food | Food & Water Watch
Victory! Farm Bureau case challenging EPA’s right to share factory farm data dismissed. more wins »
X

Welcome!

You're reading Smorgasbord from Food & Water Watch.

If you'd like to send us a note about a blog entry or anything else, please use this contact form. To get involved, sign up to volunteer or follow the take action link above.

Blog Categories

Blog archives

Stay Informed

Sign up for email to learn how you can protect food and water in your community.

   Please leave this field empty

Posts categorized as food

March 27th, 2015

Obama’s Antibiotic Plan Fails to Address Overuse on Factory Farms

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

Washington, D.C.— “Today the White House released its ‘National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria,’ which is intended to protect the public from antibiotic resistant infections. Unfortunately, the plan falls short of protecting the public from this looming public health crisis in that it fails to adequately address the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms, relying on FDA’s limited efforts to change practices through voluntary guidance.

“Food & Water Watch supports the plan’s call for USDA and FDA to research and promote alternatives to antibiotic use in livestock and poultry. Such research is necessary to support a transition away from non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics. But this is not enough.

“80 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are used on factory farms. Every year, over two million Americans suffer from antibiotic resistant infections, and 23,000 people die from them. The Food and Drug Administration has been aware of the problems associated with the misuse of these critical, life saving drugs since at least 1977, but has not required factory farms to stop misusing them.

“Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that curbing the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms would address this public health crisis and help maintain the effectiveness of these critical, life saving drugs, the meat industry continues to oppose meaningful regulation on how it uses antibiotics.

“Ultimately the National Action Plan is a missed opportunity to take more aggressive action. That is why we need federal legislation like the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act that would end the overuse of medically important antibiotics in livestock production. This is what it will take to combat this public health crisis.”

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, [email protected]

Posted in  |  No Comments Yet
March 18th, 2015

Beware of the Corporate GMO Spin Doctors

By Wenonah Hauter

This piece originally appeared on Food Tank.

BlogThumb_BillNyeYou may have heard that popular scientist Bill Nye has mysteriously revised his outlook on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Several years ago, the children’s show host advocated for the labeling of genetically modified foods, citing concerns about what GMOs could do to ecosystems. But now his position on the controversial technology has flipped. This development is the latest in a trend spearheaded by agribusiness giants to discredit the GMO labeling movement, and it’s especially hard to disassociate his reversal from this PR blitz since it coincided with Nye’s recent trip to Monsanto’s headquarters.

We’ll never know what actually went down during Nye’s visit, as Tom Philpott at Mother Jones notes, but we do know that Monsanto has poured millions of dollars into public relation efforts to sell the public on GMOs. Because that’s what you do when you are a corporation with deep coffers and a product that the public is wisely skeptical of.

Read more…

March 6th, 2015

Antibiotic Resistance 101: How Antibiotic Misuse on Factory Farms Can Make You Sick

DOWNLOAD PDF VIEW ON SCRIBD

Antibiotics are critical tools in human medicine. Medical authorities are warning that these life-saving drugs are losing their effectiveness, and there are few replacement drugs in the pipeline. Bacteria evolve in response to the use of antibiotics both in humans and in animals. Those bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics prosper as antibiotics kill the non-resistant bacteria. Once they emerge, antibiotic-resistant (AR) bacteria can transfer AR traits to other bacteria in animals and the environment. The development of antibiotic resistance is hastened by the use of low doses of antibiotics at industrial farms. The drugs are used routinely not to treat sick animals, but for growth promotion and disease prevention, a practice known as non-therapeutic use.

March 4th, 2015

McDonald’s Realizes Consumers Don’t Want Meat Raised With Antibiotics, But Voluntary Measures Aren’t Enough

Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Washington, D.C. — “We’re glad to hear McDonald’s realizes the public doesn’t want food from factory farms that overuse antibiotics. But voluntary measures are not enough. It’s past time for the FDA to force the meat industry to eliminate its use of harmful antibiotics though enforceable, non-voluntary regulation.”

Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]

Posted in  |  No Comments Yet

Over 4 Million People Press Obama to Protect Bees

Congress heeds call to action and introduces legislation as pressure mounts on White House Task Force to issue meaningful recommendations

March 4, 2015 (Washington, DC)—A coalition of beekeepers, farmers, business leaders, environmental and food safety advocates rallied in front of the White House and delivered more than 4 million petition signatures today calling on the Obama administration to put forth strong protections for bees and other pollinators. This action anticipates the Pollinator Health Task Force recommendations, expected later this month. The task force, announced by the White House this past June, is charged with improving pollinator health through new agency regulations and partnerships. The assembled groups demand that the recommendations include decisive action on rampant use of neonicotinoids, a class of systemic insecticides scientists say are a driving factor in bee declines.

The rally coincided with both a D.C. metro ad campaign and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Conyers’s (D-MI) reintroduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which would suspend the use of four of the most toxic neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a full review of their safety.

Representative Blumenauer, said, “Pollinators are not only vital to a sustainable environment, but key to a stable food supply. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by bees. It is imperative that we take a step back to make sure we understand all the factors involved in bee population decline and move swiftly to protect our pollinators.”

“The EPA plans to wait until 2018 before reviewing the registration of neonicotinoids.  But America’s bees cannot wait three more years.  Neither can the thousands of farmers that rely on pollinators,” said Representative Conyers. “Our honeybees are critical to ecological sustainability and to our economy.  I am urging all of my colleagues to please protect our pollinators and support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.”

“America’s beekeepers cannot easily survive in the toxic environment the EPA has supported,” said Roger Williams, president of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, and a speaker at today’s rally. “On top of many other stresses, bee-toxic pesticides, whether used to coat seeds or as sprays, are weakening and killing our bees and threatening the livelihood of the beekeepers who are so intimately tied to our nation’s food supply.”

In a letter on Monday, more than 125 conservation, beekeeping, food safety, religious, ethnic and farming advocacy groups urged President Obama and the EPA to take swift and meaningful action to address the impacts of toxic pesticides on pollinator species. The European Union passed a two-year moratorium on three of the most widely used neonicotinoids, yet the EPA has approached the issue with little urgency.

“Business leaders nationally recognize the importance of pollinators to the well-being of the economy, people, and ecosystems,” said Fran Teplitz, Co-Executive Director, Green Business Network and Bryan McGannon, Deputy Director, American Sustainable Business Council. “Businesses committed to sustainability support strong federal action to protect pollinators from pesticides linked to their decline; now is the time to act.”

While advocates remain hopeful, they also made it clear that voluntary, enforceable proposals from the task force are unacceptable. Federal agencies have hinted at continued efforts to promote more of the same — voluntary farming management practices, insignificant pesticide label changes, and weak state pollinator plans. And advocates contend that without new, meaningful protections, the Task Force may actually do more harm than good.

“Given the historic decline in the population of pollinators — bees, butterflies and birds — it is critical that the President and White House Task Force show forceful leadership in addressing all factors contributing to the crisis, with the suspension of neonicotinoid insecticides being a critically necessary action,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and who spoke at today’s rally.

Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinator species and are considered a major factor in overall population declines. A growing body of independent science links a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids to bee declines, both alone and in combination with other factors like disease and malnutrition. Twenty-nine independent scientists conducted a global review of 1,121 independent studies and found overwhelming evidence of pesticides linked to bee declines. Neonicotinoids are also slow to break down, causing them to build up in the environment and endangering a whole range of beneficial species that inhabit these ecosystems.

The 4 million signatures were collected by Avaaz, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, CREDO, Earthjustice, Environment America, Food and Water Watch, Food Democracy Now!, Friends of the Earth U.S., Green America, MoveOn, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network, Save Our Environment, TakePart, and Toxic Free North Carolina.

