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Investigate a Factory Farm, Go to Jail Forever

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States are considering laws that would make it an act of terrorism to report on abuses at factory farms. And you do know that under the new National Defense Authorization Act, the President of the United States now has the power to hold any U.S. citizen in indefinite detention without trial or due process of law for as long as he deems appropriate, right? So this means that if you practice investigative journalism on a factory farm, you can legally be tossed into Guantanamo and kept there forever. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Here’s an excerpt from an article written on AlterNet in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org
“How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an ‘act of terrorism’ for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety, or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.
“And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws aimed at preventing employees, journalists or activists from exposing illegal or unethical practices on factory farms. Lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012. The laws passed in three of those states: Missouri, Iowa and Utah. But consumer and animal-welfare activists prevented the laws from passing in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.
“In all, six states now have Ag-Gag laws, including North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, all of which passed the laws in 1990-1991, before the term “Ag-Gag” was coined.
“Most of the Ag-Gag laws introduced since 2011 borrow the premise, if not the exact language, from model legislation designed by ALEC. ALEC’s sole purpose is to write model legislation that protects corporate profits. Industry then pushes state legislators to adapt the bills for their states and push them through. The idea behind the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act is to make it illegal to ‘enter an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other or other means with the intent to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner.’
“In other words, these laws turn journalists and the investigators of crimes into criminals.
“ALEC’s interest in large-scale factory farm operations, or in industry-speak, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), can be traced to one of its staunchest members, Koch Industries. Koch Industries once owned the Koch Beef Company, one of the largest cattle feeders in the U.S. When neighbors of one of the company’s huge cattle-feeding operations opposed a planned expansion, claiming it would pose health concerns, Koch persuaded local legislators to rule in its favor. ALEC subsequently wrote the ‘Right to Farm Act,’ a bill to bar lawsuits by citizens claiming that neighboring farms, including industrial farms, are fouling their air and water.”
Evidence is building for implicating factory farming as a contributing factor in global warming, while organic farming, by sequestering carbon in the soil in the form of compost, does just the opposite. That’s the conclusion that Ronnie Cummins of Ecowatch draws from his research. It shows that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.
“Today,” he writes, “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 GMO 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.
“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 U.S. is dirtier than in America’s most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. 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 pesticides 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,” Cummins says.
European food safety regulators have discovered a hidden viral gene in genetically modified crops, especially Round-Up Ready Soy and Monsanto’s pesticide-producing corn, that disable the immune system against viruses in both plants and animals. I know—I also thought: “What? How can this be?” Well, it is true, and you can read all about it here:

Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops


Government action to ban arsenic in pesticides will be put on hold for at least three years, according to Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The long delay comes after the Environmental Protection Agency was directed by Congress to stop work on its prior cancer risk assessment of arsenic after several years of research. The reason for the delay is to further assess the risk of arsenic to human health, especially to its role as a carcinogen.
“We are concerned that the EPA has been directed by Congress to halt all new regulatory steps to protect public health while this new risk assessment is under way,” stated Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union.
Consumers Union is particularly concerned with an October 1, 2012, memo posted on the chemical industry’s Organic Arsenical Products Task Force website that states that the companies can continue to sell an arsenical pesticide, MSMA, used on golf courses, sod farms, and highway rights of way “for three to four years until the scientific review is completed.” The memo further states that that the chemical industry group “fully expects the NAS review to result in a less stringent risk value for human exposure to inorganic arsenic.”
“It is highly concerning that the pesticide manufacturers believe they already know the outcome of this new scientific review. The scientific questions are important, but we already know enough about the cancer risks, and other toxic properties of arsenic for regulators to take action now. EPA should end all remaining uses of the arsenic-containing pesticide MSMA. We need the government to issue standards for arsenic in rice and apple juice and to end all uses of arsenic in drugs given to food animals,” Hansen added.

And a Child Shall Lead Them

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Ayrton Cable is a nine-year-old British youngster on a mission. On September 5, 2012, Ayrton premiered his short film proposing a new law on food labeling to an invited audience of journalists and members of the British Parliament. The gist of this wise-beyond-his-years filmmaker’s video is this: If consumers are given honest information about the food and farming system that produces their food, they often choose products that are better for the environment, their health and the well-being of farm animals. Even if those products cost a little more. View the video:

An example of such “honest information” might be these facts about the avocado: A study showed that eating half of an avocado with a hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating the burger without avocado.
Avocados contain healthful monounsaturated fat, just like olives. They also provide about 20 essential nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid.
Avocados have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol, contain compounds that appear to inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells, and protect against liver damage.
The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green pulp of the avocado, closest to the peel. So make sure you scrape that from the inside of the peel. Add extra avocado to your diet by using it as like shortening in baking; add it to soups; look for many other ways to add it to your dishes that need something creamy to enrich them without adding much in the way of flavor.


