tagged w/ food policy
Last week, we wrote about the likelihood that the $300 billion 2012 Farm Bill would take shape weeks before 2012 even begins, in the form of a dashed-off bill swept into the larger "super committee"-driven deficit-cutting process. As this week starts, that troubling prognosis remains.
In fact, last week, several congressional aides told agriculture trade publication Agweek that lawmakers planned to "work through the weekend to try to complete a Farm Bill proposal for the super committee in charge of deficit reduction by November 1." But so far, nothing decisive has been announced.
This might explain why the food and farming advocacy site Food Democracy Now sent out an email this morning with the subject line "24 hours to stop the Secret Farm Bill." The site asked subscribers to call a short list of senators and congressmen and tell them to say "‘No' to the Secret Farm Bill," because "rushing this vital piece of legislation behind closed doors is unfair and undemocratic."
Sustainable food advocates have been struggling to adjust to this new reality. As the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) described it last week:
No hearings, no amendments, no debate. Under this scenario, we may have very little idea about what is in the Farm Bill until after it has passed ... It's hard to overstate how messed up this is. We now have an environment where highly paid lobbyists thrive and citizen's voices, along with real reforms, evaporate.
Oxfam American chimed in with a list of reasons Occupy Wall Street supporters aren't likely to appreciate this rushed Farm Bill:
1. It was negotiated to satisfy high powered industry lobbies that pay lots of money to influence the Ag Committee.
2. It's a giveaway to big industrial farms at the expense of family farmers.
3. It promotes unhealthy, unsustainable farming practices at the expense of sustainable farming.
4. It targets conservation and nutrition programs for cuts disproportionately.
The bill's details remain unclear, but we know it will involve $23 billion in cuts. One Republican senator from Iowa went on record last week saying he believed the committee would cut $15 billion from farm subsidies and $4 billion each from conservation and nutrition. Another House conservative told the press that the cuts would "reduce farm subsidies about 20 percent and cut conservation spending about 10 percent. Nutrition programs, including food stamps, would be cut about 1 percent."
Advocates for sustainable and local food movements have rushed out two bills of their own, to be included in the larger Farm Bill process. The Local and Regional Food Bill would bolster support for family farms, and "expand new farming opportunities and rural jobs, and invest in the local agriculture economy." The Beginning Farmer Bill would help new farmers get access to capital (the lack of which is a well-known roadblock for beginning farmers) using microloans, matched savings accounts, and similar strategies.
Whether these additions have a chance of passing, or are simply symbolic, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, California food, farming, conservation, and environmental groups have been lobbying hard to have some say in the proposed Farm Bill. But the state -- whose agricultural industry is said to produce more than 400 different crops, employ 800,000 people and generate annual revenues of $37.5 billion -- will most likely continue to be left out of the discussion. One reason is that California farms don't produce the bulk of those commodity crops -- like corn, soy, and wheat -- that farm bills tend to concentrate on.
More at the linkLast week, we wrote about the likelihood that the $300 billion 2012 Farm Bill would... more
The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to 347 million, a far larger number than previously thought and one that suggests costs of treating the disease will also balloon.
In a study published in the The Lancet journal, an international team of researchers working with The World Health Organization found that rates of diabetes have either risen or at best remained the same in virtually all parts of the world in the past 30 years.
The estimated number of diabetics is markedly higher than a previous projections that put the number at 285 million worldwide. This study found that of the 347 million people with diabetes, 138 million live in China and India and another 36 million in the United States and Russia.
The most common type of diabetes, Type 2, is strongly associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
"Diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world," said Majid Ezzati, from Britain's Imperial College London, who led the study along with Goodarz Danaei from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States.
"Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to improve their diet and physical activity and control their weight, diabetes will inevitably continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world," Danaei added in a joint statement.
People with diabetes have inadequate blood sugar control, which can lead to serious complications like heart disease and stroke, damage to the kidneys or nerves, and to blindness.
Experts say high blood glucose and diabetes cause around 3 million deaths globally each year, a number that will continue to rise as the number of people affected increases.
As a result, diabetes is a booming market for drugmakers like Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Merck and Takeda.
