Can organic agriculture feed the world better than GMOs?


For years now, the most-asked question by detractors of the good food movement has been, “Can organic agriculture feed the world?” According to a new United Nations report, the answer is a big, fat yes.

The report, Agro-ecology and the Right to Food, reveals that small-scale sustainable farming would even double food production within five to 10 years in places where most hungry people on the planet live.

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“We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations,” Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report, said in a press release. “The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”

The report suggests moving away from the overuse of oil in farming, a problem that is magnified in the face of rising prices due to unrest in the Middle East. The focus is instead on agroecology, or eco-farming. “Agroecology seeks to improve the sustainability of agroecosystems by mimicking nature instead of industry,” reads a section.

The report shows that these practices raise productivity significantly, reduce rural poverty, increase genetic diversity, improve nutrition in local populations, serve to build a resilient food system in the face of climate change, utilize fewer and more locally available resources, empower farmers and create jobs.

Of 57 impoverished countries surveyed, for example, yields had increased by an average of nearly 80 percent when farmers used methods such as placing weed-eating ducks in rice patties in Bangladesh or planting desmodium, which repels insects, in Kenyan cornfields. These practices were also cost effective, locally available and resulted from farmers working to pass on this knowledge to each other in their communities.

While the report admits that agroecology can be more labor-intensive because of the complexity of knowledge required, it shows that this is usually a short-term issue. The report underscores that agroecology creates more jobs over the long term answering critics who argue that creating more jobs in agriculture is counter-productive. “Creation of employment in rural areas in developing countries, where underemployment is currently massive, and demographic growth remains high,” states the report, “may constitute an advantage rather than a liability and may slow down rural-urban migration.”

Mark Bittman put it aptly in his column on the UN report at the New York Times, saying:

Agro-ecology and related methods are going to require resources too, but they’re more in the form of labor, both intellectual—much research remains to be done—and physical: the world will need more farmers, and quite possibly less mechanization.

This is not the first time such a report has declared more productive ways to feed the world other than leaving that important task to large corporations. In April 2008, the IAASTD report (the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development)–which was supported by the World Bank, the UN Food & Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, among others, with the participation of over 60 world governments and 400 experts–found that not only would industrial food production not be able to feed the world in the long term, but the practices being employed are actually increasing hunger, exhausting resources and exacerbating climate change. However, the U.S., under the Bush Administration, was one of the countries that decided not to endorse the findings.

Though agroecological farming has benefits for industrialized countries too, both reports focus largely on what to do in the least-developed nations on the globe. The status quo for U.S. foreign policy in agriculture up until now has been to leverage our political muscle to force countries to except our subsidized crops, even if it meant destroying local agricultural economies. (Former President Bill Clinton apologized for this policy last year, saying that it has “failed everywhere it’s been tried,” and “we should have continued to work to make sure [Haiti] was self-sufficient in agriculture.”) Will the Obama Administration be more receptive to these findings and could there be a change in the way we work with other countries in our support for agriculture?

Looking back at this (proudly pro-business) administration’s follies in hiring a pesticide lobbyist as our Agricultural Trade Representative, maintaining the USDA in the confusing role of promoting and regulating agriculture, and focusing on “improved seeds,” which usually means funding for the development of genetically modified crops for poor countries and you might be discouraged.

But De Schutter argues that real change to improve the livelihoods of rural farmers requires governments to be on board. “States and donors have a key role to play here,” he said. “Private companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be rewarded by patents and which don’t open markets for chemical products or improved seeds.” In other words, feeding the worlds hungry should not be left to the market alone.

The report makes these specific recommendations for governing bodies:

making reference to agroecology and sustainable agriculture in national strategies for the realization of the right to food and by including measures adopted in the agricultural sector in national adaptation plans of action (NAPAs) and in the list of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) adopted by countries in their efforts to mitigate climate change; reorienting public spending in agriculture by prioritizing the provision of public goods, such as extension services, rural infrastructures and agricultural research, and by building on the complementary strengths of seeds-and-breeds and agroecological methods, allocating resources to both, and exploring the synergies, such as linking fertilizer subsidies directly to agroecological investments on the farm (“subsidy to sustainability”); supporting decentralized participatory research and the dissemination of knowledge about the best sustainable agricultural practices by relying on existing farmers’ organizations and networks, and including schemes designed specifically for women; improving the ability of producers practicing sustainable agriculture to access markets, using instruments such as public procurement, credit, farmers’ markets, and creating a supportive trade and macroeconomic framework.

The report also gives recommendations for donors seeking to decrease hunger and improve rural livelihoods and for research organizations.

Source: civileats.com

Waste Not, Want Not.


Every year, we waste or lose 1.3 billion metric tons of food – one-third of the world’s annual food production. The sheer scale of the number makes it almost impossible to grasp, no matter how one approaches it. Try to imagine 143,000 Eiffel Towers stacked one on top of another, or a pile of 10 trillion bananas.

This illustration is by Paul Lachine and comes from <a href="http://www.newsart.com">NewsArt.com</a>, and is the property of the NewsArt organization and of its artist. Reproducing this image is a violation of copyright law.
Illustration by Paul Lachine

The figure is all the more unfathomable, given that, alongside this massive wastage and loss, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from “silent hunger” – malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

For the more economically minded, here is another number: food wastage and loss, expressed in producer prices, costs roughly $750 billion per year. If we were to consider retail prices and the wider impacts on the environment, including climate change, the figure would be much higher.

In an era of austerity, it is difficult to understand how such a massive hemorrhage of resources could be neglected. In fact, in some places, the volume of food wastage is rising.When food is lost or wasted, the energy, land, and water resources that went into producing it are squandered as well. At the same time, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere during production, processing, and cooking.Now a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization focuses on another troubling aspect of the problem: the negative consequences for the environment and the natural resources on which we rely for our survival.

