Can Food-Focused Medicine Cure Food-Related Disease?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-03-21 17:54
March 21, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonHealth Issues mortar pestle root herbs natural food cc 1000x523.jpg

So-called “modern” food, produced through industrialized, chemical-intensive farming practices, is causing a host of chronic, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-treat health problems in children and adults, say Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?” 

The book explores the impact chronic exposure to toxins in our food—pesticides, hormones and antibiotics—is having on children, many of whom suffer from myriad health problems that are often linked to an impaired gut and overtaxed immune system.

The book also explores the power of ecomedicine—medicine that focuses on clean, healthy food.

Children who primarily depend on a Western diet, consisting of processed foods and industrially produced meat and dairy are struggling with a new wave of chronic health problems that simply did not exist decades ago, say the book’s authors.

The U.S., for example, is witnessing the rise of a number of chronic diseases in children including food allergies and food sensitivities, asthma, eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other debilitating mental disorders.

One in 13 American children is reported to have a serious food allergy. That’s a 50-percent increase over the last two decades, according to the book. About 9 percent of children have asthma and one in 10 children have Crohn’s disease. One in five children is obese and one in 41 boys or one in 68 children have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Food-based chemical toxins

Perro and Adams report that doctors faced with an epidemic of complex, chronic symptoms can do little aside from minimizing the symptoms. As for the cause, the authors say that industrial food, and the toxins used to produce it, are the main culprits.

"Eating processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugar, and hollow calories is the first problem . . . but it is not the main problem. The more insidious danger is foods that are full of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics."

Perro and Adams draw a correlation between the development of agrochemical technologies, including genetically modified (GM) foods or crops designed to either produce or withstand heavy applications of toxic crop chemicals, and the rise in chronic disease.

They point out that what the biotech industry considers to be “advancements” in food production are systematically exposing children to more toxic chemicals than any generation before them.

Sick kids and the politics of knowledge

“What’s Making Our Children Sick?” is the result of a unique collaboration between a food-focused pediatrician (Perro) and a medical anthropologist (Adams). Perro has practiced  medicine for 35 years, the last 15 of which she has spent in pursuit of integrative strategies that work to help children suffering from diseases caused by food-based chemical toxins. 

Perro says she has witnessed a “steady stream of ailing children, from infants to teenagers,” who could not be helped with the training she received in medical school. Her frustration led her to the field of functional medicine, homeopathics and herbal medicine where she started to examine the link between what her patients were eating and drinking and the effect it was having on their gut health.

Adams has a background in Asian medicine, which recognizes that food can both cause and treat disease—a concept noticeably absent from western medicine.

While studying recovery efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, Adams investigated what she called the “uneasy relationship between large corporations that controlled basic resources needed for human health and the most vulnerable members of the public who suffered from being denied access to these resources.”

Adams says she began to see similar patterns of inequality in our agro-industrial food production systems, where large corporations held a monopoly not only on the products farmers needed for growing food but also on the science that was being produced to endorse use of these products.

Working in tandem, Perro and Adams began to tie together the connections between really sick kids and the politics of knowledge around GM foods. They consulted with microbiologists, biochemists, geneticists, pediatric experts and farmers. They attended workshops on organic food and interviewed activists working on the front lines of agroecology.

The result is a well-researched book that offers insight into the underlying cause of chronic disease and its connection to an industrialized, chemical-intensive farming system. Click here to pick up a copy of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?”

Julie Wilson is communications associate at Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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What do you get out of the deal?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-03-20 17:44
March 19, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsAll About Organics, Environment & Climate, Food Safety tomatoesdew1000x523.png https://secure.actblue.com/donate/1stquarter2018#

“Water sustains all.” - Thales of Miletus (c. 624 - 546 B.C.), philosopher, mathematician, astronomer

Water. Without it, there would be no food.

Yet food production—that is, today’s industrial food production system—is degrading this essential natural resource faster than any other industry, depriving you of your right to clean water.

What do you get out of the deal?

Nutritionally inferior and contaminated food. Poor health.

Endless fields of of GMO monocrops, sprayed with millions of tons of glyphosate, to produce animal feed.

You also get the bill for cleaning up Big Ag’s mess.

As we approach World Water Day (Thursday, March 22)—and near the end of our spring fundraising campaign—I thought it fitting to say a few words about how your're helping us bring down, and replace, America’s factory farms.

And why we your support is so critical.

Your donation will help fund a massive collaborative effort to build an alternative to Monsanto’s failing industrial, GMO-fueled factory farm agriculture model.  Please help us reach our quarterly fundraising goal by donating today online, by mail or by phone—details here.

The handful of corporations that control the industrial factory farm system would have you believe they are "feeding the world."

We know better.

Factory farms produce nutritionally inferior meat and dairy products.

Factory farms create unfair and unhealthy working conditions.

Factory farms inflict horrendous suffering on animals.

Factory farms unapologetically dump nitrates, pesticides, organic matter, pathogens, antibiotics and growth hormones—into our waterways.

It’s estimated that in the U.S., tens of millions of acres of corn and soy fields, mostly in the Midwest, have been sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. And that’s just one contaminate on a long list that includes 2,4-D, atrazine and chlorpyrifos.

You would think that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require corporations like Tyson and Cargill to clean up after themselves. Or better yet, not pollute our lakes and streams in the first place.

Sadly, not.

In fact, Trump’s EPA, led by Pruitt, is rolling back regulations on everything from banning Dow’s chlorpyrifos, which causes neurological damage in children, to the rule adopted in 2015 to implement the Clean Water Act, which was supposed to clarify legal protection for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams across the country.

From our office in D.C., we continue to fight back against policies that give giant corporations a free pass to pollute our waters.

From our campaign office in Minnesota, we continue to rally consumers to boycott companies like Ben & Jerry’s, which supports an industrial factory farm dairy system that has all but ruined Vermont’s lakes.

We've also stepped up efforts to build a new organic and regenerative food and farming system, beginning in the Midwest. An agricultural system that not only produces clean food and inflicts no harm on our waterways, but actually helps clean our rivers and streams, and improve the soil’s ability to retain water during droughts.

Thanks to your support, we have been able to increase our staff on the ground in states like Nebraska and Minnesota and start building a 12-state alliance in the Midwest that will have the knowledge, the will and the resources to bring about an agricultural “regime change.”

As long as we—consumers, activists, voters—commit to supporting this growing alliance to build an economically viable alternative to factory farms, an alternative that not only grows food but creates health and well-being, we can end the rule of a few giant corporations.

This seems like a worthy goal as this week, the world celebrates water.

But we can't do it without your help.

Please help us reach our spring fundraising goal? You can donate online, by mail or by phone—details here.

From all of us at OCA, thank you. And happy World Water Day.

In solidarity,

Ronnie Cummins
International Director



P.S. Organic Consumers Association is the major funder of Regeneration International (RI). Our partnership with RI is critical to our efforts to end factory farming and advance a new, regenerative food and farming system. We need your help. Please make a generous donation to our spring fundraising campaign today, details here.



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On World Water Day, Organic Consumers Assoc. Renews Call for International Boycott of Ben & Jerry's

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-19 17:17
Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, OCA in the NewsOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 18, 2018 LakeCamiVT1000x523

Photo Credit: Regeneration Vermont


March 19, 2018

Contact: Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul, katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207-653-3090

FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today called for an international boycott of Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s in conjunction with World Water Day, March 22.

“Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, spend millions on marketing to create the false image that the Vermont-based brand is a champion of the environment, when in fact Ben & Jerry’s supports an industrial dairy system that is responsible for a water pollution crisis in Vermont,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. 

“The theme for this year’s World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water’—exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.’ Today we once again call on Ben & Jerry’s to convert its dairy supply chain to 100-percent organic and pasture-raised to help end the dumping of hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers into Vermont’s water supply,” Cummins said.

According to a Regeneration Vermont report, an estimated 40 - 79 percent of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in Vermont’s waterways comes from dairy farms, and almost all the pesticide pollution comes from these dairies. The dairy industry is responsible for up to 85 percent of the pollution in the state’s most contaminated waterways, including the Lake Carmi region.

Regeneration Vermont recently reported on newly released data, covering 2014-2016, showing a dramatic increase in the use of pesticides, including glyphosate, 2,4-D and atrazine on Vermont’s dairy farms, linked to the 92,000 acres of GMO corn grown in Vermont, almost exclusively to feed cows on dairy farms. The most heavily used cornfield pesticide in 2016 was glyphosate, with 62,458 pounds used, more than doubling the 27,440 pounds used in 2014.