More at the linkThe number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to 347... more
We plant but we can't produce or market. We plant but we have no food to eat. We want agriculture to improve so our country can live and so we peasants can live, too. - Rilo Petit-homme, peasant organizer from St. Marc, Haiti
What would it take to transform Haiti's economy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for hunger to no longer be the norm, for the country no longer to depend on imports and hand-outs, and for Port-au-Prince's slums no longer to contain 85% of the city's residents? What would it take for the hundreds of thousands left homeless by the earthquake to have a secure life, with income?
According to Haitian peasant organizations, at the core of the solutions is a commitment on the part of the government to support family agriculture, with policies to make the commitment a reality.
Haiti is the only country in the hemisphere which is still majority rural. Estimates of the percentage of Haiti's citizens who remain farmers span from 60.5% (UN, 2006) to 80% (the figure used by peasant groups).
Despite that, food imports currently constitute 57% of what Haitians consume (World Bank, 2008). It didn't used to be that way; policy choices made it so. In the 1980s, the U.S. and international financial institutions pressured Haiti to lower tariffs on food imports, leading to a flood of cheap food with which Haitian farmers could not compete. At the same time, U.S.A.I.D. and others pressured Haiti to orient its production toward export, leaving farmers vulnerable to shifting costs of sugar and coffee on the world market.
Because of the poor state of their production and marketing and the lack of basic services, 88% of the rural population lives in poverty, 67% in extreme poverty (UNDP, 2004). Things have grown worse for them since the 2008 hurricane season, when four storms battered Haiti in three weeks, destroying more than 70% of agriculture and most rural roads, bridges, and other infrastructure needed for production and marketing. At least during the earthquake, only one farming area, around Jacmel, was badly damaged.
There is a direct relationship between the state of agriculture and the earthquake's high toll in deaths, injuries, and homelessness. The quake was so destructive because more than three million people were jammed into a city meant for a 200,000 to 250,000, with most living in extremely precarious and overcrowded housing. This is partly due to the demise of peasant agriculture over the past three decades, which has forced small producers to move to the capitol to enter the ranks of the sweatshop and informal sectors. It is also due, in part, to the fact that government services effectively do not exist for those in the countryside. ID cards, universities, specialized health care, and much else is available exclusively, or almost exclusively, in what Haitians call the Republic of Port-au-Prince, forcing many to visit or live there to meet their needs.
cont.We plant but we can't produce or market. We plant but we have no food to eat. We... more
A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association – has been fighting since the fall to block Obama's nomination of CropLife/biotech industry rep and former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to the position of Chief Ag Negotiator at the US Office of the Trade Rep. The nomination was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, but is stalled in the Senate. It could go to a Senate floor vote any day now. The coalition sent the following letter to the Senate on February 22, 2010. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, please click here.
The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee's favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.
Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.
The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.
The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.
We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.
[List of 98 organizations below.]A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association... more
Raj Patel bravely took on Stephen Colbert earlier this week to promote his new book, The Value of Nothing. I'm a huge fan of Patel's last book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World's Food System.
Patel describes the premise for his new book as coming from an Oscar Wilde quote: "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." I look forward to getting Patel's newest book in my paws for a read -- so far, he's made some interesting points, although it's always hard to get to the heart of things sitting across the table from Colbert.
Still Patel made a valiant effort.
Prices in the free markets, Patel explained "work to hide a great deal, we need different ways of valuing the world other than relying on the free market."
Patel uses an example of a hamburger, saying that if you figure in the social and environmental costs we should be paying 200 bucks for a burger, which would of course mean we'd need to rethink the way we are eating. Sounds like a plan!
"We need to pay the full cost for what it is we consume, other wise we are dumping our environmental costs on," oh shucks, that's when Colbert cuts him off.
Colbert for his part had some great lines. Here's one:
"Cheap prices is what America was built on .. aren't you hurting the world's poor by not employing them at near-starvation wages?"
Ever the expert on developing countries, Patel deftly responds and the conversation becomes an issue of democracy. Patel contends that democracy as it was first done in Greece was based on electing a bunch of people at random to run the government each year. And Colbert replies with the hit line of the show:
"We tried picking a leader at random, it's called Sarah Palin." Touche.
