AlterNet.org: Ocean Robbins http://news.alternet.org/authors/ocean-robbins en Hawaiian Mayor Signs GMO Ban into Law http://news.alternet.org/food/hawaiian-mayor-signs-gmo-ban-law <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This bill prohibits biotech companies from operating on the island, and it bans farmers from growing any new genetically altered crops.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_69515878.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s official. The mayor of the island of Hawaii, Billy Kenoi, has <a href="http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2013/12/05/mayor-signs-gmo-bill-113-into-law/" target="_blank">signed</a> bill 113 into law. This bill prohibits biotech companies from operating on the island, and it bans farmers from growing any new genetically altered crops. (The papaya industry, which has more than 200 farms on the island, is <a href="http://hawaii.news.blogs.civilbeat.com/post/67508199777/hawaii-county-council-passes-gmo-ban">exempt</a> from the bill.)</p><p>Hawaii is joining Mexico, which last month banned (on an <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/12/us-mexico-corn-idUSBRE9AB11Q20131112" target="_blank">interim</a> basis) the planting of all genetically engineered corn, and Italy, which in July became the 9th European country to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/12/us-italy-gmo-idUSBRE96B0OS20130712" target="_blank">ban</a> planting of Monsanto’s GMO corn.</p><p>Monsanto and its allies are trying to convince you and I and the rest of the American public that the case is settled and GMOs have been proven safe.  But counties and nations around the world are banning them. And a group of 230 scientists from around the world, including Dr. Belinda Martineau, who helped commercialize the world’s first GM food (the Flavor Savor tomato), recently joined together to <a href="http://phys.org/news/2013-10-scientific-consensus-safety-genetically.html" target="_blank">sign</a> a declaration that they: “deplore the disinformation over the safety of GMOs.” They add: “Claims that there is a consensus among scientific and governmental bodies that GM foods are safe, or that they are no more risky than non-GM foods, are false.” (<a href="http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Scientists_Declare_No_Consensus_on_GMO_Safety.php" target="_blank">Read the scientist’s statement in full here</a>.)</p><p>Do you think GMOs should be labeled?  If you do, you are far from alone.  The vast majority of people in the United States would like to see the country join 64 other nations, including all of Europe, in labeling GMOs. It’s a cause <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/science/strong-support-for-labeling-modified-foods.html?_r=0" target="_blank">supported</a>, according to polls, by 93% of the American public.</p><p>But last month the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), funded by <a href="http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=31474#.UqKzf2RDuPs" target="_blank">secret donations</a> from the junk food industry, led a campaign to block labeling in the state of Washington. And now recently uncovered documents have <a href="http://www.eatdrinkpolitics.com/2013/11/07/industrys-secret-plan-to-get-the-feds-to-kill-gmo-labeling-in-every-state/" target="_blank">revealed</a> that the GMA is plotting a campaign for federal preemption that would permanently block any state from requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs.</p><p>Monsanto and the GMA want to keep you eating in the dark. That’s why the Food Revolution Network, for which I serve as CEO, has launched a campaign that seeks to peel away the GMA’s funding base, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/the-dark-side-of-cocacola_b_4385446.html" target="_blank">expose</a> the “natural” brands whose corporate owners are funding the GMA’s anti-labeling agenda. We’ve started with a petition and boycott campaign that targets Coca-Cola’s “healthy” brands.</p><p>Most people don’t realize that Coca-Cola owns Honest Tea, Odwalla, Zico Coconut Water, Simply Orange, and Vitamin Water.  And that this corporation, which sweetens most of its beverages with genetically engineered high fructose corn syrup, recently contributed more than $1 million in an illegal money laundering scheme to the cause of GMO secrecy. But now, hundreds of thousands of people like you are finding out and joining the campaign.</p><p>The people of Hawaii, and their mayor, have spoken.  Now it’s your turn.  Together, we can force Coca-Cola to honor the wishes of the vast majority of Americans who want to see GMOs labeled.</p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 08:15:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, Food Revolution Network 934313 at http://news.alternet.org Food Food gmo labeling right to know hawaii Coca-Cola Now Owns Zico Coconut Water, Honest Tea, Odwalla, and Vitamin Water: The Dark Side of Coke's "Healthy" Brands http://news.alternet.org/food/dark-side-coca-colas-healthy-brands <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">80 percent of organic brands are now reportedly owned by mega corporations and what they&#039;re doing with their money is alarming some health-conscious shoppers.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_96102875_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/the-dark-side-of-cocacola_b_4385446.html">story</a> first appeared on the Huffington Post.</em></p><p>On November 22, Coca-Cola <a href="http://www.fooddive.com/news/coca-cola-now-owns-all-of-zicoand-its-coconut-water/198379/" target="_hplink">completed</a> its acquisition of Zico Coconut Water. The company now owns a string of beverage brands marketed to people who like natural foods, including not just Zico but also Honest Tea, Odwalla, Simply Orange, and Vitamin Water.</p><p>In the last few years, sales of natural and organic foods have become big business. Annual revenues have nearly tripled since <a href="http://naturalfoodsinvestor.com/" target="_hplink">2001</a>, and they now exceed <a href="http://supermarketnews.com/blog/naturalorganic-sales-top-91b-survey" target="_hplink">$91 billion</a>. Healthy food isn't just for hippies any more, and corporate America wants in on the action.</p><p>While sales of Coca-Cola's soft drinks have been <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/health/amid-falling-sales-coke-launches-campaign-defend-sweetener-6C10920355" target="_hplink">slumping</a>, company profits <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/us-cocacola-results-idUSBRE99E0BY20131015" target="_hplink">were up</a> in the third quarter of 2013, thanks to strong and growing sales from Coca-Cola's non-soda and healthier beverage offerings.</p><p>But not everything is cheery in organic-land. Some natural food lovers are uncomfortable with the fact that most of their treasured brands have been <a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/Updated-Organic2013.jpg" target="_hplink">bought</a> by corporate behemoths. Clorox bought Burt's Bees. General Mills claimed Cascadian Farms and Muir Glenn. Even Kellogg's got into the natural foods buy-up bonanza by purchasing popular brands like Kashi and Gardenburger. In fact, 80 percent of organic brands are now <a href="http://www.draxe.com/organic-sells-out-to-mega-corporations/" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> owned by mega corporations.</p><p>This means that natural foods consumers might be unknowingly contributing to the profits of, and supporting the policies and practices of, parent companies like Coca-Cola with whom they have profound disagreement.</p><p>For example, the vast majority of natural foods consumers want Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. GMO labeling is already mandatory in <a href="http://www.thegoodonyabar.com/gmos/gmo-labeling-around-the-world/" target="_hplink">64 nations</a>including the entire European Union, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/science/strong-support-for-labeling-modified-foods.html" target="_hplink">recent polls</a> find it supported by 93 percent of the American public. But profits from the sale of Coca-Cola's healthier brands have been used by Coca-Cola to fight labeling efforts. It <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/have-a-coke-and-a-gmo-98961.html" target="_hplink">stands to reason</a> that the company doesn't want the public to know that its soda pop is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup made from genetically engineered corn.</p><p>Monsanto and Coca-Cola might like to dismiss GMO labeling advocates as a bunch of uninformed Luddites who are <a href="http://theprogressivecontrarian.com/2013/09/17/the-anti-gmo-movement-is-anti-scienceprogress-they-said-so/" target="_hplink">afraid of science</a> and <a href="http://theprogressivecontrarian.com/2013/03/19/the-dark-side-of-the-anti-gmo-movement/" target="_hplink">don't care</a> about the world's hungry. But many scientists and informed humanitarians have real and significant concerns about GMOs.</p><p>In the 20 years since genetically modified crops first came on the market, studies have found that they have led to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-usa-study-pesticides-idUSBRE89100X20121002" target="_hplink">higher</a> pesticide use, and no meaningful improvement in<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/booming/you-call-that-a-tomato.html" target="_hplink">flavor</a>, <a href="http://www.medicaldaily.com/nutritional-value-corn-does-gmo-corn-contain-same-nutrients-246496" target="_hplink">nutrition</a>, <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/failure-to-yield.html" target="_hplink">yield</a> or <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/monsanto-fails-at-improving.html" target="_hplink">water requirements</a>. And <a href="http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Scientists_Declare_No_Consensus_on_GMO_Safety.php" target="_hplink">many independent scientists</a> are deeply concerned that they have not been adequately tested and may even present health risks, and that their use has led not only to vastly increased use of <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-usa-study-pesticides-idUSBRE89100X20121002" target="_hplink">pesticides</a> but to a host of other <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/" target="_hplink">environmental</a> problems.</p><p>But companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kellogg have joined forces with Monsanto to bankroll efforts aimed at keeping Americans from knowing which foods contain GMOs. And they've used money from sales of their natural brands to help finance the effort.</p><p>In November, Washington State voters <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/blog/gmo-labeling-update/" target="_hplink">narrowly rejected</a> ballot initiative 522, which would have mandated the labeling of GMOs. The "no on 522" campaign <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022198304_gmoelectionxml.html" target="_hplink">broke</a> state initiative fundraising efforts by pulling in more than $22 million, all but $550 of which came from out of state. They spent much of their record-setting haul on a barrage of ads deemed "<a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021941144_gmotruthneedlexml.html" target="_hplink">mostly false</a>" by the<em> Seattle Times</em>.