.  

Most varieties of almond trees require cross-pollination – the transfer of pollen from one tree variety to another – to produce any nuts at all….Roughly 1 million acres of almond trees collectively bloom over a three-week period every February, creating spectacular scenic views but also putting enormous pressure on the farmers to pollinate them quickly. Each almond acre requires roughly two honey bee hives, each of which typically houses one colony of about 20,000 bees. With 2 million hives needed, that’s well more than half of the total U.S. hive population.

Unfortunately, trucking beehives around from one orchard to another is hard on the bees.

As The Guardian recently put it, using bees to fertilize almond orchards is “Like sending bees to war.” and “the truth behind your almond milk obsession” is deadly.

A recent survey of commercial beekeepers showed that 50 billion bees – more than seven times the world’s human population – were wiped out in a few months during winter 2018-19. This is more than one-third of commercial US bee colonies, the highest number since the annual survey started in the mid-2000s.

Beekeepers attributed the high mortality rate to pesticide exposure, diseases from parasites and habitat loss. However, environmentalists and organic beekeepers maintain that the real culprit is something more systemic: America’s reliance on industrial agriculture methods, especially those used by the almond industry, which demands a large-scale mechanization of one of nature’s most delicate natural processes.

FoodNavigator USA.com has issued a Special Report on this topic: “Bee friendly?  Pollinating California’s almond crop.”  It gives the almond industry’s view of the bee problem and its various causes.

The truth, as always, is more complicated, claims Dr Josette Lewis, director of agricultural affairs at the Almond Board of California, who likes to preface any conversation on this topic with the observation that almond growers are pretty motivated when it comes to ensuring honey bees are healthy and happy, given that it costs them almost $400/acre (two hives at c. $200 apiece) to hire these furry little pollinators upon which the success of their crop entirely depends. (To put this in perspective, it cost an average of $160/acre—two hives at c. $80 apiece – in 2005).

There is a “Bee-Friendly Farming” initiative among almond growers, but only about 10% are using it.

Regulation, anyone?

Tags: ,
Oct 6 2015

Two rare industry-funded studies with results that must have disappointed the funders

Consumption of Honey, Sucrose, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Produces Similar Metabolic Effects in Glucose-Tolerant and -Intolerant Individuals.  Susan K Raatz, LuAnn K Johnson, and Matthew J Picklo.  J. Nutr. 2015; 145:2265-2272 doi:10.3945/jn.115.218016 

  • Conclusions: Daily intake of 50 g carbohydrate from honey, sucrose, or HFCS55 for 14 d resulted in similar effects on measures of glycemia, lipid metabolism, and inflammation. All 3 increased TG [triglyceride] concentrations in both GT [glucose tolerant] and IGT [glucose intolerant] individuals and elevated glycemic and inflammatory responses in the latter.
  • Funding: Supported by a grant from the National Honey Board and by the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
  • Comment.  The authors hypothesized that honey would result in improved glycemia and insulin sensitivity compared with sucrose and HFCS.  But they found that their “data do not support the contention that the consumption of honey vs. HFCS or sucrose provides an added health benefit for maintenance of glucose homeostasis and other cardiometabolic outcomes because all 3 sugars evaluated exerted similar metabolic effects.”

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and incident hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohortsViranda H Jayalath, Russell J de Souza, Vanessa Ha, Arash Mirrahimi, Sonia Blanco-Mejia, Marco Di Buono, Alexandra L Jenkins, Lawrence A Leiter, Thomas MS Wolever, Joseph Beyene, Cyril WC Kendall, David JA Jenkins, and John L Sievenpiper.  Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 102:914-921 doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.107243.