I think Raj Patel has become one of the great, sane voices when it comes to food policy. I'm looking forward to what he has to say in this newest work.Raj Patel bravely took on Stephen Colbert earlier this week to promote his new book,... more
A recent E.U. study found that rats who’s diets included different strains of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn experienced kidney, liver, and other organ damage.
The study looked at three strains of Monsanto’s GM corn: one that was “Roundup Ready” and two that were engineered to produce Bt toxin which acts as an insecticide.
http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2010/01/12/study-links-gm-corn-consumption-to-organ-damage/A recent E.U. study found that rats who’s diets included different strains of... more
Like a tractor driven by a drunk, the Obama administration keeps zigzagging on food/ag policy-sometimes veering in the direction of progressive change, other times whipping back toward the agrichemical status quo.
In the last couple of days, there's been a sharp turn toward the status quo. As I reported yesterday, Obama plucked Islam "Isi" Siddiqui from the nation's most powerful agrichemical lobby group and made him our chief negotiator on ag issues in global trade talks. This is a major coup for Big Ag. Ramming open foreign markets for our cheap food commodities and pricey ag inputs is critical to the industry's future profits-and perilous for global food security and the environment.
And today, Obama's Big Ag side got the best of him again. He tapped Roger Beachy, long-time president of the Danforth Plant Science Center, as chief of the USDA's newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
A creation of the 2008 Farm Bill, the NIFA "replaces the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, which distributes $200 million in competitive grants and about $280 million in 'formula funding' to land-grant universities," Science blog reports.
The Farm Bill adds another $106 million annually of competitive funding for research into organic farming, biomass, and fruits and vegetables. It also calls for a "distinguished scientist" to be appointed for a 6-year term as director.
So this is a critical post. If the sustainable farming movement is going to scale up and really start providing a large portion of the nation's calories-and deliver on its potentially huge environmental promises-than we're going to need a significant commitment of federal research dollars.
And what are we getting with the appointment of Beachy? The Danforth Plant Science Center, nestled in Monsanto's St. Louis home town, is essentially that company's NGO research and PR arm. According to its website, the center "was founded in 1998 through gifts from the St. Louis-based Danforth Foundation, the Monsanto Fund (a philanthropic foundation), and a tax credit from the State of Missouri."
Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant sits on the center's board of trustees, along with execs from defense giant McDonnell Douglas and pharma titan Merck. Another notable board member is Alfonso Romo, a Mexican magnate who cashed in big during his country's notoriously corrupt privatization /liberalization bonanza in the early '90s.
Romo used his connections to build a company called Seminis into the globe's biggest vegetable-seed concern, with dreams (as yet unrealized) of loads of new GMO veggie varieties. Monsanto bought Seminis in 2005. Here's a revealing Wall Street Journal profile of Romo from 1999; and here's what I wrote about him and the Monsanto/Seminis tie up back in 2005. (Interesting tidbit: Romo claims credit for innovating those insipid and ubiquitous "baby carrots"; and for reducing the spiciness of jalepeno peppers.)
On its short list of "partners" we find several research-oriented universities and one corporation: Monsanto. In the Danforth Center's 2007 annual report (PDF), Monsanto is mentioned no fewer than ten times funding this or that project.
So essentially, the public face of Monsanto's research efforts now has his fingers on the USDA's research purse strings. Score a big one for agribusiness!Like a tractor driven by a drunk, the Obama administration keeps zigzagging on food/ag... more
Informative interview with Raj Patel, author of 'Stuffed And Starved' regarding the global food crisis and the reasons for the increase in food prices.Informative interview with Raj Patel, author of 'Stuffed And Starved'... more
Louise Fresco, expert on agricultural and sustainability, presents a TED talk on rethinking small scale solutions to our agricultural crisis. Fresco explains that our romanticism of small scale solutions begins with the "mythical image of how life was in rural areas in the past" which undermines the reality of poor farmers and the hard morally unjustified work that is required to feed the world.
