Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Don’t Subsidize Childhood Obesity
Revoke tax breaks for junk food advertising

WASHINGTON - February 9 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement after First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new effort to combat childhood obesity:
“I support the First Lady’s ambitious efforts to combat childhood obesity. During childhood, we develop the eating habits and preferences that can drive our food choices for the rest of our lives. We need to ensure that families can make their own decisions about their diet, without the manipulative influence of the highly profitable and sometimes predatory junk food industry.

“Most Americans don’t know that the government now subsidizes the marketing of junk food and fast food to kids in order to cement their brand and taste allegiances early in life. That is why I introduced HR 4310, which would revoke the tax breaks that companies receive for advertising and marketing unhealthy food to children,” said Kucinich.

According to the Institute of Medicine, in 2004 approximately $10 billion was spent on food advertising directed at children. Plainly stated, marketing to children works. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it. A child’s developing brain is no match for a $10 billion industry that uses the best behavioral and developmental research to create emotional bonds to brands before the children’s ability to distinguish fact from opinion has developed.

“By continuing to use hard-earned taxpayer money to subsidize this marketing and advertising, we are undercutting our own efforts to curb the obesity epidemic. HR 4310 would end this practice, protect American children, and ensure that they grow up in a healthy environment. Moreover, in today’s budget-conscious environment, HR 4310 is a commonsense way to provide funding for the First Lady’s initiative,” added Kucinich.
CONTACT: Congressman Dennis Kucinich - Nathan White (202)225-5871

SORRY, HILL...GMO's NOT The Solution - Helen Clark, United Nations

When asked directly if she agreed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's science advisor, Dr. Nina Federoff, that without GE (genetic engineering) the world would suffer future food shortages, [the Chief Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark] said "I don't think GE is the solution to the food security problem."

Head of the UNDP gets it right on agriculture
Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety: Press Release, 17 February 2010

The Chief Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme said today that world food security depended upon getting "back to basics" with agriculture.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who now heads the UNDP, spoke on what she saw as the solution to future food security problems. Responding to questions today on Zealand's national radio show Nine to Noon, Ms. Clark said that "smarter farming and production has got to be part of the solution".

When asked directly if she agreed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's science advisor Dr. Nina Federoff that without GE (genetic engineering) the world would suffer future food shortages, she said "I don't think GE is the solution to the food security problem."

Instead, Clark argued for more funding for agriculture that emphasised solutions to the problems faced by poor farmers. Public funding for extension services and agricultural research that improves productivity and yield had to increase rather than relying upon genetically modified organisms.

Ms. Clark could have been reading straight from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the internationally peer-reviewed World Bank and UN report published last year after winning endorsement from 58 governments. This report represents the work of the largest research effort to date on the history and future of modern agriculture. Consistent with Clark’s statements, the IAASTD also endorsed a renewed emphasis on technologies that have proven track records for improving yield, reducing external inputs into agroecosystems, preventing the conversion of more land for agriculture and helping agriculture to improve the lives of poor and subsistence farmers.

Those kinds of technologies include conventional crop breeding, agroecological methods for increasing soil moisture retention and decreasing erosion, and intensification using more diverse cropping strategies and cover crops rather than fossil fuel-intensive fertilizers and damaging monocultures.

The giant agrochemical and biotechnology companies, along with Federoff, have been advocating reduced regulation and broader uptake of GE in order to feed the world. Clark noted, however, that using crops for biofuel was competing with crops for food. She concluded that "I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that modified crops were the answer."

For more on the IAASTD

Professor Jack A. Heinemann
Director INBI
Dr. Joanna Goven
Deputy Director


New USDA Rules Establish Strong Organic Standards for Pasture and Livestock
Family Farmers Call Rule a Victory for Integrity of Organic Food and Agriculture
Swift and Judicious Enforcement of Abuses Now Expected by Obama Administration
WASHINGTON - February 12, 2010 -
After over 10 years of lobbying, family farmers across the country, who produce organic milk, are celebrating the release of strict new USDA regulations that establish distinct benchmarks requiring the grazing and pasturing of dairy cows and other livestock. Many hope that the new rule will put an end to the abuses that have flooded the organic market with suspect milk from a handful of mega-dairies generally confining thousands of animals in feed lots and barns.

The biggest scandal in the history of the organic industry centered around one such USDA investigation with the regulators finding "willful" violations of 14 organic regulations on factory farms operated by Aurora Dairy, a $100+ million company based in Colorado (Aurora produces private-label, store brand milk for Wal-Mart, Costco and large grocery chains). "The public controversies concerning Aurora, and alleged improprieties by the largest milk processor in the country, Dean Foods (Horizon Organic), put increasing pressure on the USDA to rein-in the scofflaws in this industry," Kastel added.