</p><p>More than half of the "no" campaign funding came in the form of allegedly illegally laundered money. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle were the leaders in a group of companies that tried to finance the campaign through secret contributions to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. It took a <a href="http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=31474" target="_hplink">lawsuit</a> from the state attorney general to bring the truth to light.</p><p>It turns out that sales of Honest Tea, one of the world's fastest growing organic and non-GMO brands, were joined by sales of Zico, Simply Orange, Odwalla, and Powerade, along with Coke itself, in helping to bankroll a secret scheme to keep GMOs from being labeled.</p><p>Fortunately for fans of the right to know what's in our food, there's a <a href="http://change.org/cokeboycott" target="_hplink">petition</a> and <a href="http://www.cokeboycott.com/" target="_hplink">boycott</a>campaign underway, launched by the Food Revolution Network (for which I serve as CEO), and the Center for Food Safety. We are pushing Coca-Cola to be accountable to the natural foods consumers from whom it profits, by ceasing to fund efforts aimed at derailing GMO labeling. More than 135,000 people signed on in the first two weeks.</p><p>Want to help? Join the Coca-Cola brands boycott, and find out how you can get informed and take action, <a href="http://www.cokeboycott.com/" target="_hplink">here</a>.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15.199999809265137px; line-height: 21px;">Ocean Robbins is co-author of <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/getvoices" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Voices of the Food Revolution</a>, and serves as adjunct professor for Chapman University and CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000+ member <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Food Revolution Network</a>. Join the Coca-Cola brands boycott <a href="http://www.cokeboycott.com/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">here</a>.</em></p> </div></div></div> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 15:36:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 933135 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Food coca-cola coke food gmo Coca-Cola Feeling the Heat After Secret Funding of Anti-Labeling Campaign http://news.alternet.org/food/coca-cola-feeling-heat-after-secret-funding-anti-labeling-campaign <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Campaign finance reports revealed that Coca-Cola had secretly contributed more than a million dollars to the fight against GMO labeling in Washington. Now activists are fighting back.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_54699241.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This story first appeared in the Huffington Post.</em></p><p>Coca-Cola has been having a rough time. The company owns Honest Tea, Odwalla, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Simply Orange, and other products marketed to health-conscious consumers. But it is best known for making Coke, a product that is utterly devoid of nutritional value and is often <a href="http://www.wbaltv.com/news/health/groups-blame-cocacola-for-childhood-obesity/-/9379230/22570318/-/ph4xw3z/-/index.html" target="_hplink">blamed</a> for contributing to the obesity epidemic -- an epidemic that is <a href="http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/media-center/releases/new-data-shows-obesity-costs-will-grow-344-billion-2018" target="_hplink">costing</a> hundreds of billions of dollars and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.</p><p>With demand for the company's carbonated and artificially flavored sugar water <a href="http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/07/coke_pepsi_second_quarter.html" target="_hplink">declining</a>, hope for Coca-Cola's profitability has been increasingly resting on the brands it markets as healthier alternatives. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-12/coca-cola-fourth-quarter-profit-advances-as-north-america-gains.html" target="_hplink">Bloomberg.com reports</a> that sales of Coca-Cola-owned brands like Honest Tea, Powerade, and Simply Orange are the company's new profit center.</p><p>But there's a problem.</p><p>In October, campaign finance reports <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/10/grocery_manufacturers_disclose.html" target="_hplink">revealed</a> that Coca-Cola had secretly contributed more than a million dollars to the fight against GMO labeling in Washington. It took the state's Attorney General <a href="http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=31474" target="_hplink">suing</a> the Grocery Manufacturers' Association (GMA) for what turned out to be an $11 million violation of the state's campaign finance laws to reveal these secret contributions. But now that the truth has been exposed, some healthy food activists are fighting back.</p><p>Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the Center for Food Safety, comments:</p><blockquote>Consumers of healthy beverages want to know what's in their food. By using money from sales of natural brands to secretly fund an anti-choice agenda that deprives consumers of the right to know what they're eating, Coca-Cola has been betraying the public interest and standing on the wrong side of history.</blockquote><p>We at the Food Revolution Network agree. And we have launched a petition on Change.org that calls for Coca-Cola to stop funding anti GMO labeling campaigns.<br /><br /><a href="http://change.org/petitions/coca-cola-stop-funding-anti-gmo-labeling-campaigns" target="_hplink">Check out and sign the petition here.</a></p><p>Coca-Cola's CEO, Muhtar Kent, <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/coca-cola-ceo-muhtar-kent-water-obesity" target="_hplink">says</a>, "We have... provided a tremendous amount of choice to people." But when it comes to the right to know if your food was genetically engineered, Coca-Cola would apparently like to keep you in the dark. According to reports, Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman <a href="http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/10/traitor-boycott-dis-honest-tea-2791448.html" target="_hplink">said</a> as recently as September that "after internal discussions," Coca-Cola wouldn't be "directly" funding efforts to defeat I-522. Apparently Coca-Cola thought that <a href="http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=31474#.Uo4TGGQ55U4" target="_hplink">allegedly illegally</a> laundering money through the Grocery Manufacturers' Association would keep their involvement a secret.</p><p>Honest Tea doesn't look quite so honest when it's being used to put an organic face on an alleged money laundering scheme whose goal is keeping you from knowing if your food is genetically engineered.</p><p>And what makes matters worse, Honest Tea proudly proclaims throughout their <a href="http://www.honesttea.com/splash/berry_good_lemonade/" target="_hplink">website</a> that they are GMO free -- while their parent company is actively working to prevent GMO labeling.</p><p>I wrote Coca-Cola asking if they intended to continue funding anti GMO labeling campaigns. The company's response was to repeat the anti-labeling lobby's talking points. They told me that Washington's labeling initiative, I-522, would: "Require tens of thousands of common food and beverage products to be relabeled exclusively for Washington State unless they are remade with higher-priced, specially developed ingredients. The measure will increase grocery costs for a typical Washington family by hundreds of dollars per year."</p><p>These are charges that the <a href="http://seattletimes.com/flatpages/specialreports/pulitzer.html" target="_hplink">nine-time </a>Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper <em>The Seattle Times </em><a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021941144_gmotruthneedlexml.html" target="_hplink">called</a> "mostly false" and that Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/10/labeling-genetically-engineered-food-washington-initiative-522/index.htm" target="_hplink">flatly rejected</a>.</p><p>In short, Coca-Cola not only tried to hide their contributions to the anti-labeling efforts in Washington, but they continue to try to deceive people about the actual realities of GMO labeling.</p><p>And they're using sales of Honest Tea, Odwalla, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Simply Orange, and all their other brands, to finance their agenda.</p><p>Fortunately, you don't have to fall for it.</p><p><a href="http://change.org/petitions/coca-cola-stop-funding-anti-gmo-labeling-campaigns" target="_hplink">Click here to add your name to the petition calling Coca-Cola to stop funding anti-labeling campaigns.</a></p><p><a href="http://buycott.com/campaign/708/coke-boycott-for-anti-gmo-labeling-contributions" target="_hplink">Click here to get the Coca-Cola buycott app.</a></p><p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15.199999809265137px; line-height: 21px;">Ocean Robbins is co-author of <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/getvoices" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Voices of the Food Revolution</a>, and serves as adjunct professor for Chapman University and CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000+ member Food Revolution Network. <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Find out more and sign up here.</a></em></p> </div></div></div> Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:40:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 927966 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Food food gmo labeling coke coca-cola Monsanto's Very Bad Week: 3 Big Blows for GMO Food http://news.alternet.org/food/monsantos-very-bad-week-3-big-blows-gmo-food <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Why are Monsanto and the junk food industry willing to spend many tens of millions of dollars every year trying to keep you in the dark about your food? </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_96102875_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It hasn't been a good week for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry.</p><p>Just three days ago, Mexico <a href="http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2013/10/mexico-bans-gmo-corn/" target="_hplink">banned</a> genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country's borders.</p><p>At the same time, the County Council for the island of Kauai <a href="http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/23707723/kauai-council-approves-controversial-gmo-pesticide-labeling-bill" target="_hplink">passed a law </a>that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes -- among other locations.