Archive for October, 2012

Serving Science or Monsanto?

Timing of AAAS statement on GMO labeling is highly suspicious

With about a week to go before California voters head to the polls to decide the fate of Proposition 37, which would require GMO foods to be labeled, I expected an already ugly campaign to get even uglier.

But the latest gift to the No on 37 campaign smells especially bad. Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS – goes by “Triple A-S”) released this “statement” on GMO labeling that sounds like it was drafted by Monsanto. The statement ends with the non-scientific but very quote-worthy conclusion that “mandating such a label can only serve to mis­lead and falsely alarm consumers.” While Prop 37 is never mentioned, what purpose could the timing serve other than persuading Californians to vote no on the measure?

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New Feature: Thank a Lawyer

Over the decades, the right wing has done a pretty good job brainwashing the American public into thinking that “trial lawyers” are evil and greedy. That meme has come in handy in the No on Prop 37 campaign’s scaremongering about imaginary “shakedown lawsuits.” (Read more on Prop 37.) So that got me thinking, it’s high-time to refurbish the image of lawyers, especially those fighting against Big Food. (See my post from July, Top 10 Lawyers Working to Improve the Food System for a good start.)

The following three stories have all been in the news in just the past week. Each illustrates the important role of lawyers in helping to curb various harms of our industrialized food system. Watch this space for more stories like these. And if you know any lawyers, please give them a hug; they could probably use it.

Environmental groups win challenge to gene-altered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in South

Monsanto Roundup-Ready Alfalfa Should Be Blocked, Court Told

Dairy farmers threatened with lawsuit for ground contamination

Full disclosure: Each of these stories involves lawyers from the Center for Food Safety, where I am a consultant. However, I did not write this on their behalf.

Busted: Food Myths Brought to You by Corporate Front Groups

Over the past few months, I’ve been writing about Proposition 37, the California initiative that would require foods made through genetic engineering to be labeled, a policy that is common sense in 61 other countries, but has been denied to Americans thanks to lobbying by Big Biotech. One of the most prominent food myths perpetuated by the likes of Monsanto is that we need genetic engineering “to feed the world.”

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California Newspaper Editorial Boards Spread False Claims and Faulty Logic on Proposition 37

Each election season, proponents and opponents of the various initiatives on the California ballot hope for the state’s major newspaper endorsements. While you can’t expect every paper to endorse your side, Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods produced using genetic engineering, seems to have had a string of incredibly bad luck. So incredible, in fact, that the reasoning behind several California newspaper endorsements of a No vote has me scratching my head.

Read rest at Center for Food Safety…

How Did My Profession’s Conference Get Hijacked by Big Food? (Guest post by Andy Bellatti)

Coca-Cola promoting the RDNational ConfectionersThe HFCS folks

Booth displays at Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Expo. (photos by Andy Bellatti)

I recently attended the annual gathering of the largest trade group of nutrition professionals, which I also covered last year. Look out for complete report from me in the coming months. Meantime, I am pleased to share the experience of one registered dietitian, Andy Bellatti.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) hosted its 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) earlier this month. Sadly, the event once again (see last year’s report) demonstrated how this registered dietitians’ accrediting organization drags its own credential through the mud by prioritizing Big Food’s corporate interests over sound nutrition and public health.

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My talks at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

APHA American Public Health Association

This year’s American Public Health Association Annual Meeting is in San Francisco, from October 27-31. (I live in that other city by the bay, Oakland.) The event draws about 13,000 public health professionals each year. I am honored to have been asked to participate in three stellar panels, so if you’re attending or can drop in for the day, please come say hello. (Check the printed program for room locations.)

Panel 1: Monday, October 29, 2012: 10:30 - 12:00

3167.0: Snack Food and Beverage Industry and Global Noncommunicable Chronic Disease

My talk: Case study of industry lobbying on junk food marketing to children

(Additional panelists include Marion Nestle and Jennifer Pomeranz from the Rudd Center.)

Panel 2: Monday, October 29, 2012: 12:30 -2:00

3205.0: Public Health Harms from Legal Products: Challenges of Countering Industry Influence in Alcohol, Tobacco, Prescription Drugs, and Food in the US

My talk: Food stamps, follow the money: Are corporations profiting from hungry Americans

Panel 3: Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 12:30 -2:00

5181.0: Food, Fairness and Health II: Occupy Agriculture – Corporate Power, Equity and the Food System

My talk: Understanding food industry lobbying and countering corporate tactics

Did Monsanto Write This Op-Ed Signed by a UC Davis Professor?

UC Davis: University of California

As I recently explained, University of California at Davis agriculture researchers are heavily influenced by the funding they receive from Monsanto and other big biotech players. This conflict of interest explains in part why we are seeing several UC Davis professors author reports and op-eds opposing California’s Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs.

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