Linking historical traditions to our modern world, Fresco talks about the costs of industrial farming, environmental (such as pollution and species annihilation) and health (such as diabetes), but asks us to rethink small scale farming as a solution to these costs. Fresco demands that technology not need to create these costs but to increase to avoid them. Fresco says the world needs "cheap, affordable, and safe foods" and not "luxury solutions" which has so far characterized small scale, organic solutions.
* * * *
We need not only be skeptical of our industrial routes of food and the costs which are now unarguable, but also skeptical about how our alternatives are truly approaching and solving the problem. Many of us will never know how the food gets to our plates and will never know about the millions of poor farmers that must work to bring us our alternatives. Technology has allowed us the privilege be free from having to farm and also for civil rights to be given to those that were forced to work farms. Slavery still exists in the agricultural sector, small scale solutions will not free them. I believe small scale can help empower those who can't afford to eat healthy (see South Central Farms http://escapefromsuburbia.com/southcentral.html) , but small scale will not feed the world or free people we take advantage of. One thing to think about is our technologies don't have to make bad foods cheap (i.e. HFCS) but they can make good food cheap. Fresco does an amazing presentation to outline these ideas.
Please watch the video and share your thoughts.Louise Fresco, expert on agricultural and sustainability, presents a TED talk on... more
A new Sustainable Agriculture channel is growing on Current, and I will be its curator.
Why is Sustainable Agriculture important?
Agriculture... is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1787. ME 6:277
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds. As long, therefore, as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans, or anything else." --Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1785. ME 5:94, Papers 8:426
"Globalization is not the cross-cultural interaction of diverse societies; it is the imposition of a particular culture on all of the others...It is the predation of one class, one race, and often one gender of a single species on all the others. The "global" in the dominant discourse is the political space in which the dominant local seeks global control, freeing itself from the responsibility...of ecological sustainability and social justice."
— Vandana Shiva (Biopiracy)
"In nature's economy the currency is not money, it is life."
— Vandana Shiva (Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace)
As you can see by these quotes, love of sustainable agriculture and respect for the sustenance and life it brings us spans all time periods and cultures from ancient civilizations to modern times.
What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture works with the natural environment to produce food and plants for our sustenance with minimum negative impact to soil, air, water and seeds. It works to sequester soil nutrients, carbon, and water in a way that positively enhances not only yield, but the quality and nutritional value of what is grown while also preserving biodiversity, natural beauty, and the environmental purity and balance which then positively effects our economy, our health, and our spirits. It is a tradition of our ancestors that we now see in danger of extinction through globalization and industrial monoculture agricultural practices. We must do all we can to protect it in order to protect life.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for discussions regarding the environmental, economic, health, and spiritual aspects of sowing and saving the seeds of life. This includes articles on GMOs, food policy, organic farming, (and that does include hemp for farming purposes, but please respect the topic and not inundate the channel) climate change/environment, water, water scarcity, sustainable agricultural methods, industrial agriculture, global food policy, health effects, spiritual connections to the Earth and agriculture, history of agriculture, and the politics of food (FDA, USDA, EPA, etc.)
In the wake of globalization, (market speculation) water shortages, GMOs, climate change, and political /economic upheaval how we maintain our global food supply in the wake of all of this in correlation with population increases will be the most challenging crisis we will face in the 21st century in our quest to maintain the spirit of that from which all life flows: The seed.
Let us sow the seeds of environmental democracy, truth, and hope through our words, our voices, and our love for Mother Earth that provides us with all we need to sustain life on Earth.
Please join me:
Tag: Sustainable Agriculture
Curator, Sustainable Agriculture Channel
"When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers are therefore the founders of human civilization." Daniel Webster, 1840
http://cdn.paleothea.com/Pictures/DemeterMaples.jpgA new Sustainable Agriculture channel is growing on Current, and I will be its... more
Conventional wisdom says that the meteoric rise in obesity and related health conditions – the early stages of which are now called metabolic syndrome – is due to the West having a bad case of “couch potato syndrome.” That is, over the past few decades, we have been eating too much and not exercising enough.
While poor diet and inactivity play an undeniable role in fostering metabolic syndrome, that’s not the whole story. Clinical and epidemiological evidence increasingly implicates another culprit: the environment.