From any perspective – ethical, economic, environmental, or in terms of food security – we simply cannot tolerate the annual wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food. This is why serious reduction of food loss and wastage is one of the five elements of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Zero Hunger Challenge” and a major focus of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security. We are working together within the UN system and with a broad coalition of other partners to ensure universal access to adequate food all year round; eliminate childhood stunting; make all food systems sustainable; and eradicate rural poverty.

hNext week, the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen will allow for a deeper look at this issue. There is much that can be done. For starters, food loss and wastage needs to be seen as a cross-cutting policy issue, rather than a lifestyle choice to be left in the hands of individual consumers and their consciences. The world needs to wake up to the need for policies that address all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.

Food loss – on farms, during processing, transport, and at markets – undermines food security in most developing countries, where post-harvest losses can reach as high as 40% of production. Investment in infrastructure for transport, storage, and marketing of food is badly needed, as are programs to train farmers in best practices.

In developed countries, food-retailing practices require a rethink. For example, rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic concerns is a major cause of wastage. Some supermarkets have already begun relaxing standards on fruit appearance, selling “misshapen” items at reduced prices and helping to raise awareness that ugly does not mean bad. More approaches like this – and concerted efforts to find markets or uses for surplus food – are needed.

Businesses and households alike should monitor where and how they waste food and take corrective steps, because prevention of wastage is even more important than recycling or composting.

Yes, 1.3 billion tons is a mindboggling figure. But these simple steps are easy enough to grasp – and within reach for everyone. The world confronts many seemingly intractable problems; food wastage is one issue that we all can do something about now.


Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/on-the-massive-costs-of-food-wastage-and-loss-by-jose-graziano-da-silva-and-achim-steiner#P2axGzpQLsyA33mC.99

Bee-friendly plants put to the test


Honeybee on lavender (c) Science Photo Library

Researchers have used an experimental garden to put pollinator-friendly plants to the test.

The University of Sussex scientists counted the number of insects visiting the plants in their garden.

They say their findings show that insect-friendly plants are just as pretty, cheap and easy to grow as less pollinator-friendly varieties.

Their results are published in the Journal of Functional Ecology.

PhD student Mihail Garbuzov used 32 different varieties of popular garden plants. These included some nectar-rich and highly scented plants he thought would be attractive to insects and some that seemed to be less attractive.

While the small-scale study did not produce an exhaustive list of the best plants for pollinating insects, the team says the data has put a number on just how many more pollinators the right plants can attract.

Mr Garbuzov told the BBC: “Some of the best plants attracted approximately 100 times as many insects as the worst.

“And the plants that are attractive to insects are not more expensive, and they’re just as pretty.”

The researchers wrote in their paper that there was “great scope for making gardens and parks more insect friendly” by selecting the right plants.

Tips for insect-friendly gardening are already available from a variety of sources, but the researchers say they are largely based on “opinion and general experience”.

The aim of this study, said Prof Francis Ratnieks, from the University of Sussex, was to “put that advice on a firmer scientific footing, by gathering information about the actual number of insects visiting the flowers to collect nectar or pollen”.

Counting bees

Honeybee on a flower (c) Ethel M Villalobos
  • Bees have different colour-detection systems from humans, and can see the world in ultraviolet. This helps them to detect the flowers they pollinate and take nectar from.
  • Pollination is essential for agriculture, as well as the reproduction of non-food flowers and plants. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, pollinators including bees, birds and bats are involved in more than a third of the world’s crop production.
  • Honeybees evolved to make honey as a food source for the colony. Selective breeding of European honeybees by humans has produced colonies that make excess honey for us to harvest.

The researchers gathered their data simply by visiting each of the patches of flowers every day over two summers and counting the number of insects on the flowers.

Their results did lead them to make some horticultural recommendations – they found that borage, lavender, marjoram and open-flower dahlias varieties were very good for insects.

The colourfully named bowles mauve everlasting wallflower was also very attractive to pollinators, while the least attractive flowering plant for insects was the very popular geranium.

Marjoram, the researchers say, was probably the best “all-rounder”, attracting honey bees, bumble bees, other bees, hover flies, and butterflies.

Borage was the best for honey bees and lavender and open-flowered dahlias were most attractive to bumblebees.

The team put a number of varieties of lavender to the test and found that highly bred hybrids, including some with novel colours – such as white or pink – that have been carefully bred into the plants proved the most attractive to insects.

Dr Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway University of London, commented that with bee populations declining across the world, “we can all give bees a helping hand by planting the right flowers to give them the nectar and pollen they need”.

“This study highlights that it’s important for bee-friendly gardeners to choose what you plant with care,” he added.

“Gardeners and town planners should think carefully about the mixture of flowers they plant to ensure food is available for a wide range of bees and other important insect pollinators.

“It’s also important to cater for the needs of the rarer species and provide food at times when there might be fewer wild flowers in bloom.”

In another prior study, a team from the University of California San Diego used this ‘taste test’ to work out if bees are able to detect the scent of a flower. If the bee detects a floral scent, it will stick out its tongue.

GMOs Become Obsolete, Bazilian Scientists Make Breakthrough.


Agriculture scientists in Brazil have spent the past decade developing so-called “superfoods” that will soon become a natural alternative to genetically modified frankenfoods grown in many countries including the United States and will alleviate malnutrition for nearly one-third of the world’s population.
These eight biofortified foods are expected to be widely available to consumers throughout Brazil in less than a decade; already there is a pilot program underway in 15 municipalities around the country, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported.

Continuing, the paper said:

Biofortification uses conventional plant-breeding methods to enhance the concentration of micronutrients in food crops through a combination of laboratory and agricultural techniques.