In July 2017, OCA reported that 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and/or AMPA, glyphosate’s main metabolite. In October, OCA reported that samples of Ben & Jerry’s in four European countries also tested positive for glyphosate residues.

A petition launched by OCA, and another circulated by OCA and seven other organizations have garnered more than 165,000 signatures. Both petitions call on Ben & Jerry’s to go organic. Nearly 160 businesses, farms and NGOs have signed a letter asking Ben & Jerry’s to go organic.

According to the United Nations, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water abstractions worldwide and plays a major role in water pollution, which poses a risk to aquatic ecosystems, human health and productive activities. The UN reports that today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home, affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

About the Organic Consumers Association
The Organic Consumers Association is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public-interest organization advocating on behalf of more than two million U.S. consumers for health, justice and regeneration. For more information, please visit www.organicconsumers.org. @OCA_Press.


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Monsanto Papers' Journalists Win Huge Prize

Organic consumers - Fri, 2018-03-16 17:29
March 16, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationGenetic Engineering top secret stamp 1000x523

Congratulations to Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel for winning the 2018 European Press Prize for their exceptional research in the The Monsanto Papers.

Foucart and Horel won the investigative reporting award for “uncovering how Monsanto interferes with science, policy and people—to undermine the credibility of the International Agency for Research on Cancer,” according to a press statement.

The Monsanto Papers unveils the attacks on Christopher Wild, director of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and others involved in the IARC’s March 20, 2015 decision to classify glyphosate as a “probable” human carcinogen. Glyphosate is an herbicide that has been used for more than 40 years and is present in at least 750 products marketed by about 100 companies—including Monsanto’s Roundup—in more than 130 countries.

"We have been attacked in the past, we have faced smear campaigns, but this time we are the target of an orchestrated campaign of an unseen scale and duration," Wild told the award-winning journalists.

The IARC panel consists of about 20 researchers from different countries who are selected for their experience, scientific competence and the absence of any conflicts of interest. In contrast, the attacks aimed at Wild and the IARC came from Monsanto operatives relying on the company’s own studies. 

In Part 2 of their coverage, Foucart and Horel expose the treasure trove of internal documents obtained via discovery by the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei and Goldman. Baum Hedlund represents victims or relatives of victims who allege exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Foucart and Horel explain how these documents—including internal Monsanto emails, text messages, company reports, studies and other memoranda, totaling 10 million pages—show that Monsanto manipulated the science and actively subverted science to push its own interests.

“Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel are journalistic heroes,” said Gary Ruskin, co-founder and co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “Through painstaking investigative work, they assembled The Monsanto Papers into compelling articles about corporate scandals and wrongdoing. Their work is a model for what the best reporting about food or large corporations should look like.”

The Monsanto Papers, originally published by Le Monde in June 2017, was translated by GM Watch and the Health and Environment Alliance.

Keep up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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Food & Farm Act: Our Best Hope for Healthy Food, Farms and Soil

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-03-14 21:17
March 14, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate, Farm Issues crocus spring flowers purple soil garden cc 1000x523.jpg

You’ve heard it said before: No Farms, No Food.

But let’s not forget: No Soil, No Farms.

A few years ago, the United Nations warned that on average, the world has fewer than 60 growing seasons left. That grim statistic is based on how rapidly the world’s soils are be degraded, in large part due to poor management.

The situation looks bleak for our soils—and just as bad for our farmers. So bad, that experts compare the current situation to the 1980s when bankruptcies and foreclosures contributed to the loss of 296,360 farms.

These are disturbing trends. But it’s not too late to turn things around, assuming we take the necessary steps.

This year, Congress will pass the Farm Bill, legislation that determines how $90 billion per year is used to shape our food system.

Congress could continue with business as usual, directing funding to the wealthiest farmers growing genetically engineered pesticide-drenched industrial monocultures that tear up our best soil to produce crops that get burned in car engines, fed to animals in factory farms or processed into diabetes-inducing junk foods.

Or, this year, the Farm Bill could go in a new direction. That’s what Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is proposing with his version of the Farm Bill, the Food & Farm Act.

No farms, no food

We should all be concerned about what Farm Aid calls the “Looming Crisis on American Farms.” Even the Wall Street Journal is ringing alarm bells, warning that “The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us.”

Compared with the 1980s farm crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) chief economist Rob Johansson warned in his just-released 2018 forecast that “current levels of debt are approaching the levels we saw back in the 1980s.”

During the 1980s, bankruptcies and foreclosures contributed to the loss of 296,360 farms (there were 2.4 million farms in 1980 and only 2.1 million by 1990).

In 2015-2016, the U.S. lost 8,000 farms and a million acres of farmland.

More farm losses are expected, as farm debt increases, and farm incomes stay low.

Net farm income has declined 52 percent since 2013, and is expected to remain flat over the next 10 years.

In 2018, inflation-adjusted net farm income is expected to drop to the lowest level since 2002. In 2018, the projected medium farm income is -$1,316 per household.

In real terms, this means most farmers lose money growing our food.

There’s a direct correlation between farm economics and farmer mental health.

The current economic pressures are why the suicide death rate for farmers is more than double that of military veterans.

No soil, no farms

As important as it is to keep farmers on the land and protect farmland from development, there’s another urgent food security crisis looming: soil loss. 

In the U.S., soil disappears 10 times faster than it is naturally replenished, causing a $44-billion loss in annual productivity. More than 50 percent of America’s topsoil has already eroded.

The United Nations warns that if current rates of degradation continue, all of the world's topsoil could be gone by 2075.

Help for farmers

Blumenauer’s Food & Farm Act would provide relief to the family farmers who could lose their farms because they’re having to go into debt producing our food.

Here are some of the ways the bill would help farmers:

• Establish a Land Tenure Commission at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as tax-credits, loan, grants and training, to preserve family farms, protect farm land from development and increase access to land for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.

• Expand the Whole Farm Revenue Option to make subsidized crop insurance an effective safety net available to all farms, including organic and diversified family farms. (To make crop insurance available to the family farms that need it most, the Food & Farm Act eliminates the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs, limits total subsidies to $125,000 per year and caps payments for farmers with incomes above $500,000).

• Implement the Farmer Fair Practice regulations that protect small farmers from retaliation by requiring the USDA to crack down on unfair and anti-competitive business practices from big meat and poultry processors.

• Develop market opportunities for family farms. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program would be opened to farmers who comply with federal organic regulations and those who are transitioning to organic. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program would provide more support for states that grow and market a diverse array of fruits and vegetables. Rural Development funding would be used to expand programs that connect demand for local food in urban areas with supply from local farmers and boost funding for meat and poultry processing infrastructure.

The Food & Farm Act would also help farmers improve the long-term economic viability of their farms by giving them the training and support they need to reduce erosion and build soil. The bill would accomplish this by:

• Extending crop insurance to farmers who reduce erosion. Farmers who plant erosion-reducing cover crops would qualify for crop insurance premium subsidies. The bill would prohibit farmers from receiving subsidies if they plant on unsuitable land.

• Requiring all farmers receiving farm subsidies to comply with soil conservation requirements.

The Food & Farm Act represents our best hope for saving our farmers, farms and soil. But this bill won’t stand a chance unless Congress gets behind it. Please ask your member of Congress to support it.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Sign up here for news and alerts from OCA.

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Organic Consumers Association and Handsome Brook Farm Announce Settlement of Legal Actions Concerning Pasture-Raised Eggs

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-03-13 15:38
OCA in the NewsOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 12, 2018 handsome_brook_farm2_1000x523.png

March 13, 2018

Contact: Katherine Paul, 207-653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

Handsome Brook Farm and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today announced that they have resolved a consumer-protection action OCA filed against Handsome Brook in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on August 29, 2016, concerning Handsome Brook Farm’s “Pasture Raised” egg labels. The organizations have also resolved a lawsuit filed by Handsome Brook against OCA.

The OCA’s action alleged that some of Handsome Brook Farm’s eggs labeled as “Pasture Raised” were, in fact, from producers not engaged in pasture-raising hens, and that some farms within Handsome Brook’s own farm network did not live up to its internal standards for pasture-raising. Handsome Brook acknowledges shortcomings identified by OCA, including limited out-of-network purchases of organic eggs from producers in late 2015 and early 2016 that did not meet its pasture-raising criteria.

In the intervening period, Handsome Brook Farm has come under new management that has developed an internal auditing and supply chain management program and is committed to ensuring the origin and compliance of its “Pasture Raised” eggs. As part of this commitment, any future purchases of eggs from outside its own network will be from trusted partners who also meet American Humane Association standards for pasture-raised eggs.

