Before the ballots open on California Prop. 37 on November 6, there are numerous factors and perspectives with which to be familiar. The fate of the proposition that would mandate labeling in the state on all food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is in the hands of voters. The result will likely carry policy implications for the rest of the country, and has the potential to make an immediate impact on the entire food industry due to the size California’s consumer base.

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Hershey, PA—A coalition of independent natural food stores and co-ops, along with several human rights and consumer groups, has sent an open letter to The Hershey Company, urging it to make a substantially larger commitment to relying upon ethically-sourced, Fair Trade cocoa for its chocolate products. The letter comes in the context of reports that illegal and often forced child labor is a major issue with overseas cocoa production.

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News from industry food companies.

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Forward momentum for the U.S. farm bill, the agricultural policy legislation up for renewal in 2012 after its latest five-year run, has stalled in the House of Representatives. After the Senate passed its version of the bill in June, the House Agriculture Committee submitted its proposal to the House. But disagreement over key elements related to farm subsidies and food stamps saw legislators focus instead on providing immediate economic assistance to farmers hit hard by recent drought conditions.

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Washington, DC—Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are working together to support and pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011.

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News from industry food companies.

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Saskatoon, SK, Canada—A Canadian study found little link between beverage drinking habits and cases of overweight and obesity in children. Using data from a national health survey, the researchers analyzed over 10,000 Canadian children aged 2–18.

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Whiting, IN—The coupon-clipping public has spoken: 72% of U.S. adults would be more inclined to buy organic food items if they were less expensive than their conventionally produced counterparts. This is according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com, which polled more than 2,000 participants aged 18 and over.

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The debate goes back and forth, but chalk one up for the “organic is better for you” side. A study conducted at the University of Barcelona (UB) found that tomatoes grown under organic conditions contained higher levels of healthful phenolic compounds than conventional tomatoes.

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Yonkers, NY—Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in April that it would seek to restrict the use of antibiotics in agricultural production, there has been more movement on this controversial front. Critics claim that overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed, done to promote animal growth and prevent disease, can create drug-resistant strains of diseases, making antibiotics less effective for humans.

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