An insufficient explanation
Some scientists suspect that a combination of environmental factors, including a group of chemicals called obesogens, share the blame for the explosion of metabolic syndrome and its later stages: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s.
“Despite what we’ve heard,” said Dr. Bruce Blumberg, Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Univeristy of California, Irvine, “diet and exercise alone are insufficient to explain the obesity epidemic.”
A May 7 teleconference presented by the nonprofit Collaborative on Health and the Environment explored this urgent and compelling topic. This article is based upon that teleconference.
Metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect more than one-third of U.S. adults, 60% of them under 65 years old.
When environment collides with human biology
Speaker Dr. David Jacobs, Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, a chronic-disease epidemiologist, defined metabolic syndrome as “a constellation of related metabolic abnormalities (body fatness, blood fat handling, insulin, glucose).”
Environmental factors suspected to contribute to metabolic syndrome include the food system, the transportation system, the built environment, air pollution, obesogens, other environmental contaminants, and socioeconomic stress.
These stressors alter pathways in the body, causing inflammation, oxidative stress, and disrupted insulin signaling. Altered pathways can, in turn, lead to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and abnormal lipids (tied to dementia and Alzheimer’s).
You can think of metabolic syndrome as a crossroads, said speaker Dr. Jill Stein, co-founder of the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, board member of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, and co-author of the recent report Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging (www.agehealthy.org).
“This is where the environment meets human biology in the early stages of the disease process. You can think of environmental factors as kind of colliding with human biology here."
end of excerptConventional wisdom says that the meteoric rise in obesity and related health... more
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising-and often shocking truths-about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.
http://www.foodincmovie.comIn Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food... more
I listened to President's Obama's words today on food safety, and he made valid points regarding the steps needed to inspect plants and safeguard against salmonella outbreaks. And as for his picks, I have read up on them a bit and hope they will be able to make some much needed changes on that front. However, there was no mention of regulation or labelling of genetically modified organisms, and I am concerned about that.
For me, the crux of our food policy that needs review is the proliferation of industrial agriculture and the slow demise of the organic farmer by multinationals that patent life and seek to control the entire process from seed to fork by using their political clout with the FDA, USDA, and EPA to dismiss or forego testing. This I believe must be addressed by President Obama in order for us to have effecitve food policy.
The bottomline for me is that President Obama stated that food safety was very important to him. As such, I do not believe you can then state that without addressing the dangers of genetically modified organisms to both our health and our environment. Hopefully that will be addressed soon.
From the article:
The nation's food safety system is a "hazard to public health" and overdue for an overhaul, President Barack Obama said Saturday as he focused on that task by filling the top job at the Food and Drug Administration.
Obama used his weekly radio and video address to announce the nomination of former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as agency commissioner and selection of Baltimore's health commissioner, Joshua Sharfstein as her deputy. Consumer groups applauded the picks.
The president also is creating a special advisory group to coordinate food safety laws and recommend how to update them. Many of these laws have not changed since they were written early in the last century, he said.
Obama said the food safety system is too spread out, making it difficult to share information and solve problems.
The FDA does not have enough money or workers to conduct annual inspections at more than a fraction of the 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses in the country, Obama said.
"That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg," he pledged.
Hamburg, 53, is a bioterrorism expert. She was an assistant health secretary under President Bill Clinton and helped lay the groundwork for the government's bioterrorism and flu pandemic preparations.
As New York City's top health official in the early 1990s, she created a program that cut high rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis. She is the daughter of two doctors. Her mother was the first black woman to earn a medical degree from Yale University, and she credits her father for instilling in her a passion for public health.
Sharfstein, 39, is a pediatrician who has challenged the FDA on the safety of over-the-counter cold medicines for children. He also served as a health policy aide to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who plays a leading role in overseeing the pharmaceutical industry.
Both are doctors and outsiders to the troubled agency and will face the daunting challenge of trying to turn it around.
Consumer groups urged the two to work hard to get the money and authority needed to boost FDA inspections.
end of excerpt.I listened to President's Obama's words today on food safety, and he made... more
You may be familiar with many of the problems associated with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. These “factory farm” operations are often criticized for the smell and water pollution caused by all that concentrated manure; the unnatural, grain-heavy diets the animals consume; and the stressful, unhealthy conditions in which the animals live. You may not be aware, however, of the threat such facilities hold for you and your family’s health — even if you never buy any of the meat produced in this manner.