Handsome Brook Farm has joined OCA in making a commitment to protecting consumers and holding producers accountable for their labeling and advertising. To demonstrate this commitment, Handsome Brook Farm has agreed to implement additional third-party auditing, in coordination with OCA, for 18 months. This oversight will be conducted on a quarterly basis by an independent auditor who will review Handsome Brook’s purchase-and- sale records, as well as records from Handsome Brook Farm’s network of egg farmers. This additional review of Handsome Brook’s operations will help ensure that it remains an honest producer and marketer of pasture-raised eggs.

OCA and Handsome Brook are pleased to have reached this resolution, which they believe will help bring greater uniformity of standards in the market for pasture-raised eggs and help achieve their goals of changing the food system to provide high-quality, humanely raised, and truthfully labeled food.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and regeneration. Visit: https://www.organicconsumers.org/

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Roundup Causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Scientist Says in Federal Court

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-12 21:05
March 8, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonFood Safety, Genetic Engineering, Health Issues gavel.jpg

Photo credit: Tori Rector, Creative Commons

It’s been an eventful week in federal court in San Francisco as expert witnesses face off on the science surrounding glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

The outcome of the hearing, determined by U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, will establish whether farmers and their families can proceed with legal action against Monsanto Co. over cancer concerns.

Live reporting from Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know sheds light on some of the latest developments unfolding in the courtroom, including testimony from toxicology expert, former government scientist and plaintiffs’ expert witness, Dr. Charles William Jameson, Ph.D.

“To a reasonable degree of scientific certainly,” it’s clear that glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides likely cause cancer in humans, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), at real-world exposures including the levels farmworkers and others face when using the weedkiller, said Jameson in court on March 7.

In Roundup science hearing scientist says "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" is clear that glyphosate & glyphosate based herbicides are probably human carcinogens & cause NHL; adds causing cancer at current exposures. Monsanto objects to the latter, judge overrules

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Jameson reiterated that there’s credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, adding that oxidative stress caused by glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides is a known link to NHL.

In @MonsantoCo litigation hearing, plaintiffs’ expert Bill Jameson testifies that science showing glyphosate, glyphosate-based herbicides, cause oxidative stress is important as that is known link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Jameson’s testimony sparked early objections from Monsanto attorneys; however, Judge Chhabria twice overruled those objections, reports Gillam.

Twice now Judge shuts down attorneys for @MonsantoCo who object twice to opening testimony from plaintiffs' toxicology expert Bill Jameson who says credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Monsanto proceeded by sending in its “big dog” attorney Joe Hollingsworth to cross examine Jameson, who was part of the team of scientists analyzing research on glyphosate under the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which ultimately determined the weedkiller to be a probable human carcinogen.

Gillam reports:

“Hollingsworth launched his cross by pressing Jameson about distinctions between hazard and risk assessments, and comments Jameson made in a deposition.

“The judge admonished Hollingsworth and suggested that rather than continuously asking Jameson about what he said in a deposition, the attorney should ask him about what he actually thinks.

“‘Why don't you ask [his] about his opinion now,’ the judge told Hollingsworth. ‘That's normally how we do it,’ the judge said.”

After lunch break for cancer science hearing @MonsantoCo unleashes the big dog; attorney Joe Hollingsworth takes on the cross examination of plaintiffs' expert witness Bill Jameson. Judge admonishes Hollingsworth for not providing Jameson dox he is questioning him about.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Hollingsworth continued to press Jameson about comments he made in a deposition, prompting Jameson to state that he was misquoted and that his words were repeatedly taken out of context.

When Monsanto’s attorney pressed on, Judge Chhabria interrupted, ordering Hollingsworth to provide the full transcript of the deposition, including the page number containing Jameson’s comment.

Hollingsworth was ultimately ordered “to read aloud two pages of deposition testimony supporting the expertise of plaintiffs’ expert Jameson,” reports Gillam.

Wow ! Judge – in stern tone - forces @MonsantoCo attorney Hollingsworth to read aloud two pages of deposition testimony supporting the expertise of plaintiffs’ expert Jameson before judge will allow Hollingsworth to present deposition testimony aimed at impeaching Jameson.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

The judge seemingly grew irritated with Hollingsworth’s style of questioning, Gillam observed, adding that “Judge Vince Chhabria repeatedly admonished Monsanto lead attorney Joe Hollingsworth over his tactics in cross examining Jameson.”

Hard to tell for sure but Judge in Roundup cancer science hearing really doesn’t seem fond of @MonsantoCo attorney Joe Hollingsworth. Has chastised his questioning style of scientist Jameson multiple times now.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

After Hollingsworth ended his cross examination of Jameson, Jameson turned to the judge and said: “Thank you for the honor, your honor.”

Two more days of court testimony remain. While it’s unclear when Judge Chhabria will rule, our sources say that there will be an oral argument a week or so after the hearing and then Judge Chhabria will take things under submission and likely write up an order sometime over the next three to four weeks.

Want a front row seat at the hearing? You can follow journalist and author Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know who is live blogging and tweeting from the San Francisco courthouse.

There are more than 365 lawsuits pending against Monsanto in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. These lawsuits have been filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop NHL, and that Monsanto knew the risks.

Julie Wilson is communications associate at Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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'as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring'

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-03-08 19:32
Environment & ClimateRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 8, 2018https://secure.actblue.com/donate/1stquarter2018# oca_spring_fundraiser_salsa.png

"Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be.” - Rebecca Solnit, writer, activist

It’s a miracle of nature. No matter how bitter cold the winter, spring rolls around again, without fail.

Animals emerge from hibernation. Plants shoot up through ground that just weeks ago was frozen solid.

It gives us hope. It inspires action.

It’s in that spirit of spring and rebirth and regeneration that I write today asking for your support for one of our most critical projects: our collaboration with Regeneration International and other organizations to remake—to revolutionize—our food and farming system.

Your donation today will help fund a massive collaborative effort to build an organic and regenerative food and farming system. Can you help us reach our spring fundraising goal? You can donate online, by mail or by phone—details here.

This country’s factory farm system is a dangerous disaster.

Much of our work here at Organic Consumers Association is devoted to exposing all that’s wrong with factory farms, to holding the corporations that dominate and perpetuate this system accountable.

Factory farms are destroying our country, our food, our farms, our environment.

They’re destroying our communities and economies. Injuring and under-paying workers. Unleashing an antibiotic-resistance public health crisis. Running small independent farms into bankruptcy. Inflicting horrendous suffering on animals.

For what? Obscene profits for a handful of corporations who stick consumers and taxpayers with the cleanup and healthcare bills.

There’s a better way. That’s why we’re dedicating as much of our staff and financial resources as possible to disrupting business-as-usual by advancing an alternative that will regenerate our farms, our food, our health, our soil, our water, our economies, our communities—and even restore climate stability.

Right now, our staff is working with some of the most brilliant farmers and business leaders, economists and healthcare practitioners, food activists and climate activists in this country to build a 12-state Regeneration Midwest Alliance.

We even have the attention of some enlightened politicians, on both sides of the aisle.

What will this alliance do? It will collaborate throughout the Midwest—the heartland and lynchpin of factory farms and GMOs—and beyondto build out the infrastructure for a new, regenerative food and farming model.

Let’s not kid ourselves. This will require a lot of work, a lot of collaboration among disparate stakeholders.

We will face many challenges, not the least of which will be pushback from entrenched corporations desperate to prevent us from disrupting their model—and their profits.

But challenging is not the same as impossible. We aren’t talking about something that might exist someday, somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away.

We are talking here, now, today. Because our lives depend on it.

I’ve seen the proof that we have all the ingredients at our fingertips to remake this country’s food and farming system, starting from the inside—the Midwest—out.

But we’ll need your help. That’s why I’m asking for your financial support today.

I love this paragraph from the article, “Can We Cure the Global Eating Disorder?” by Gunnar Rundgren:

But the food system is a life support system and should be based on the principles of living systems, not on the perceived efficiency of the industrial model. Linear thinking and linear processes are fundamentally at odds with the cycles of nature and, ultimately, nature still rules.

Not for a minute will we stop confronting the corporations that pollute and plunder.

But we must work equally hard to bring forth a viable alternative, an alternative “as beautiful as spring.”

The time for an organic and regenerative agriculture system, based on the principles of nature, a system that nourishes our bodies and our communities and heals our planet, is now.

