Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has vetoed a controversial "ag gag" bill that would hamstring citizen investigations documenting patterns of abuse of animals and regulatory violations.
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.
Bills were introduced in the Iowa and Illinois state senates last week that would require genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled. Iowa's bill would require labeling if a food contains more than nine-tenths of a percent GE ingredients, whereas Illinois' bill has a one percent threshold.
Don't fancy the thought of your spinach and carrots being grown in sewage sludge?
Neither does Mario Ciasulli, a semi-retired electrical engineer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Mario likes to cook, and enjoys good food. When he found out last year about the practice of spreading dried and heated human and industrial waste as "fertilizer" on food crops, he was upset.
A decade and a half after farmers began planting the first genetically engineered (GE) crops, the future is clear. The scientists who pioneered genetic engineering thought of themselves as environmentalists, creating products that could reduce pesticide use. Instead, they have simply perpetuated the same "pesticide treadmill" as their pesticide-peddling counterparts resulting in the application of a greater volume of ever more toxic pesticides.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a final ruling today against the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. This popular pro-consumer policy, which informs shoppers where meat and other foods were raised or grown, enjoys the support of 93% of Americans, according to a 2010 Consumers Union poll. Now Congress must gut or change the law to avoid the application of punitive trade sanctions.
The farm bill S. 3240, passed the U.S. Senate on June 21. The bill, which is renewed approximately every five years, dictates congressional spending on not only farm issues such as crop subsidies, but nutritional programs like food stamps and the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), and conservation programs. Total spending controlled by this one bill is in the billions of dollars each year. In 2010, farm bill spending amounted to $96.3 billion, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it's an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.
For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2012
Contact: Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network, 916-216-1082
Syngenta Hired Guns Attack New Documentary
PR firm and paid spokespeople mount aggressive response to new film "Last Call at the Oasis"
San Francisco, CA -- As a new film highlights water contamination throughout the U.S. Midwest from Syngenta's flagship herbicide atrazine, the world's largest pesticide company has mounted a PR counter-attack downplaying the human and environmental health risks of a chemical linked to birth defects, low birth weight and certain cancers. Atrazine was banned in the EU in 2003, leaving the U.S. market as one of Syngenta's most profitable and vigorously guarded markets.
Herbicide manufacturer Syngenta had an interesting way of celebrating Earth Day this year, touting the joys of pesticides.