The goal is to combat micronutrient deficiencies, which can cause severe health problems such as anemia, blindness, impaired immune response and development delays. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, micronutrient malnutrition affects 2 billion people globally.

Taking on ‘hidden hunger’

Efforts to develop biofortified superfoods began a decade ago, when Embrapa, the government’s agricultural research agency, began the project as part of a group of nations seeking to develop varieties of crops that have higher concentrations of necessary micronutrients. The department chose eight foods that are staples in the Brazilian diet: beans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas), rice, sweet potatoes, corn, wheat, cassava and squash.

“We are working on increasing the iron, zinc and provitamin A content. These are the nutrients most lacking not only in Brazil, but in the rest of Latin America and the world as well, the cause of what we call hidden hunger,” food engineer and a biofort co-ordinator, Marilia Nutti, told Tierramerica.

Nutti said iron was especially important, because half of Brazil’s children suffer from some level of iron deficiency.

In addition to the current biofortification project, Brazilian scientists are also working to breed plants of the same species, choosing seeds that appear to exhibit the best traits regarding micronutrient content.

“This is not transgenics. We want a varied diet. Biofortification attacks the root of the problem and is aimed at the poorest sectors of the population. It is scientifically viable and economically viable as well,” Nutti said.

And it’s not genetic modification, either – and that’s key.

The development project is being supported by HarvestPlus and AgroSalud, a pair of research programs that operate in Latin America, Africa and Asia with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other developmental agencies.

Booming nutritional content

So far, it looks as though the project is, um, fruitful. The iron content of the beans, for instance, has been elevated from 50 to 90 milligrams of iron per kilogram; cassava, which normally has almost no beta-carotene, now has nine milligrams of the essential vitamin A source per gram.

Meanwhile, the beta-carotene level in sweet potatoes has grown from 10 micrograms per gram to an astounding 115 per gram. Zinc content of rice has grown from 12 to 18 milligrams per kilogram.

Not bad – and without turning the foods into “Frankenfoods.”

Already pre-school children are benefiting from the bio-nutritionally enhanced foods. “In Itaguai, an industrial municipality 44 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, about 8,000 pre-school children are benefiting from these extra-nutritious foods,” the Guardian reported.

Eventually all of the municipality’s family farmers will be included in the project – at least, that’s the goal. Further, within a couple years, the plan is to offer biofortified foods in all schools within the municipality, as well as in stores and public markets.

Curiosity of children is one factor that is “selling” the new biofortified superfoods. “When we tell them that these foods have more vitamins, and they see the deeper colors [of the biofortified crops], they are eager to try them out,” municipal secretary of environment, agriculture and fisheries, Ivana Neves Couto told Tierramerica.

“Brazil is the only country working with eight biofortified crops. Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda are conducting research on one crop each,” Guardian reported.

Source: Raw For Beauty

World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten in London.


The world‘s first lab-grown burger was cooked and eaten at a news conference in London on Monday.

Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty.

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Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat.

Critics say that eating less meat would be an easier way to tackle predicted food shortages.

The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald.

Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: “I was expecting the texture to be more soft… there is quite some intense taste; it’s close to meat, but it’s not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper.”

She added: “This is meat to me. It’s not falling apart.”

Food writer Mr Schonwald said: “The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there’s a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.

“What was consistently different was flavour.”

Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, remarked: “It’s a very good start.”

he professor said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells. Asked when lab-grown burgers would reach the market, he said: “I think it will take a while. This is just to show we can do it.”

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been revealed as the project’s mystery backer.

Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University, said decision-makers needed to look beyond technological solutions.

“We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry,” she said.

Mr Schonwald said he missed the fat, but that the “general bite” was authentic

“That’s just weird and unacceptable. The solutions don’t just lie with producing more food but changing the systems of supply and access and affordability, so not just more food but better food gets to the people who need it.”

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”, the templates from which specialised tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop.

Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation to replace worn-out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage.

Prof Post is using similar techniques to grow muscle and fat for food.

He starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. In the laboratory, these are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle about a centimetre long and a few millimetres thick.

An independent study found that lab-grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land.

These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked.

Because the meat is initially white in colour, Helen Breewood – who works with Prof Post – is trying to make the lab-grown muscle look red by adding the naturally-occurring compound myoglobin.

“If it doesn’t look like normal meat, if it doesn’t taste like normal meat, it’s not… going to be a viable replacement,” she said.

 

She added: “A lot of people consider lab-grown meat repulsive at first. But if they consider what goes into producing normal meat in a slaughterhouse, I think they would also find that repulsive.”

Currently, this is a work in progress. The burger revealed on Monday was coloured red with beetroot juice. The researchers have also added breadcrumbs, caramel and saffron, which were intended to add to the taste, although Ms Ruetzler said she could not taste these.

At the moment, scientists can only make small pieces of meat; larger ones would require artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen.

In a statement, animal welfare campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: “[Lab-grown meat] will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming. It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer.”

The latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report on the future of agriculture indicates that most of the predicted growth in demand for meat from China and Brazil has already happened and many Indians are wedded to their largely vegetarian diets for cultural and culinary reasons.

Source:BBC

Front Groups Exposed—50 Industry Groups Form a New Alliance to Manipulate Public Opinion About Junk Food, GMOs, and Harmful Additives.