Can you help us reach our spring fundraising goal? You can donate online, by mail or by phone—details here.

In solidarity,

Ronnie Cummins
International Director


P.S. Organic Consumers Association is the major funder of Regeneration International (RI). Our partnership with RI is critical to our efforts to end factory farming and advance a new, organic and regenerative food and farming system. We need your help. Please make a generous donation to our spring fundraising campaign today, details here.



Save Our Farmers, Farms & Soil! Ask Congress to Support the Food & Farm Act!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-03-06 20:04
Belong to campaign: USDA WatchRegenerative Agriculture#Resist and #RegenerateCategory: Environment & Climate, Farm IssuesArea: USA

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced a regenerative and organic version of the Farm Bill.

The Food & Farm Act represents our best hope for saving our farmers, farms and soil. But this bill won’t stand a chance unless Congress gets behind it.

TAKE ACTION! Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Food & Farm Act!Read more

Farmers vs. Monsanto: Glyphosate Showdown Comes to U.S. Court in San Francisco

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-05 15:26
March 5, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationGenetic Engineering, Health Issues roundup logo no thanks stamp cc 1000x523.png

Get ready for a huge week in federal court in San Francisco where expert witnesses will face off on the science surrounding glyphosate, the world’s most widely used pesticide.

The outcome of the hearing, determined by U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, will establish whether farmers and their families can proceed with legal action against Monsanto Co. over cancer concerns.

March 5-9 is being dubbed “science week” as the only evidence the plaintiff and defense legal teams will present is evidence that will be provided by experts in cancer science (see list below). According to the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Golman, “the plaintiffs must demonstrate that they have scientific evidence to back their claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).”

There are more than 365 lawsuits pending against Monsanto in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. These lawsuits have been filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto knew the risks.

Want a front row seat at the hearing? Journalist and author Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know will live blog the event from the San Francisco courthouse and live tweet at @careygillam.

Plaintiffs’ Expert Witnesses

According to a press release, attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the following experts in order of scheduled appearance:

1. Dr. Beate Ritz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Ritz is the chair of the Epidemiology Department at UCLA, which is one of only a few positions specifically assigned to the Center of Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) mandated by the State of California to conduct research, teaching and service to communities in California on occupational and environmental health issues.

Dr. Ritz has doctoral degrees in Medicine and Epidemiology. She has authored  numerous toxicology publications lectures and  presentations. Dr. Ritz engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria, and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate causes NHL. Furthermore, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, glyphosate based formulations, including Roundup, cause NHL.”

2. Dr. Dennis Weisenburger, M.D.

Dr. Weisenburger is chair of the Pathology Department of the City of Hope Medical Center. He specializes in the studies of the hematopoietic and immune systems, with a special interest in NHL that has spanned nearly 40 years. His study of the pathological mechanisms by which NHL develops began in the 1980s when he was directing large epidemiologic studies related to NHL.

Dr. Weisenburger has published more than 300 papers on NHL in peer-reviewed journals, and more than 50 papers on the epidemiology of NHL, including studies on glyphosate and NHL. Dr. Weisenburger engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria, and concluded that to “a reasonable degree of medical certainty that glyphosate and GBFs (including Roundup) can cause NHL in humans exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or environment.”

3. Dr. Alfred Neugut, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Neugut is a practicing medical oncologist, a professor of cancer research and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University, and associate director for Population Sciences for the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Neugut was awarded the Myron M. Studner Professorship in Cancer Research in the Department of Medicine. He is also the Director of Junior Faculty Development for the Department of Epidemiology, overseeing about 30 assistant professors. Dr. Neugut has published over 500 articles in medical journals dealing primarily with carcinogenesis of various agents and compounds.

Dr. Neugut engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, used the Bradford Hill Criteria, and concluded that “epidemiologic and scientific evidence currently available leads to the conclusion to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty for most expert, objective, and reasonable viewers, myself included, that the use of glyphosate in its various combinations can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

4. Dr. Charles Jameson, Ph.D.

Dr. Jameson completed a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1975 at the University of Maryland. He has worked for National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a senior chemist for the NCI's Rodent Bioassay Program where he served as chief chemist, directing all chemistry activities and participating in the development of all two-year rodent bioassays while also serving as secretary for the NCI's Chemical Selection Working Group.

Dr. Jameson also served as program leader for the National Toxicology Program at the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for 12 years, during which time he was listed as a contributor to over one hundred chemical peer reviewed bioassay studies. Dr. Jameson worked on the NTP's Report on Carcinogens (RoC) for more than 18 years and is the Senior Author for 69 NTP RoC Background Documents, also serving as the RoC Director for 13 years.

Dr. Jameson has participated as an IARC Working Group member, serving as overall Chair or Subgroup Chair, and he is author or co-author in numerous peer reviewed scientific publication and book chapters, as well as the editor of several editions of the RoC and co-editor of two books on toxicity testing. Dr. Jameson is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Society of Toxicology and he participates in peer reviews for six scientific journals.

Dr. Jameson engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized a weight-of-evidence methodology utilized by NTP and IARC, and concluded that to a “reasonable degree of scientific certainty that glyphosate and glyphosate based formulations are probable human carcinogens” and also concluded “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations cause NHL in humans.”

5. Dr. Christopher Portier, Ph.D.

Dr. Portier received his PhD in Biostatistics (with a minor in Epidemiology) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1981. For more than 32 years, Dr. Portier held prominent leadership positions with the federal government that combined the disciplines of toxicology, statistics and epidemiology, including:

• Associate Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program and thus the nation’s chief toxicologist, among other roles at NIEHS

• Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, Center for Disease and Prevention

• Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Dr. Portier is a member of the Society of Toxicology and the American Public Health Association. Dr. Portier has also received many awards for his government and non-government work including the Best Paper Award from the Society of Toxicology, Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health, several “Paper of the Year” awards from the Society of Toxicology, the Outstanding Risk Practitioner Award of the Society for Risk Analysis, and was an elected fellow of the International Statistical Institute.

He has published 164 peer-reviewed articles, 35 journal reviews, 33 book chapters, and 46 reports and government agency publications, and he has participated in six IARC working groups, either as chair or a working group member. His experience encompasses the design, performance and analysis of studies, including animal bioassays (as well as the supervision thereof), that evaluate the carcinogenic effects of chemicals and pesticides on humans.

Dr. Portier engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria, and concluded that “[i]n my opinion, glyphosate probably causes NHL and, given the human, animal and experimental evidence, I assert that, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, the probability that glyphosate causes NHL is high.”

6. Dr. Aaron Blair (will appear by videotape deposition testimony)

Dr. Aaron Blair, is a Scientist Emeritus at the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch. He is a lead investigator of the Agricultural Health Study and the Overall Chair of the IARC 112 working group. Dr. Blair explained at his deposition how he weighed the totality of the epidemiology studies to support his opinion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.

7. Dr. Matthew Ross (will appear by videotape deposition testimony)

Dr. Matthew Ross is an associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, at Mississippi State University. He has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and expertise on the impact of environmental toxins on signal transduction pathways in cells. He was a part of the mechanism section of the IARC 112 working group. Dr. Ross explains why the strong evidence that glyphosate is genotoxic and causes oxidative stress are relevant to carcinogenicity in humans.

8. Dr. Chadi Nabhan, M.D., F.A.C.P

Dr. Nabhan is a board-certified clinical medical oncologist and past assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Currently, Dr. Nabhan serves as medical director of Cardinal Health. His clinical practice and academic research for the past 17 years has focused on lymphomas.

Dr. Nabhan also has a sub-specialty in the treatment of lymphomas. Until last year, he treated approximately 30 lymphoma patients per week. Dr. Nabhan regularly relies on both epidemiology and toxicology studies in his clinical practice and is well versed in the etiology, background and treatment of NHL. Dr. Nabhan engaged in a systematic review of the literature in this case, utilized the Bradford Hill Criteria, and concluded that “[t]he weight of the scientific evidence supports causality between Roundup/glyphosate exposure and NHL.”

Monsanto Expert Witnesses

Attorneys for Monsanto announced the following experts in order of scheduled appearance:

1. Thomas J. Rosol, DVM, PhD

Dr. Rosol, DVM, PhD, MBA is a professor of veterinary and experimental pathology, chair of Biomedical Sciences, ACVP diplomate; former dean and vice president for research at Ohio State University. He serves as senior advisor, Biotechnology, at the university’s Office of Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer.

