In Brief… – for Apr. 21, 2011

Food safety chair:Is our food safe to eat? A new Chair in Food Safety the first of its kind in Canada puts McGill University at the head of the table in seeking answers to that question.

The chair will undertake collaborative research, offer undergraduate and graduate teaching programs, and provide the independent, third-party expertise on food safety issues.

The Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety was kick-started with a generous $1.5-million gift from the leading food safety researcher and his wife. – Staff Fatal fall:A 20-year-old Winnipeg woman injured after she was thrown from her horse at the Pine Ridge Equine Park near Oakbank April 10 died three days later in hospital.

RCMP say the critically injured victim was transported to hospital via the STARs air ambulance on loan from Alberta during the flood.

Police would not release further details or the victim’s name. However, sources say she died of head injuries. She was wearing a helmet when the accident occurred.

– Staff

A pipe dream no longer:

Novozymes and partner M&G have broken ground on the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy.

The 50-million-litre plant designed to produce ethanol from biomass crops such as wheat straw, corn stover, municipal waste, or energy crops, could be in production by 2012. “With this state-of-the-art facility, M&G proves there is a cure for the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. Biofuel made from lignocellulosic biomass is no longer a distant pipe dream,” said Novozymes spokesman Poul Ruben Andersen. – Staff Vote for CWB:A non-partisan group of farmers from across Western Canada has launched an advertising campaign urging voters to support farmers on May 2 by voting for candidates who support the Canadian Wheat Board. “Unfortunately Stephen Harper is ideologically opposed to the Canadian Wheat Board, so he has launched an endless string of attacks and dirty tricks against the board over the last five years. As farmers, we have decided to go over the head of the current prime minister and appeal directly to the voters of Canada,” said Bill Gehl, chairman of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance. – Staff Impact unclear:It is still too early to say whether the socio-economic impact of genetically modified (GM) crops is positive, the EU bloc’s executive said in a report April 15. But a spokesman said whatever conclusions the EU reaches on the socioeconomic impact of the technology, they would not become part of the EU’s approval process for GM crops. “From a purely legal point of view, socio-economic factors cannot be taken into account when approving GM crops. To be approved, they must simply be shown to be safe for human health and the environment.” Beaver blitz:The province is investing almost $400,000 to introduce a new pilot program to intensively manage beaver dams in light of heightened flooding concerns, Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie has announced.

“Beavers cause well over $3 million in damages to private property and municipal and provincial infrastructure every year,” said Blaikie. “These enhancements to the Problem Beaver Management Program will better support municipalities in the western part of the province and the Interlake and help reduce damage.” – Staff Northward bound:High U.S. cattle prices and a drought in Mexico have had a record number of cattle coming into the United States, where they are being fattened in feedlots or grazed on pastures, according to analysts and USDA data.

Government data show 412,252 Mexican feeder cattle have been imported year to date, up 38 per cent from 299,192 a year earlier. “Normally they would go to pastures but because of the drought a larger percentage are going to feedlots,” Jim Robb, economist with the Livestock Marketing Information Center, said of the Mexican cattle.

Export quotas hot news:

Journalists on Ukraine’s leading Englishlanguage newspaper have gone on strike to back its editor who was sacked for publishing an interview with the government agriculture minister. Journalists said its British owner had ceded to pressure from the government in what they saw as a further case of infringement of media rights by President Viktor Yanukovich’s leadership. Brian Bonner, chief editor of theKyiv Post,was dismissed after publication of the interview that touched on the sensitive issue of grain export quotas. Doha done?:World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy warned the International Monetary Fund April 16 that the Doha round is once again on the verge of collapse. The failure of intensified efforts since the start of the year to bridge those differences has caused many to wonder the point of continuing the nearly 10-year-old talks – and some to conclude they are already dead.

He asked finance ministers to “ask your leaders to consider the cost of failure of these negotiations, both from a microperspective, as from a macroeconomic point of view.”

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