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Story at-a-glance

  • The United Nations established the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1962. Usually referred to as “Codex,” it consists of approximately 170 member countries that set food guidelines and standards for the world.
  • Over the years, Codex has been embroiled in controversy for a number of reasons, but now our investigations show that Monsanto―one of the world’s largest producers of genetically-modified seeds― is behind a significant number of front groups that control Codex policy.
  • Most recently, more than 50 industry trade groups formed a new alliance called Alliance to Feed the Future. These groups represent multi-national food-, biotech-, and chemical companies that generate hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of revenue each year
  • Alliance to Feed the Future claims its purpose is to “balance the public dialogue” on modern agriculture and large-scale food production and technology. Or, in other words, they aim to become the go-to source for “real” information about the junk being sold as “food”
  • The Kellen Company is instrumental in creating and managing front groups for the processed food and chemical industries. These front groups are specifically created to mislead you about the product in question, protect industry profits, and influence regulatory agencies

 

If you think it’s tough sorting truth from industry propaganda and lies, get ready for even tougher times ahead. More than 50 front groups, working on behalf of food and biotechnology trade groups―Monsanto being the most prominent―have formed a new coalition called Alliance to Feed the Future.

The alliance, which is being coordinated by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), was created to “balance the public dialogue” on modern agriculture and large-scale food production and technology, i.e. this group will aim to becomethe go-to source for “real” information about the junk being sold as “food.”

The groups comprising this new alliance represent multi-national food companies,biotech industry, and chemical companies that generate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of revenue from food related sales every year.

On the upside, this alliance and many other industry-sponsored front groups masquerading as non-profits and consumer protection organizations are becoming increasingly exposed for what they really are, and I will point out several of them in this article.

Michele Simon, JD, MPH, policy consultant with Center for Food Safety recently published a report titled: Best Public Relations Money Can Buy: A Guide to Food Industry Front Groups1 also reveals how the food and agricultural industryhide behind friendly-sounding organizations aimed at fooling the public, policymakers and media alike.

Many Industry Front Groups Are Created to Dominate Codex Discussions

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, conceived by the United Nations in 1962, was birthed through a series of relationships between the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the American FDA and USDA.

The Codex Alimentarius itself is a compilation of food standards, codes of practice and guidelines that specify all requirements related to foods, whether processed, semi-processed, genetically engineered, or raw.

Its purported purpose is to “protect consumers’ health, ensure fair business practices within the food trade, and eliminate international food trade barriers by standardizing food quality.”

There are a number of different working groups that meet regularly to establish food standards of every imaginable kind. For example, the Physical Working Group on Food Additives recently held meetings in Beijing, China. The 45th session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) ended on March 22.

On the agenda were discussions about aluminum-containing food additives. Are they safe or should they be eliminated from the worldwide Codex standards? The National Health Federation (NHF), the only health-freedom group allowed to speak at the meeting, dished out harsh criticism on the additives, calling for their removal. In a Facebook update, the NHF wrote:2

“The usual Codex suspects (the delegations of Australia, the United States and Canada) plus the trade organizations of the International Food Additives Council (IFAC) and the International Council of Grocery Manufacturers Associations (ICGMA) were the industry apologists for keeping aluminum in food additives.

In dishing out scorching criticism of aluminum’s proponents, NHF came under return fire from Australia, IFAC, and the Chairman.

IFAC – which does not seem to disclose any of its members… along with its sidekick ICGMA, cried out constantly that the ‘Industry’ just could not make it without aluminum food additives. Their members spraying equipment ‘might overheat and catch fire,’ IFAC lamented.

When NHF suggested that this was a not a genuine issue; that the industry could easily innovate its way out of this ‘problem’ and create non-overheating equipment, NHF was criticized by the Chairman for suggesting that IFAC might not be telling the truth.

By the end of the day, the success of the EU and NHF could be tallied by numerous uses of aluminum food additives that the Working Group will suggest be discontinued to the full Committee meeting… although there were also many food-additive uses that stayed in place (albeit usually at reduced levels), no thanks to the interventions of Australia, the U.S., Canada, IFAC, and ICGMA.”

Who’s Behind the International Food Additives Council (IFAC)?

The International Food Additives Council (IFAC) is “an international association representing companies that produce high quality substances used worldwide as food ingredients in traditional and organic products.” The group is very active in Codex. But how do you know who they are, and who they represent, when it’s almost impossible to find out who their members are?

As the NHF noted above, it’s virtually impossible to locate a list of its members (which naturally would indicate sources of funding, and potentially reveal behind-the-scenes agendas).

But here, I’m making public IFAC’s list of officers and board members as of 2011. It wasn’t easy to find this list, primarily because IFAC isn’t a regular 501(c)(3). In fact, it isn’t a 501(c)(3) at all. Actually, it’s a 501(c)(6)―an IRS classification for nonprofit “commercially oriented” organizations such as football leagues, chambers of commerce and, apparently, groups like IFAC. Once you know its non-profit classification, you can find its 990 forms―which all non-profits must file, complete with lists of officers and directors. I obtained IFAC’s 990s for the years 2004-2011. And there I learned the truth.

Except for two, who I couldn’t find any information at all on, all of IFAC’s officers and directors are linked to processed foods and additives in some way, with at least six of them having direct or business links to Monsanto and/or DuPont. That’s right. Six of IFAC’s governing board members are linked to the largest GMO producers in the world.

If you look up these board members’ contact information, you’ll find that all contacts for IFAC3 go to a corporation called The Kellen Company. Kellen “provides the essential services to advance associations to the next level of their evolution.” Such services include management, administration, accounting, meeting planning, membership marketing and strategic advice. According to the company’s website:

“Kellen takes the mission and message of each association client and brings it to audiences large and small, internal and external, domestic and international. Utilizing communications tools that are customized for each association, Kellen identifies the audiences, develops the strategies, defines the tactics and executes a planned and carefully reasoned communications plan.”

“Our consulting expertise enables us to reorganize association governance and assets, optimize association resources, extend reach for U.S. associations into Europe and Asia… Kellen’s team is expert in all strategic and tactical elements of associations and can provide insightful analysis and guidance on industry alignment… establishing new legal entities and building consensus. “ [Emphasis mine]

Additionally, if you look up IFAC’s origins in Internet business profiles, you’ll find that it was formed in 1980 by Patrick M. Farrey, who just so happens to be The Kellen Company’s group vice president. In short, The Kellen Company not only is linked to the formation of IFAC, but also serves as the managing entity behind IFAC. And its members, although a proper members list has not been obtained, are bound to be like their governing body― manufacturers of food additives, including but certainly not limited to manufacturers of artificial sweeteners and glutamate (i.e. MSG).

