Commentary: America’s Future Depends on the Bioeconomy

If the coronavirus pandemic exposed the fragility of our supply chains, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare the precarious state of global food security. While inflation and sanctions on Russia have pushed up the price of food and fuel, the latest U.N. climate report provides a further urgent warning to change the status quo for the sake of our planet. It claims that global CO2 emissions must peak by 2025 to avoid catastrophic effects.

But there is an alternative to the uncomfortable choice between economic sacrifice, moral compromise, and ecological ruin. It’s called the bioeconomy, and it has the potential to address the existential challenges posed by climate change, global pandemics, and growing economic inequity. Imagine bio-based antiviral face masks, or carbon-neutral cement produced in facilities located in America’s former industrial hubs.

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Consumer Prices Rise 8.5 Percent, the Highest in 40 Years

Newly released federal inflation data show that prices continue to rise at the fastest rate in four decades, continuing the trend of soaring inflation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation, which showed prices rose an additional 1.2% in March, part of an 8.5 percent spike in the past 12 months.

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Commentary: The Green U.S. Supply-Chain Rules Set to Unspool and Rattle the Global Economy

in a warehouse at General Mills

Making a box of Cocoa Puffs is a complicated global affair. It could start with cocoa farms in Africa, corn fields in the U.S. or sugar plantations in Latin America. Then thousands of processors, transporters, packagers, distributors, office workers and retailers join the supply chain before a kid in Minnesota, where General Mills is based, pours the cereal into a bowl. 

Now imagine the challenge that General Mills faces in counting the greenhouse gas emissions from all of these people, machines, vehicles, buildings and other products involved in this Cocoa Puff supply chain – then multiply that by the 100-plus brands belonging to the food giant.

Thousands of public companies may soon have such a daunting task to comply with a new set of climate rules proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Missouri Legislators Want to End Sales Tax On Guns, Food, Diapers in 2022 Session

Missouri State Capitol

If the number of bills submitted in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate is any indication, lots of time will be devoted to debating taxes during the next legislative session starting Jan. 5, 2022.

Approximately 10% of the 1,020 bills filed contain the word “tax” in the description. Senators filed about 40 bills and joint resolutions while representatives filed approximately 60.

More than 50 bills cover taxation and general revenue.

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Commentary: The Uncomfortable Truths About the Food Stamp Program

Volunteers sorting through food stamps

A recent administrative action has permanently increased benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 25 percent. Unfortunately, this historic boost fails to address the structural problems that plague this nearly 60-year-old program.

The official Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) webpage proudly proclaims that, “SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food…”

To that admirable end, the program formerly known as food stamps distributed $79 billion to 40 million people last year. Yet this desire to provide wholesome food to needy families conflicts with clear evidence that wholesome food is not what they think they need. Whether they play by the rules or not, people receiving SNAP benefits currently spend between 70-100 percent of that benefit on things other than healthy food.

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Former Memphis Day Care Director Sentenced for Falsifying Food Program Documents

Lowndes County School Buses

A former Memphis day care director was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison for submitting false documents to the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Fifty-five-year-old Ollie Stephenson of Germantown pleaded guilty to a criminal information charge after being accused of submitting a false Regions Bank statement and food invoice to the department in an audit during April and May 2020. Stephenson also was ordered to pay $375,158.80 in restitution.

Stephenson was the director of Louise’s Learning Tree Daycare Center in Memphis. It was part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Feeding Program.

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Commentary: Journalists Become Cynical, But Not Skeptical

Farm grown fruit for sale

Journalists and scientists have more in common than you’d think—at least they should. Scientists seek to understand and explain how the natural world works. They observe, ask questions, and approach new information with skepticism as they work through a careful process to determine what is true.

Journalists, in theory, use the same curiosity and rigor to provide the information we need to make good decisions in our lives. According to the Society of Professional Journalists, a core tenet of journalism is to “seek truth and report it.” In both worlds, negligence begins where skepticism ends, creating dangerous opportunities for peddlers of misinformation.

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual “Dirty Dozen” list is a perfect marriage of scientific and journalistic negligence. Each year, the EWG, a controversial, agenda-driven organic activist group, purports to rank the top 12 fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides. And each year, the media takes the bait without fail, and the coverage reads like sponsored content.

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