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Food and Ag Policy briefing: Pesticides under fire, ASF spreading, energy drinks restricted

African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread to new countries, whilst action against pesticides progresses steadily in the US

Numerous actions to restrict and reduce agrochemical use have played out across the US over the past week.

Environmental officials in California have taken the next step towards imposing a statewide ban on banning chlorpyrifos by sending notices on Wednesday (August 13).

The notices have been sent to registrants that their product registrations will be cancelled because of concerns about the public health risks from the widely-used insecticide.

Meanwhile, US environmental groups have again called on a federal appeals court to vacate EPA's approval of Monsanto's dicamba herbicide, arguing the agency failed to account for the harm from drift of the potent pesticide and ignored its potential impact on endangered species.

The brief is the latest move in a legal battle that started with EPA's 2016 registration of the Monsanto herbicide, which is a mix of dicamba and glyphosate.

US company General Mills shared plans to reduce pesticide use in its agricultural supply chain, detailing its strategies for promoting regenerative agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) techniques as well as expanding organic production and promoting pollinator health.

In Brazil, the citrus sector has announced it has restricted the use of the insecticide dimethoate in production of fruit for juice and for export as fresh produce.

The move is in response to the European Union’s decision not to renew its authorisation due to risks identified in its reassessment.

ASF found in Myanmar and Serbia

African Swine Fever continued  to raise alarm throughout Europe with Serbia confirming its’ first outbreak on Tuesday (August 13).

The samples were tested at the EU reference laboratory in Madrid, Spain and the results do not come as a complete surprise because Serbia had already reported suspected cases of ASF to the World Health Organisation.

In response to the findings in Serbia, Russia blocked pork imports from the Balkan state. Russian state veterinary agency Rosselkhoznadzor said the ban applies to pigs, breeding material and pigmeat – except for certain processed items that are treated in a way that destroys the ASF virus.

On Wednesday (August 14), Myanmar confirmed its first case of ASF, on a pig farm close to the Chinese border.

The outbreak in Myanmar means ASF is now present in seven Asian countries, the others being: Cambodia, China, North Korea, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Close to five million pigs have been lost to the disease in Asia since it first surfaced in China some twelve months ago.

ASF in China has had the consequence of seeing the chicken meat production rise rapidly as industry looks to meet the demand for animal protein.

New forecasts from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) suggest chicken meat production will increase by 18% this year to reach 13.8 million tonnes.

Health issues

New research in the UK published last week by the NGO Action on Salt has highlighted the amount of salt in snack foods such as pasties and olives.

The campaign group is calling on the government to ensure consumers know the salt content of food by introducing compulsory, front-of-pack labelling.

In Scotland, the government has announced it has banned the sale to young people of energy drinks with caffeine content in all of the publicly-owned leisure centres such as swimming pools and museums.

The government cited WHO research to justify its move. The WHO research suggests that excessive consumption of energy drinks by children is linked to headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declared an ingredient can be safely used as a source of Vitamin B3 in food supplements.

EFSA said that the novel food ingredient nicotinamide riboside was safe to use in a food supplement at a daily serving of 300mg for the healthy adult population, marking a critical step forward in the EU regulatory approval process.

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