This association is clearly spelled out in the Council’s name. But what’s troublesome about it is that IFAC represents companies that create food ingredients in organic products as well, although there’s not a shred of evidence that any person, company or organization dedicated to organics is actually represented by IFAC. If that is the case, this means IFAC probably does NOT have any incentive at all to ensure such ingredients are appropriate for organic products, and most likely, they will just do what needs to be done to ensure its members’ ingredients are allowed to be used in organics no matter what.

You need look no further than its board members―and their links to Monsanto and DuPont, and their managing entity, Kellen―to see what I’m talking about, because Kellen tells you plainly on its website where the organization it represents stand when it comes to organics. Boasting that Kellen and its members joined the “Say No to Proposition 37” movement in California, Kellen explains right on its website how they defeated the bill that would have mandated that all GMO products be labeled as such:

“Almost all of Kellen Company’s food clients would have been negatively affected by Prop. 37, but no single association was in a position to lead opposition efforts to GMO labeling. A coalition was a perfect solution; our team decided to join the ‘No on 37 Coalition,’ a multi-stakeholder group that led opposition efforts and helped to educate Californian voters about the shortcoming of Prop. 37. And that story has a happy ending – the proposition was not passed and food companies in California are not required to include potentially misleading labeling.”

The site goes further, detailing the steps to “success” of this campaign, advising site visitors: “With proposed ballot initiatives beginning to be certified and many states opening their 2013 legislative sessions this month, now is the time to think about your association’s plans should state legislation or a ballot initiative affecting your industry be introduced in 2013.”

Finally, if you have any doubt about what IFAC’s goals are, you need look no further than a PowerPoint presentation4 that the group is currently giving at symposia and conventions around the world. One of the slides on this presentation states that IFACpromotes “independently determined” studies of safety in its members’ products. By “independent,” they explain that this means: “experts chosen and employed by the manufacturer.” This is the same procedure that gets Monsanto’s products to market: Monsanto gets to do its own safety studies and submit them to the FDA as “proof” that their products won’t harm you.

Front Groups Working to Keep Harmful Food Additives Hidden and on the Market

The Kellen Company has ties with other major industry players. According to a 2011 press release,5 one of the Kellen Company executives was honored as president of the Calorie Control Council, a non-profit association that represents manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie, sugar-free and reduced sugar foods and beverages. It’s also closely tied to the International Council of Grocery Manufacturers Associations (ICGMA), which, along with IFAC, urged the Codex working group to keep aluminum in food additives, despite the many known health risks associated with aluminum.

According to Truthinlabeling.org,6 there are a number of front groups for the glutamate and artificial sweetener industry in the US. In an article titled: Meet the people who get the job done so effectively, they write:

“In the United States, the glutamate industry has two arms. Both work to keep MSG hidden in food. One is the International Hydrolyzed Protein Council… The second and more active arm is spearheaded by Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) and its American subsidiary, The Glutamate Association (TGA), with representative organizations throughout the world.”

Now here’s where it gets interesting, as it again shows the intricate ties of the glutamate industry with the Kellen Company:

“In 1977, the IGTC spun off The Glutamate Association, with both organizations accommodated under the umbrella of The Robert H. Kellen Company… a trade organization and association management firm, specializing in the food, pharmaceutical, and health care industries. [Editor’s note: although not covered in this article, this is a clue that there are many front groups operating in the drug and health care industry as well, under the careful management of the Kellen Company. Such front groups ensure you will NOT get the truth about drugs and health care issues where corporate profits are at stake.]

The Encyclopedia of Associations (The Glutamate Association, 1990) listed Robert H. Kellen as president of The Glutamate Association. Richard Cristol, executive director of The Glutamate Association, was also Vice President of The Kellen Company. Cristol assumed management of the Washington, DC operations of The Kellen Company and its subsidiary, HQ Services, in 1993…

In 1992, and still in 1998, Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., Chairman of the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC), was also Senior Vice President of The Kellen Company. Membership in The Glutamate Association is secret. However, a source from within the glutamate industry, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that besides Ajinomoto, Archer Daniels Midland, Campbell, Corn Products Corporation, McCormick & Company, Pet Foods, Pfizer Laboratories, and Takeda were among its members; and Nestle was a former member.”

The fact that membership is a secret is telling in and of itself, and it’s quite ironic, considering the Glutamate Association is ardently working to keep the presence of glutamate in foods and other products, such as fertilizers and growth promoters, hiddenfrom the consumer… But there’s more. I’ve often discussed the revolving door between the US Food and Drug Administration, and here we see the door swinging yet again. According to another article by TruthInLabeling.org:7

“Influence of the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) can be felt at every level. [Andrew G.] Ebert has served the Grocery Manufacturers of America; the National Food Processors Association; the Institute of Food Technology; the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences Assembly of Life Sciences; theAmerican Medical Association; the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Food Standards Program as an Industry Observer; and the International Food Additives Council (IFAC) as Executive Director. In 1992, FDA appointed both Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., IGTC chairman, and Kristin McNutt, Ph.D., paid spokesperson for the IGTC, to the FDA Food Advisory Committee.” [Emphasis mine]

At this point, it would appear The Kellen Company is instrumental in creating and managing front groups for the processed food and chemical industries. These front groups are specifically created to mislead you about the product in question, protect industry profits, and influence regulatory agencies. This amount of collusion simply is not necessary for a food or product that is truly safe and has great intrinsic value, but it must be done for inferior and/or dangerous products that cannot stand up to closer scrutiny by truly independent sources.

