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.

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.

The scientific community is still debating whether the benefits of using nanoparticles outweigh any potential risks, and now there is another voice to add to the mix.

Westchester, IL—A new independent clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism details the positive effects of resistant starch (Hi-Maize from Ingredion Inc., based here) on metabolism.

Tampa, FL—Fermented wheat germ extract, known in the immune health category, has given researchers reason to study its other potential benefits.

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.

United States—One of the most devastating droughts in recent history is ongoing in the Midwest United States, and it is causing concern throughout the organic produce industry.

Austin, TX—Whole Foods Market (WFM) had an impressive third-quarter increase, according to a financial report (ending July 1) released last week by the grocery chain giant.