Media Contacts:
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, 202-547-9359, [email protected]
Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0744, [email protected]
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network, 916.588.3100, [email protected]

Expert Contacts:
Bryan McGannon, American Sustainable Business Council, 202-650-7678, [email protected],
Fran Teplitz, Green America, 202-872-5326, [email protected]
Roger Williams, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, 802-355-9933, [email protected]
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450, [email protected]

Posted in ,  |  No Comments Yet
March 2nd, 2015

The War on Genetically-Modified-Food Critics: Et tu, National Geographic?

By Timothy Wise

GMO_CanolaTimothy A. Wise is at the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University. This piece originally appeared at Food Tank.

Since when is the safety of genetically modified food considered “settled science” on a par with the reality of evolution? That was the question that jumped to mind when I saw the cover of the March 2015 National Geographic and the lead article, “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?”

The cover title: “The War on Science.” The image: a movie set of a fake moon landing. Superimposed: a list of irrational battles being waged by “science doubters” against an implied scientific consensus:

“Climate change does not exist.”

“Evolution never happened.”

“The moon landing was faked.”

“Vaccinations can lead to autism.”

“Genetically modified food is evil.” WHAT?

Genetically modified food is evil? First of all, what business does “evil” have in an article about scientific consensus? Sure, some people think GMOs are evil. But isn’t the controversy about whether genetically modified food is safe?

Read more…

February 13th, 2015

Congress: Don’t Mess With Meat Labels

By Katherine Cirullo

COOL_Labeling_USDA_MeatThis week brought progress for consumers, ranchers and food safety advocates who want to know where their food is produced. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has dropped an anti-consumer lawsuit filed by meatpackers and industry groups against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that would have denied U.S. shoppers the right to know where the meat they purchase was born, raised and slaughtered. The dismissal marks a major victory in the long history of industry attacks on country of origin labeling (COOL), but the battle to this labeling law isn’t over just yet, as the rule remains vulnerable to the whims of Congress.

The lawsuit, filed in July of 2013 by the American Meat Institute (AMI) et al. (a conglomerate of domestic and international meatpacking and commodity groups) sought to strike-down COOL, a popular meat labeling law that gives consumers basic information about the origin of meat products. The court entertained three rounds of challenges by the industry groups. And those groups lost at every round.

First, in September of 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the meatpackers’ request that the USDA stop using an updated version of COOL requirements that gave consumers more precise information about the origin of meat. Then, in March of 2014, a three-judge panel of the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. And in July, the entire circuit appeals court upheld the legitimacy of USDA’s rules for the popular COOL labels – rejecting the industry’s claim that companies have a First Amendment right to not give consumers basic information about where food comes from. Read more…

Posted in , , ,  |  11 Comments

USDA Approves GMO Apples Despite Opposition from Apple Industry and Consumers

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

Washington, D.C.— “Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ genetically engineered Arctic Apples. These apples are engineered to resist browning when sliced. The USDA’s environmental review received 73,000 comments that overwhelmingly opposed the commercialization of Arctic Apples. This decision marks the first approval of an aesthetically-improved genetically engineered food and will expand the reach of GMO products into the produce aisle, which currently only offers a small number of GMO foods.

“The USDA has neglected to look at the full range of risks from these apples. In its environmental assessment, the USDA glossed over the possibility of unintentional effects associated with the technology used to engineer these apples, potential economic impacts on the U.S. and international apple market, effects of potential contamination for non-GMO and organic apple growers and the impact of the non-browning gene silencing which also can weaken plant defenses and plant health.

“This apple was produced using a relatively new method of genetic engineering, known as RNA interference. This technology uses RNA to silence a target gene, but mounting evidence has shown that meddling with the genes could have unintended effects within the plant and also on organisms that eat the plant. The particular gene targeted by this technology allows the apples to be sliced without turning brown, which could mislead consumers into thinking they are eating fresh apples when they might be eating apples on the verge of rotting. Browning is an important indicator to consumers in determining the freshness of an apple or apple slice. The silenced gene is also heavily involved in a plant’s natural defense against pests and pathogens, which could lead to trees that are less healthy than non-GMO apples and rely on more chemical treatments to ward off pests and disease.

