Archive for 2013

Naming Names: PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Nestlé Donate Millions to Stop GMO Labeling

Attorney General Forces Junk Food Lobby to Obey Washington State Law and Disclose Donors to No on 522

Earlier this week, the Washington State attorney general sued the Grocery Manufacturers Association for violating lobbying disclosure laws by hiding the identity of its individual members making donations. Today, GMA waved the white flag. Here are the donors and how much they are spending to keep consumers in the dark. Stay tuned for more.

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Junk Food Lobbyists Sued for Money Laundering in Washington State

Effort to Hide Brand-Name Corporations Opposing GE Food Labeling Lands in Court

October 16 update: The Washington State attorney general’s office has filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, saying the trade group “illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors” to the No on 522 campaign, in violation of state disclose laws. Read the complaint here.

In the final weeks leading up to Election Day, the debate over measure I-522 in Washington State is getting even uglier. As I recently explained, the Grocery Manufacturer Association, the nation’s largest trade group for the processed food industry, has been flexing its muscle to oppose the labeling of genetically-engineered food, both at the federal and state levels. Now, a lawsuit brought by a non-profit called “Moms for Labeling” alleges that GMA crossed the line by not properly disclosing who is behind the whopping $7 million-plus the trade group has donated to the No on 522 campaign so far.

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Ask a Food Lawyer – Helping Food Entrepreneurs Navigate the Law

Interview with Jason Foscolo, Food Law Firm

Continuing with our interview series for Ask a Food Lawyer, this week we spoke with Jason Foscolo, who provides legal counsel to food entrepreneurs throughout of the supply chain. Before starting his own firm, he was a Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps where he discovered his passion for food production and preparation. Jason completed the University of Arkansas School of Law LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law in 2011 prior to starting his practice in New York State. Check out his work at foodlawfirm.com and follow Jason on Twitter @foodlawattorney.

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Super-Sized Lies: Why You Can’t Trust Promises by McDonald’s

Bill Clinton McDonalds

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, former President Bill Clinton, and Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Dr. Howell Wechsler.

The headlines certainly sounded impressive: “McDonald’s to Scrap Soda From ‘Happy Meal’ Ads” and “McDonald’s Ditches Soda In Happy Meal Menus.” In a grandiose announcement from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (an offshoot of the Clinton Foundation), McDonald’s proved once again that it’s not only the world’s fast-food leader, but also the king of spin. This time, Bill Clinton himself was on hand for the nifty photo op with McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. Despite the seal of approval from the (mostly vegan) former president, I’ve learned to approach these sorts promises from McDonald’s with skepticism.

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Save the Food Stamp Program by Reforming It

With each attempt to pass the 2012 farm bill (yes, it has been that long), congressional Republicans keep ratcheting up their cruelty to poor Americans. While last year’s bill would have cut $16 billion to food stamps, the House of Representatives has now proposed an astonishing $39 billion reduction in benefits over 10 years. While many media pundits are outraged, and rightly so, missing from the national conversation are important questions about the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the federal food assistance plan formerly known as food stamps. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Corporate Lobbyists Resort to Deception in Opposing GE Food Labeling, Again

Confused by the exemptions in Washington State’s 522? Here is why they make sense.

Lobbyists for leading pesticide and junk food companies aren’t very creative, at least when it comes to fighting labels on genetically-engineered foods. The current effort Washington State against labeling is looking strikingly similar to last year’s in California. The No on 522 campaign even recycled the colors in their logo. (See No on 522 v. No on 37.) In another illustration of déjà vu, the opposition in Washington State is trotting out the argument that voters should reject the measure because it contains a few exemptions.

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The Wrong Obama Gives Tough Talk on Junk Food Marketing to Kids

Last week Michelle Obama gathered 100 food industry representatives, academic experts and public health advocates for a “summit” at the White House to discuss junk food marketing to children. The event included public remarks by the first lady followed by a closed-door discussion among attendees, ostensibly to come up with some solutions. The first lady’s speech was better than I had anticipated. As someone who was skeptical about Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move program from the beginning, with good reason as it turned out, I am happy to report she didn’t pull any punches.

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Are Junk Food Corporations Hiding Behind Lobbyists to Stop GE Food Labeling in Washington State?

Yes on 522

Nation’s largest food makers’ trade group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is donating big money to oppose I-522, but on whose behalf?

Even if you haven’t heard of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, you know its members: the nation’s largest food makers, those with the most at stake in the battle over GE food labeling, including soft drink and snack giant PepsiCo, cereal makers Kellogg and General Mills, and of course, biotech behemoth Monsanto.

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Ask a Food Lawyer – Legal Tools to Stop Junk Food Marketing to Children

WilkingPhotoInterview with Cara Wilking, senior staff attorney, Public Health Advocacy Institute

For this installment of Ask a Food Lawyer, we profile Cara Wilking, senior staff attorney with the Public Health Advocacy Institute, at Northeastern University School of Law. Her research focuses on the role of state consumer protection laws laws to limit unfair and deceptive food marketing to children. She also provides legal technical assistance to public health officials working to reduce sweetened beverage consumption and to increase access to drinking water. She is an adjunct professor at Northeastern University School of Law where she teaches the Public Health Legal Clinic.

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Ask a Food Lawyer: Breaking Down Legal Barriers for Small-Scale Local Food

Interview with Janelle Orsi, executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center

Orsi_Janelle_photoThis time on Ask a Food Lawyer, instead of answering questions, I’m doing the asking. Numerous food lawyers across the country are working hard to improve the food system. From drafting legislation to challenging corporate misconduct to supporting sustainable alternatives, these smart lawyers are playing a critical role, yet receive little credit for the important work they do.

Janelle Orsi is an attorney in Oakland, California who practices “sharing law.” In addition to her law practice, she is executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide “education, research, advice, and advocacy for just and resilient economies.” She is also author of “Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy,” a guide for lawyers interested in navigating the emerging field of sharing law. I included her on my recent list of the top ten lawyers in the food movement for offering free advice sessions, or “legal cafes,” for small community-based food and other entrepreneurs through SELC. For more information about Janelle and SELC, visit theselc.org and follow them on Twitter @JanelleOrsi and @TheSELC.

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