</p><p>And the big island of Hawaii County Council <a href="http://bigislandnow.com/2013/10/16/council-votes-to-restrict-gmos-ban-fracking/" target="_hplink">gave preliminary approval</a> to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.</p><p>But perhaps the biggest bombshell of all is now unfolding in Washington state. The mail-in ballot state's voters are already weighing in on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Knowing full well that 93 percent of the American public <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567" target="_hplink">supports</a> GMO labeling, and that if one state passes it, many others are likely to follow, entrenched agribusiness interests are <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021941264_gmomoneyxml.html" target="_hplink">pulling out all the stops</a> to try to squelch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/monsanto-prop-37_b_2088934.html" target="_hplink">yet another</a> state labeling effort.</p><p>This time, however, things aren't going quite as planned. On Wednesday, Washington state Attorney General Bob Feguson <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/16/us-usa-gmo-labeling-idUSBRE99F19B20131016" target="_hplink">filed a lawsuit</a> against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The GMA, a lobby for the junk food industry, has been by far the largest donor to efforts to defeat the labeling initiative. The lawsuit alleges that the GMA illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/huge-gmo-news_b_4129311.html">This story</a> first appeared on the Huffington Post.</em></p><p>The source of the money has now been exposed, and it <a href="http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2013/10/18/pepsi-coke-nestle-top-multi-million-dollar-campaign-against-i-522/" target="_hplink">turns out</a> to be Pepsico, Coca-Cola, NestleUSA, General Mills and a few other junk food companies. The lawsuit <a href="http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2013/10/17/corporate-secrets-how-the-anti-522-campaign-was-planned/" target="_hplink">reveals</a> that GMA leadership held a series of secret meetings to plot how to perpetrate a money laundering scheme and illegally hide member donations from Washington state voters, in direct violation of campaign disclosure laws.</p><p>Unlike the junk food companies that feared consumer backlash, Monsanto hasn't even bothered to hide the more than $4 million the company has given to the "no" campaign. In fact, GMA, Monsanto and a handful of other corporate donors have now <a href="http://blogs.seattletimes.com/politicsnorthwest/category/general-election/gmo-initiative/" target="_hplink">broken a state record</a> by pouring more than $17 million into their effort to stop Washington's GMO labeling ballot initiative.</p><p>Voting is already underway in Washington, and the final ballots will be cast on November 5. The "yes" side is <a href="http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/elway-poll-eyman-initiative-gmo-labeling-measure-hold-big-leads-september-2013" target="_hplink">ahead</a> in the most recent polls, but supporters of the right to know fear that a barrage of heavily funded and <a href="http://www.inspirationsforchange.com/healthy-living/yes-522-misleading-no-on-522-commercials-analyzed/#.UmJCIWRgb0g" target="_hplink">misleading</a> ads could sour voters to the initiative.</p><p>They remember that just last year, California's Proposition 37 was well ahead in the polls until Monsanto and its allies <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/monsanto-prop-37_b_2088934.html" target="_hplink">spent more than $46 million</a> on their campaign in the Golden State.</p><p>All this label fighting and money laundering leads to some very significant questions. Why are Monsanto and the junk food industry willing to spend many tens of millions of dollars every year trying to keep you in the dark about your food? What doesn't big food want you to know? And what are they afraid might happen if you did?</p><p>Monsanto tells us that their products are about the best thing to come along since sliced bread. For years they've been promising that GMOs would <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/how-gmos-ramped-us-pesticide-use" target="_hplink">reduce</a> pesticide use, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/food/why-monsanto-wrong-about-gm-crop-promises" target="_hplink">increase</a>yields, <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/monsanto-fails-at-improving.html" target="_hplink">reduce</a> water consumption, and offer foods that are <a href="http://www.biotech.iastate.edu/biotech_info_series/bio8.html" target="_hplink">more</a> tasty and <a href="http://monsantoblog.com/2009/04/01/gmos-improving-nutrition/" target="_hplink">more</a> nutritious.</p><p>I wish they were right.</p><p>But in the 20 years since GMO crops first came on the market, studies have found that they have led to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-usa-study-pesticides-idUSBRE89100X20121002" target="_hplink">higher</a> pesticide use, and no meaningful improvement in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/booming/you-call-that-a-tomato.html" target="_hplink">flavor</a>, <a href="http://www.medicaldaily.com/nutritional-value-corn-does-gmo-corn-contain-same-nutrients-246496" target="_hplink">nutrition</a>,<a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/failure-to-yield.html" target="_hplink">yield</a> or <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/monsanto-fails-at-improving.html" target="_hplink">water</a> requirements. Instead, what they've created are plants that are engineered to withstand <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy-environment/04weed.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">massive</a> dosing of <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=weed-whacking-herbicide-p" target="_hplink">toxic</a> herbicides, and plants that function as living pesticide factories. Monsanto's Bt. corn, for example, is actually <a href="http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/pips/regofbtcrops.htm" target="_hplink">registered</a> with the EPA as a pesticide.</p><p>With concern about GMOs growing fast, and with the public being pummeled with vast amounts of misinformation, there is a tremendous need for clear, accurate and reliable information about GMOs. In response, the 100,000+ member Food Revolution Network and the Institute for Responsible Technology are co-sponsoring a free online <a href="http://www.gmosummit.org/" target="_hplink">GMO Mini-Summit</a>. From October 25-27, some of the top GMO experts on the planet will be providing insights and clear calls to action in this teleseminar that is also being broadcast without charge on the Internet. Monsanto probably isn't too happy about the prospect of tens of thousands of people getting informed and mobilized. But if you love life, safe food, and the truth, then you might want to <a href="http://www.gmosummit.org/" target="_hplink">check it out.</a></p><p>And if you want to lend a hand to getting out the vote in the state of Washington, you can<a href="http://yeson522.com/volunteer-for-yes-on-522/" target="_hplink">sign up to volunteer here.</a></p><p>Nobody knows what's going to happen in Washington between now and November 5. But from Mexico, to Hawaii and to the 64 nations that already have GMO labeling, this tide just might be turning.</p><p>Maybe we, the people, do get a say in what we know, and what we eat, after all.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15.199999809265137px; line-height: 21px;">Ocean Robbins is co-author of <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/getvoices" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Voices of the Food Revolution</a>, and serves as adjunct professor for Chapman University and CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000+ member Food Revolution Network. The GMO Mini-Summit starts October 25. <a href="http://www.gmosummit.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none;" target="_hplink">Find out more here.</a></em></p> </div></div></div> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 12:49:00 -0700 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 912988 at http://news.alternet.org Food Food gmo right to know food agriculture monstanto Unbelievable Ways Companies Are Trying to Keep You From Seeing Where Your Meat Comes From http://news.alternet.org/food/unbelievable-ways-companies-are-trying-keep-you-seeing-where-your-meat-comes <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The modern meat industry has some good reasons to fear the public finding out that Old MacDonald&#039;s farm isn&#039;t so happy these days.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_89161474.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Amy Meyer wanted to see for herself where her food was coming from. But in the state of Utah, she discovered, <em>that</em> was against the law.</p><p>On February 8, <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56240592-78/case-meyer-law-gag.html.csp" target="_hplink">Meyer drove</a> to Dale Smith Meatpacking Company in Draper City, Utah, and took a look from the side of the road. She gasped as she peered through the barbed wire fence and saw what appeared to be a sick cow being treated like rubble as it was carried in a tractor. So she did what many people would do in this day and age. She got out her smartphone to begin recording.</p><p>For this, Meyer was arrested and prosecuted under Utah's new "ag-gag" law.</p><p>It turns out that similar laws are now in place not just in Utah, but also in Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri. And many other states are considering similar legislation.</p><p>The goal of these laws, it would appear, is to keep consumers from seeing where modern meat really comes from. Considering that <a href="http://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/aspca-research-shows-americans-overwhelmingly-support-investigations-expose" target="_hplink">94 percent of the American public</a> believes that animals raised for food should be free from abuse and cruelty, the modern meat industry has some good reasons to fear the public finding out that Old MacDonald's farm isn't so happy these days.</p><p>Charges against Meyer were subsequently <a href="http://news.msn.com/us/nations-first-ag-gag-prosecution-dismissed-in-utah" target="_hplink">dropped</a>, but Utah's law is still on the books. And now Amy Meyer is joining with award-winning author Will Potter and a team of organizations in <a href="http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/utah-ag-gag-lawsuit-filed/7197/" target="_hplink">filing a lawsuit</a> challenging her state's controversial law in the courts.</p><p>Soon thereafter, in Kansas on June 28th, a photographer working for a publication not generally seen as promoting a radical agenda, <em>National Geographic</em>, was <a href="http://hutchnews.com/Todaystop/Nat--Geographic-photog-arrested-in-GC" target="_hplink">arrested and briefly jailed</a> after taking aerial pictures of a feedlot for a series on food issues to be published some time next year.