Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic. According to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic—the type found in some pesticides and insecticides—can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period.
India’s Food Chain to Benefit from Market Opening
The Indian government has liberalized its retail sector to allow foreign companies, such as Tesco and Walmart, to hold a majority stake in joint ventures. The development is especially promising for the country’s food chain, because ineffective logistics results in huge amounts of wasted food every year.
Overall, “It means there will be long-term investment in the supply chain, which is the weakest link in Indian agriculture,” said Gokul Patnaik, one of the country’s leading players in the agriculture sector, who pioneered the entry of Pepsi into the country in the early 1990s.
Walmart has plans to open retail stores in India in the next 12 to 18 months, making it the first multinational to jump on the government’s decision. Previously, foreign companies could only operate wholesale outlets.
EU Food Waste Rivals U.S. Levels
Recent reports indicate that nearly 40 percent of the food in the U.S. is wasted. Now, the European Union is under scrutiny following a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, which found that close to 50 percent of all fruits and vegetables in the bloc goes to waste.
These losses occur throughout the entire food chain, from “farm to fork,” but the predominant losses are linked to the production of produce, not to consumers discarding uneaten food, according to news reports.
Accidental damage during the harvesting of fruit; insect damage; mechanical damage and spillage during harvest; and crops discarded because of poor quality are some of the reasons why 20 percent of produce in Europe won’t even make it to a grocery store shelf, let alone a plate. The remaining 30 percent is due to logistics failures and other factors.
In conclusion, the study warned that if nothing was done to curb losses, food waste in the EU will grow by an additional 40 percent by 2025.
Global Production of Tropical Fruit Growing
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says global production of tropical fruit will reach 82 million tons in 2014, a 1.7 percent expansion over the 2004 base period. Just over three quarters of tropical fruit production is comprised of mango, pineapple, avocado and papaya.
Ninety percent of tropical fruits are grown in developing countries, where the production helps support jobs, increases farmers’ income and reduce poverty, according to the FAO. Most of the fresh tropical fruit is exported to the U.S. and EU (70 percent), followed by Japan.
In the meantime, regulatory compliance and health issues may put the squeeze on some markets. For instance, both the U.S. and EU maintain strict requirements for the import of fresh tropical fruit, and pending regulations are only going to stiffen the requirements. Global producers are going to have to make sure they meet those requirements, including labeling and traceability rules, in order to continue strong growth in the sector.
EU Critical of French Study Linking GM Corn to Cancer
French scientists at the University of Caen say rats fed on Monsanto’s genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling Roundup weed killer suffered tumors and multiple organ damage. The researchers said 50 percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.
According to Reuters news service, Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher said the company would review the study thoroughly. However, he added: “Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies performed on biotech crops to date, including more than a hundred feeding studies, have continuously confirmed their safety, as reflected in the respective safety assessments by regulatory authorities around the world.”
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said the study lacked sufficient scientific quality, though advocacy groups have accused the EFSA of putting the interests of biotech firms ahead of public safety concerns.