Ron DeSantis Supports Legislation Banning Lab-Grown Meat

“DeSantis came out in support of Florida legislation that would ban the sale of lab-grown meat in the state.
“I know the Legislature’s doing a bill to try to protect our meat. You need meat, OK? We’re going to have meat in Florida,” DeSantis said during a Friday press conference. “We’re going to have fake meat? That doesn’t work. We’re going to make sure to do it right. But there’s a whole ideological agenda that’s coming after, I think, a lot of important parts of our society.””

“like many attempts to curb vegan alternatives to meat and dairy, DeSantis’ support for these bills is also aimed at protecting animal farmers from competition—even if such competition is basically hypothetical.”

More than 100 Palestinians were killed trying to get aid

“Northern Gaza is where the IDF began its initial ground invasion in October; Israel targeted Gaza City as a Hamas stronghold. Though much of the population has been displaced to southern Gaza, there are still thousands of civilians in the area, and they have not had adequate aid distribution in around two months, Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International, told Vox.
“The biggest obstacle has simply been that the Israeli government has, for the most part, denied aid groups access to that part of the territory,” he told Vox.

The UN organization that is usually in charge of distributing aid to Palestine, UNRWA, cannot operate in the area for safety reasons. And aid workers have said they’ve found trying to work with Israel to get aid into Gaza all but impossible.

After a UNRWA and World Food Program aid convoy “coordinated with the Israelis,” according to Konyndyk, it was fired upon by Israeli troops. “There’s no confidence amongst professional humanitarians that they can actually have safe access into the north and that they won’t be targeted.”

Israel has also accused UNRWA of being in league with Hamas, and that accusation led many countries, including the US, to pause financial contributions to the organization. Aid distribution is challenging and requires significant coordination; without that, it’s easy for a situation in which people are starving and under significant duress to spiral out of control and turn violent.

Such infrastructure once existed in Gaza — via UNRWA and with the cooperation of Hamas civilian police — but that has been devastated by Israeli assaults and, in the case of UNRWA, an effort to undermine the organization.

“The best way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza is to stop the fighting,” Brian Finucane, senior adviser in the US policy program at the International Crisis Group, told Vox in an interview. “Based on reports today, in recent weeks, the breakdown of any sort of order in Gaza is even complicating that further and that Israel itself is contributing [to] that in no small part, including by targeting the police inside Gaza.”

Hagari said during the press conference that a private contractor was coordinating the aid distribution, although he did not name the contractor. Vox reached out to the IDF and to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for more information but did not receive a response by press time.

As part of potential ceasefire negotiations, the US is pushing for increased humanitarian access in Gaza, but so far has not backed up that rhetoric with meaningful action like pausing the flow of weapons to Israel or proposing a ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council. So despite the concerted efforts of diplomats and humanitarian workers, Finucane said, “They don’t have much to work with if the US bottom line is unconditional support for this catastrophic conflict.””

Review: The Disputed Roots of the Cuban Sandwich

“the Cuban-American haven of Miami is unwilling to concede the fight, claiming that Tampa’s Cuban sandwich is not authentic. The Miami preparation of the sandwich is more traditional, while Tampa’s includes salami—an Italian meat. This is explained by the droves of Italians who moved to Cuban-dominated communities in Central Florida after the lynchings of Italian-Americans in New Orleans throughout the 1890s.
The evolution of the Cuban sandwich exemplifies how Florida’s historical embrace of immigrants has created new delicacies we can all enjoy together.”

Gazans turn on Hamas as food shortage fuels disorder

“Desperate Palestinians have begun attacking Hamas security forces as tensions grow in Gaza over chronic shortages of food, water and medicine.
In rare acts of defiance, Gazans hurled rocks at Hamas police who tried to jump a queue for water”

Putin’s War Is Slowly Destroying Europe’s Breadbasket

“it isn’t a time of plenty in the breadbasket of Europe, and not only because Russia, for now, says it won’t continue the arrangement it made with the United Nations and Turkey that for a year permitted 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported from the country’s massive southern ports. The present war has stunted Ukraine’s grain industry at every stage, beginning months before harvest time.
Though blessed with an abundance of wheat-friendly chernozem — the Russian term for “black earth” — most Ukrainians fertilize their soil. “There’s a great shortage of nitrogen fertilizers,” says Denis Tkachenko, who helps run a trade association of Odesa region farms including about 12,000 acres. Fertilization means more grain enriched with the proteins enabling wheat to be baked into bread; poorer crops can be sold more cheaply for animal feed.”

“there are many fewer fields. More than a quarter of Ukraine’s grain country lies east of the Dnieper River, and has been controlled or threatened by Russia since the February 2022 invasion. Even in the relatively safe southwest, the Ukrainian military has commandeered — thereby disabling — a lot of farmland. Tkachenko says that about 3 to 5 percent of the fields in his region were fortified early in the war against a possible Russian sea invasion. Another farmer in the area tells me that a third of his nearly 10,000 acres have been used for trenches, mining and the like.”

Will diet soda, yogurt, and cereal disappear from stores?

“the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic.” Another WHO committee, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), independently assessed the ingredient, too, but maintained its existing recommendation — suggesting not that people cut the substance entirely out of their diets but that they limit their daily aspartame consumption to about 40 mg per kilogram (or about 2.2 pounds) of body weight. Diet soda contains about 200 mg of aspartame per 12-ounce can. By that measure, an adult weighing 60 kg, or roughly 132 pounds, would need to drink about 12 cans of diet soda a day to exceed the JECFA’s recommendation, assuming they had nothing else containing aspartame.
Making matters more confounding, the Food and Drug Administration had yet another take. It told Vox in an email that it had reviewed the information used in WHO’s assessment and “identified significant shortcomings” in the studies the agency relied on. “Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives in the human food supply,” the agency added.”