</p><p>George Steinmetz has taken award-winning photos in many dangerous situations, including a series depicting post-Gaddafi Libya. But it was his photographs of U.S. feedlots, taken from a paraglider in an area with <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/national-geographic-photographer-arrested-taking-photos-kansas-feedlot-194419678.html" target="_hplink">hundreds of thousands of cattle</a>, that got him put behind bars.</p><p>Kansas has its own "ag-gag bill," called the "<a href="http://kansasstatutes.lesterama.org/Chapter_47/Article_18/47-1827.html" target="_hplink">Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act</a>." This law makes it illegal to "enter an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means."</p><p>Apparently, the feedlot executives may have <a href="http://hutchnews.com/Todaystop/Nat--Geographic-photog-arrested-in-GC" target="_hplink">considered paragliding</a> to be a form of illegal entry, and they wanted Steinmetz to feel the force of the law. Industry officials said they believe his actions represent a "<em>food security issue</em>." Steinmetz had also parked and taken off from private property, so "trespassing" is central to the charge he now faces. But do you really think he'd have been arrested for parking there had he merely stopped to read a book?</p><p>The spread of ag-gag bills is alarming for many reasons. Aside from exposing specific incidents of animal abuse, undercover videos have also <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/05/ag-gag-public-health/" target="_hplink">drawn attention</a> to industry practices such as housing chickens in cramped battery cages that hasten the sickening of birds and the spread of salmonella.</p><p>Elizabeth Holmes, an attorney with the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, comments: <em>"The reason these are public health issues, and not just animal rights issues, is that those unsanitary conditions provide breeding grounds (for disease)."</em></p><p>Holmes has a point. Keeping animals alive in wretched conditions requires the use of massive amounts of pharmaceutical drugs. Nearly <a href="http://www.pewhealth.org/other-resource/record-high-antibiotic-sales-for-meat-and-poultry-production-85899449119" target="_hplink">80 percent</a> of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to animals, not people. The antibiotic overuse that allows meat producers to keep animals in filth and misery is spawning drug-resistant superbugs.</p><p>Earlier this year, an <a href="http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/superbugs/" target="_hplink">Environmental Working Group study</a> found antibiotic resistant "super bugs" on 81 percent of the ground turkey and 55 percent of the ground beef in America's supermarkets.</p><p>With antibiotic resistant bacteria costing us more than <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/antibiotic-resistant-infections-cost-the-us-healthcare-system-in-excess-of-20-billion-annually-64727562.html" target="_hplink">$55 billion</a> and killing <a href="http://www.scripps.edu/philanthropy/antibioticresist.html" target="_hplink">tens of thousands</a> of people each year, you could even argue that today's factory farms have become a form of biological weapons factory.</p><p>But don't we have meat inspectors who monitor animal treatment? Isn't it their job to insure that the laws against excessive animal cruelty to animals, however weak they may be, are enforced? Aren't they being paid to look out for the public interest?</p><p>Unfortunately, thanks to the weight of agribusiness interests, even USDA meat inspectors don't always feel free to protect animals or public health.</p><p>After 29 years as a USDA meat inspector, Jim Schrier was <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/2013/06/28/4320072/animal-abuse-persists-at-some.html" target="_hplink">recently stationed</a> at a Tyson Foods slaughter facility in Iowa where he reported clear humane handling violations to his supervisor. That's what he was supposed to do -- report the violations to his superior in the chain of command. But when Schrier presented his concerns, the supervisor reportedly <a href="http://www.foodwhistleblower.org/the-lifecycle-of-food/life-on-the-farm/inhumane-handling/jim-schrier" target="_hplink">became very angry</a>, and a week later required Jim to work at another facility 120 miles away. Then the USDA reassigned Jim permanently to a plant in another state.</p><p>In what looks an awful lot like a form of whistleblower retaliation, after 29 years of service, Schrier must now choose between his job, and his family.</p><p>When Jim's wife, Tammy, <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/help-a-meat-inspector-punished-for-reporting-inhumane-conditions" target="_hplink">launched a petition on change.org</a> exposing this story and calling for Jim Schrier to get his old job back, some of the first signers were other employees who had worked at the same plant and who corroborated Schrier's findings. Instead of being punished, they said, he should be rewarded and the whole plant should be inspected.</p><p>The significance of all this is huge. The <a href="http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html" target="_hplink">first amendment</a> to the United States constitution states: <em>"Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." </em>There are serious questions about whether ag-gag bills, and retaliation against whistleblowers like Jim Schrier, are even constitutional. But whatever the courts decide, we are already paying a terrible price for the climate of repression they institutionalize.</p><p>Shutting up people like Amy Meyer, George Steinmetz, and Jim Schrier makes it hard for any of us to know where our food comes from. Shutting them up also allows the meat industry to get away with treating animals terribly, and with jeopardizing public health by breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria. But there's more.</p><p>Tyrants of all stripes thrive in the darkness. As Thomas Jefferson once said, <em>"A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate."</em></p><p>If journalists and whistleblowers aren't allowed to speak the truth, we're going to have an awfully hard time retaining any semblance of a functioning democracy.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/whats-the-real-price-of-a_b_3705201.html">This story</a> first appeared on the Huffington Post.</em></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15.199999809265137px; line-height: 21px;">Ocean Robbins is co-author of <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/getvoices" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;" target="_hplink">Voices of the Food Revolution</a>, and serves as CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000+ member Food Revolution Network. <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;" target="_hplink">Find out more and sign up for free here</a>.</em></p> </div></div></div> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 10:06:00 -0700 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 880687 at http://news.alternet.org Food Civil Liberties Food food meat agriculture Ag-Gag How You Can Help Create a Better Farm Bill http://news.alternet.org/food/how-you-can-help-create-better-farm-bill <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We know that Congress isn&#039;t always a champion of the public interest -- but here&#039;s an opportunity to see that they do things right.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_107308046.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Have you noticed that when it comes to food policy, the U.S. Congress isn't always an unflinching champion of the public interest?</p><p>Today, you have an opportunity to do something about that.</p><p>Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced an amendment to the 2013 farm bill that would, for the first time ever, demonstrate Senate support for labeling of foods with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567&amp;page=1" target="_hplink">More than 90 percent </a>of the American public supports labeling of GE foods. Might it be time for the U.S. Congress to respond to the demands of the American people?</p><p><a href="http://action.ewg.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=2024&amp;tag=201305FBGEAmendFoodRevolution" target="_hplink">You can send a message now by clicking here</a>, telling your senators that you stand with Senator Boxer's amendment, and you hope they will, too</p><p>And there's more you can do.</p><p>Every five years, the U.S. Congress allocates nearly a trillion dollars in food stamp (SNAP) spending and agribusiness subsidies through the massive "Farm Bill."</p><p>Today, you have an opportunity to impact where all that money goes.</p><p>Do you want to stop your tax dollars from subsidizing factory farms and genetically engineered high fructose corn syrup? Do you want to see local, organic farmers and natural foods have a fighting chance in the marketplace?</p><p>The U.S. Senate is debating amendments to the draft Farm Bill this week. It's a complicated and bureaucratic process, and predictably, all of the lobbyists for Monsanto and big agribusiness <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/05/20/sugar-monsanto-and-tobacco-all-in-crosshairs-on-senate-farm-bill" target="_hplink">are out in full force</a>.</p><p>But if you are from the United States, there is one simple action you can take today, that will have a big impact.</p><p><a href="http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm" target="_hplink">Call your senator's office</a>. Tell them that you are a constituent and you want them to support amendments that are currently up for discussion in the U.S. Senate.</p><p>You might get them to support the Shaheen-Toomey payment limit amendment #926 that would place long-overdue limits of $50,000 on crop insurance premium subsidies for America's wealthiest large-scale farmers. Or ask them to support the Coburn-Durbin amendment #953 that would reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for farmers with incomes over $750,000/year.</p><p>Why support these amendments? At a time of record farm incomes and stark fiscal realities, now is the time to ask the wealthiest farmers to pay a little more of their fair share of the costs of doing business.</p><p><a href="http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm" target="_hplink">Find your senator's name and number here</a>. Or if you already know their name, you can just call them at the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.</p><p>There's a lot more at stake in the Farm Bill, including support for organic agriculture, investments in local and sustainable food systems, critical conservation efforts that help farmers protect our air, soil, and water, and dozens of other amendments. If you want to take further action, go to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's continually updated "take action" page and sign up for action alerts, <a href="http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/" target="_hplink">by clicking here.