Is exposing food to radioactive emissions the FDA’s idea of food safety? The Organic Consumers Association has issued an action alert because of the FDA’s proposal to do just that. Here’s the OCA’s alert:
“The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) became law in 2010. We, along with other consumer groups, were able to block some of the worst provisions of the proposed bill, but it was still flawed legislation as passed. The basic problem is that every time food safety problems emerge, the government gives a pass to the big industrial farms where the problems originate.
“The FDA has just proposed two new rules as part of the act’s implementation. Not surprisingly they appear to have been heavily influenced by the same special interests responsible for many of the dangers to our foods: the chemical, radiology, and meat industries are exempted, all in the name of food safety.
“The first of the rules concerns standards for raw agricultural commodities (RAC). The reasoning behind the exclusive focus on raw foods is that processed food is less likely to be contaminated. Never mind how unhealthy processed food is so long as the food is not contaminated.
“The FDA’s second big idea seems to be irradiation. Irradiated foods are exempted because FDA believes nuked, sterile food is safer. The agency is apparently not concerned with what happens to the food’s nutritional value or whether the irradiation itself is safe. How many food producers, hoping to avoid burdensome and expensive compliance requirements, will simply irradiate their fruits and vegetables? With such onerous rules combined with this big loophole, the FDA is actively encouraging irradiation.
“There are many reasons irradiated food is bad for us. There are no federal standards for safe levels of radiation in sterilized food, and research indicates a wide range of problems in animals that eat irradiated food, including chromosomal abnormalities, a rare form of cancer, and even premature death. “Irradiating food can kill bacteria from filthy processing plants, but it cannot address the other unhealthy conditions found there. Irradiation may also dramatically change flavor, odor, and texture of food, in addition to nutritional value.”
And that’s to say nothing about what ionizing radiation does to organic molecules. It tears them apart. Give any living creature a dose of radiation strong enough to kill all the microbes that live on it and you have effectively also killed the animal. Organic food is never irradiated.


A new study shows glyphosate (Round-Up herbicide) alters the gut flora in poultry; pathogenic bacteria like salmonella and botulism are strengthened, while beneficial bacteria are weakened, which is a setup for making you sick from poultry consumption, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. He also reports these interesting facts about that here-today-gone-tomorrow sandwich that so many people love:
“McDonald’s seasonally-available McRib sandwich contains more than 70 ingredients, including a chemical used in gym shoes and other items requiring a rubbery substance. And the pork is actually a restructured meat product made from the less expensive innards and scraps from the pig. Russia has recently banned U.S. meat after discovering it contains ractopamine…known to affect the human cardiovascular system. It may cause food poisoning, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown, and increased death and disability in livestock. As much as 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket. Despite potential health risks, the drug is used in 45 percent of U.S. pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys.”

But not in organic meat.


Greetings from the Fourth Reich

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Why is a site devoted to organic topics posting about politics in the United States? Because if the government can do this to any American citizen it chooses, then it can do it to those who object to the monstrous activities of Big Ag, that’s why. So follow along. This pertains to you.

The Gestapo Law, passed in 1936, gave police the right to act extra-legally. This led to the sweeping use of Schutzhaft—“protective custody,” a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings. The courts were not allowed to investigate or interfere. The Gestapo was considered to be acting legally as long as it was carrying out the leadership’s will. People were arrested arbitrarily, sent to concentration camps, or killed.
–From an article about Reinhard Heydrich, a chief Nazi architect of the Holocaust, in Wikipedia.


The President has signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act. It continues indefinite detention, that you can pick up people anywhere in the world—including American citizens—and hold them indefinitely without trial, and even hold them offshore…So you have the NDAA law that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens, and the recent decision that allows the targeted assassination of American citizens, both detention and killing, at the behest of one man [the President].

–Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin.


The path your career has now taken reminds me of no one so much as that other female film pioneer who became, eventually, an apologist for evil: Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl’s 1935 Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power, was a massive hit in Germany. Riefenstahl was the first female film director to be hailed worldwide. It may seem extreme to make comparison with this other great, but profoundly compromised, film-maker, but there are real echoes. When Riefenstahl began to glamorize the National Socialists, in the early 1930s, the Nazis’ worst atrocities had not yet begun; yet abusive detention camps had already been opened to house political dissidents beyond the rule of law– the equivalent of today’s Guantánamo, Bagram base, and other unnameable CIA black sites. Like Riefenstahl, you are a great artist. But now you will be remembered forever as torture’s handmaiden.

–Naomi Wolf, writing in The Guardian UK, about Director Kathryn Bigelow and her film Zero Dark Thirty.