What’s more, it appears all these front groups (there are many others not specifically mentioned in this article) have been created in order to have more seats at the Codex meetings, essentially giving chemical companies and major food manufacturers a much louder voice, in order to control the decisions made.

Front Man Steven Milloy, and Other Non-Profit Front Organizations with Ties to Industry

Steven Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, and owner and operator of Junkscience.com8 — a site dedicated to denying environmental and health concerns related to pollutants and chemicals, including those used in agriculture and food production — appears to have been registered as a lobbyist with The EOP Group, a lobbying firm based in Washington, DC. Clients of the firm have included the American Crop Protection Association, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, and Edison Electric Institute.9

Milloy’s clients10 included both Monsanto and the International Food Additives Council (IFAC). Milloy has denied ever being a lobbyist, claiming that he was “a technical consultant” for the lobbying firm.

“However, Milloy shows up in federal lobbyist registration data for 1997 as having lobbying expenditures on his behalf, indicating his firm, the EOP Group, believed him to be an active lobbyist, ‘technical’ or otherwise,” TRWNews11 states in its expose of the industry front man.

Milloy also headed up the now defunct corporate front group, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). According to TRWNews,12 TASSC and the Junkscience.com site were one and the same. Integrity in Science,13 which lists non-profit organizations with close ties to industry, reports that TASSC received financial support from hundreds of corporations, including the likes of Procter & Gamble, Exxon, Dow Chemical, and Philip Morris. I’ll leave it up to you to guess what kind of ‘sound science’ was advanced by those sources…

“Its objective is to act as a speakers bureau to deliver the corporate message that environmental public policy is not currently based on ‘sound science,’ and to counter excessive regulations that are based on what it considers ‘junk’ science,” Integrity in Science states. [Emphasis mine]

Other non-profit organizations that are in actuality doing the bidding of various industry giants include:

  • Air Quality Standards Coalition, “created specifically to battle the clean air proposals, the coalition operates out of the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade group. Its leadership includes top managers of petroleum, automotive and utility companies”
  • Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, while sounding like it would work for your benefit, actually gets “unrestricted grants” from a long list of pharmaceutical companies
  • Alliance to Save Energy, which “supports energy efficiency as a cost-effective energy resource under existing market conditions and advocates energy-efficiency policies that minimize costs to society and individual consumers,” was founded by, among others: BP…
  • American Academy of Pediatrics receives $1 million annually from infant formula manufacturers. Other donors include (but is not limited to) the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, both Wyeth’s and Merck’s vaccine divisions, the Food Marketing Institute, the Sugar Association, and the International Food Information Council (IFIC) — which you will see below, is not only a front group for the glutamate industry; it’s also the coordinating agent for a new alliance of over 50 industry groups aimed at directing the dialogue and altering public opinion about large-scale, genetically engineered and chemical-based food production
  • American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. This one takes the cake with a member list that includes the American Bakers Association, the American Meat Institute, the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers Association, Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, National Confectioners Association and many others that are FAR from suited to devise appropriate “comprehensive, long-term strategies and constructive public policies for improving the health and wellness of all Americans”

IFIC Created ‘Crisis Management’ Protocol in Case Truth Would Be Exposed

Although their names may differ, many of the functions of these groups overlap, as they’re really serving the same industry. TruthInLabeling explains how front groups such as these serve the distinct interests of the industry, not your or your children’s health, even when their well-chosen name may mislead you to think otherwise.14 Take the International Food Information Council (IFIC) for example:

“In 1990, faced with the threat of a ’60 Minutes’ segment… that might expose the toxic potential of monosodium glutamate, IFIC became actively involved in representing the interests of the glutamate industry. The IFIC represents itself as an ‘independent’ organization. It sends attractive brochures to dietitians, nutritionists, hospitals, schools, the media, and politicians, proclaiming the safety of monosodium glutamate. In 1990, an anonymous person sent us a copy of a ‘Communication Plan’ dated July-December 1991, that detailed methods for scuttling the ’60 Minutes’ segment on MSG, or, failing that, provided for crisis management.

…Depending on the roles they play, researchers might be considered agents of the glutamate industry. In addition, there are those who promote the products of those they work for, just as public relations firms do, but these organizations highlight the fact that they are nonprofit corporations, while minimizing the fact that they promote the products of those who financially support them. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) are examples of such glutamate-industry agents.”

50+ Industry Front Groups Form New Alliance to ‘Balance Public Dialogue’ on Food Production

As reported by Sustainable Food News15 on March 17, more than 50 of these front groups, working on behalf of food and biotechnology trade groups, have formed a brand new alliance called Alliance to Feed the Future. Again, the alliance is being coordinated by the glutamate-protecting International Food Information Council (IFIC). The stated aim of the alliance is to “balance the public dialogue on modern agriculture and large-scale food production.”

“The Alliance to Feed the Future said “in an effort to meet the world’s increasing food needs responsibly, efficiently and affordably,” its members want to ‘tell the real story of’ and dispel “misperceptions about modern food production and technology,’” the article states.16

The groups comprising the alliance represent multi-national food, biotech, and chemical companies that generate hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of revenue each year. Some of the most notable of these 50 industry groups include the very players already mentioned in this article. For the full list of all 50+ groups that are part of the alliance, please see the original article:17

American Soybean Association Biotechnology Industry Organization (which represents biotech crop giants Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta) Calorie Control Council (which represents the artificial sweetener industry)
Council for Biotechnology Information Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) International Food Additives Council (IFAC)

 

According to the featured article:18

“When asked by Sustainable Food News what misperceptions the group seeks to dispel, Dave Schmidt, CEO at the International Food Information Council, who coordinates the alliance, said the most common misperceptions – perpetuated by what he calls ‘a large popular culture’ that can be found in recent ‘books and movies’ – are that ‘technology is bad and we need to go back to a time when there was less technology. Or, food processing or large-scale food production is bad.’

