11, 2005: The Asian Tsunami will force new thinking
into global disaster readiness and response. The discovery
of mad cow disease in North America 19 months ago created
an elaborate rule-making process in the US that has the potential
of taking down some of the barriers to Canadian beef by March
7. Big events. Headline news. Drivers of change.
As the 2004 calendars head for the recycling bin, there will
be scores of small events, back-page stories--one blip on
a radar screen--never to be thought of again. With some exceptions...
Here are a few I’ll be watching in 2005.
- Ocean freight rates spike in 2004 to
more than double their previous high during the energy crisis
of the early 70s. Soaring fuel prices are only part of the
explanation. China is sucking in large quantities of raw
materials, steel, coal, scrap iron, wood, half the world’s
cement. Older single-hulled ships are being pressured out
of service by insurance surcharges. There aren’t enough
ships to go round. Can high freight rates be passed on to
the customers of low cost food?
- Fighting obesity in schools makes headline news
in 2004. Soda pop or “liquid candy” and other
so-called “bad foods” are getting the boot from
schools and other spots frequented by children and teenagers.
Little noticed were the stories about food and beverage
manufacturers who would like to help improve nutrition but
are stymied by labeling rules. They have become eager to
fortify pop with calcium and other good things. But health
claims on foods and drinks that have little nutritional
value are a no-no. The manufacturers want the rules changed.
Their argument goes like this: Kids and teenagers drink
pop and eat candy. We know how to fortify and enrich foods
and drinks. Why not allow us to add a few nutrients to what
kids and teens are already consuming – and allow us
to label this and open up a whole new market?
- Iowa cattle toast to their health. The
cattle on a dozen farms in Cedar Rapids, Iowa liked their
feed a lot better in 2004. Their feed had an additive chock
full of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and amino acids.
More accurately--their feed was spiked. A local beer distributor
ran into trouble with a large quantity of beer. The shelf
life had expired. A local feed dealer accepted the offer
of free beer and in turn offered the beer as an additive
to the feed delivered to his customers. According to the
news bite, one of the ranchers buying beer-spiked feed noted
that the cattle like the beer so much that they hesitate
to eat when offered feed lacking it.
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