‎”Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not find peace.”
–Albert Schweitzer

Do people even remember who Albert Schweitzer was? If the Pope had any sense, he would have canonized Schweitzer, whether he was Jewish or Roman Catholic or even an atheist, as a bonafide saint, for a bonafide saint he was.


Jane Brody is a long-time health columnist for The New York Times, and has a reputation for toeing the Big Ag line. She did it again, this time in spades, in a December 31, 2012, article headlined, “What You Think You Know (But Don’t) about Wise Eating,” in which she conducts an interview with Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill University in Montreal. Readers of the article were incensed at what this guy—and by extension, Brody—had to say, but they shouldn’t have been surprised. Turns out he’s affiliated with The Council for Biotechnology. Remember that group? Its chief members are Monsanto, BASF, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Syngenta…you get the idea. Read Brody’s article and reader reaction here:
In one section of this low-consciousness and ill-informed article (doesn’t the Times have copy editors?), she has this to say about organic food and farming:
ORGANIC OR NOT? Wherever I shop for food these days, I find an ever-widening array of food products labeled “organic” and “natural.” But are consumers getting the health benefits they pay a premium for?
Until the 20th century, Dr. Schwarcz wrote, all farming was “organic,” with manure and compost used as fertilizer and “natural” compounds of arsenic, mercury and lead used as pesticides.
Might manure used today on organic farms contain disease-causing micro-organisms? Might organic produce unprotected by insecticides harbor cancer-causing molds? It’s a possibility, Dr. Schwarcz said. But consumers aren’t looking beyond the organic sales pitch.
Also questionable is whether organic foods are more nutritious. Though some may contain slightly higher levels of essential micronutrients, like vitamin C, the difference between them and conventionally grown crops may depend more on where they are produced than how.
A further concern: Organic producers disavow genetic modification, which can be used to improve a crop’s nutritional content, enhance resistance to pests and diminish its need for water. A genetically modified tomato developed at the University of Exeter, for example, contains nearly 80 times the antioxidants of conventional tomatoes. Healthier, yes — but it can’t be called organic.
Well, it’s obvious that Brody has swallowed the industry bait hook, line, and sinker. Kristin Wartman is a nutrition educator and journalist focusing on the intersections of food, health, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Civil Eats, and Grist, as well as in academic journals such as Critical Quarterly, Tikkun Magazine, and The New Labor Forum. She rebutted Brody point by point here:

Jane Brody Gets it (Really) Wrong “Debunking” Health Myths

Over 480 comments were appended to Brody’s ill-conceived column by irate readers who saw right through the lies and distortions that Brody trotted out. I’ll tell you that I have been immersed in the organic aspect of food and farming since 1970 and have seen Brody toadying to Big Ag for all these years. This time Big Ag, through the agency of Dr. Schwarcz, loaded her basket with outrageous disinformation and she carried it to the readers of the Times. The comments cheered me up, though, as readers really called her out, using words like insulting, disgusting, and outrageous. It’s pretty bad when the Times continues to publish rubbish like Brody’s, but it’s very good that the public now knows when it’s being fed such rubbish and protests.
Just to add my own two cents, Brody wonders if the microbes in manure used on organic farms might cause disease in humans. She obviously doesn’t even know that in the organic method, raw manure is not allowed to be used on land for food crops. All manure for food crop fertilizer must be composted first, a process that destroys pathogens as it enriches the raw material and makes it more suitable for plant nutrition.


According to the Organic Consumers Association, high-level executives from some of the U.S.’s largest food corporations are meeting with the FDA behind closed doors this week to lobby for a mandatory GMO labeling law. “Could it be that bad press and consumer backlash have dulled the enthusiasm of these former biotech cheerleaders? Or is Big Food just cozying up to the FDA so it can derail the growing organic and anti-GMO movement and finagle a federal labeling law so toothless it won’t be worth the ink it takes to sign it?” the OCA said.
Either way, it’s a promising sign that the grassroots movement to label GMOs, with its multi-pronged strategy that includes consumer boycotts of companies and organic “Traitor” brands, is gaining traction, says OCA Director Ronnie Cummins, who analyzes Big Food’s latest move and what it could mean for the future of GMO labeling laws on the group’s website: www.organicconsumers.org.