…The alliance’s aim is to educate who he called ‘opinion leaders,’ including those in the university sector, professional societies, journalists and government officials. However, another target demographic is the ‘informed consumer,’ who he expects will find the group’s information online.

The Alliance’s effort appears to be an attempt to squelch the growing consumer perception that modern food production can have a negative impact on the health of humans and the environment as espoused by the organic and sustainable food movement.” [Emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, close to a dozen of the members of this new industry alliance have resigned from the Leonardo Academy’s National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee,19 which is currently developing a national standard for sustainable agriculture under the rules of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). According to Russell Williams of the American Farm Bureau Federation, this exodus occurred because:

“…the committee is dominated by environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents. Based on their recent actions, it is apparent that these groups have neither the vision nor desire to speak for mainstream agriculture or the 95 percent of farmers who will be materially affected by any resulting standard.”

Is the Information You’re Given Created by a Front Group Pretending to Be ‘Independent’?

As TruthInLabeling points out, the industry has manipulated public knowledge using innocent-sounding front groups for a very long time. As I’ve already shown, the International Food Additives Council (IFAC) is a perfect example of how industry giants can masquerade as a so-called non-profit, independent organization. While their membership still remains secret, the directors and officers on the IFAC board show quite plainly who’s running the show when it comes to food additives―and IFAC is obviously NOT a group of consumer advocates.

Another example can be shown through the distribution of information about MSG, which has been completely directed by the industry itself, through The Glutamate Association:

“Present FDA practice includes distributing unsolicited copies of an FDA Medical Bulletin that assures physicians that MSG is safe; and distributing similar material to food service people. In the January-February, 2003 FDA Consumer magazine, the FDA’s Michelle Meadows, in an article titled: MSG: A Common Flavor Enhancer, spewed out paragraphs that look like they came right off The Glutamate Association or the International Glutamate Information Service Web pages. Trying to convince us that MSG is ‘safe’ while saying nothing.”

The same goes for genetically engineered crops, prescription drugs, artificial sweeteners and a whole host of other harmful substances used in food production and medicine. You can bet if there’s a harmful substance out there that makes money, there are at least one or more front groups, posing as independent non-profit organizations, disseminating anything but independent safety reviews and information pertaining to it…

As for the Codex meetings, and the Group on Food Additives in particular; they’re being shrewdly manipulated by multiple front groups, which ensures that their side comes across as the strongest and most vocal. It also creates the illusion of consensus, when in fact it’s nothing but collusion… It’s high time to pull back the curtain and see who’s really pulling the strings and levers. And whenever you hear the talking points from Alliance to Feed the Future or the International Food Additives Council (IFAC), you now know exactly who is talking, and why. It’s an alliance of multi-national food-, biotech-, and chemical companies that are hell-bent on protecting hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of annual revenue in the face of a burgeoning organic and sustainable food movement. Believe what they tell you at your own risk…

Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people’s initiative 522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:

“Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn’t required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn’t have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.

Doesn’t it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.

I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers.”

Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn’t have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let’s not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.

  • No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
  • If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
  • For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.

Source: mercola.com

Overfishing threatens quarter of key grouper species.


fish

A quarter of grouper fish species face extinction or are near threatened because of overfishing and poor management of coral reef fisheries, and a further 30 per cent are so understudied there is not enough data to assess how threatened they are, according to a study.

Urgent conservation efforts are needed to tackle overexploitation and improve the management of these commercially-important fisheries, according to the study to be published in the June issue of Fish and Fisheries.

Most of the threatened and data-deficient species live in the developing world, where they provide crucial food and incomes, the study finds.

Groupers are found predominantly in the tropics and subtropics and they are estimated to be a multi-billion dollar a year industry, says the study.

Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Hong Kong, China, says: “Groupers are caught mainly by local fishermen who sell them to local markets or traders who may export or sell them to big businesses”.

But they are also caught by big industrial fishing boats, which remove them at unsustainable scales, she says.

Global catches of groupers rose by nearly 25 per cent between 1999 and 2009 to 275,000 tonnes a year, according to Food and Agriculture Organization figures in the study.

The studysets out major threats to the world’s 163 grouper species based on existing assessments using International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria.

It shows that 20 species, or 12 per cent of all grouper species, are at risk of extinction if overfishing trends continue, with a further 13 per cent near threatened.

The majority of these threatened species live in the Caribbean Sea, off Brazil and in the Coral Triangle, which consists of marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

For 50 grouper species, there was insufficent data to even evaluate how threatened they are.

The study indicates that, while some management of grouper fisheries exists, challenges remain to ensure their protection and introduce long-term and species-specific monitoring.

“Groupers have slow life cycles, which means that they are among the more vulnerable types of species and easier to overfish than many other species,” Mitcheson says.

“Fishermen need to understand that the seas are not endless,” she says. “Source countries need to manage their reef resources, which are naturally limited and not very productive, with the food security of their people as a top priority.”

If this is impossible, nations could consider banning commercial exports of reef fish, she says.

John Randall, a senior ichthyologist at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Hawaii, says that large-scale fishing by foreign nations causes major problems.

“Most alarming are the large fishing vessels from China — especially Hong Kong — that visit developing countries such as Indonesia to fish, often illegally, for groupers and other large fishes,” he says.

A study published online in Fish and Fisheries in March estimated that China alone underrepresents its overseas fish catch by an order of magnitude, especially in the waters off West Africa.

“The problem of underreporting catches or of illegal catches is very serious,” Mitcheson says, adding that it “undermines our understanding of fishery conditions and affects our ability to
manage fisheries”.