He served on boards to the NIH, USDA, EPA, AVMA, and Morris Animal Fdn and was a consultant in preclinical safety in endocrine, bone, and reproductive pathology and models of cancer. He investigates hypercalcemia, bone metastasis, prostate, breast, and head and neck cancer and is a mentor for over 50 PhD students and postdocs. Dr. Rosal received his PhD in Experimental Pathobiology from Ohio State University in 1986. He received his D.V.M. in 1981 from the University of Illinois.

2. Christopher D. Corcoran, ScD

Dr. Corcoran is a professor of Mathematics and Statistics and director of Data Management and Statistics Core, Center for Epidemiologic Studies, at Utah State University. Dr. Corcoran earned his ScD Biostatistics (with a minor in Genetic Epidemiology) in 1999 at Harvard University.

3. Jay I. Goodman, PhD

Dr. Goodman is a professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology at Michigan State University. His research interests are focused on discerning epigenetic mechanisms underlying carcinogenesis and other chemical-induced toxicities.

Dr. Goodman received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1969 at The University of Michigan. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin. He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Long Island University, College of Pharmacy, 1998; was Elected President of the Society of Toxicology, 1999-2000; the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Doctoral Program in Pharmacology, The University of Michigan, 2000; gave the John Barnes Prize Lecture, British Toxicology Society in 2005; and is the recipient of the Society of Toxicology's Merit Award, 2014.

4. Lorelei A. Mucci, ScD, MPH

Dr. Mucci is an associate professor of Epidemiology atHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her major research and teaching area is cancer epidemiology.

Dr. Mucci earned a BS in Biology at Tufts University, an MPH in Epidemiology from Boston University, and an ScD in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Oh, the Irony. Time for Ben & Jerry's to Clean Up Its Own Swamp?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-03-01 14:11
March 1, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulAll About Organics woman eating globe earth planet cc 1000x523.jpg

A big “thank you” this week to the Tucson, Arizona, Organic Consumers Association members who convinced their local co-op, Food Conspiracy, to stop selling Ben & Jerry’s.

Several of our supporters emailed Food Conspiracy’s store manager and its board of directors. Within hours, the co-op posted this message on Facebook:

Thanks to the Co-op owners who let us know their concerns about Ben & Jerry's Ice cream and glyphosate contamination. We have discontinued it from our frozen section.

We are excited about the possibility of an organic line of Ben & Jerry's in the future and are beyond humbled by the collective power of consumer voice speaking up and demanding it.

Food Conspiracy joins other co-ops who are listening to their owner/customers, including Moscow Food Co-Op in Moscow, Idaho; New Pioneer Food Co-Op in Coralville, Iowa; and Ypsilanti Food Co-Op and River Street Bakery in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Now, if we can just work together on the national front to get National Co+op Grocers (NCG) to stop promoting Ben & Jerry’s. (More here on how you can help).

What’s Ben & Jerry’s been up to while consumers have been working hard to get Ben & Jerry’s off store shelves? It’s been furiously spinning the brand’s “good guys” story in the media.

First, it was this public relations stunt. Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s parent company) put up a big stink about “fabricated news, racist, sexist and extremist content” on online platforms like Facebook. The multi-national conglomerate demanded Facebook clean up its “online swamp” or Unilever would pull its advertising.

In the blink of an eye, Fcebook rolled over. After all, nobody wants to incur the wrath of a company with an $8.3-billion advertising budget, right?

We’re all for getting fake news off Facebook. But need we point out the irony of Unilever, which churns out plenty of its own fake claims about Ben & Jerry’s, asking Facebook to clean up its online “swamp?”

How about Ben & Jerry’s cleans up its own offline swamps? As the leading polluter of Vermont’s waterways, Unilever’s got a lot of nerve asking anyone else to clean up its swamps.

Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, Keith Weed, had the nerve to tell the media:

As a brand-led business, Unilever needs its consumers to have trust in our brands. We can't do anything to damage that trust—including the choice of channels and platforms we use. So, 2018 is the year when social media must win trust back."

We think the Ben & Jerry’s brand trust ship sailed back when we announced that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is contaminated with glyphosate.

In addition to the Facebook ad media stunt, Ben & Jerry’s recently made a big splash about the brand’s support for the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s new Poor People's Campaign, calling for  “a moral, economic, and political revolution and revitalization of American society.”

Ben & Jerry’s pledged a portion of the sales from its new “One Sweet World” brand to Rev. Barber’s campaign.

Again, good on Ben & Jerry’s for wanting to support the Poor People’s Campaign.

But again, the irony. Here’s a brand whose suppliers are on the verge of bankruptcy, talking about justice for the poor. Ben & Jerry’s told the media:

Stand with us, stand with Rev. Barber. With love in our hearts and powered by a commitment to positive change, we can raise our voices together and make sure that every American has a chance to live a better life.

As we’ve written before, the path to “one sweet world” isn’t lined with millions of pounds of pesticides.

If Unilever is genuinely interested in making sure “every American has a chance to live a better life,” the company will start by cleaning up its own act—and what better way to begin than by cleaning up Vermont’s waterways.

With “love in our hearts” let’s keep the pressure on Ben & Jerry’s to start living up to its good guys image by going 100% organic.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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Trump's 'Harvest Boxes:' A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Idea

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-28 22:32
February 28, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulHealth Issues, Politics & Globalization package box amazon no ban cc 1000x523.jpg

It’s not every day that the crowd at a Washington, D.C. policy conference gets rowdy. But that was the scene on Tuesday (Feb. 26) at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.

It happened when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) top nutrition official (and keynote speaker) Brandon Lipps touted Trump’s “America’s Harvest Box” scheme. Reporting on the event, Politico said the crowd erupted in boos and laughter. About 20 people walked out.

Good to know that at least some of the people focused on anti-hunger policies recognize “America’s Harvest Box” for what it is—just one more scheme to subsidize Big Ag and Big Food while undermining the health and well-being of some of America’s most vulnerable families.

Trump wants for $30 million to test the “America’s Harvest Box” program in a “small number” states. If he gets his way, about 16 million low-income families who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, would start getting only about half as much money to spend on food as the SNAP program has allotted them in the past. The other half of the money would be replaced by a government-issued box of “shelf-stable” food products such as peanut butter, canned goods (including meat), pasta, cereal, “shelf stable” milk and other products.

In other words, some of the least nutritious food available, most of it produced with pesticides.

Trump’s “Harvest Box” scheme has been met with widespread scorn, including from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), which told Politico the idea is “a Rube-Goldberg designed system” that would be “costly, inefficient, stigmatizing and prone to failure.”

But that doesn’t mean the plan is dead on arrival. "America's Harvest Box" has the full support of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who recently told the Los Angeles Times:

“It's not a sham. It's not a silly proposal. It's something that we'd like to see seriously considered and debated."

Given what we’ve seen come out of the Trump administration so far, we can’t count on saner heads to prevail. That’s why we’re asking people to tell Congress to oppose this bad idea.

Poor choice

Trump’s penchant for junk food—McDonald’s filet ‘o fish sandwiches, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Oreos, pizza, Diet Coke—have been widely reported. 

Trump has the right to eat what he chooses (though it’s unfortunate that his food choices support an industrial agriculture system that pollutes the environment and contributes to a growing public health crisis).

But should Trump’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) be allowed to force boxes of factory farm, GMO junk food on low-income families? We don’t think so.

Trump claims the “Harvest Box” food would be “preselected for nutritional value and economic benefit to American farmers.”

But the only farmers who would benefit under the Trump’s proposal are the already heavily subsidized growers of industrial GMO crops—the kind grown with massive amounts of chemicals, and used to make highly processed foods that dish up plenty of calories with minimal nutritional value.

The “Harvest Box” program would be administered by SNAP. SNAP is funded through the Farm Bill, which expires and is re-written every five years. The current farm bill, signed into law on Feb. 7, 2014, is up again for discussion this year.

‘Ridiculous and terrible’

We reached out to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) for his take on the “Harvest Box.” Blumenauer, who last year introduced the Food and Farm Act which calls for a massive overhaul of the Farm Bill, had this to say:

“This proposal is utterly ridiculous and the result of an inept administration out of touch with the needs of people across America. We need to do more to strengthen SNAP and increase access to healthier foods—in fact, I’m working to make that happen in the next Farm Bill. Trump’s plan is nothing more than a slap in the face of our most vulnerable.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) took a similarly dim view of the “Harvest Box” plan. She told us:

"The Harvest Box proposal is a ridiculous and terrible idea. Helping families address food insecurity means more than just sending them enough food to fill their bellies—it means opening access to nutritious, high-quality foods that can help keep them healthy. A box of shelf-stable items is not a replacement for benefits that can be used to buy a ripe tomato, wild blueberries, or any number of healthy foods out in the community. We should be looking for ways to help, incentivize, and encourage SNAP recipients to access these kinds of healthy foods, not sending them a box of highly-processed calories and calling it a day."