</a></p><p>The impact of the choices made in Washington this week will have profound impact on millions of lives.</p><p>They say that all that it takes for the forces of evil to triumph, is for the forces of good to do nothing. If you want to be a force for good in the world of food policy, this is a great time to take action.</p><p><em>This story first appeared on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/its-time-for-a-better-far_b_3321992.html?utm_hp_ref=green">Huffington Post</a>.</em></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15.199999809265137px; line-height: 21px;">Ocean Robbins serves as adjunct professor at Chapman University and as CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000+ member Food Revolution Network. <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: 0px; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;" target="_hplink">Find out more and sign up for free here</a>.</em></p> </div></div></div> Thu, 23 May 2013 11:22:00 -0700 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 844812 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Food News & Politics Visions food farming farm bill Is Genetically Engineered Salmon Safe? http://news.alternet.org/food/genetically-engineered-salmon-safe <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There are massively disturbing ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of Frankenfish highly controversial.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_111958640.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>Frankenfish could be on your dinner plate by the end of the year.</p><p>On December 21, at the very end of the last business day before Christmas week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its environmental <a href="http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/GeneticEngineering/GeneticallyEngineeredAnimals/ucm280853.htm" target="_hplink">assessment</a> that found "no significant impact" from the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. We're now in a 60 day comment period that ends on February 25, at which time the FDA is widely <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/fda-expected-to-approve-genetically-modified-salmon-1" target="_hplink">expected</a> to initiate formal approval.</p><p>What is the rationale behind genetically engineered salmon? Why have scientists <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/09/20/129993900/weird-facts-about-genetically-engineered-salmon" target="_hplink">spliced genes</a> from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the genome of the Atlantic salmon? These genes crank out growth hormone year-round, resulting in a fish that grows faster, cutting the time to reach market weight almost in half. This could mean <a href="http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-aquabounty-salmon-fda-assesses-risks-20121224,0,2554480.story" target="_hplink">cost savings</a> for fish farmers, leading to higher profits for the salmon farming industry and (they <a href="http://www.aquabounty.com/documents/corporate/AquaBountyAdmission.pdf" target="_hplink">promise</a>) lower prices for consumers.</p><p>But there are massively disturbing ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of Frankenfish highly controversial.</p><p><strong>Corporations Given the Power to Create Life</strong></p><p>Humans have been using natural selection for years to favor certain genetic expressions in animals and plants. But natural selection on the farm is entirely different than taking genes from two or more completely different creatures, and splicing them together in a laboratory.</p><p>Some people are concerned that the power to create new life now sits in the hands of corporate interests. Others are disturbed by the notion of eating genetically engineered animals when there isn't even so much as a label to give them choice in the matter.</p><p>With <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/01/science/la-sci-genetically-engineered-milk-20121002" target="_hplink">countless</a> more genetically engineered animal creations waiting for approval, the release of genetically engineered salmon could lead to a plethora of new life forms coming onto the market. John Robbins, author of <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/blog/books/books-putting-it-all-together/" target="_hplink">The Food Revolution</a> and many other best-sellers about food, health and the environment, calls this "Pandora's Pantry."</p><p><strong>Impact on Oceans and Wild Salmon</strong></p><p>AquaBounty, the company behind the first Frankenfish, insists that their creation poses no threat to wild salmon populations. <strong>But <a href="http://www.seafoodbusiness.com/articledetail.aspx?id=4295000307" target="_hplink">research</a> published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 fish generations.</strong></p><p>AquaBounty <a href="http://www.aquabounty.com/PressRoom/" target="_hplink">insists</a> that their fish will be raised in controlled pens and will never be released into the ocean, and that besides, their fish will be sterile. But every year, millions of farmed fish <a href="http://www.puresalmon.org/escapes.html" target="_hplink">escape</a> from fish farms into the wild. It's true that initial introduction of AquaBounty's fish is <a href="http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/science/Genetically-Engineered-Salmon-Running-Wild.html" target="_hplink">slated for Panama </a>in highly controlled pens. But AquaBounty is planning to market the eggs, not the fish. Once the production of GE fish becomes commercialized, it will be impossible to control the whereabouts of every single individual and assure compliance with appropriate containment measures. Some degree of release may be inevitable.</p><p>As to sterile fish, at present, there is no guaranteed method to produce 100% sterility. In fact, the FDA's most recent study found that <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/genetically-modified-frankenfish-nears-fda-approval-debate-heats/story?id=18078157&amp;page=2" target="_hplink">five percent</a> of the animals were in fact fertile. If large numbers of fish escape, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that some fertile fish might not only survive in the wild, but thrive. Because AquaAdvantage fish grow many times faster, and become <a href="http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8789564/Goubau_Alain-_Food_%26amp__Drug_Law_-_Final_Paper_-_AquAdvantage_Salmon%5B1%5D.pdf?sequence=1" target="_hplink">mature</a> much more quickly, than wild salmon, they may have the ability to <a href="http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/aquaculture/aquaculture-genetically.html" target="_hplink">outcompete</a> wild salmon for food, and to reproduce at a much faster rate.</p><p>By stipulating that AquaBounty's fish will never by produced in the United States, the company was able to<a href="http://www.billingsnews.com/index.php/features/4122-safety-unsettled-of-genetically-modified-salmon" target="_hplink">avoid</a> having to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that would analyze what would happen if things don't go as planned. So long as the fish are only produced in countries with relatively lax environmental laws, they may be able to get away without further study.</p><p>But if the fish escape into the wild, they won't stop swimming at national borders. This means that if they survive in the wild anywhere, they may soon be driving wild salmon into oblivion everywhere. The impact on marine and freshwater ecosystems, and on the economic wellbeing of fish-dependent coastal communities, could be devastating.</p><p>The FDA chose to <a href="http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/2013/jan/17/health-fitness-2013-fish-drugs/" target="_hplink">review</a> AquAdvantage as an animal drug, rather than a human food. In the FDA's view, the refashioned DNA that is in every cell of the fish's body is considered a drug, and that's what the agency is regulating. If approved, the AquAdvantage salmon would not only be the first GE animal approved for human consumption, but also the first animal drug that's theoretically capable of swimming off into the ocean and reproducing.</p><p><strong>Is It Safe to Eat?</strong></p><p>The FDA <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/21/us-usa-fish-gmo-idUSBRE8BK16O20121221" target="_hplink">concluded</a> the salmon to be "as safe as food from conventional (farmed) Atlantic salmon." While this might be debatable, considering that the genetic makeup of the fish is a new creation, and there have been no long-term studies conducted on humans actually consuming genetically engineered salmon, let's suppose for the moment that the FDA's conclusion is accurate.</p><p>Is being as safe as conventional farmed salmon such a great thing? Salmon has been widely touted for its prevalence of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. And it's true that wild salmon has low levels of many of the contaminants found in other fish. But farmed Atlantic salmon is an entirely different matter.</p><p>Jane Houlihan of the Environmental Working Group <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/expert.q.a/01/08/salmon.fresh.farmed.jampolis/index.html" target="_hplink">comments</a>: "Nearly all (farmed) salmon (that) Americans eat are grown in dense-packed pens near ocean shores, fed fish meal that can be polluted with toxic PCB chemicals, awash in excrement flushed out to sea and infused with antibiotics to combat unsanitary conditions."</p><p>Many medical experts are <a href="http://www.albany.edu/ihe/salmonstudy/pressrelease.html" target="_hplink">already recommending</a> reducing farmed salmon consumption to one serving per month or less. Compared to wild salmon, studies have found farmed salmon to have significantly higher concentrations of <a href="http://www.albany.edu/ihe/salmonstudy/contaminants.html" target="_hplink">contaminants</a>, including such lovely substances as PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene.</p><p>If AquaAdvantage does come to market on a large scale, and if it does reduce the cost of farmed salmon, thus making it more widely available and more affordable, is this really a boon to a hungry world? Or might it be a recipe for even more cancer and environmental pollution?</p><p><strong>What You Can Do</strong></p><p><strong>Tell the FDA what you think: </strong>If you are disturbed by the prospect of a solid green light being given to sale of genetically engineered salmon in the United States, now is a great time to speak up. The FDA's comment period lasts until February 25. You can <a href="https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=415&amp;autologin=true&amp;JServSessionIdr004=at7ejhykz1.app339a" target="_hplink">submit comments online</a>, or sign petitions like <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9138" target="_hplink">this one</a>.