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December 17th, 2014

Food & Water Watch’s Holiday Gift Guide

BlogThumb_GiftBy Briana Kerensky

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to start worrying about what to get your friends and family for the holidays. Are you searching for the best gifts to get your loved ones that won’t make you feel like you’re giving in to corporate holiday marketing schemes?

This year, we’ve got you covered. Steer clear of the shopping mall and check out these seven meaningful gift ideas for the holidays.

  1. Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in Americaby Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water WatchRead all about how our food system came to be controlled by a handful of companies—and what you can do to fix it.
  2. Homemade candy or baked goods. Fight the Foodopoly and make your friends and family some sweet treats this season, like peppermint bark or gingerbread cookies.
  3. Food & Water Watch gift membership. Give the gift of safe food and clean water for all… with gift memberships to Food & Water Watch.
  4. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein. In this excellent new book, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein skillfully explains how the climate crisis and gaping inequalities in our global economy are tied together, and what we can do to make a difference.
  5. Cookbooks. A number of chefs and professional foodies are great allies in supporting safe food and clean water. Why not show them your support and purchase some of their cookbooks for your loved ones this year? For example, Chef Alice Waters is not only a culinary legend, but is also extremely active in the fight to ban fracking as a member of Chefs for the Marcellus.
  6. Gift certificate to a local restaurant. Everyone loves being treated to a nice meal, so why not treat your friend and support your local economy at the same time? For sustainably minded restaurant ideas, visit the Eat Well Guide.
  7. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. Following the death of her mother, divorce, and a descent into drugs, author Cheryl Strayed decided to take control of her life by hiking solo across a 1,100 mile portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. While Strayed’s journey is the focus of the story (and a new film featuring Reese Witherspoon), the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is certainly more than a bit part. Spanning 25 national forests and seven national parks, the Pacific Crest Trail is one of our most treasured places – and it’s at risk of getting fracked. Learn more about the danger of fracking on public lands and what you can do to stop it.

Do you have other meaningful gift ideas? Tell us in the comments below.

December 15th, 2014

No Surprise: Congress Gets it Wrong on GMO Labels

By Genna Reed

Genna_ReedThe FDA issued voluntary guidance for labeling GMO foods in 2001 and has basically been inactive on the topic ever since. Since the agency has for years neglected citizen petitions to require the mandatory labeling of GMOs, a movement is afoot to introduce bills on the state level. In 2012 and 2013, Connecticut and Maine passed bills with trigger mechanisms that would require additional New England states to pass similar bills of their own. And just this year, Vermont passed a labeling bill, with no strings attached, which is now being fought in court by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA)Read more…

December 10th, 2014

How to Burst Monsanto’s Bubble

By Sarah Alexander

BlogThumb_GMOcampus

We need your support to keep legislators from passing Monsanto’s dream bill.

We’re within 800 votes of winning GMO labeling at the ballot in Oregon, and the measure is currently in a recount! Win or lose, coming this close to defeating Monsanto, Dow and other Big Food companies, despite their record-shattering spending to mislead voters, shows that we’re close to winning labeling for everyone!

DONATE

Can you make a year-end donation right now to help make sure we can continue to fight for labeling genetically engineered (GMO) foods? Thanks to a special 2-to-1 match, the impact of your donation right will be tripled!

Food & Water Watch has been on the front lines in Oregon for the ballot initiative to label GMO foods since last January. Along with our allies, as a member of the campaign steering committee in Oregon:

  • We helped plan out the campaign’s grassroots effort, which qualified the initiative for the ballot with volunteers who helped gather more than 150,000 signatures over the summer.
  • We had five staff on the ground working to register people to vote and to get likely supporters to turn in their ballots, including special outreach to young voters on five college campuses.
  • Our national organizers in more than 17 offices throughout the U.S. helped engage volunteers from across the country to make more than 50,000 calls into Oregon voters from outside the state.
  • In the final days of the election, our staff and volunteers helped knock on more than 24,000 doors, make more than 500,000 calls, and turn people out to vote.

