In Brief… – for Jun. 24, 2010

Butt out and keep your hands on the wheel:

As of July 15, drivers caught texting or using hand-held cellphones while operating a motor vehicle face a $191 fine, Highways Minister Steve Ashton has announced. That’s when amendments to the Highway Traffic Act approved last year take effect. Use of hands-free devices and 911 calls are exempt. The new regulations also crack down on drivers who smoke in their cars when children under the age of 16 are present. Check out this: Fifty years ago, a typical supermarket would have approximately 2,000 different items to sell. Today, the number is 25,000. This expansion is due to the demand for specialty and differentiated products that continues to grow. As a result, in the last half-century, food innovation and differentiation has increased. According to the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD), approximately 4,000 products are replaced every year with 4,000 new products that attempt to meet ever-changing and varied consumer demands. – Metcalf foundation report

Blocked at the border:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced June 17 it will no longer grant or extend import permits for any live insect that’s defined as a “pest” under the federal Plant Protection Act. The new policy applied to insects that are plant pests even if they’re meant for use as feed, bait, pets or “any other similar or related use,” CFIA said. The rule applies to plant pests in any stage of their life cycle, including egg, pupa or larva.

– Staff

Celebrating spuds:

The Carberry Agricultural Society is celebrating 50 years of potato crops in the region by hosting the Great Potato Cook Off in conjunction with its annual fair July 2. Contestants are challenged to put together their best potato casserole, soup or salad dish using either McCain processed potatoes or non-processed potatoes and drop it off ready to serve at the dining hall between 6:30 and 7 p. m. for judging. The top three winners will take home cash prizes ranging between $75 and $25. The entry fee is your gate admission.

Free-range downside:

A study has found that eggs from free-range chickens in industrialized Taiwan contain almost six times more cancer-causing dioxins than eggs from caged chickens. “Because free-range hens spend most of their lives in an outside environment, they have a better chance of being exposed to contaminants from the environment,” wrote researchers led by Pao-Chi Liao at National Cheng Kung University in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Seventeen per cent of free-range eggs were also found to exceed EU dioxin limits. Province puts Pansy back on map: New on Manitoba’s upgraded highway map, released June 15: the hamlet of Pansy, on PTH 403 about 20 km east of St. Malo. For reasons unknown, the community vanished from the 2005-06 map; a provincial spokesperson later pledged it would return (“Southeastern hamlet wiped off map,” Co-operator, May 18, 2006). New this year, the southern portion of the map is expanded to better display its highway network. It also marks the Dawson Trail in eastern Manitoba, as well as Historic No. 1 Highway (now PTH 44), part of the pre-Trans-Canada national highway system. Get it right: The head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics has urged local-level statistical authorities to provide policy-makers with accurate and timely grain production figures. Precise grain figures are key for the Communist Party and the government in ruling and ensure stability in the world’s most populous country, said Ma Jiantang.

China’s recorded corn output for 2009 of 164 million tonnes was widely regarded by market participants as inaccurate. The market had anticipated lower output due to a severe drought in the northeast.

Horse meat questioned:

Citing human health concerns, New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (B. C. southern Interior) has tabled a Private Members Bill (C-544) to end the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Canada. Atamanenko said of particular concern is the widespread use of phenylbutazone (bute) in recreational horses that might be sold for slaughter later in life. Given the difficulty of verifying documentation on slaughter horses imported from the U. S., he said it is irresponsible for Canada to allow the sale of horse meat.

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