You are here

OpenMarket: Gregory Conko

  • Scientific American Busts Organic Food Myths

    July 20, 2011
    Over at the Scientific American magazine blogs, science writer Christie Wilcox takes on some of the mythology surrounding organic foods, including the belief (Myth #1) that organic farms don’t use pesticides and (Myth #3) that organic farming is better for the environment. I've been covering a lot of the same territory over the years (here and...
  • Sour Attitudes on Raw Milk

    July 5, 2011
    In a letter to the Washington Post over this past weekend, a "food safety consultant" in northern Virginia named Thomas L. Schwarz lambastes the Post for a documentary movie review that "trivialized the 15 or more potentially deadly organisms that can be found in raw milk."

    Among other topics, the movie “Farmageddon” raises questions about the appropriateness of our federal government spending many millions of taxpayer dollars cracking down on small farmers who dare to sell a product that consumers want and are willing to pay for. The movie, while high on...
  • A Peek Inside the Bureaucrat's Mind

    June 22, 2011
    By now, this story about the city of Portland, Oregon, deciding to drain nearly 8 million gallons of water from one of its reservoirs is old news. Portland Water Bureau administrator David Shaff decided to flush the water after a man was caught on a security camera urinating into the reservoir. There's already been lots of commentary on the utter senselessness of the decision. One comment on the Portland Oregonian's website nicely observed that:
    "More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have reliable access to clean drinking water, and here we are tossing away nearly 8 million gallons of water just to appease the ignorant residents who believe their tap water will otherwise turn yellow."

    Though I think Shaff himself said it best when he told the ...
  • FDA Should Not Mandate Comparative Effectiveness Trials

    June 15, 2011
    AEI resident fellow Scott Gottlieb has a new paper out explaining why the FDA should not force pharmaceutical companies to prove their new drugs are superior to existing treatments before they may be approved. The idea has been kicked around by pharmaceutical industry critics for years, particularly as a solution to their claim that the industry produces too many "me too" drugs that are all essentially identical. CEI has debunked that argument before, but it nevertheless gets a lot of traction any time the issue of rising drug prices comes up.

    Still, the FDA itself has held fast to the idea that randomized placebo-controlled trials (i.e. comparing a new drug...
  • E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Organic Farming ... Again

    June 6, 2011
    Although it's not 100 percent certain at this time, German health officials are becoming increasingly certain that the recent E. coli outbreak there can be traced to an organic farm. According to this article from The Scotsman:
    German-grown bean sprouts are the likely source of the deadliest E coli outbreak in modern history, according to agricultural officials.The outbreak, which has killed 22 people and made more than 2,000 ill across Europe, is thought to have originated at an organic farm in northern Germany. Lower Saxony's agriculture minister, Gert Lindemann, said tests had shown the bean sprouts were the probable cause.
  • Avastin and Breast Cancer: The Median is Not the Message

    May 26, 2011
    The New York Times ran an op-ed yesterday by oncologist Frederick Tucker urging the Food and Drug Administration to stand by its decision to remove the breast cancer treatment approval for the drug Avastin. That drug has been on the market since 2004 with an FDA approval for the treatment of colon cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, and it has since been approved to treat a handful of other cancers. In 2008, FDA approved it for the treatment of breast cancer after initial testing indicated that it slowed tumor growth, though without the benefit of lengthening the overall survival time. In short, the average breast cancer patient taking Avastin didn't live any...
  • New York Times on "Paternalistic" Government

    May 25, 2011
    The Dining section of today's New York Times has a short piece reporting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has lowered its recommended safe cooking temperature for pork from 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 145. Gourmands are rejoicing, as they've noted that the higher temperature would often render a lean cut of pork, such as a loin, "tough and dry."

    It's been reasonably well known for some time that cooking whole cuts of meat -- including beef, lamb, and even pork -- to a lower internal temperature could kill a sufficient portion of harmful bacteria to make the food safe to eat (though ground meats should still be cooked to the higher temperatures because the grinding and mixing process could move substantially more bacteria from the heated...
  • Journalists Say the Darndest Things!

    May 24, 2011
    Today's Washington Post has an article about a new study confirming that the lifetime earning power of a college degree in science or engineering far outweighs that of a humanities or liberal arts degree.  The article begins with an old joke:
    The scientist asks, “Why does it work?”

    The engineer asks, “How does it work?”

    The English major asks, “Would you like fries with that?”

    The observation may seem a bit cheeky, coming from me, a guy who double-majored in history and political science -- not a REAL science, as my sister the geo-chemist likes to remind me. But I've always questioned the reasoning skills of humanities majors, particularly a certain type of humanities major:  those who wind up...
  • Feds Say "Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse!"

    May 20, 2011
    Who says bureaucrats don't have a sense of humor? The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog points to a new advisory from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, giving us citizens helpful hints on how to prepare for ... wait for it ... an invasion of zombies. From the site:
    There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two ...

    The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over...
  • USDA's War on Potatoes

    May 17, 2011
    The Wall Street Journal reports today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to "eliminate the 'white potato' -- defined as any variety but the sweet potato -- from federally subsidized school breakfasts and to limit them sharply at lunch." And my friends Henry Miller and Bruce Chassy covered the topic in a recent piece at NRO. Why? It's part of an on-going effort to force schools to serve more "nutrient-rich" vegetables and get rid of French fries and Tater Tots. Last year, USDA...


Subscribe to OpenMarket: Posts by Gregory Conko