Natural News reports this:

“Monsanto has made a pretty penny over the last several decades thanks to its top-selling herbicide, Roundup, and cash crops genetically modified to withstand heavy doses of the chemical, such as Roundup Ready corn, soy, and cotton. Meanwhile, Roundup’s key ingredient glyphosate has ravaged the earth, our food chain, and our bodies, and is even causing infertility among the masses. Its effects haven’t gone unnoticed.
“Purdue University professor emeritus Dr. Don Huber addressed the dangers of glyphosate to American and European officials in 2011. His concerns centered on an electron microscopic pathogen which “appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.” In a letter to US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Huber added that preliminary experiments have reproduced the pathogen’s link to miscarriages.
“Vilsack purportedly received Huber’s letter and, despite the available mountain of evidence just one click away, encouraged of Huber ‘submission of any data or studies in support of his concerns.’ Apparently, none of the scientific, published evidence of glyphosate-induced infertility, sterility, birth defects, Parkinson’s, obesity, superweeds, and water pollution were convincing enough to keep the USDA from snuggling down next to Monsanto on a bed of dirty money just 11 days later. Despite Huber’s explicit pleas to delay deregulation of Roundup Ready crops—which would be, in his words, ‘a calamity’—the USDA went through with deregulation.”


Through the Wormholes in The Food Marketing Institute

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I discovered the Food Marketing Institute when I read the following on the Organic Consumers Association website:

“This gives us hope that you can, with a well-funded, well-organized, well-executed campaign, defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters. We hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . “

— Jennifer Hatcher, Food Marketing Institute, on Big Food and Big Biotech’s narrow defeat of Prop 37, the California Right to Know GMO ballot initiative.

Well, yes, Big Ag, Big Food, and Big Biotech had to spend more than $30 million on ads lying about the effects of labelling GMOs, and that did throw the election their way. But Jennifer’s second sentence is right, as the upcoming labeling initiatives in Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont will prove later this year.
But let’s get back to the Food Marketing Institute. One of its members is a firm that spent $7.9 million last year lobbying Congress on behalf of the tobacco industry. It has ties with Crossroads Strategies, the lobbying arm of Karl Rove’s political group. Crossroads clients include not only big tobacco, but also casinos (does the name Sheldon Adelson ring a bell?), and gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association. All perfectly legal, of course, but pretty unsavory company.
And if you delve deeper into these lobbying groups, you find that the mastermind is Ed Gillespie. Remember him? He led the vote recount for George W. Bush in Florida in 2000, and was a chief advisor to President Bush. He was a chief advisor to Mitt Romney in his 2012 run for President, and Gillespie has also been Chairman of the National Republican Party.
Gee—you follow the wormholes in an organization as banal-sounding as the Food Marketing Institute and you eventually end up with the most powerful Republicans among the millionaire and billionaire tobacco company execs, gun rights nutballs, and jillionaire casino and gambling palace owners that make up the 0.1 percent.
Who knew?


I wondered why the FDA has just now come out with information saying it’s doing the most comprehensive revamp of America’s food safety rules since the 1930s. And then I read that during the holiday break between Christmas and New Year’s, the FDA quietly pushed GMO salmon toward the final acceptance process. This is despite growing evidence that these Frankenfish—a regular salmon given eel genes—have detrimental effects on creatures (including us) that eat them, they are much larger and more aggressive than regular salmon, and may breed with regular salmon, transferring their eel genes into the wild and destroying the stocks of salmon-as-nature-intended-them-to-be.
Now I see why the FDA is saying it’s bringing food safety into the 21st Century. It’s the old trick of distracting the rube while you pick his pocket. “Look over here where we are doing great things for your food safety,” says the FDA, while behind your back, it is releasing Frankenfish into the environment.
Wanna bet that these new food safety rules really don’t amount to a hill of beans? Here’s how The New York Times summed them up:
“Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked.”
Folks, this is just smoke and mirrors. The dead give-away is the line, “Food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules,” once again setting the fox in charge of the henhouse.


Speaking of food safety, did you know that the FDA has approved the use of radiation—that’s right, ionizing radiation from radioactive elements—on spices, dried vegetables, fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs, pork, poultry, red meat, eggs, and sprouts?
According to Natural Society, these foods aren’t given just a little zap of radiation to sterilize the food and kill microbes, they are subjected to the equivalent radiation of 2.5 million chest x-rays, or 166 times a lethal dose. Do you know how thoroughly this amount of radiation tears molecules to smithereens?
GreenMedInfo.com says this process destroys the vitamin content of the food and also produces toxic byproducts including formaldehyde, formic acid, benzene, and radiolytic products (the smithereens) that have been shown to damage cells and cause cancer in scientific studies. Also, this radiation can actually increase the allergic potential of foods like milk.
Unlike GMO foods, foods that have been irradiated are supposed to be labelled, but oversight in labelling is poor and processed foods are not required to be labelled. And why would processed foods be exempted from labelling if they’ve been given 2.5 million chest x-rays? Let me guess. Could the pack of lobbyists run by guys like Ed Gillespie have anything to do with it?
As always, the way to avoid all these problems is to eat local, eat seasonal, and most importantly, eat whole organic food. []