A 2008 report from the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a joint project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, underscores those risks. The 111-page report, two years in the making, outlines the public health, environmental, animal welfare and rural livelihood consequences of what they call “industrial farm animal production.” Its conclusions couldn’t be clearer. Factory farm production is intensifying worldwide, and rates of new infectious diseases are rising. Of particular concern is the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes, an inevitable consequence of the widespread use of antibiotics as feed additives in industrial livestock operations.
Scientists, medical personnel and public health officials have been sounding the alarm on these issues for some time. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have recommended restrictions on agricultural uses of antibiotics; the American Public Health Association (APHA) proposed a moratorium on CAFOs back in 2003. All told, more than 350 professional organizations — including the APHA, American Medical Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Academy of Pediatrics — have called for greater regulation of antibiotic use in livestock. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has declared antibiotic-resistant infections an epidemic in the United States. The FAO recently warned that global industrial meat production poses a serious threat to human health.
We are out of control as a species. Our wasteful consumptive lifestyle is killing us, as is industrialization of farms for profit.You may be familiar with many of the problems associated with concentrated animal... more
Not only did Bill Clinton give us GMOs he gave us NAFTA as well that also killed biodiversity of corn in Mexico, by taking the lead of his predecessor Bush Sr (who jokingly was rated 18th as far as presidential greatness) who deregulated the industry. This is a well written and researched account of what went down and how we are now where we are: the complete control of our seeds and global food supply by Monsanto and a handful of biotech/chemical companies. And politicians of both parties have led us to this.
What was recently done in Iraq as well in regards to taking their seeds is a crime and the antithesis to the socalled 'democracy' we were supposed to be delivering under the guise of global hegemony. Wake up and make the connection between Bush, Clinton, Vilsack, the USDA, the FDA, and the Monsanto revolving door with our government and whatever your politics, demand that Monsanto's control over American food policy be ended.
This is one of the most important and crucial issues we now face in light of climate change, economic crisis, population, and specifically health. Diabetes has gone up 90% in the last 10 years, and as the links in this article show there appears to be a corrolation between that and GM/BT foods, specifically in children.
Just what do you consider important in this world? Continuing to read news about Lindsay Lohan's weight, cartoons, or whether kids like music better than sex? Or are we for once going to get to the heart of why media should exist in this country? To report the NEWS that effects our very survival so people know the truth?Not only did Bill Clinton give us GMOs he gave us NAFTA as well that also killed... more
NEW YORK: Before the recent revelation that tainted peanut butter could kill people, even before the spinach scare of three summers ago, the food industry in the United States made a proposal. It asked the government for permission to destroy germs in many processed foods by zapping them with radiation.
That was about nine years ago, in the twilight of the Clinton administration. The government has taken limited action since.
After spinach tainted with a strain of E. coli killed three people and sickened more than 200 others in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave permission for irradiation of spinach and iceberg lettuce. The industry has yet to start using it. Meat irradiation is permitted but rarely used. Among common items on the grocery shelf, only spices and some imported products, like mangoes from India, are routinely treated with radiation.
The technology to irradiate food has been around for the better part of a century. The U.S. government says it is safe, and many experts believe that it could reduce or even eliminate the food scares that periodically sweep through society.
It might even have killed the salmonella that reached grocery shelves in recent weeks after a factory in Georgia shipped tainted peanut butter and peanut paste, which wound up in products as diverse as cookies and dog treats. But irradiation has not been widely embraced in the United States.
Our whole agricultural system is totally screwed, we are producing and transporting on such a large scale that our food security is horrifying! It has become nearly impossible to track the sources of some of these outbreaks, and our system is only decaying.
Will this be our long term solution?NEW YORK: Before the recent revelation that tainted peanut butter could kill people,... more
A coalition of peasant farmer groups are protesting their meaningful exclusion at the High Level Conference on Food Security taking place in Spain on January 26-27. In response to their exclusion 49 groups, including La Via Campesina, GRAIN, and ETC Group have signed a declaration, “Accelerating into disaster – when Banks manage the Food Crises”.