</p><p><strong>Take action for labeling:</strong> Genetically engineered crops are already unlabeled, <a href="http://www.globalissues.org/article/189/is-ge-food-safe" target="_hplink">inadequately tested</a>, and present in an estimated <a href="http://blogs.webmd.com/health-ehome/2011/03/how-can-you-avoid-genetically-modified-food.html" target="_hplink">75%</a> of the foods in America's restaurants and supermarket shelves. Surveys have found that as much as <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567&amp;page=1" target="_hplink">ninety-three percent</a> of the American public supports the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Perhaps the prospect of genetically altered animals pouring onto American dinner plates without labeling will tip us over the edge from concern into action. To support labeling, sign the Food Revolution Network and Care2's <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/gmo.html" target="_hplink">petition to Congress</a>, or the Just Label It Campaign's <a href="http://justlabelit.org/take-action/" target="_hplink">petition</a> to the FDA.</p><p><strong>Protect yourself and your family: </strong>You can get a <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/" target="_hplink">non-GMO shopping guide </a>and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/true-food/id379459607?mt=8" target="_hplink">mobile app</a> that can help you and your family avoid genetically engineered foods if you want to do so. And the Food Revolution Network offers a complimentary <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/gmopack.html" target="_hplink">no-GMO action pack</a>.</p><p><em>This <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/is-genetically-engineered_b_2522547.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&amp;src=sp&amp;comm_ref=false#sb=1016685,b=facebook">story</a> first appeared on the Huffington Post.</em></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: none; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 12.800000190734863px; line-height: 20px;">Ocean Robbins is founder and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 90,000 member Food Revolution Network, an initiative to help you heal your body, and your world... with food. Find out more and sign up for free at <a href="http://foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: none; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: none; text-decoration: initial; cursor: pointer;" target="_hplink">foodrevolution.org</a>.</em></p> </div></div></div> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:42:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 780997 at http://news.alternet.org Food Environment Food Personal Health Water ge salmon gmo salmon fish fisheries aquabounty How the Food Movement Is Gaining Strength http://news.alternet.org/food/how-food-movement-gaining-strength <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to state ballot boxes, ever more people are finding their voices and taking action. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_29746510.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>T</em>his article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>More and more people<br />are realizing that our food chain is in crisis. Agribusiness has made profits more important than your health -- more important than the environment -- and more important than your right to know how your food is produced.</p><p>The United States now spends nearly <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2012/02/09/the-u-s-does-not-have-a-debt-problem-it-has-a-health-care-cost-problem/" target="_hplink">20 percent of GDP</a>on health care, but levels of obesity, diabetes and chronic illness are <a href="http://www.aacc.org/publications/cln/2009/july/Pages/newsbrief0709.aspx" target="_hplink">higher than ever</a>.</p><p>Perhaps because so many people are suffering, beneath the surface, a revolution has been building.</p><p>From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to state ballot boxes, ever more people are finding their voices and taking action. If you believe in taking responsibility for your health, if you believe there is an important link between the quality of the food you eat and the quality of your life, you are part of this movement.</p><p>In the seven years after my dad and colleague, John Robbins, released the first edition of his landmark bestseller <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193207354X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=193207354X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink">Diet for a New America</a></em> in 1987, <a href="http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/48781" target="_hplink">beef consumption</a> in the United States dropped by 19 percent. The National Cattlemen's Association, not pleased, pointedly blamed <em>Diet For A New America</em>. Since then, beef consumption has continued to slowly drop, while <a href="http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/255728/aib777a_1_.pdf" target="_hplink">organic food sales</a> have increased over 26-fold, to now exceed <a href="http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/business.html" target="_hplink">four percent</a> of market share.<br /><br />This month marks the release of the 25th anniversary edition of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193207354X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=193207354X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink">Diet For A New America</a></em>, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. People are taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact, a <a href="http://www.aspca.org/Pressroom/press-releases/021712" target="_hplink">poll</a> conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine U.S. states have now joined the entire European Union in <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/blog/great-news-for-animal-lovers-2/" target="_hplink">banning</a> gestational crates for pigs, and Australia's two largest supermarket chains <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/national/coles-tackles-factory-farming-20121022-281gt.html#ixzz2DLxDvtEE" target="_hplink">now sell</a> only cage-free eggs in their house brands.</p><p>The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we're seeing more and more farmer's markets (a nearly <a href="http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateS&amp;leftNav=WholesaleandFarmersMarkets&amp;page=WFMFarmersMarketGrowth&amp;description=Farmers%20Market%20Growth&amp;acct=frmrdirmkt" target="_hplink">three-fold</a> increase in the last decade), and more young people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for healthy food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.</p><p>Earlier this year, California voters put an initiative on the ballot that called would have mandated the labeling of food containing GMOs. Monsanto and their buddies in the pesticide and junk food business were forced to spend $46 million burying California's voters under an <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/blog/did-monsanto-trick-california-voters-2/" target="_hplink">avalanche of deception</a> in order to narrowly defeat California's Proposition 37 in the November election. Although they won the battle, more than six million California voters had come out in favor of the "right to know." It was clear that the natural foods movement was becoming a political force to be reckoned with.</p><p>Now organizers in <a href="http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2012/11/30-states-pick-up-reigns-on-gmo-labeling-initiative-after-prop-37-defeat-2495408.html" target="_hplink">30 other states have begun</a> building GMO labeling campaigns, and efforts to improve treatment of animals, to make factory farms pay for the pollution they produce, and to reform the food offered in school lunches are all gaining strength.</p><p><strong>What You Can Do</strong></p><p><strong>Go to the movies.</strong> Eric Schlosser's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0027BOL4G/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0027BOL4G&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink"><em>Food, Inc.</em></a>, Drs. Caldwell Esslestyn and T. Colin Campbell's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0053ZHZI2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0053ZHZI2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink"><em>Forks Over Knives</em></a>, and Jeffrey Smith's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0096DP4CG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0096DP4CG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink"><em>Genetic Roulette</em></a> are some of the most popular and insightful films currently on the market.</p><p><strong>Boycott the bad guys.</strong> Many people are choosing to boycott companies that <a href="http://www.kcet.org/news/ballotbrief/elections2012/propositions/prop-37-funding-genetically-engineered-food.html" target="_hplink">oppose labeling of GMOs</a>, that treat <a href="http://www.hfa.org/vealBoycott.html" target="_hplink">farm animals</a> cruelly, or that profit from the sale of <a href="http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/susan-milligan/2012/07/31/boycott-chick-fil-a-over-junk-food-not-gay-marriage" target="_hplink">junk food</a>. Other consumers are choosing to buy from the good guys. For example, the non-profit <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org/" target="_hplink">Non-GMO Project</a>, which offers a third party certification program, has now verified 764 products, and had a <a href="http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-11-07&amp;val=686229&amp;cat=goods" target="_hplink">record-shattering</a> 189 new enrollment inquiries in October. You can also check out the <a href="http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/" target="_hplink">farmer's market</a> nearest you.</p><p><strong>Sign petitions for GMO labeling. </strong>Want to work for policy change? A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have <a href="http://www.care2.com/gefood" target="_hplink">launched a petition</a> demanding that Congress label GMOs, and it has already generated more than 65,000 signatures. And last year's <a href="http://justlabelit.org/" target="_hplink">JustLabelIt petition</a> to the FDA, which generated more than 1.3 million signatures, is being revived in hopes that the <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Labeling_Issues,_Revolving_Doors,_rBGH,_Bribery_and_Monsanto" target="_hplink">FDA</a> might eventually dig itself out of Monsanto's back pocket.</p><p><strong>Get politically engaged.</strong> For the passionate activist, there's always more you can do, like lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives. You can also join the Humane Society's <a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/" target="_hplink">campaign for farm animal protection</a>, or Farm Sanctuary's work for <a href="http://www.farmsanctuary.org/get-involved/federal-legislation/" target="_hplink">animal welfare legislation</a>.