Indeed, Maine takes a different approach to administering the SNAP program—it’s called “Harvest Bucks.” Under the program, SNAP recipients receive discounts and bonuses when they purchase locally grown food. The result is better, more nutritious food for families, more business for local farms (which receive full price for their products), and more money going into the local economy. 

As we wrote last week, SNAP benefits are already too low under the current Farm Bill, averaging less than $1.39 per person per meal. That drives SNAP recipients to fill up on cheap, high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, people with the highest consumption of federally subsidized foods had a 37-percent greater risk of being obese. They were also significantly more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, high levels of blood sugar and inflammation.

Trump’s “Harvest Box” would make a bad situation worse.

A ‘logistical nightmare’

There are plenty of practical reasons Trump’s “Harvest Box” program makes no sense. The chief public policy officer for the Food Marketing Institute, which represents grocery retailers, told Politico:

"Perhaps this proposal would save money in one account, but based on our decades of experience in the program, it would increase costs in other areas that would negate any savings.”

Matthew Gritter, assistant professor of political science at Angelo State University who’s authored books and articles about civil rights and social policy, wrote this about the “Harvest Box” proposal:

I believe that Trump’s harvest-box concept would be a logistical nightmare to carry out. In the rather unlikely event that the cuts he seeks do happen, it would become harder for low-income people to get healthy food.

That, in turn, would increase the already large burden on food banks and other nonprofits helping the many Americans who slip through the safety net in good times and bad to avoid hunger.

It’s time to let Congress to know that vulnerable children need wholesome, nutrient-dense fresh (and preferably organic) foods—not processed factory farm food products. Please take action. Tell your member of Congress that the USDA should support more local, organic and regenerative farmers—not factory farms and junk food producers.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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'The Dirt Cure:' Why Human Health Depends on Soil Health

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-28 20:04
February 28, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues hands soil seedling plant cc 1000x523.jpg

Our connection to nature is sacred, dating back to the beginning of our existence. It’s no wonder then that our health is intimately intertwined with the Earth—from the soil beneath our feet, to the food we eat, to the water we drink and to the air that fills our lungs.

In other words, nature determines our health, upon which much of our wellbeing—and even our happiness—depends.

This philosophy is the foundation for Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein’s book, “The Dirt Cure: Growing Healthy Kids with Food Straight from Soil.” Dr. Shetreat-Klein is a pediatric neurologist, herbalist, naturalist and urban farmer based in New York City, where she raises chickens (a lifelong dream) and grows organic fruits and vegetables.

Her New York Times bestselling book has been translated into 10 languages.

I was fortunate to meet Shetreat-Klein a few weeks ago in Houston, Texas, where she was spoke at an event co-hosted by the Organic Consumers Association and the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance, a non-profit that educates individuals, gardeners, homeowners, landscapers and schools on the real-world application and benefits of organics.

Shetreat-Klein described her residency as a medical student and the complete lack of emphasis on nutrition and whole-body health. As a young medical student she was appalled to learn that it was the norm to prescribe multiple medications—sometimes up to six or seven different drugs—for children who, despite all those prescriptions, remained chronically ill.

Shetreat-Klein’s experience as a pediatrician, and as the mother of a chronically ill child, led her down an alternative path where she began to explore the causes behind the widespread chronic illness we see in children today.

Her journey took her back to nature where she realized the importance of healthy soil and the tiny, microscopic organisms (microbes) living within it. These microbes, which until recently we’ve been told were bad and should be avoided, are actually the key to good health both in soils and our bodies.

The human microbiome, made up of trillions of microbes such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa, is often referred to as our “second brain,” regulating a variety of processes including digestion, immune system function and brain function. Shetreat-Klein believes that it’s our exposure (or lack thereof) to these microbes that plays a pivotal role in human health.

In her book, Shetreat-Klein writes:

Gut, immune and nervous system—and the many microbes therein—are a direct reflection of the food we eat and where that food comes from, from the soil it’s grown in to the water it swims in to the synthetic chemicals that it’s bathed in.

Fresh food, microbes (that’s right, germs) and elements of nature—soil, sunshine, water, and fresh air—make children resilient and prevent or reverse their illness.

In “The Dirt Cure,” Shetreat-Klein reveals the shocking contents of children’s food and how it’s greatly harming their bodies. She also offers solutions, including an organic diet rich in fruits and veggies, and how to encourage your child to get out in nature and play in the dirt.

Kids have the natural ability to be healthy, we just have to give them the tools to do so, she says.

Click here to pick up a copy of “The Dirt Cure” today.

To learn more about Shetreat-Klein’s recipe for good health, sign up here for her newsletter.

Julie Wilson is communications associate for the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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Tell Congress: Low-Income Families Need Better Nutrition, Not Trump's Boxes of Processed GMO Junk Food

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-28 19:20
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoUSDA WatchAppetite for a ChangeCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesArea: USA

President Trump's penchant for junk food--McDonald's filet 'o fish sandwiches, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Oreos, pizza, Diet Coke--have been widely reported. 

Trump has the right to eat what he chooses (though it's unfortunate that his food choices support an industrial agriculture system that pollutes the environment and contributes to a growing public health crisis).

But should Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) be allowed to force boxes of factory farm, GMO junk food on low-income families? We don't think so.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Low-Income Families Need Better Nutrition, Not Trump's Boxes of Processed GMO Junk Food

 Read more

Regenerative Farming Starts Here—with Chickens

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-28 16:56
February 28, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, CAFOs vs. Free Range chickens 1000x523 cc

Are you ready to say goodbye to the monocrop industrial approach to agriculture and hello to regenerative farming? 

Check out this Main Street Project video which tells a story about restoring our land and our relationship with plants and animals, and valuing the power of small farmers—all while deploying a small-scale system that is “accessible, productive and economically viable.”

How does the Main Street Project do all that? As the makers of this video explain, “the path to healing our food and agriculture system is a path walked on by chickens.” That’s right. Main Street Project has developed a poultry-centered regenerative agriculture system that can change how food is produced around the world.

Well-managed paddocks and rotational grazing—practices that regenerate soil, eliminate erosion and increase production—play a big role in Main Street’s well-planned 100-acre farm ecosystem in Northfield, Minnesota.

According to the video, chickens “contribute to the farm ecosystem by providing an affordable entry point for long-term economic investment and help transform that investment into a wide array of marketable products,” all while contributing to a “vibrant farm economy.”

Main Street Project’s goal is to provide a “revolutionary approach to eliminating harmful practices in the poultry industry while healing the land and relationship to the labor force.” The project’s founders want to solve the nation’s food crisis by equipping and uplifting the “next generation of consumers, farmers and investors in regenerative agriculture practices.”

Main Street Project’s Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin describes the project’s approach:

“We are advocating for a farming approach that brings back ancient knowledge, wisdom and techniques that farmers have survived on for a long time. What we are doing is restructuring those techniques so we can meet current demands in a way that the farming system that we deploy is good for the people, good for the landscape and the ecology, and is good for the economy.”

It's part of the project’s “ecological, economic and social triple bottom line.” And the beauty of it is that the regenerative-poultry and grain model can be adapted to different climates in different parts of the U.S and the world. And it can operate on a small scale, or can be scaled up to meet the growing demand  for organic, regenerative poultry.

If a lot of this sounds familiar, it’s because of the steady drumbeat led by Regeneration International (RI), which works to build a “healthy global ecosystem in which regenerative agriculture and land-use practices cool the planet, feed the world, and promote public health, prosperity and peace.”

As Organic Consumers Association’s International Director Ronnie Cummins explains in a recent blog post, the regeneration movement is “the one movement that we believe has the power to address all our individual and collective concerns, the movement that holds the most hope for resolving the multiple and deepening global crises of hunger, poverty, crumbling political systems and climate change. The movement that begins with healing our most critical resources—soil, water, air—through better farming and land management practices. And ends with healing our local communities and global societies and restoring climate stability.”

Want to get involved? Help us rapidly scale up the signatories of Regeneration International’s 4 per 1000 initiative, which calls for countries to draw down more carbon than they emit, and to store it in the soil. Connect us with your local farmers, NGOs, agencies and companies that would be interested in signing on.

