Posts Tagged Big Food
November 4, 2014
Last week saw an inter-agency power grab. It begins with the weakening of organic standards—and could end with the term “organic” becoming practically meaningless. Action Alert!
In September, the USDA announced changes to its interpretation of the “sunset” provision in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), an incredibly important piece of legislation that Congress passed into law in 1990. These changes override the powers of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and make it easier for food producers to use synthetics in organic food production.
The “Sunset” Controversy
Previously, any exemptions from organic standards were set to expire, or “sunset,” on a specific date—unless they were reinstated by a “decisive” two-thirds majority vote of the NOSB. Now it’s just the reverse: a synthetic material can be permitted to remain in an organic food indefinitely unless a two-thirds majority votes to remove it from the exempted list.
Thousands of consumer advocates and environmentalists spoke out against this power grab by the USDA—one that satisfies only the vested interests of large-scale producers trying to increase their profits with an “organic” stamp. ANH-USA was there at the meeting so we could speak out on behalf of consumers and voice our concern about the continuing dilution of organic standards.
The board received a tremendous number of comments about the new sunset process, including these:
- The National Organic Coalition called it a significant reinterpretation of the law, one that redefines the word “sunset” to mean exactly its opposite. The entire concept is now nonsensical, and clearly runs contrary to the intent of the original legislation: “sunset” means that the exemptions “come off,” not “stay on.”
- The Cornucopia Institute said the NOSB is being stripped of its authority so that the USDA can set its own agenda—a naked power grab. Cornucopia is looking at legal action over this change in terminology.
- Consumer Reports says the National Organic Program is becoming less and less discriminatory about sunsets, and doesn’t align with what the law requires, creating a huge gap between what is marketed as organic and what the consumer expects organic to be.
Why the New Sunset Rule Is Dangerous
The shift in power was on clear display at last week’s NOSB meeting when board members voted to allow the continued use of gellan gum, tragacanth gum, sulfurous acid, sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate, and aqueous potassium silicate in organic production. Allowing these synthetic substances in organic production is a clear victory for producers who want to be considered organic without sacrificing their bottom line.
For example, large organic dairy producers such as Stonyfield Organic, Organic Valley, White Wave, and Horizon Organic say gellan gum—a thickening agent—is needed to stop the chocolate flavoring from separating from the milk while the carton sits in grocery stores. Consumer advocate and organic watchdog groups argued that the ingredient simply isn’t necessary and that such synthetic materials should never be allowed in foods that are certified as organic. Board members who advocated removing these items were voted down because of the new interpretation of the “sunset” rule.
At issue is the board’s composition, which has been infiltrated by corporate interests. The make-up of the fifteen-member board is clearly defined by statute, but an executive from Driscoll’s now sits in a seat that should belong to a farmer/grower. Another seat is held by an individual who, when appointed, worked for the country’s largest organic marketing cooperative, CROPP ($928 million in annual revenue).
“We have two members of the current board, both sitting in seats that Congress had designated for someone who must ‘own or operate an organic farming operation’ but who were actually agribusiness employees when appointed to the five-year term on the NOSB,” said Mark A. Kastel, co-director and senior farm policy analyst at Cornucopia.
The voting records of these two agribusiness employees are significantly lower than those of the actual farmer members of the NOSB. In all, of the board’s fifteen members, six are a pro-corporate business voting block, and several others often vote with them. In other words, what we are seeing is a clear case of collusion between USDA and agribusiness.
November 9, 2014
The new documentary Bought dives deeply into the inner workings of the industries at the core of our food and healthcare system, exploring the truth about how vaccines and drugs are developed and rushed to market and the ongoing secrecy behind the genetic engineering of our food supply.
For a limited time proceeds from renting or purchasing this film will be donated to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a non-profit organization advocating for vaccine safety and informed consent protection in the public health system.
Filmmaker Jeff Hays believes, as I do, that you have a right to the truth so that you can make educated decisions about your health, food, and medicine. Unfortunately, the truth is not easy to come by today.
Like the banks, the food and drug industries have grown more powerful and less transparent over time, and profit has become the primary motive. Hays may be best known for his 2012 documentary “Doctored,” which exposes how the medical and drug industry conspire to control the health care system.
Hays’ new film peels back the layers to show how the drug, vaccine, and chemical technology industries have joined forces as one supervillain, with its “undisclosed location” smack-dab in the middle of the White House.
You can’t effectively address one industry without addressing them all, as they are now inextricably linked. Until enough people raise their voices, nothing is likely to change. According to Hays:1
“From opiates, to statins, to a blizzard of psychotropic medications that do far more harm than good, the film covers how our entire health care system, from education to practice has been Bought… three story lines converge on Wall Street, in a tale of corruption, greed and shocking lack of conscience.”
Federal Vaccine Court: Designed Specifically to Clean Up the Trail of Destruction Left by Vaccines
Vaccines are a $30 billion per year industry. Today, four dominate the world market (Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, and GlaxoSmithKline). Given the furor that erupts when anybody publicly questions vaccine safety, you would assume that the US government considers vaccines completely safe.