“The domestic apple industry is opposed to the commercialization of GMO apples and some food companies have already said they would not sell Arctic Apples. The U.S. Apple Association, Washington Apple Commission and other grower groups have voiced their disapproval due to the negative impact GMO apples could have on the apple industry, and in 2013 Gerber and McDonald’s announced that they would not use GMO apples in their products.

“This GMO apple is simply unnecessary. Apple browning is a small cosmetic issue that consumers and the industry have dealt with successfully for generations. The USDA has let down U.S. apple growers and the public by wasting resources on this useless and risky food. To make matters worse, these apples will not be required to be labeled and consumers will not know that the sliced apples they pack in their children’s lunches were made through genetic engineering.”

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Food & Water Watch Seeks Overturn of Court Decision Allowing Implementation of New Poultry Inspection System

Washington, D.C. – Today, the advocacy organization Food & Water Watch filed notice that it would ask a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court’s decision earlier in the week that ruled it lacked jurisdiction to stop the implementation of the USDA’s New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) rules. These rules turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies with limited oversight by government inspectors.

“The program allowing the poultry industry to police itself is simply not allowed under law, which is designed to protect consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “We are still hopeful that a court will review and reject this scheme, which is designed at the behest of the poultry industry and only benefits its bottom line.”

Food & Water Watch’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in September of last year on behalf of itself, its members and two individuals, charges that the new system violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), a 1957 law giving USDA the authority to protect consumer health and welfare. The organization asked the federal district court to immediately enjoin the program.

On Monday, the federal court took a pass on the lawsuit altogether, deciding it could not review the agency’s authority to issue the rules, dismissing the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing to maintain their challenge. Food & Water Watch is now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit to review the validity of this decision.

“The new USDA scheme, which reverses 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry, does great harm to consumers, and should be sent back to the drawing board,” said Hauter. “We hope that the court of appeals will reverse the lower court’s decision to the contrary.”

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

February 12th, 2015

Advocates Urge FDA to Halt Risky GMO Mosquito Release

Washington, D.C.— Today, the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch urged the FDA to prevent the British biotechnology company Oxitec from releasing millions of unregulated GMO mosquitoes in the Florida Keys this spring and to require the company to submit to a formal agency review. GMO mosquitoes are not adequately regulated, either by federal or local agencies, and may pose significant risks to human health and the environment.

“GMO mosquitoes are nothing but a science experiment run amok,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Releasing them into the environment will not be worth the effort, expense or potential risk.”

Despite growing public concern about the mosquitoes raised by residents of the Florida Keys, there is no indication that FDA or any other federal or state agency has adequately evaluated the safety of the company’s plan to release genetically engineered insects. Nor does any agency seem to know who is actively responsible for considering it.

The Oxitec mosquitoes would be the first genetically engineered insect to be introduced in the United States with the intent to wipe out a wild population in the name of disease control. While they would purportedly be used to control dengue fever, it has not been proven that the engineered mosquito would be effective in controlling disease, and may even allow other types of disease-carrying mosquitoes to flourish, according to a study recently released in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The study looked at the spread of the Asian Tiger Mosquito in Panama and concluded that “GM strategies might have only short-term effects on vector population sizes.”

The public is also skeptical of GMO mosquitoes. Over 145,000 people have signed a petition opposing their release.

“The lack of regulatory oversight here is appalling, and it means that nobody is looking out for unintended consequences to human health or the environment,” noted Hauter. “If FDA does not take action on this, Oxitec will, and we cannot allow a biotech company to police itself. FDA needs to exert some authority and regulate GMO mosquitos, rather than leaving that crucial role to a corporation.”

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Page 1 of 37123456...102030...Last »