Increasing the number of those committed to healthy soil is the first step toward building a regeneration movement in your community.

Sign up here to keep up with news and alerts from Organic Consumers Association.


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Tell Congress: Put More Veggies--and Less Junk Food--in the Farm Bill!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-28 01:52
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoUSDA WatchAppetite for a ChangeCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesArea: USA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends we all eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.

What would happen if we all tried to follow that recommendation? We’d soon find out that there aren’t enough vegetables available for Americans to follow USDA guidelines.

That’s because the Farm Bill, that massive piece of legislation that determines how $90 billion a year in tax dollars is spent to shape our food system, favors subsidies that support processed, GMO junk foods, over healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Put more veggies in the Farm Bill!Read more

48 Million Sickened Every Year by Cheap, Dirty Meat

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-02-22 16:25
February 22, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulEnvironment & Climate, CAFOs vs. Free Range pig nose hog snout fence cc 1000x523.jpg

If you live in the U.S., you’re far more likely to get hit with salmonella or some other foodborne illness, than if you live in the U.K.  You can thank the factory farm industry for that.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found “shockingly high” levels of foodborne illness in the U.S. The Guardian reports that “annually, around 14.7 percent (48 million people) of the U.S. population is estimated to suffer from an illness, compared to around 1.5 percent (1 million) in the UK. In the U.S., 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year of foodborne diseases.

Driving these grim statistics is the multi-billion-dollar industrial factory farm industry that not only makes us sick, but pollutes our water and air, exploits workers, is causing an antibiotic resistance crisis and is unconscionably inhumane. 

And it’s all done in the name of “cheap food.”

TBIJ and the Guardian conducted its investigation based on U.S. government documents containing data on 47 meat plants across the U.S. According to the Guardian:

Some of the documents relate to certain companies, including Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the US’s biggest poultry producers, and Swift Pork. Although not a comprehensive portrait of the sector - there are around 6,000 US plants regularly inspected by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) - the documents provide a snapshot of issues rarely detailed in public which has rung alarm bells with campaigners in both the US and UK.

Those rarely detailed “issues” include: meat contaminated with fecal matter; meat processing equipment contaminated with grease and blood; and chicken dropped on the floor then rinsed with chlorine and put back in the production line.

It’s enough to make anyone’s stomach turn.

It’s also enough to make consumers and entire neighborhoods revolt, and citizens to get more politically active.

Last year, the citizens of Tonganoxie, Kansas (population 5,000) stood up to Tyson and successfully scuttled the meat giant’s planned $320-million chicken factory farm.

In Nebraska, citizens are trying to keep out a $180-million factory farm poultry operation that Costco wants to build in the small town of Fremont. (Please sign our petition asking Costco to stop raising and selling factory farm chicken).

People aren’t just getting active. They’re also getting political.

Civil Eats recently reported on candidates running in Iowa, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania who all have one thing in common: They want better food and farming policies in their states.

One of those candidates is Brandy Brooks, who’s running for Montgomery County (Maryland) city council. Brooks told Civil Eats:

“Food is this amazing lens for talking about justice. You could be talking about land use justice, racial justice, economic justice, immigration, health justice, housing—you can talk about everything through the lens of food.”

Brooks is right. Food is at the center of so many of the issues facing communities large and small, across the globe. That’s why Organic Consumers Association (OCA) partners closely with Regeneration International as we look to transition from our industrial, degenerative food system to a regenerative alternative.

It’s also why we’re inviting consumers to get more politically active through our Citizens Regeneration Lobby. 

The factory farm industry tells us there’s no other way to produce meat. But farmers like Ron Rosmann in Harlan, Iowa, are proof that alternatives exist. The Main Street Project is proof that those alternatives can be scaled up to meet the growing demand for regeneratively produced meat.

We just need to take a stand against Big Meat. Our health depends on it.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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Saving the Soil—and Their Livelihoods—by Raising 100% Grass-Fed Beef

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-02-21 21:29
February 21, 2018Organic Consumers Association Grazing Cow In 1999, Jon Taggart converted the 900 acres of crops on his recently purchased 1,400-acre ranch in Grandview, Texas, into 900 acres of native grasses. Then he launched his 100% grass-fed beef business.   Everyone, including the “people in the cow business and people in the meat business” said he was crazy.    But in 2011, when Texas was hit with a drought that dragged on for nearly 18 months, Taggart was one of the few ranchers who was able to keep on doing business as usual, while other ranchers had to move their cattle out to more fertile ground.   While acres of GMO corn and soy on many of the state’s ranches shriveled up and died, the deep-rooted, “warm season grasses, cool-season grasses, grasses that germinate early and grasses that germinate later” on Taggart’s ranch survived.   Taggart, recently featured in an ABC News "Food Forecast" segment, calls himself a pioneer in the grass-fed, grass-finished—also known as 100% grass-fed —meat industry. But he’s the first to admit he isn’t doing anything new.   “Cows are ruminant animals. They have four parts to their stomach for a reason, and that’s so they can digest grass, which we don’t very well, and convert it to a protein that we can consume. They were designed to eat grass. This system worked for a few million years before we got here. It’s designed to work that way and it works very well if you just get out of the way and let it happen.”   Video of Grass-Fed Beef | ABC News   And happening it is.   According to Nielsen data, retail sales of grass-fed beef grew from $17 million in 2012 to $272 million in 2016.   Health-conscious, environmentally concerned consumers are driving the demand. Grass-fed beef is better for your health than beef finished on grain in today’s factory farms.   Cattle raised on grass are also better for the environment, better for animals and better for the climate.    That’s a lesson Texas ranchers Jonathan and Kaylyn Cobb, who didn’t fare well during the epic 2011 – 2013 drought, are learning. The Cobbs told ABC News how they almost lost their family farm because there wasn’t enough life left in their soil to sustain the crops to feed their cattle.    Fortunately, the Cobbs met ranger and regenerative agriculture consultant Dr. Allen Williams who’s known for his “soil sermons.” Williams told ABC News:   “I want every farmer and rancher that is growing livestock to adopt these adaptive grazing practices and to build their soil organic matter and soil health, because this is going to make a whole sea change in the way our soil functions, in the way our ecosystem works and our water quality, and in our climate.”   A sixth-generation cattle farmer who has consulted with more than 4,000 farmers and ranchers, Williams says raising and finishing cattle on grass isn’t just good for the earth—it’s also profitable.   Profitability is what saved the Cobbs.    “It sounds funny to say that we bought cattle for the soil,” Kaylyn Cobb said. “The reason we brought animals back to the land is because we knew it was a fundamental element needed to restore the life of the soil.”   How can that be? When we’re so often told that raising cattle destroys the land?   The key to healthy soil and grass-fed beef is rotational grazing, a system where farmers set up plots of land and move livestock from paddock to paddock allowing the grasses time to recover and regrow. Since the Cobbs moved to this new system they’ve seen huge changes in the health of their soil. The Cobbs have also stopped plowing the soil on their ranch, relying instead on nature’s system for aerating the soil—worms.   Can we reverse the industrial beef paradigm, and get back to raising beef the way nature intended? Taggart believes it will be the younger generation of consumers “who are really concerned about where their food comes from” who will lead the way. One thing is for certain—if consumers want more 100% grass-fed beef, we need to demand it. After all, even McDonald's is considering switching over to regeneratively raised beef.   Want to learn more? Read about Regeneration International’s plan to promote France's 4 per 1,000 global plan and agreement to reverse global warming, soil degradation, deteriorating public health and rural poverty by scaling up regenerative food, farming and land use practices.   Sign up here to keep up with news and alerts from Organic Consumers Association.


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Raw Deal for Raw Milk: FDA Eases Regs for Big Food, but Makes Life Hard for Small Farmers

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-02-19 16:49
February 19, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis-Bayden MayerFood Safety, Raw Milk trump red tape1000x523

We were furious when the Trump administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed Obama’s decision to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that causes neurological damage, especially in children.

We were equally dismayed when Trump’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed rolling back animal welfare standards for organic  production.

But as long as Trump has his scissors out, there is at least one piece of “red tape” we wish he would cut: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on raw milk.

The Real Food Consumer Coalition has drafted a legal petition asking the FDA to let raw milk dairy farmers distribute unpasteurized milk in interstate commerce, as long as it bears a warning label and instructions for safe handling. 

We’re asking our networks to support Real Food’s petition by asking the FDA  to lift its ban on raw milk. 

