Litigation was much in the news this week. In Minnesota two state agencies are suing pork producer ValAdCo, alleging the coop has violated state air pollution standards hundreds of times since 1999.
On the east coast Delaware-based Perdue Farms will pay ten million dollars in back wages to some 60-thousand chicken plant workers in ten states. The settlement stems from a 1999 class action suit challenging the company's practice of not paying workers for time spent at the plant preparing for work.
Meanwhile in California Governor Gray Davis has signed into law a measure that will require binding arbitration in those instances when farm workers unions and growers cannot agree on a labor contract.
In another arena the U.S. government is trying to come to grips with how to market genetically modified food. The starting point is disclosure.
With W-T-O talks in the opening stages, the Bush administration is proposing new regulations for genetically modified crops. The trial balloon contains updated field testing procedures and food safety assessments.
USDA is following suit with its own proposal for a voluntary GM and non-GM seed segregation program. The Department is planning to offer a "process verified" label when it makes a more formal proposal in the next few months. USDAs "process verified" moniker will be insurance that procedures to separate the grains were followed not that the product contains any GMOs.
Testing of foods and crops containing transgenic materials by various groups, both independent and partisan, have concluded GM grains do no apparent harm. Even so, questions over the long term effects on humans and the environment linger.
Either way, U.S. producers face an uphill marketing battle against the European Union where all products containing genetically modified organisms must be labeled.