But in reality, that’s not the case as evidenced by the establishment of a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) where vaccine injury claims are decided in a Federal Vaccine Court2 to compensate vaccine victims, but in reality protects the vaccine industry from lawsuits. The official line by federal health officials is that vaccines are safe and never cause autism.
However, the fact is that for many years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and the Federal Vaccine Court have been quietly settling cases of brain inflammation and permanent brain damage (encephalopathy) that included symptoms of autism.
These VICP awards have been made to cover treatments related to autism. The VCIP was established in 1986 when Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act,3 which protected vaccine manufacturers, pediatricians and other vaccine providers from nearly all civil liability for injuries and deaths caused by government recommended and mandated vaccines.
If vaccines are so safe, then why has the government set up a federal compensation program specifically to manage the damage they cause? In Bought, families who have won and lost in Vaccine Court share their heartbreaking stories.
These parent and health care professionals speaking out about their experiences are articulate, knowledgeable, and compelling witnesses to the damage that vaccines and one-size-fits-all vaccine policies have done. They are not part of some anti-vaccine campaign—in fact, the reason they were in Vaccine Court is because of what happened when they DID vaccinate their children!
Most Vaccine Reactions Are Never Connected to Vaccines
Proving causation is extremely difficult with vaccine injuries in part because there are huge gaps in vaccine safety science and, also, unless a vaccine reaction is immediate and obvious, parents may not connect their child’s deterioration in health to the shots the child was given.
When parents report their child’s regression into chronic poor health following vaccination to their child’s pediatrician, they are typically told the illness couldn’t possibly be related to the vaccine or vaccinations the child was given.
Sometimes reactions occur within hours or days of vaccination and are dramatic and life threatening and the child is taken to the emergency room and the vaccine reaction symptoms are recorded in the child’s medical record. Usually, only the most clear cut and identifiable vaccine reactions end up in Vaccine Court—the ones where the “dots” are easily connected.
Unfortunately, at that point the damage is done and the child may be left with lifelong chronic illness and disability. The vast majority of vaccine adverse reactions are never reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Still, CDC’s VAERS database4 lists 8,000 different adverse vaccine reactions, from localized swelling and anaphylactic shock to autism, coma, and death.5
Because of the factors already discussed, the actual number of reactions is probably much higher than the database reports. As vaccine safety advocate Dawn Loughborough said in “Bought:”
“We used to have this idea we were protecting children from infectious diseases. And we created the National Vaccine program with children in mind, but somewhere in time protecting the program became more important than what’s happening to our children.”
by: Lisa Garber
July 30, 2012
What do latchkey kids, college students, and busy parents have in common? Well, one thing is that they save valuable time and money by cooking with canned foods. The bad news? Tagging along with these foods is a hefty dose of bisphenol A.
According to a past study conducted by the nonprofit Consumers Union, 18 of 19 canned foods contained 22 micrograms of BPA per serving—116 times more than the ‘daily recommended limit.’ Progresso, Del Monte, Campbell’s, Annie’s, and Hormel soups took the BPA lead. Unfortunately, BPA still continues to taint food cans today.
BPA Affects Fertility
Researchers have linked BPA consumption to hyperactivity, aggression, depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, and reproductive difficulties including Anogenital distance. Males with short AGD have been found to have 7 times the chance of being sub-fertile. This is a troubling statistic given that prenatal BPA exposure through parental consumption is associated with shortened AGD.
Men alone are not at risk, however. The journal Human Reproduction published a study that found women who miscarried three or more times had markedly high levels of BPA compared to mothers of successful pregnancies.
Food Industry’s Ties to BPA
That the food industry has remained largely silent despite this barrage of research means one thing: they’re making too much money to change. As said by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the FDA has repeatedly failed “to safeguard the food supply.” Even the Environmental Protection Agency left BPA off the list of chemicals needing stricter regulation after a heart-to-heart with lobbyists.
Though even while, until now, both companies and manufacturers have been slow to remove BPA, the chemical is slowing inching it’s way out of food and consumer products. One most recent decision was made by the FDA to ban BPA in baby bottles. But even with BPAs departure, companies are beginning to use a close relative of BPA known as bisphenol-S. Unfortunately, this BPS chemical is also toxic.
Still, there’s no need to despair. Just because the industry isn’t on the side of healthful eating doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the convenience of canned foods. Eden Foods lines most of its cans with oleoresin (a plant-based lining) and puts acidic foods like tomatoes in paper cartons often used for soups.
You can even DIY canned foods with a home canning kit and BPA-free lids. Parents wary of BPA’s effects on their children’s health as well as their future fertility can even make canning a family venture, with benefits to be reaped for months!
To naturally reverse the effects of BPA, try drinking black tea and eating foods—like sauerkraut and kimchi—high in probiotics.