Our efforts are what helped make this election so much closer than previous ballot initiatives in Washington and California. We know that the only way we can counter the propaganda of Monsanto, Dow and other Big Ag companies, who have collectively spent more than $105 million to defeat labeling ballot initiatives in the last three elections, is to have one-on-one conversations with voters. But it takes staff and resources to recruit, train and organize volunteers, and we need to have more people working on these types of electoral efforts if we’re going to be able to make sure you can know what you’re eating and feeding your family.

Most Americans are pretty far removed from the production of their food. Grandparents may not realize that the cereal they are feeding to their grandkids is dramatically different from the cereal they fed their own children. Our food system has radically changed within one generation.

By genetically engineering food, these big chemical companies are changing plants and animals in a way that could never happen in nature, or through traditional cross-breeding. It’s crazy for some people to think that they can take DNA from a completely unrelated organism and insert it into the DNA of a plant or animal without having unknown consequences. And most of these crops are engineered to withstand higher applications of toxic chemicals or to actually produce toxic chemicals in their cells that kill bugs that eat the crop. What happens when we eat them?

Even worse, these GMO crops are untested, unlabeled and could be unsafe. The Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, all tasked with regulating different aspects of GMO crops, have no real regulations in place to look at the impacts of genetically engineered organisms on our health or our environment.

We believe that everyone deserves safe and healthy food, and that starts with labeling so people can make informed choices. Can you make a year-end donation today to help us continue the fight for labeling in 2015?

Countries around the world do not allow the growing or importation of GMO crops, and 64 countries require the labeling of all GMO foods. Why not in the U.S.? Because big food corporations want to protect their profits, regardless of what’s healthy for you and your family.

We’re standing up to these corporations that want to keep us in the dark about what is actually in our food. In fact, these companies have found support in Congress to introduce Monsanto’s dream bill (aka the DARK Act) that keeps states from labeling GMO foods, and they are having a hearing tomorrow!

We have a plan to help stop this bill from moving through Congress in 2015 by targeting specific members of Congress, but we’ll need your support to work both inside Congress and in states across the country to keep legislators from passing Monsanto’s dream bill.

In addition to fighting at the federal level, we’ll be working with our partners and volunteers in many states like New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and California to further state efforts to label GMOs. We just need your help to make sure we can implement our plans for genetically engineered food labeling.

With your help, it’s onward to victory!

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December 2nd, 2014

Coast-to-Coast Coalition Urges Congress to Reject Changes to Country of Origin Labels in Budget Battle

More than 200 farm, consumer, rural, faith and other groups demand Congress to keep cool on COOL

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a coalition of 207 farm, faith, environmental, labor, rural and consumer organizations delivered a letter to the Senate urging the legislators to reject any effort to repeal, rescind or weaken country of origin labeling (COOL) in any federal spending legislation.

“Congress needs to stay the course on COOL and leave it alone, especially now that the Obama administration has appealed the current decision to the WTO,” said Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union. “COOL has been embraced by consumers who want to know where their food comes from and by family farmers who are proud to provide that information.”

Congress enacted COOL in both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills and chose to expand COOL coverage to additional products such as venison in the 2014 Farm Bill. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been considering a dispute over COOL since 2008. At each stage of the WTO dispute, the trade body has been increasingly receptive to the legitimacy of the COOL labels. The broad-based coalition of groups on the letter demonstrates the continued strong support for COOL from all sectors of the food system.

“U.S. consumers overwhelmingly support country of origin labeling,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. “In fact, they want even more information about the source of their meat including where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Congress should not deny consumers this important information.”

COOL is being attacked by a coalition of special interests including the meat industry, food processing companies, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers that have pressed the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress to prematurely rescind or suspend COOL before the WTO dispute process has been completed.

“Congress should not unconditionally surrender to the special interest saber-rattling on COOL,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Congress should not short circuit the WTO process at the behest of the meatpackers and their special interest allies.”

Last week the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced it would appeal the most recent stage in the dispute, a move likely to extend the timeline of the dispute by many months. The signing organizations believe there are strong grounds for a successful appeal because the WTO overestimated the costs and underestimated the benefits of the labels. Further, the WTO inappropriately suggested that COOL caused declining livestock exports to the United States, but the economic downturn was a greater cause of the change in exports and in recent years exports have been soaring, even with COOL requirements in place.