More on the declaration after the jump.
The joint statement points out that the forum, and other high-level forums like it, are dominated by the World Bank, IMF and WTO, as well as transnational companies such as Monsanto. The groups are outraged that the small farmers, who grow 80% of the world's food, are "left only a few minutes on the floor to give their position."
They claim that the policies of these institutions and companies have failed with over one billion people now going hungry worldwide. The groups believe it's time for an alternative vision in the concept of food sovereignty.
Small farmers and social movements from all over the world promote a model based on food sovereignty and orientated towards peasant-based agriculture and artisan fisheries, prioritizing local markets and sustainable production methods. This model is based on the right to food and to the rights of peoples to define their own agricultural policies.
The food crisis should not be an opportunity to make more money through the sale of fertilizers, agrochemicals and genetically modified seeds. Agribusinesses cannot be allowed to attempt to profit from the desperation of over a billion people. They must be excluded from dealing with the food crisis – agribusiness and international financial and trade agencies cannot be relied upon to solve a problem they themselves have caused.
We call for an end to the development of new initiatives such as the High Level Task Force or Global Partnership. Other such initiatives in the past - such as the World Food Council and the International Alliance Against Hunger – have failed. We call for one single space inside the UN to deal with the food crisis with the full participation of social movements and small holder food producers.
The full declaration including the list of signers can be found at La Via Campesina. More information on the food sovereignty movement can be found at IPC Food Sovereignty.A coalition of peasant farmer groups are protesting their meaningful exclusion at the... more
Nothing would make me happier than to see RBGH go bye bye forever. Awareness is bringing about a good change regarding dairy products in America. People and farms are shunning milk and dairy products with RBGH. I would love to see the day when it is no more and Eli Lilly loses their shirt for buying it from Monsanto, which probably saw the trend and got out while they could because they are only in this for profit. This also proves that when consumers know what is in their food and what it is made of they do not want fake food. People want wholesome natural ingredients in their food.
Next: labelling of GMOS in America.Nothing would make me happier than to see RBGH go bye bye forever. Awareness is... more
Ever since GMOs were first introduced in the mid-1990s, farmers’ groups and NGOs have warned that they would contaminate other crops. This has happened, just as predicted. In this article we look at how communities in different parts of the world that have experienced contamination are developing strategies to fight against it.
[Three videos accompany this article which can be viewed here: http://www.grain.org/videos/?id=195]
When GM crops are planted they contaminate other crops with transgenic material. In places where GM crops are grown on a large scale, it has already become almost impossible to find crops of the same species that are free of GM material. And the contamination spreads even to areas where GM crops are not officially permitted.  The GM Contamination Register, managed by GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International, has documented more than 216 cases of GM contamination in 57 countries over the past 10 years, including 39 cases in 2007. 
Monsanto and the other biotech corporations have always known that their GM crops would contaminate other crops. Indeed, it was part of their strategy to force the world into accepting GMOs. But around the world people are refusing to lie down and accept genetic modification as a fact of life; instead they are struggling against it, even in places subject to contamination. In fact, some communities experiencing contamination are developing sophisticated forms of resistance to GM crops. These usually begin with short-term strategies to decontaminate their local seeds, but often seek over the long term to strengthen their traditional food and agricultural systems.
We look at the experiences of communities in different parts of the world in dealing with GM contamination to see what insights they can offer others faced with similar situations. Each situation is unique, and gives rise to different processes. Common to all of them is the primary importance of collective action – of communities working at the grassroots to identify their own solutions and not depending on courts or governments, which, without strong social pressure, tend to side with industry.Ever since GMOs were first introduced in the mid-1990s, farmers’ groups and NGOs... more
What we eat effects our health. That is becoming clearer with every year we read about increases in diabetes, obesity, allergies, and other illnesses. A sound naturally oriented food policy across the board that works towards sustainable development and environmental engineering of food crops is the best healthcare policy we could have. This also includes labelling foods in America to disclose GMO ingredients.What we eat effects our health. That is becoming clearer with every year we read about... more