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On My Radar This Week: Lab Meat, Girl Scouts, Organic Farming

fall-2008-088.jpg Every morning when I open my inbox, I sort through the positive and negative headlines of the day, identifying which ones are worth comment and will generate responses from readers in the online comments section. Today, I’ve compiled a few of the top headlines that are on my radar this week, with the hope that many of you will take a minute to respond to these items, along with prompting a hot discussion on today’s BEEF Daily blog. My hot topics range from meat grown in petri dishes, to Girl Scouts teaching kids about agriculture and the environmet, to an interesting comparison on organic farming vs. traditional agriculture. Check out these articles and join the conversation!

962xeem81.jpg 1. Meat From Petri Dish To Plate: Credible Or Inedible? (Source: The Kansas City Star; By Scott Canon)

"Nicholas Genovese is a lab-coated collection of incongruities. He’s being bankrolled by an animal-rights group to make meat. The molecular biologist is working in a lab at a land-grant university that pulls in millions in grants for its research on livestock. Yet the money backing him pushes the desire to end the use of animals as food. And the guy he answers to at the University of Missouri makes clear that he sees just three reasons for a cow to exist: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Genovese’s work explores a hope — certainly distant, perhaps fanciful — to grow muscle meat separate from an animal. It would start in a laboratory and move to a factory. It aims for a world that would leave both meat lover and animal lover with a satisfied burp."

What's your take on meat grown in a lab? Will animal rights activists succeed in creating this product and replacing America's traditional protein sources with synthetic meat?

2. It's Your Planet—Love It! (Source: Girl Scouts)

"Girls are being exposed to ideas and discussions on the environment every day and everywhere. Girl Scouts' journeys are packed with the latest research and girl-relevant environmental thinking and offer adults a way to interact with girls on topics of great importance in their lives. In this journey series, girls at each grade level have an opportunity to learn about grade-appropriate environmental issues such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes."

Although I'm not sure whether the information is credible or sensational, BEEF Daily reader Jeff Loutsch writes about his concerns, "My daughter is involved in Girl Scouts, and when my wife was researching the “new” journey program that they are trying to introduce, I found it quite interesting on what they had to say about production agriculture. This program touches a lot of young girls and can influence them in negatively if introduced to them in the wrong way."

Are your daughters in Girl Scouts? Have they taken part in this series? What messages do you think the organization is pushing about agriculture? If you could meet with the Girl Scouts, what would you tell them about cattle ranching and the environment?

3. Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming vs. Conventional Agriculture (Source: Scientific American; By Christi Wilcox)

"Ten years ago, Certified Organic didn’t exist in the U.S. Yet in 2010, a mere eight years after USDA’s regulations officially went into effect, organic foods and beverages made $26.7 billion. In the past year or two, certified organic sales have jumped to about $52 billion worldwide despite the fact that organic foods cost up to three times as much as those produced by conventional methods. More and more, people are shelling out their hard-earned cash for what they believe are the best foods available. Imagine, people say: you can improve your nutrition while helping save the planet from the evils of conventional agriculture – a complete win-win. And who wouldn’t buy organic, when it just sounds so good? Here’s the thing: there are a lot of myths out there about organic foods, and a lot of propaganda supporting methods that are rarely understood. It’s like your mother used to say: just because everyone is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean you should do it, as well. Now, before I get yelled at too much, let me state unequivocally that I’m not saying organic farming is bad – far from it."

What are your thoughts on organic farming? While I agree that it offers more choices for consumers, I think that, too often, organic is promoted and marketed by slamming conventional agriculture, which is just as safe and wholesome. Do you raise organic foods? Why did you choose that route? If you are a consumer, what are your priorities and preferences on food choices?

4. The final item of the day is to remind all of you that today is the last day to send your entries in for the BEEF Daily and RZR Masks Summer Grazing Photography Contest. View the gallery of reader submitted photos here. Send your best to me at [email protected] Thanks for participating.