REFERENCES

Fish and Fisheries doi: 10.1111/j.14672–979.2011.00455.x (2013)
Fish and Fisheries doi: 10.1111/faf.12032 (2013)

Source: SciVx

 

 

Should Factory-Farmed Foods Be Labeled?


food-label

A growing number of organic consumers, natural health advocates and climate hawks are taking a more comprehensive look at the fundamental causes of global warming.

It has led them to this sobering conclusion: Our modern energy-, chemical- and GMO-intensive industrial food and farming systems are the major cause of man-made global warming.

How did they reach this conclusion? First, by taking a more inclusive look at the scientific data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – not just carbon dioxide (CO2), but also methane and nitrous oxide.

Next, by doing a full accounting of the fossil fuel consumption and emissions of the entire industrial food and farming cycle, including inputs, equipment, production, processing, distribution, heating, cooling and waste. And finally, by factoring in the indirect impacts of contemporary agriculture, which include deforestation and wetlands destruction.

When you add it all up, the picture is clear: Contemporary agriculture is burning up our planet, and factory farms or, in industry lingo, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.

The Global Impact of Factory Farming

The science behind global warming is complex. Without question, coal plants, tar sands and natural gas fracking have contributed heavily to greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, the major cause of global warming. We must unite to shut down these industries.

Similarly, consumer overconsumption of fossil fuels represents another big piece of the climate-crisis equation. We absolutely must rethink, retrofit and/or redesign our gas-guzzling cars and our energy-inefficient buildings, if we want to reduce fossil fuel use by 90 percent over the next few decades.

But we also must address the environmental impact of factory farming.

Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs. These animals are literally imprisoned and tortured in unhealthy, unsanitary and unconscionably cruel conditions.

Sickness is the norm for animals who are confined rather than pastured, and who eat genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans, rather than grass and forage as nature intended.

To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics. Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to the environment when they run off into our lakes, rivers, aquifers and drinking water.

How Factory Farms Affect Global Climate

CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the US is dirtier than in America’s most polluted cities.

According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.

The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.

Indirectly, factory farms contribute to climate disruption by their impact on deforestation and draining of wetlands, and because of the nitrous oxide emissions from huge amounts of nitrate fertilizers used to grow the genetically engineered corn and soy fed to animals raised in CAFOs.

Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane – 200 times more damaging per ton than CO2. And just as animal waste leaches antibiotics and hormones into ground and water, pesticides and fertilizers also eventually find their way into our waterways, further damaging the environment.

CAFOs — A Major Contributor to Poor Health

Factory farms aren’t just a disaster for the environment. They’re also ruining our health. A growing chorus of scientists and public health advocates warn that the intensive and reckless use of antibiotics and growth hormones leads to factory-farmed food1 that contains antibiotic-resistant pathogens, drug residues such as hormones and growth promoters, and “bad fats.”

Yet despite these health and environmental hazards, the vast majority of consumers don’t realize that nearly 95 percent of the meat, dairy and eggs sold in the U.S. come from CAFOs. Nor do most people realize that CAFOs represent a corporate-controlled system characterized by large-scale, centralized, low profit-margin production, processing and distribution systems.

There’s an alternative: A socially responsible, small-scale system created by independent producers and processors focused on local and regional markets. This alternative produces high-quality food, and supports farmers who produce healthy, meat, eggs and dairy products using humane methods. And it’s far easier on the environment.

Why We Need to Label Factory-Farmed Food

Consumers can boycott food products from factory farms and choose the more environmentally-friendly alternatives. But first, we have to regain the right to know what’s in our food. And that means mandatory labeling, not only of genetically engineered foods, but of the 95 percent of non-organic, non-grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs that are produced on the hellish factory farms that today dominate US food production.

In 2013, a new alliance of organic and natural health consumers, animal welfare advocates, anti-GMO and climate-change activists will tackle the next big food labeling battle: meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on factory farms, or CAFOs.

This campaign will start with a massive program to educate consumers about the negative impacts of factory farming on the environment, on human health and on animal welfare, and then move forward to organize and mobilize millions of consumers to demand labels on beef, pork, poultry and dairy products derived from these unhealthy and unsustainable so-called “farming” practices.

Opponents and skeptics will ask, “What about feeding the world?” Contrary to popular arguments, factory farming is not a cheap, efficient solution to world hunger. Feeding huge numbers of confined animals actually uses more food, in the form of grains that could feed humans, than it produces. For every 100 food calories of edible crops fed to livestock, we get back just 30 calories in the form of meat and dairy. That’s a 70-percent loss.

With the earth’s population predicted to reach nine billion by mid-century, the planet can no longer afford this reckless, unhealthy and environmentally disastrous farming system. We believe that once people know the whole truth about CAFOs they will want to make healthier, more sustainable food choices. And to do that, we’ll have to fight for the consumer’s right to know not only what is in our food, but where our food comes from.

Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people’s initiative 522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:

“Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn’t required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn’t have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.

Doesn’t it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.

I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers.”

Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn’t have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let’s not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.

  • No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
  • If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
  • For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.

About the Author

Ronnie Cummins is the founder and Director of the Organic Consumers Association. He has been a writer and activist since the 1960s, with massive expertise in human rights, anti-war, anti-nuclear, consumer, labor, environmental, and sustainable agricultural areas.  He is the author of several published articles, a children’s book series called Children of the World, and Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.

About the Organic Consumers Association

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 public interest organization promoting health, justice, and sustainability. It prides itself as the only organization in the United States focused on promoting the views and interests of the country’s estimated 76 million organic and socially responsible consumers.

The OCA participates in the important issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, and other key topics. The Organic Consumers Fund, a 501(c)4, is the OCA’s grassroots action and lobbying arm.

Source: .mercola.com