</p><p><strong>Get engaged and informed.</strong> For a directory of organizations working for healthy, sustainable and humane food, as well as free access to dozens of cutting edge articles and tools to help you make a difference, you can <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" target="_hplink">join the Food Revolution Network</a>. Or check out the newly released 25th anniversary edition of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193207354X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=193207354X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wwwhealthyat1-20" target="_hplink">Diet for a New America</a></em>, the book that helped to launch the modern food movement.</p><p>Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, more and more people are saying No to foods that lead to illness, and YES to foods that help us heal.</p><p><em>This <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/sustainable-food-movement_b_2288381.html">story</a> first appeared on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/">Huffington Post</a>.</em></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:34:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 760504 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Food Personal Health Visions food agriculture farming diet health Good News For Animal Lovers: Factory Farming's Days May Be Numbered http://news.alternet.org/food/good-news-animal-lovers-factory-farmings-days-may-be-numbered <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Two major grocery chains are ditching factory farmed meat -- will the changes cause a ripple effect?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_89632537.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>In one of history's most stunning victories for humane farming, Australia's largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/national/coles-tackles-factory-farming-20121022-281gt.html#ixzz2DLxDvtEE" target="_hplink">stop</a> selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farms. As an immediate result, 34,000 mother pigs will no longer be kept in stalls for long periods of their lives, and 350,000 hens will be freed from cages.</p><p>Not to be outdone, the nation's other dominant supermarket chain, Woolworths, has <a href="http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/397027/20121023/coles-frees-34-000-mother-pigs-350.htm#.ULOtFeOe9h6" target="_hplink">already begun</a> phasing out factory farmed animal products. In fact all of Woolworth's house brand eggs are now cage-free, and by mid-2013 all of their pork will come from farmers who operate stall-free farms.</p><p>Coles and Woolworths together account for a dominant <a href="http://www.ethical.org.au/issues/?issue=16" target="_hplink">80 percent</a> of all supermarket sales in Australia.</p><p>The move to open up the cages was fueled by "consumer sentiment," and it has been synchronous with a<a href="http://www.care2.com/causes/supermarket-chain-ends-factory-farming-one-year-ahead-of-schedule.html" target="_hplink">major campaign</a> against factory farming of animals led by Animals Australia. The campaign features a TV ad, titled "When Pigs Fly," in which an adorable piglet tells the story of animals sentenced to life in cramped cages, and then flies to freedom.</p><p>Meanwhile, in the United States, <a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/battery_cages.html" target="_hplink">egg factory farms</a> cram more than 90 percent of the country's 280 million egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can't even spread their wings. Each bird spends her entire life given less space than a sheet of paper. And in a reality that does not please fans of Wilber or Babe, between <a href="http://swineweb.com/humane-society-says-seaboard-dishonest-about-its-treatment-of-hogs/" target="_hplink">60 to 70 percent</a> of the more than five million breeding pigs in the United States are kept in crates too small for them to so much as turn around.</p><p>There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States, but most states <a href="https://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/agriculturalanimals.html" target="_hplink">specifically exempt</a> animals destined for human consumption. The result is that the animal agriculture industry routinely does things to animals that, if you did them to a dog or a cat, would get you put in jail.</p><p>Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, explains: "Most of the anti-cruelty laws exempt farm animals as long as the practices are considered to be normal by the agriculture industry. What has happened is that bad has become normal, and no matter how cruel it is, normal is legal."</p><p>But here, too, change is coming. Undercover investigations have led to a <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-slaughterhouse-settlement-20121117,0,1072908.story" target="_hplink">$497 million judgment</a> against the now defunct Hallmark Meat Packing company, and to the recent temporary <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/plant-closed-usda-supplied-beef-burger/story?id=17051866#.ULO-MOOe9h4" target="_hplink">shutdown</a> of Central Valley Meat Company over what federal investigators termed "egregious, inhumane handling and treatment of livestock." California and Michigan have <a href="http://suite101.com/article/two-new-laws-to-protect-farm-animals-in-the-us-a165243" target="_hplink">passed laws</a> that will phase in a ban on battery cages for hens, and<a href="http://www.cok.net/blog/2012/06/victory-rhode-island-bans-gestation-crates-veal-crates-and-tail-docking-cows" target="_hplink">nine U.S. states </a>have joined the entire European Union in heading towards a ban on confining pigs in gestation crates.</p><p>Worried that consumers are starting to find out the truth about treatment of modern farm animals and will demand further changes, industry leaders are pushing for "<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/the-ag-gag-laws-hiding-factory-farm-abuses-from-public-scrutiny/254674/" target="_hplink">ag gag</a>" laws that would hide factory farming and slaughterhouse abuses from public scrutiny. Recently passed laws in <a href="http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/five-states-now-have-ag-gag-laws-on-the-books/" target="_hplink">Iowa and Utah</a> threaten jail time for anyone working undercover and taking pictures or video of animals in factory farms without permission.</p><p>What don't they want us to know? What are they trying to hide? What would happen if the veil was lifted and we saw the level of cruelty that has become the norm in U.S. industrial meat production?</p><p>A <a href="http://www.aspca.org/Pressroom/press-releases/021712" target="_hplink">poll</a> conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty, and that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms.</p><p>Most farmers don't try to be cruel to animals, but they do worry about how to cut costs. And so long as consumers are kept in the dark about the real source of their food, farm owners have no economic incentive to do more than the minimum necessary to appease regulatory authorities.</p><p>Want to take action? <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" target="_hplink">Join the Food Revolution Network</a>, an online community dedicated to healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food for all.</p><p>Or join the Humane Society's <a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/" target="_hplink">campaign for farm animal protection</a>, or Farm Sanctuary's work for <a href="http://www.farmsanctuary.org/get-involved/federal-legislation/" target="_hplink">animal welfare legislation</a>. Or if you want to save 100 animals per year, you can sign up for PETA's <a href="http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/free-vegetarian-starter-kit.aspx">free veg starter kit</a>.</p><p class="p1"><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/animal-cruelty_b_2194615.html">Huffington Post</a>.</em></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: none; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 12.800000190734863px; line-height: 20px;">Ocean Robbins serves as adjunct professor at Chapman University and as founder and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 75,000 member Food Revolution Network. <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: none; color: rgb(57, 152, 0); outline: none; text-decoration: initial;" target="_hplink">Find out more and sign up for free here.</a></em></p> </div></div></div> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 09:04:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 750826 at http://news.alternet.org Food Food food animals cafo factory farm Look Out Monsanto: Campaigns to Label Genetically Engineered Foods Are Heating Up http://news.alternet.org/food/look-out-monsanto-campaigns-label-genetically-engineered-foods-are-heating <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Organizers in more than 30 states have begun building labeling campaigns, under the banner of the Coalition of States for Mandatory GMO labeling. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_54268369_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</em></p><p>On November 6, after spending $46 million burying California's voters under an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/monsanto-prop-37_b_2088934.html" target="_hplink">avalanche of deception</a>, Monsanto and their buddies in the pesticide and junk food business declared victory. They had defeated the "right to know", and successfully protected their "right" to keep you in the dark about whether your food is genetically engineered.</p><p>Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the anti-labeling Food Marketing Institute, <a href="http://supermarketnews.com/health-amp-wellness/prop-37-proponents-continue-battle#ixzz2CBA6dYmQ" target="_hplink">breathed a sigh of relief</a> after Prop 37 narrowly lost, saying: "This gives us hope that you can... defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters." But she also expressed concern: "We hope we don't have too many of them, because you can't keep doing that over and over again."</p><p>If Ms. Hatcher wants to keep labeling suppressed, it looks like she may be in for a rough couple of years. Because what Monsanto and its allies hadn't counted on was that despite all their lies and deception, it's actually pretty hard to convince people that they shouldn't be allowed to know what they're eating. And although $46 million managed to put out one fire, it seems to have started about 30 new ones.</p><p>Indeed, efforts are already underway to put a similar initiative <a href="http://theintelhub.com/2012/11/12/washington-county-bans-growing-of-gmos/" target="_hplink">on the ballot</a> in Washington for the 2013 election (where San Juan County voters chose on November 6 to <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/san-juan-county-bans-the-growing-of-gmos" target="_hplink">make growing GMOs illegal</a> in their county). And organizers in <a href="http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2012/11/30-states-pick-up-reigns-on-gmo-labeling-initiative-after-prop-37-defeat-2495408.html" target="_hplink">30 other states have also begun</a> building labeling campaigns, under the banner of the Coalition of States for Mandatory GMO labeling.