Last week, the term "bee-washing" emerged in public conversation. It doesn't refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees -- especially neonicotinoids -- by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.
A three-week investigation at a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina by an animal welfare activist with a hidden camera documented workers beating birds with metal bars, stomping and kicking them, and throwing them violently into metal cages by their necks (video below). Mercy for Animals, the non-profit organization responsible for the investigation, turned the footage over to prosecutors in December 2011, and the police raided the facility. Five workers were charged with criminal animal cruelty, and a top-level Department of Agriculture official was convicted for obstruction of justice in February 2012.
Have you ever wondered what labels like "humanely raised" and "cage free" mean when you're looking at a package of meat or eggs at the supermarket? Do corporations actually live up to the claims on the labels?
Remember "fecal soup"? A CBS "60 Minutes" exposé in 1987 documented widespread food safety violations by the poultry industry, making use of undercover video from a hidden camera placed by the "60 Minutes" crew. The episode vindicated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) whistleblower Hobart Bartley, who had been ignored and threatened by his superiors and finally transferred to another plant when he warned of unsanitary conditions at a Simmons Industries plant in Missouri.
Former James Bond star Roger Moore, now 83 years old, has created a YouTube video on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals showing cruel treatment and torturous force-feeding of ducks and geese to create the culinary French delicacy foie gras. Literally translated, "foie gras" means "fatty liver." The birds are force-fed through long tubes to fatten their livers, a procedure that gives the birds a liver disease similar to cirrhosis in humans. After three months of force-feeding, the sickened geese are killed for their swollen livers. Fattened goose liver sells for around a hundred Euros a pound in France, and more during the holidays. Foie gras farms, and the force-feeding of the birds is so cruel that many countries around the world have banned it, including Israel, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. In 2004 California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger signed a bill prohibiting the production and sale of foie gras in the state of California. But many restaurants still serve it, including the Belgian fast food chain Quick, which will be offering its French customers a hamburger served with a slice of foie gras in the days leading up to Christmas. Quick notwithstanding, Moore's video has had some success. It persuaded British department store Harvey Nichols to remove foie gras from its fancy restaurant menu.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson questions BP's widespread application of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico, as does everyone else. According to Jackson, the government is "uncharted waters" with the use of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. "The amount of dispersant being used at the surface is unprecedented," Jackson says. BP is also applying the chemicals in the sub-sea environment. In addition, dispersant is stopping oil from collecting on water surface, where it can be more easily controlled.
BP's Web site gives the impression that dispersants "clean and control" ocean oil spills by putting the oil in a state where "it becomes a feast for the naturally-occurring microbes that inhabit the ocean." But dispersants do not clean the water, nor do they remove oil at all, but rather re-arrange where it exists, and change where it goes.
The entire place felt warm. Even though there were something like 2,500 pigs there, taken from birth to the market (farrow to finish, in pork production terms), the whole place felt calm and well-kept. It felt like a home.
I've been to a factory hog farm, too, and it was also a "family farm." But that didn't change the fact that there were 4,000 pigs crammed into one building eating unhealthy diets and unable to engage in natural hog behaviors, like rooting. If it felt like a home, it was a home sitting on top of half a year's worth of hog manure.
An oiled bird struggles on the Gulf coast (Associated Press)Now that it is recovering some of the oil pouring out of the massive leak at the bottom of the Gulf's floor, BP has found another way to try to repair its reputation: the company announced that it has created a new wildlife fund that will benefit from any profits BP