Ag Headlines—Pollinators, Biotech Crops, Cheese Alerts, and the Hygiene Hypothesis

News items about food production and agriculture offer us a digital smorgasbord, but many readers do not have the time to dig under the surface of the headlines and tweets. Check out these recent items—and the article, commentary, or blog that can provide more insights:

Mac & Cheese Reports–Health Alert or Fear Mongering?
After testing 30 different cheese products, researchers found that all but one contained chemicals called phthalates–man-made substances that have been shown to interfere with human hormones. The highest levels were found in the cheesy powder used to make the sauce for boxed macaroni and cheese. BUT—according to many, a mac-and-cheese eater would need to eat hundreds of servings to reach a toxic level. University of Florida scientist Kevin Folta says the reports are another case of manipulating your deepest food fears

Pollinators and Bee Health–Common Sense Approaches 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has initiated the “Voluntary Plan to Mitigate the Risk of Pesticides to Managed Pollinators.” The document consists mostly of recommended best practices for the use of outdoor agricultural and commercial pesticides to minimize honeybee losses, but does not strengthen pesticide regulations. It mainly encourages beekeepers and pesticide applicators to communicate more effectively and use chemicals wisely. Check out CAST’s informative commentary, Why Does Bee Health Matter? The Science Surrounding Honey Bee Health Concerns and What We Can Do About It.

Biotech Crops and Trade

Global seed companies have called for transparent, science-based approvals processes for new crop types after China approved two more genetically modified crops for import but left four others on the waiting list. For an in-depth look at global regulations and biotech crops, check out this CAST commentaryThe Impact of Asynchronous Approvals for Biotech Crops on Agricultural Sustainability, Trade, and Innovation.

Gotta Get Dirty

Yet another expert is explaining why “dirt is good” and saying that kids need to be exposed to germs. Check out the CAST blog, The Hygiene Hypothesis—Farm Germs Might Be the Best Medicine.



by dan gogerty (bottom pic from

Help Support CAST

Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.