</p><p>With <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567&amp;page=1#.UKNbpuOe9h7" target="_hplink">93 percent of the American public</a> supporting the right to know, it looks like it's going to take a lot more than a one deceptive, high-budget ad campaign to keep those pesky labels at bay.</p><p><strong>The War Continues</strong></p><p>Many people are choosing to boycott companies that continue to use GMOs and that <a href="http://www.kcet.org/news/ballotbrief/elections2012/propositions/prop-37-funding-genetically-engineered-food.html" target="_hplink">oppose labeling</a>. Kellogg's has been a particularly visible target, since the company strives for a healthy image, and yet contributed $632,000 to the fight against Prop 37. For <a href="http://www.gmolabeling.org/kelloggs-gmo-flakes-activists-take-over-the-kelloggs-facebook-wall/" target="_hplink">several months</a>, the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Kelloggs" target="_hplink">company's Facebook page</a> has become something of a marketing embarrassment. It's plastered with comments by angry consumers calling the company out for fighting GMO labeling, and threatening a boycott until the company changes its ways.</p><p>Other consumers are choosing to buy products from companies that are going GMO-free. In fact, consumer demand for non-GMO products is rising fast. The non-profit <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org/" target="_hplink">Non-GMO Project</a>, which offers a third party certification program, has now verified 764 products, and had a <a href="http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-11-07&amp;val=686229&amp;cat=goods" target="_hplink">record-shattering 189</a> new enrollment inquiries in October.</p><p>More and more people are becoming alarmed about the widespread prevalence of GMOs in the food supply, and are taking steps to steer clear. This could create a tremendous market opportunity for companies that seize the day and get certified. Even shoppers who aren't terribly concerned about GMOs may be developing more trust in the products that carry the "Non-GMO Project" certification.<br /><br />For consumers who want to know what is and is not GMO-free, the Food Revolution Network has compiled a <a href="http://www.foodrevolution.org/gmo.html" target="_hplink">collection of resources</a> that includes the non-GMO shopping guide, and the free iPhone and Android app from True Food Network. A list of which foods are likely to contain GMOs is posted by Institute for Responsible Technology <a href="http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-basics/gmos-in-food" target="_hplink">here</a>.</p><p>A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have <a href="http://www.care2.com/gefood" target="_hplink">launched a petition demanding that Congress</a> label GMOs that has already generated nearly 50,000 signatures. And efforts of the <a href="http://justlabelit.org/" target="_hplink">JustLabelIt petition to the FDA</a>, which launched a year ago and have generated more than 1.3 million signatures, are being renewed in hopes that the FDA might eventually dig itself out of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/monsanto-petition-tells-obama-cease-fda-ties-to-monsanto/2012/01/30/gIQAA9dZcQ_blog.html" target="_hplink">Monsanto's back pocket</a>.</p><p>For the passionate activist, there's always more you can do, like taking advantage of the educational resources offered for free by the <a href="http://www.responsibletechnology.org/" target="_hplink">Institute for Responsible Technology</a>, and sharing them with friends. Or lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives.</p><p>Monsanto would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on bags of genetically engineered popcorn. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to deceive us, we will prevail.</p><p class="p1"><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/whats-next-in-the-gmo-bat_b_2130129.html">Huffington Post</a>.</em></p> Thu, 15 Nov 2012 07:47:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 745356 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Food gmo food biotech monsanto labeling Did Monsanto Trick California Voters? http://news.alternet.org/food/did-monsanto-trick-california-voters <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Monsanto and their peeps didn&#039;t just spend $46 million promoting their opinion. They also lied and got away with it. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_44160427.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</em></p><p>California could have been the first state in the nation to mandate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. We would have joined more than <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/can-campaign-ads-convince-voters-not-to-care-whats-in-their-food/263673/" target="_hplink">60 countries</a> where consumers have the right to know if their food has been genetically modified. But the prospect of Proposition 37 terrified the junk food and pesticide companies that want to keep us in the dark about what we eat.</p><p>The "No on 37" campaign <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-prop37-genetic-food-labeling-20121108,0,7519439.story" target="_hplink">spent $46 million</a> burying the state's voters in an avalanche of misleading ads and outright falsehoods. Their efforts defeated the proposition, 53 percent to 47 percent.</p><p>But Monsanto and their peeps didn't just spend $46 million promoting their opinion. They also lied and got away with it. Check out these examples:</p><p>1) They illegally included the FDA logo in a "No on 37" mailing to state residents, and made up a quote from the FDA, which <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/05/california-gmo-idUSL1E8M2DGD20121105" target="_hplink">the FDA refuted</a>. The FDA did not and cannot express an opinion on ballot initiatives.</p><p>2) They used the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/04/business/la-fi-mo-anti-proposition-37-ad-pulled-20121004" target="_hplink">Stanford logo</a> in TV ads and mailers, when the University also did not take a stand on the issue. And <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/04/business/la-fi-mo-anti-proposition-37-ad-pulled-20121004" target="_hplink">they said</a> that Henry I. Miller, their hired gun, is a professor at Stanford when in reality, he works for the Hoover Institution -- which rents office space on the campus.</p><p>3) They paid a PR firm with expertise in fighting recycling legislation (on behalf of the soda pop industry) to generate a <a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/elections/ci_21847838/reality-check-anti-proposition-37-ad-genetically-engineered" target="_hplink">misleading</a> "<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-fight-over-label-genetically-engineered" target="_hplink">study</a>" that was designed to show the proposition raising food prices by hundreds of dollars per state resident per year. This despite <a href="http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GE-Food-Act-Costs-Assessment.pdf" target="_hplink">independent economic analysis</a> concluding that it would not raise prices in any meaningful way, and that in Europe, mandated labeling <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/library/speeches/speech114_en.pdf" target="_hplink">was not linked</a>to an increase in food prices. (Do you really believe the pesticide and junk food companies would spend $46 million trying to save you money?)</p><p>4) They said there have never been any documented ill-effects from GMO consumption. But many allege that <a href="http://todayyesterdayandtomorrow.wordpress.com/2007/06/09/gm-tryptophan-ems-killed-37-and-permanently-disabled-1500-people/" target="_hplink">37 direct human deaths</a> and 1,500 disabilities linked to a <a href="http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers/health-risks/L-tryptophan/introduction" target="_hplink">toxic batch of the supplement Tryptophan</a>were caused by a genetically engineered strain of bacteria used in production. And there are numerous reports of <a href="http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Syngenta_Charged_for_Covering_Up_Livestock_Deaths_from_GM_Corn.php" target="_hplink">livestock that have died</a> as a result of grazing on GMO cotton. There could be far more widespread ill-effects, but without labeling, it's nearly impossible to find out conclusively.</p><p>5) They said Prop 37 was full of exemptions for special interests. But in reality, the <a href="http://truth-out.org/news/item/12238-opponents-of-californias-gmo-prop-have-holes-in-their-loopholes" target="_hplink">exemptions</a> were modeled after those adopted throughout the European Union and every other country that calls for labeling. For instance, livestock that are fed GMO grains don't have to be labeled genetically engineered unless the animal, itself, is genetically engineered. That's not a special interest exemption -- it's basic science.</p><p><strong>What's Next For The Food Movement?</strong></p><p>In the last decade, the movement for healthy, sustainable food has been growing <a href="http://www.agmrc.org/markets__industries/food/organic-food-trends/" target="_hplink">exponentially</a>, with consumption of organic foods growing from <a href="http://www.packagedfacts.com/sitemap/product.asp?productid=143481" target="_hplink">$8 billion</a> in 2000 to <a href="http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2404-organic-industry-healthy-growth.html" target="_hplink">$31 billion</a> in 2011. We've seen an equally dramatic rise in the number of farmer's markets and CSAs. Still, it's a big jump to move from 4 percent market share, to changing national food policy. Tobacco was found to be harmful to health in 1950, and it took nearly half a century to meaningfully change laws.</p><p>The food movement is growing fast, but as a political force, it's still in its infancy. Big agribusiness still controls the purse strings in Congress, and runs the show at the FDA. At least for now.</p><p>An <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567&amp;page=1#.UJqdWmk-th7" target="_hplink">ABC News poll</a> found that 93 percent of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered. Even after a narrow loss against a heavily financed and deeply entrenched food industry, the rapidly growing food movement may be just getting started.</p><p><em>"The arc of history is long,"</em> Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us,<em> "but it bends towards justice."</em> As we've seen time and time again, when enough people demand it, eventually, change does come.</p>  Thu, 08 Nov 2012 09:22:00 -0800 Ocean Robbins, AlterNet 741381 at http://news.alternet.org Food Activism Election 2016 Food News & Politics prop37 monsanto california gmo food