  • Conclusions: SSBs were associated with a modest risk of developing hypertension in 6 cohorts. There is a need for high-quality randomized trials to assess the role of SSBs in the development of hypertension and its complications.
  • Funding: “The Canadian Institutes of Health Research…through the Canada-wide Human Nutrition Trialists’ Network and by the Diet, Digestive Tract, and Disease (3D) Centre, which is funded through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.  The Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Ontario Research Fund provided the infrastructure for the conduct of this project.”  Some of the investigators also received funds from other Canadian government agencies or health associations.  This, therefore is actually an independently funded study.
  • Authors’ funding disclosures: RJdS has received research support from the Calorie Control Council and the Coca-Cola Company…ALJ is a part owner, vice president, and director of research of Glycemic Index Laboratories, Toronto, Canada….JB has received research support from the Calorie Control Council and The Coca-Cola Company…CWCK has received research support from the Calorie Control Council, the Coca-Cola Company (investigator initiated, unrestricted grant), Hain Celestial, Kellogg, Kraft, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Solae, and Unilever…DJAJ has received research grants from Loblaw Companies Ltd., Unilever, the Coca-Cola Company… JLS has received research support from the Calorie Control Council and the Coca-Cola Company…travel funding, speaker fees, or honoraria from the Calorie Control Council, the Canadian Sugar Institute, World Sugar Research Organization, White Wave Foods, Abbott Laboratories, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, The Coca-Cola Company, and the Corn Refiners Association….
  • Comment: In this study, a group of investigators, some—but not all— of whom typically receive funding from food companies, participated in a study funded by Canadian government and health agencies.  If nothing else, this study is evidence for the importance of independent funding of nutrition research.

The score, for those of you following this saga, is now 65 studies with results favoring the sponsor to 5 with unfavorable results.  But I will soon be posting another 5 of the former kind.

Mar 3 2015

Food Navigator’s special issue on breakfast cereals, plus additions

First see Bloomberg News on Who killed Tony the Tiger: How Kellogg lost breakfast (February 26)Next, see what’s happening to breakfast from the point of view of the food industry.

What’s for breakfast? Re-inventing the first meal of the day

On paper, breakfast cereal ticks all the right boxes. It’s quick, great value for money, and nutritious – the perfect recession-proof food. Yet US consumption has dropped steadily as consumers have sought out more convenient – and often more expensive – alternatives, and ‘breakfast’ has switched from being one of three square meals a day to just another snacking occasion. So is the future one of managed decline, or can innovation pull the cereal category out of its funk?

Jan 28 2014

A brief early comment on the (ugh) farm bill

It’s too soon for me to say much about the farm bill other than to express disgust for the entire process.

The House and Senate still have to vote on it, which leaves plenty more opportunity for last-minute amendments, the addition of even more pork, and even more welfare for the rich at the expense of the poor.

In the meantime, we have the

What can I say?  The farm bill is a mess—the worst example of the worst of food politics.

Every clause in those 949 pages exists as the result of special-interest lobbying.  Guess what: some special-interest groups have more money and power than others.

The result: an unattractive compromise.

If the bill is ever to pass, everyone has to compromise, but some groups have to compromise more than others.

How else to explain the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ statement that the SNAP cuts represent a reasonable compromise?

To be sure, the conference agreement does include $8.6 billion in SNAP cuts over the next decade. Yet it stands in sharp contrast to the nearly $40 billion in SNAP cuts in the House-passed bill of September, which contained an array of draconian provisions and would have thrown 3.8 million people off SNAP in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The conference agreement includes none of the draconian House provisions — and it removes virtually no low-income households from SNAP.

I am indebted to ProPoliticoAg for listing the winners: groups that want to retain Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), the dairy manufacturers, organic producers (!), the U.S. catfish industry (USDA will inspect catfish, not FDA), and animal welfare groups (states can insist on standards),   The soybean and rice industries are also happy with the bill, as are groups that want more flexibility in food aid.

ProPoliticoAg’s losers:  meat packers and processors who wanted to get rid of COOL, dairy farmers who preferred a different program, the poultry industry (which will have to abide by state cage-size requirements), anti-hunger advocates (the SNAP cuts).

ProPoliticoAg also read the fine print (as I promise to do once the bill passes):

  • $20 million per year for emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees and farm raised fish (p. 131-132)
  • A USDA report on the federal standard for the identity of honey (p. 802)
  • A citrus disease subcommittee to advise on citrus research (p. 568-569)
  • A requirement for USDA to recognize feral swine risks (p. 890)
  • $2.25 million per year through 2019 for wool research and promotion (p. 928)
  • A go-ahead to create a Christmas tree promotion board and 15-cent tax on fresh-cut trees (p. 805).