“As livestock producers and consumers, our members stand strong in our commitment to COOL and urge our Congressional representatives to support the pending appeal and let the process proceed,” said Mabel Dobbs, a rancher from Weiser, Idaho, and member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

#          #          #

A copy of the letter is available here.

Contacts: 

Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-4905, [email protected]

Andrew Jerome, National Farmers Union: (202) 314-3106, [email protected]

Kevin Dowling, Western Organization of Resource Councils: (406) 252-9672, [email protected]

Chris Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America: (202) 797-8551, [email protected]

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November 26th, 2014

GM Crops: Science Is About Questions, not “Consensus”

Brussels – Food & Water Europe’s damning critique of the so-called scientific “consensus” surrounding GM food and crops, published today, exposes the biotech industry’s role in massaging facts to support its products. The report is published while the EU Parliament and Council are locked in negotiations trying to overcome deep disagreement on so-called “opt-outs” (national or regional bans) for GM crops.

Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said, “The fact that such a vigorous debate continues over the so-called ‘consensus’ on GMO safety is evidence enough that no consensus exists. Rather than chasing ‘consensus’, the real conversation that scientists and the public should be having — in academic journals, in the media and in Parliaments — is whether or not GMOs are safe.”

The So-Called Scientific “Consensus”: Why the debate on GMOs is not over (available at the link below), shows how pro-GM vested interests cherry pick information and manipulate quotes from scientific bodies like the World Health Organisation and the Royal Society of London to promote their alleged consensus. The briefing also points out that neither scientific institutions, the scientific literature nor independent scientists support the “consensus” claim.

Food & Water Europe’s EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said, “GMO boosters are working so hard to distract the public from the real questions hanging over GM food and crops – that’s par for the course. The biotech industry has long used its financial might and political power to distort the public discourse — and even the science — surrounding GMOs.

“We want to ensure the public has access to all the facts so we can make the best decisions. For starters there are zero peer-reviewed studies of the epidemiology of GMO consumption, so any claims GMOs are safe to eat in the long-term are based in hope, not science. People need to know that.”

The organisation also points to the hundreds of scientists who called the “consensus” bogus, citing:

  • Limited animal feeding trials have been conducted on GMOs; several show or suggest toxic effects.
  • The biotechnology industry is  responsible for most of the available feeding trials showing that genetically engineered crops are safe and nutritious; an equal number of research groups working on feeding trials have expressed “serious concerns” over safety.
  • There is evidence of environmental safety issues, including adverse, unintended impacts on non-target organisms and the promotion of resistant weeds.
  • There is evidence of possible adverse human and animal health effects from exposure to Roundup, the herbicide used on the majority of GMO crops.
  • Several international agreements acknowledge safety issues with GMOs.

Mitchell added, “There are many grave risks here, but there is no liability regime to hold the biotech industry responsible if anything goes wrong with their GMOs. At the very least we need to heed what the evidence is telling us and take more care. Given what we know already, there has never been a better case for saying ‘better safe than sorry’.”

Contact: Eve Mitchell, EU Food Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe +44 (0)1381 610 740 or emitchell(at)fweurope(dot)org

Food & Water Europe’s briefing The So-Called Scientific “Consensus”: Why the debate on GMOs is not over is available in English and in Spanish.

Un Nuevo Informe Desmiente el Mito del Consenso Científico sobre la Seguridad de los Transgénicos

Madrid, Bruselas – Amigos de la Tierra y Food & Water Europe publican hoy un nuevo informe que expone cómo la industria manipula la información sobre los cultivos y alimentos transgénicos para generar la idea de que existe un “consenso científico” en torno a la seguridad de sus productos. El informe “El falso ‘consenso científico’: El debate en torno a los transgénicos no ha terminado” [1] muestra cómo la industria de los transgénicos y sus defensores eligen de forma interesada la información y manipulan citas, incluyendo interpretar a su manera a la Organización Mundial de la Salud, para promover la idea de que el debate sobre la seguridad de los cultivos y alimentos transgénicos está superado.