A fire killed 18,000 cows in Texas. It’s a horrifyingly normal disaster.

“The fires are part of a broader pattern of mass casualty events on factory farms, where 99 percent of America’s meat, dairy, and eggs are produced. Some are the result of human or mechanical error, but many stem from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and extreme temperatures, like last summer’s scorching heat wave in Kansas that killed thousands of cows who were subsequently dumped in a landfill. Disease outbreaks, too, result in mass death or culling on farms.”

“High death tolls could be more likely in the future as mega-factory farms proliferate, packing ever more animals into cramped warehouse-sized sheds. From 1992 to 2017, the number of US farms with 1,000 or more dairy cows has more than tripled, even as the total number of dairy cows has remained about the same.”

The Tigray Ethiopia War: Video Sources

Ethiopia: War in Tigray – Background and state of play Eric Pichon. 2022 12 9. Think Tank European Parliament. War in Ethiopia Center for Preventive Action. 2023 3 31. Council on Foreign Relations. Tigray War Fast Facts CNN Editorial

Prices at the supermarket keep rising. So do corporate profits.

“Food companies say their price increases merely reflect how much their costs have gone up due to “inflationary pressures,” like higher labor costs, transportation delays, and capacity issues, or the higher price of grains and animal feed. Yet inflation in 2022 outpaced the rise in wages in most industries, and the prices of many agricultural commodities have come down.
The eyebrow-raising spikes at the grocery store can only partly be blamed on manufacturers’ higher costs. The inflation narrative offers the perfect jumping-off point for companies to raise prices, and major food manufacturers are taking advantage of the moment to boost their profits.

The proof? Look at just how rich companies have gotten since the start of the pandemic.”

““Corporate profits have hit their highest level ever, and corporate profit margins — how much they’re making on each unit that they’re selling — have hit the highest level in 70 years,” said Chris Becker, senior economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive economic advocacy organization.”


“Why are corporate profits so high at a time when regular people feel increasingly strapped? Because a small number of players have gobbled up most of the food chain. Cargill and just three other agribusiness companies control about 70 percent of the world’s agriculture market, according to Oxfam. Brands like PepsiCo, Nestle, Mondelez, and Conagra produce and market the vast majority of the offerings found in US grocery stores.

“We look at the supermarket shelf, and we might be buying tea, cereal, whatever it might be, and we think, ‘Oh, I’ve got a real offer of choice here on the product I want to buy,’” Ahmed, of Oxfam, told Vox. “Frankly, it’s an illusion of choice, because so many of those products are actually owned by the same company.”

Grocery retailers, too, have become increasingly consolidated.”

“Evan Wasner, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist who authored a recent paper on companies’ price-setting power with economist Isabella Weber, said that companies tend to raise prices when they think they won’t see a huge backlash — like when everyone else is hiking prices, too. “In a sense, economy-wide cost increases act as a kind of coordinating mechanism which allows firms competing with one another for market share to safely raise prices together,” said Wasner.”

“Market dominance makes the supply chain more brittle, too, because it means there are just a few vulnerable points for failure. Last year’s baby formula shortage is an example of how dangerous the results can be. Just two US companies control about 80 percent of the market, which meant that when one manufacturing plant shut down, the entire nation struggled to buy baby formula.

Becker blames the vulnerable state of supply chains in part on market deregulation over the last several decades, which has enabled companies to cut corners. In the 1980s, the growing popularity of “just-in-time” inventory systems, where companies order just the amount of inventory needed right now without a buffer, allowed companies to become more efficient. That has meant lower prices for consumers, usually, and higher profits for companies — until a crisis hits, and suddenly there are shortages and supply bottlenecks.”

“Transcripts of corporations’ recent earnings calls illuminate that they’re well aware of their power right now. Groundwork has been collecting highlights from corporate earnings calls on its website. “They’re saying a lot about cost increases and supply shocks, but they’re also saying it doesn’t matter,” said Becker. “We do have these higher costs that we’re paying, but we have so much pricing power, we’re so capable of passing all these prices on to consumers, that it doesn’t matter.””

“Becker echoed that the current economic orthodoxy on how to fix inflation — to rein in Americans’ ability to spend money by attempting to raise unemployment levels — should be questioned.

“I would say that we have this really toxic narrative out there that the only way we can get inflation under control is to throw a bunch of people out of work,” said Becker. “Larry Summers recently claimed that we would need 10 percent unemployment [for one year], which is about 11 million jobs lost, to get inflation under control.”

“We’re going to try to solve a cost-of-living crisis by making people poor or losing their jobs? I think that’s crazy,” he continued.

What will break the cycle of not just inflation, but of consumers having to pay ever-higher prices for essential goods while the world’s food producers become richer? Experts offered several potential solutions. One is stronger antitrust laws and improved enforcement of preventing and breaking up monopolies. Anti-price gouging laws are another tool in the arsenal. Oxfam, for one, has been a vocal advocate of a windfall profits tax on food corporations. “It’s a tax on those corporations which are raising prices substantially in excess of costs,” Ahmed explained. The fact that it would raise tax revenue is great. But “fundamentally, it reins in companies’ monopoly power and disincentives corporate greed.” Other countries already have similar measures in place. Spain expects to raise about $6.39 billion from its windfall tax on energy companies and banks.

“Corporations are really making profits on the backs of consumers and households,” said Becker. “Let’s tax those windfall profits — and let’s do something with that money.

“There’s nothing that really stops corporations right now from just doing whatever they want.””