Rollbacks for big corporations, but no relief for small farmers

So far, most of Trump’s regulatory rollbacks have benefited major corporations at the expense of food safety, children’s health and organic integrity.

Trump let DowDupont, which donated $1 million to his inauguration, continue to sell the insecticide chlorpyrifos even though it damages children’s developing brains and reduces I.Q.s. He also blocked tougher animal welfare rules for organic poultry.

Instead of continuing to kiss up to the corporations, Trump should consider lifting unnecessary regulatory burdens on family famers, starting with the FDA’s ban on raw milk.

There are only seven states— Montana, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Iowa and Delaware—where raw milk is expressly illegal. Still, FDA regulations make raw milk contraband whenever it crosses state lines.

Even though the threat of federal prosecution has pushed most farmers away from raw milk sales, 3 percent of the public (approximately 9.4 million people) still regularly consume unpasteurized milk.

Despite its tiny market share, raw milk can be a big contributor the economy. One economic study  found that if Wisconsin had just 100 raw milk dairy farms that each served 50 families, those farms would pump $10 million into the state’s economy. 

A boost like that is exactly what rural economies need as U.S. dairy farmers continue going out of business at an unsustainable rate. In 1950, there were about 3.5 million  farms with milking cows. By 2016, there were only 41,809. Between 2015 and 2016, 1725 dairy farms went under.

Dairy farmers are suffering because the companies that send their milk to the grocery store refuse to pay them what it costs them to produce the milk. On the West Coast, cooperatives created to sell dairy products have been accused by their members of pocketing millions of dollars in an elaborate accounting scheme.  

Meanwhile, farmers in the Northeast have filed a lawsuit against their coop, Dairy Farmers of America, and Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk processor, alleging the companies conspired to monopolize the market and drive down prices, knowing their member farmers would have nowhere else to sell their milk.

Milk prices are so bad this year—farmers are getting the same price they got 20 years ago—that at least one milk processor sent farmers phone numbers for suicide prevention hotlines and other mental health services along with the latest market forecasts.

Organic dairy farmers get paid better, but they’re also facing prices below the cost of production. (Selling raw milk direct to consumers was a good way for organic dairy farmers to weather price fluctuations until Organic Valley banned the practice.) 

Economists at the Economic Research Service have found that farmers who market goods directly to consumers are more likely to stay in business  than those who market only through traditional channels.

Why drink raw milk?

There is plenty of scientific evidence of the nutritional superiority of raw milk, and its safety. But nothing tells the story of raw milk better than the testimonials of people whose health improved after they switched to raw milk. (Many of these raw milk success stories involve raw milk kefir, which you can make at home with certified organic kefir grains.)  In addition to modern testimonials, there are medical books written in the early 1900s with hundreds of case studies: “Milk Diet as a Remedy for Chronic Disease,” by Charles Sanford Porter, M.D. (1916) and “The Miracle of Milk: How to Use the Milk Diet Scientifically at Home,” by Bernarr Macfadden (1923). Some of the illnesses that raw milk drinkers have experienced relief from include:

• Lactose Intolerance

• Crohn’s Disease

• Asthma

• Allergies

• Psoriasis

• Urinary Tract Infections

• Acne

• Migraines

• Lyme Disease

• Cancer

Raw milk may prove to be the key to understanding the “farm effect.” About half of Americans have evidence of allergic sensitization, which increases the risk of allergic disease. Yet only 7.2 percent of Amish children are sensitized to tree pollens and other allergens, making the Amish among the least allergic populations in the developed world. What could account for the difference? 

Only 3 percent of Americans drink raw milk—but 80 percent of the Amish drink raw milk. 

In Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk also correlates with protection against allergic disease. European children who consume raw milk have more T-cells, which help the immune system restrain itself when facing substances that are not true threats. A healthy population of these and other “suppressor” cells is important in preventing allergies and asthma. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely is a diagnosis of asthma.

The “farm effect” seems to be a “raw milk effect” protecting children by favorably stimulating their immune systems, particularly early in life. 

We think it’s high time the FDA acknowledge the health benefits of raw milk and start allowing raw milk dairy farmers to distribute unpasteurized milk in interstate commerce, as long as it bears a warning label and instructions for safe handling. 

Want to help? Ask the FDA to lift its ban on raw milk.

Trump claims to care about farmers and rural America. Here’s his chance to prove it. By allowing farmers to sell raw milk direct to consumers, Trump and the FDA could help keep America’s dairy farmers in business.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Sign up here for news and alerts from OCA.


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'Spinning Science and Silencing Scientists' on the Dangers of Glyphosate

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-02-08 02:18
February 7, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationGenetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization top spinning toys colorful wood cc 1000x523.jpg

What happens when Monsanto doesn’t like what the World Health Organization (WHO) has to say about its flagship product, Roundup weedkiller?

The chemical company convinces U.S. lawmakers to hold a “smoke and mirrors” Congressional hearing, under the guise of “defending scientific integrity,” but really to undermine the unanimous determination by 17 international scientists, based on their analysis of independent, peer-reviewed science, that Roundup is  “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The hearing, which Monsanto asked Congress to hold, will be used to decide if WHO’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)—an unbiased scientific agency charged with protecting public health by warning the public about cancer-causing chemicals—will continue to receive federal funding.

“In Defense of Scientific Integrity: Examining the IARC Monograph Programme and Glyphosate Review,” took place on February 6, in Washington, D.C. The hearing was held by the Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee, and led by its chair, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. Smith has been described as “the most obnoxious climate change denier in Congress”—not exactly the ideal candidate to be passing judgment on the work of serious scientists.

You can watch the entire hearing here (warning: it’s long and likely to infuriate you). If you want a more accurate assessment of how the reputations of IARC scientists are being maligned by Monsanto, read “Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists: A Case Study in How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science,” a report prepared for participants in the hearing by minority staff of the SST committee. And here's what the IARC had to say about the hearing.

Smith kicked off the hearing by asserting that IARC ignored the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), used no human data, deleted contrary data, manipulated data and did not follow the scientific method, was not transparent, and refused to respond to his written concerns regarding each of these points in its review of glyphosate.

According to Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Goldman, the law firm that captured the hearing on Facebook Live, all of Rep. Smith’s assertions are false. Last July, consumer watchdog U.S. Right to Know also defended IARC against attacks, specifically those by a Reuters reporter.

Smith’s remarks were followed by four witnesses who testified before the committee. Three Republican witnesses included: Dr. Anna Lowit, senior science adviser at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Dr. Timothy Pastoor, CEO of Pastoor Science Communications; and Dr. Robert Tarone of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, all who concurred with the chairman.

As noted in this Baum Hedlund blog post, all of the SST majority witnesses have ties to Monsanto and/or the chemical industry:

Dr. Lowit was the subject of a letter from former EPA scientist, Marion Copley, to Jess Rowland questioning her manipulation of data and being under the influence of Monsanto. Robert Tarone, has acknowledged that he is a paid Monsanto consultant. Timothy Pastoor used to work for Syngenta, another glyphosate-based herbicide manufacturer like Monsanto, and spent a considerable amount of his career defending the herbicide atrazine. EFSA was caught relying upon copied and pasted Monsanto summaries of its studies—with Monsanto’s spin.”

The industry-friendly atmosphere didn’t go unnoticed. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), ranking member of the STT committee, told the committee that “if we are truly interested in defending scientific integrity, we should be doing more than simply hearing from industry-friendly scientists.” 

The saving grace of the day came from Democratic witness Dr. Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Sass addressed in her testimony a few examples of tobacco-industry tactics applied to glyphosate, and the agrochemical industry’s attack on the IARC Monographs. She also cited the “well documented public relations campaign used to soften up public opinion about the agrichemical industry and create a venue to pressure agencies to block regulations, and try to discredit and silence public health and scientific institutes that may show some harm from their profitable products.”

Committee member Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore) told the committee:

“Internal Monsanto records show that company employees have ghostwritten scientific journal articles on glyphosate, attempted to orchestrate a public outcry over IARC’s glyphosate findings and have targeted specific independent scientists for attack. It is important that we review the methods and tactics that industry has used to influence this administration and attack independent scientific organizations like the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer… We must make sure any chemical review is not undone by undue industry influence or misleading scientific studies.”

Perhaps the best way to sum up the hearing is how NRDC’s Sass concluded her testimony:

“Are we willing to sell out the public’s right to know about harmful chemicals in the places we work, live, and play, just so that Monsanto Co. can sell more glyphosate?”

Time will tell. The deadline for the EPA to rule on whether to reauthorize glyphosate or phase it out is long past due.

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