David Sánchez, coordinador de campañas de Food & Water Europe [2] aseguró: “Durante años la industria de los transgénicos ha utilizado su poder económico y su influencia política para distorsionar el debate público y científico sobre los transgénicos. Ni las instituciones, ni la literatura científica ni la ciencia independiente apoya que haya un ‘consenso’ sobre la seguridad de los alimentos y cultivos modificados genéticamente.”

Blanca Ruibal, responsable del área de agricultura y alimentación de Amigos de la Tierra afirmó: “La estrategia tanto a nivel internacional como estatal es utilizar organizaciones teóricamente neutras, financiadas por la propia industria, y científicos afines para repetir de forma machacona en medios de comunicación y blogs los mismos argumentos y citas manipuladas o convenientemente adaptadas. El verdadero debate no es si hay ‘consenso’ o no, el verdadero debate es si los cultivos y alimentos transgénicos son seguros, si son necesarios, a quién benefician, a quién perjudican y si son más convenientes para la sociedad que el resto de opciones”.
La industria de los transgénicos, a través de esta campaña para promocionar la existencia de un supuesto ‘consenso’ sobre la seguridad de los cultivos y alimentos transgénicos no menciona los hechos citados por cientos de científicos que niegan este consenso, incluyendo que:

  • Se han realizado muy pocos ensayos de alimentación con animales sobre transgénicos y varios de ellos muestran o sugieren efectos tóxicos.
  • La industria de los transgénicos es la responsable de la gran mayoría de los estudios de alimentación disponible que muestran que los cultivos transgénicos son seguros. Un número similar de grupos de investigación que trabajan con estos estudios de alimentación han expresado “preocupaciones serias” sobre su seguridad.
  • No existen estudios epidemiológicos sobre seguridad en alimentación humana.
  • Hay evidencias de problemas de seguridad para el medio ambiente, incluyendo impactos adversos e inesperados en organismos no diana y la generación de malas hierbas resistentes a herbicidas.
  • Hay evidencias de efectos potenciales negativos sobre la salud humana y animal de la exposición al Roundup, el herbicida utilizado con la mayor parte de los cultivos transgénicos.
  • Varios acuerdos internacionales reconocen problemas de seguridad con los organismos modificados genéticamente

Lea el informe en Español:
(http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/briefs/espanol-el-falso-consenso-cientifico-el-debate-en-torno-a-los-transgenicos-no-ha-terminado/)

Lea el informe en Inglés
(http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/briefs/eu-version-the-so-called-scientific-consensus-why-the-debate-on-gmo-safety-is-not-over/)

Para más información

David Sánchez, coordinador de campañas, Food & Water Europe +32 485842604 dsanchez(at)fweurope(dot)org

Blanca Ruibal, responsable de Agricultura y Alimentación, Amigos de la Tierra 691471389

Notas

[1] El informe “El falso ‘consenso científico’: El debate en torno a los transgénicos no ha terminado” puede descargarse en castellano y en inglés aquí:
[2] Food & Water Europe es el proyecto europeo de Food & Water Watch, organización de consumidores con sede en EEUU que trabaja para garantizar que la comida, el agua y el pescado que consumimos son seguros, accesibles y sostenibles. Para que todos y todas podamos disfrutar y confiar en lo que comemos y bebemos, ayudamos a la ciudadanía a asumir el control sobre el origen de sus alimentos; a mantener un suministro de agua de grifo limpia, asequible y pública; a proteger el medio ambiente y la salud de los océanos; a forzar a los gobiernos a cumplir con su obligación de proteger a la ciudadanía, y a educar sobre la importancia de mantener los bienes comunes bajo el control público.
www.foodandwatereurope.org

November 25th, 2014

Español: El Falso “Consenso Científico”: El Debate en Torno a los Transgénicos no ha Terminado

  DESCARGA PDF

  LEE EN SCRIBD

Las empresas de biotecnología agraria, junto a sus partidarios del mundo académico y la blogosfera, están usando todos sus recursos para difundir el mito de que existe “consenso científico” en torno a la seguridad de los cultivos y alimentos trangénicos. Afirman que con los datos disponsibles, el debate está terminado. Esta campaña de relaciones públicas, con la ayuda de grupos financiados por la industria, ha calado en importantes medios de comunicación donde se retratan las voces críticas con los transgénicos como completamente ajenas a la ciencia, como a los negacionistas del cambio climático.

