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Some companies, like General Mills, have already begun labeling their products that contain genetically-modified ingredients (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks-in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states’ hands and sets a mandatory national system for GM disclosures on food products.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled the plan that had been negotiated for weeks with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

Senate Democrats from farm country called it a win for consumers and families, while Roberts said it would end “denigrating biotechnology and causing confusion in the marketplace” brought on by the state law.

But it was clearly an uneasy compromise, with critics of the plan making for strange bedfellows on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Both U.S. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat who supports his state’s mandatory law, and the American Farm Bureau Federation, which wants a voluntary standard, announced they don’t want to support the Roberts-Stabenow deal.

Large stockpiles are driving prices lower for some of the nation’s most important crops. (File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Large stockpiles are driving prices lower for some of the nation’s most important crops. (File: Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Midwest farmers may be facing some of toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades, largely thanks to low prices for some of the region’s biggest crops.

The average net farm income for farmers in Kansas, for instance, plummeted in 2015 to just $4,568, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA). The figure is less than 5 percent of the previous year’s average of $128,731.

The 2015 KFMA report measures the average net farm income of its members, which include about 10 percent of Kansas farmers that gross more than $100,000 annually, and found the lowest average level of nominal net farm income in Kansas since 1985.

A team of researchers is analyzing samples, watching for genes that confer resistance to antibiotics. (University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr)
A team of researchers is analyzing samples, watching for genes that confer resistance to antibiotics. (University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr)

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called “superbugs.”

Researchers found E. coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin a pig at an Illinois slaughterhouse, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said earlier this week. Colistin is often used against bacteria that fail to respond to more common antibiotics.

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