Peggy Lowe

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.

jetsandzeppelins, flickr Creative Commons

A senior scientist at the US Agriculture Department filed a whistleblower complaint today that adds fuel to the controversy swirling around a popular pesticide.

Jonathan Lundgren is a USDA entomologist in South Dakota. He says his research on a class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” has been suppressed by the federal agency. His findings suggest the pesticides may harm honeybees and Monarch butterflies. Reporter Carey Gillam broke the story this morning.

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The average American eats 89 pounds of chicken a year. According to a report out today, that demand takes an enormous toll on the workers.

The report by Oxfam America says workers are facing factory line speeds that have doubled, many cut up 34 chickens a minute. Oliver Gottfried of Oxfam America says the four big poultry companies give a single half-hour lunch break but forbid workers from leaving the line during an eight-hour shift.

neetalparekh, flickr Creative Commons

Congress inched closer Wednesday to setting a national standard for labeling genetically modified foods. Surprising many, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Ag Committee said she is committed to getting a GMO labeling bill passed by the end of this year. Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says most consumers care deeply about where their food comes from. But she doesn’t want a patchwork of laws passed in states across the country.

Peggy Lowe, Harvest Public Media

neetalparekh, flickr Creative Commons

State laws requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients would be banned under a bill passed in the U.S. House Thursday.

The bill’s sponsor is Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo. He says genetically engineered foods are safe and if someone doesn’t want to eat them, they can choose products voluntarily labeled GMO-free.


As a massive outbreak of bird flu stretches across the Midwest, scientists are still working to get a handle on how the virus spreads. But as Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports, it remains a mystery for now.

Up to this point, officials had blamed the introduction and spread of the H5N2 virus on migratory birds.

Now a new government study, released Monday, points to several culprits, including workers spreading the virus from farm to farm and even the possibility that the virus was airborne.

The Kansas Board of Regents gave final approval Wednesday to a strict new policy on what employees may say on social media. Critics say the policy violates both the First Amendment and academic freedom, but school officials say providing faculty with more specific guidelines will actually bolster academic freedom on campus.

The controversial policy was triggered by an equally controversial tweet posted last September by David Guth, an associate journalism professor. Reacting to a lone gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., he wrote:

Nearly two years after allegations of a sexual assault rocked a small Missouri town, the case may be reopened.

A county prosecutor in Maryville, Mo., has requested that an independent attorney look at accusations of rape and other charges against two former high school athletes — despite his earlier decision to drop the case.

The Internet activist group Anonymous, which crusaded for another high-profile rape case, is taking credit for this turnaround.

The Events

Tyson Foods Inc. announced this week that it would soon suspend purchases of cattle that had been treated with a controversial drug, citing animal welfare concerns.

But many in the industry wonder if the real reason is the battle for sales in other countries, where certain drugs that make livestock grow faster are banned.

"I really do think this is more of a marketing ploy from Tyson to raise some awareness so they can garner some export business from our overseas export partners," says Dan Norcini, an independent commodities broker.

As Chris Webber checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant on a recent morning, he worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

"The drought is over at the moment," he says. "But in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That's how fast it can get back to dry."