EU Version: The So-Called Scientific “Consensus”: Why the Debate on GMO Safety is Not Over

  DOWNLOAD PDF

  VIEW ON SCRIBD

Biotechnology seed companies, aided by advocates from academia and the blogosphere, are using their substantial resources to broadcast the myth of a “scientific consensus” on the safety of genetically engineered crops (hereafter GMOs), asserting their data is in and the debate is over. This public relations campaign, helped along by industry front groups, has caught the attention of some of the most visible news outlets in the country, with biotech advocates portraying GMOs as akin to climate change deniers, out of step with science.

MEPs Vote for Food Nanotech Moratorium, Kick Back Commission Clone Plans

Brussels – Food & Water Europe warmly welcomed the news that MEPs on the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted last night for a moratorium on nanotechnology in food until proper risk assessment methods have been established and such products proved safe. The group also welcomed the vote to stand firm on clones in food, with Green MEP Bart Staes saying the Committee has “sent the EU Commission back to the drawing board with its flawed proposals”.

EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said, “Thank goodness MEPs are standing up once again for the Precautionary Principle and basic food safety, this time on nanotechnology and clones. Working through the hundreds of amendments tabled is not easy, but it is incredibly important to get this right.

“This ‘safety first’ approach has not been matched elsewhere in the European machinery, and we all need to support the MEPs fighting our corner – the pressure will only grow to ‘compromise’. When there is such widespread admission that our knowledge on these issues so sparse, and when the risks are so grave, compromise simply is not an option.

“Added to the disagreements currently under discussion on GMOs, the gap between our elected representatives and other powers in Europe just keeps getting wider when it comes to food safety. We commend MEPs for holding a clear, sensible line and keeping this stuff out of our food.”

Contact: Eve Mitchell, EU Food Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe +44 (0)1381 610 740 or emitchell(a)fweurope(dot)org

November 24th, 2014

FSIS Officials Supported Immigration Reform for Chinese Poultry in 2006

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

 Washington, D.C.—“Documents inadvertently released by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last week reveal that there is conclusive evidence that USDA was very close to approving the importation of Chinese poultry raised and slaughtered in that country in 2006.

“On November 19, 2014 at 2:34 p.m., FSIS issued the 42-page Directive 9770.1. entitled, ‘Determining the Initial Equivalence Foreign Food Safety Systems,’ to all FSIS personnel. At 4:50 p.m. that same day, FSIS announced that Directive 9770.1 had been rescinded, but not before Food & Water Watch managed to download a copy of the document. The Directive contained a Decision Memorandum signed on May 8, 2006 by-then FSIS Director of the International Equivalence Staff Sally White and on June 16, 2006 by then-FSIS Assistant Administrator for International Affairs Karen Stuck that recommended that the poultry slaughter system for the People’s Republic of China be found to be ‘equivalent’ to the U.S. system and that a rule be proposed to add China as eligible to export slaughtered poultry products to the U.S. (see pages 17 -24).

“On November 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm, FSIS reissued Directive 9770.1. The republished Directive is only ten-pages long and none of the supplementary documents, including the 2006 Decision Memorandum on Chinese poultry, were included.

“Nine years ago yesterday, FSIS first proposed to allow China to export processed poultry to the U.S. provided that the raw poultry came from ‘approved sources.’ In 2005, the only ‘approved sources’ were the U.S. or Canada. There was a concern at that time that China’s poultry slaughter system did not meet U.S. standards, and numerous avian influenza outbreaks in China’s poultry flocks raised animal health issues. That rule was finalized on April 24, 2006. But now we find out that FSIS was prepared to move forward with chicken imports two just months later.

“Due to thousands of U.S. consumers who have objected over the past nine years and the vigilance of congressional leaders such as Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who took legislative action to stop FSIS from moving forward, U.S. consumers have so far been protected from poultry products from a country whose food safety system is ineffectual and rampant with corruption. We can at least celebrate this Thanksgiving knowing that Chinese poultry products are not reaching our dinner tables. We once again call on USDA Secretary Vilsack to stop all efforts to permit China to export poultry products to the U.S. until that country reforms its food safety regulatory system.”

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