Specifically, the new rules require that dairy cows and other ruminants be out on pasture for the entire growing season, but for not less than 120 days. It also requires that the animals receive at least 30% of their feed, or dry matter intake (DMI), from pasturing. In addition, organic livestock will be required to have access to the outdoors year-round with the exception of temporary confinement due to mitigating and documentable environmental or health considerations.
Full Text:
CONTACT: Cornucopia Institute
Mark Kastel, 608-625-2042


Food and Water Europe Welcomes U.S. Court Ruling for Compensation by GM Contaminators
Statement of Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
WASHINGTON - February 12, 2010 - “We welcome the ruling from a federal court in Arkansas requiring Bayer Crop Science to pay $1.5 million to two U.S. rice farmers as compensation for contamination. We are pleased to see the federal court step in to protect farmers and consumers when regulatory bodies fail.

“We hope this proves once and for all that genetically modified crops cannot ‘coexist’ with conventional crops. Bayer Crop Science has already been ordered to pay $2 million to two other farmers and three more test cases will be heard soon, including one from a rice exporter.

“This recent ruling is set against the backdrop of other U.S. court cases halting the cultivation of GM alfalfa and sugar beets because the regulators failed to adequately assess the impacts of the crops and because of potential irreversible environmental damage. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case about the safety of GM seed and the U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing an anti-trust investigation of Monsanto.”

Furthermore, U.S. rice exports to the EU are continuing to be affected by a contamination incident some three and a half years later, showing just how damaging GM crops can be. This is just more evidence that this technology is not economically or environmentally viable.”

For more information, visit

Eve Mitchell, Food and Water Europe, The Black Isle, Scotland +44 (0)1381 610 740

Gabriella Zanzanaini, Food and Water Europe, Brussels, +32488409662

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch - Europe
Erin Greenfield at (202) 683-2457 or


Indian Court Gives Boost to Access to Medicines as Latest Appeal by Bayer is Rejected

NEW DEHLI/GENEVA - February 9 - In a welcome move for access to medicines, the Delhi High Court has rejected the appeal filed by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer Corporation against an earlier court order which had rejected the implementation of a drug regulatory system which essentially linked registration of medicines to their patent status.

In August 2009, the Delhi High Court had rejected the petition filed by Bayer Corporation, seeking to stop the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) from granting marketing approval to a generic version of a cancer drug patented by Bayer.

“We are delighted with this decision – at the moment in India we are seeing a number of multinational pharmaceutical companies trying to use litigation to stifle generic competition,” said Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer of Médecins Sans Frontières’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “By rejecting Bayer’s attempts to introduce patent linkage, the Indian courts have ensured that public health safeguards like compulsory licensing can be used to open up generic production of life-saving medicines including antiretrovirals for millions in India and beyond. We hope this judicial precedent of safeguarding public health in patent disputes will continue, as matters such as these, and the forthcoming Novartis case go up to the Supreme Court.”

Anand Grover, counsel for Cancer Patients Aid Association added: “In India, we do not have a patent linkage system. The patent system and the drug regulatory system are two separate and independent mechanisms and this is Parliament’s intent. We hope that Bayer and other pharmaceutical companies respect this fact. A patent holder cannot use the DCGI, a government agency, to enforce its private rights. This was an attempt to introduce a TRIPS-plus requirement in India, which has been rejected.”
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF's work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.

CONTACT: Doctors Without Borders/MSF
Emily Linendoll Press Officer Direct: 212-763-5764 Mobile: 646-206-9387

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

USA Needs to Take A Page From India's Book

PURPLE PASSION: A government panel last year supported introduction of a genetically modified eggplant, but the government said it would consult experts and farmers before accepting the recommendations. (Photo: brew ha ha/Flickr)

NEW DELHI — India has postponed the launch of its first genetically modified (GM) vegetable, saying it would adopt a cautious approach and wait for more scientific studies on the impact of the new variety of eggplant.

"The moratorium will be in place until all tests are carried out to the satisfaction of everyone ... If that means no start of production, so be it," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters on Tuesday.

"They killed three birds with one shot. They have defused the public sentiment against them, number two is the political opposition was neutralized and three they prevailed over Sharad Pawar," said N. Bhaskara Rao of the Center for Media Studies.

Full Text:


from East Bay Pictures
Interview With Eric Holt-Giménez Part 2

Eric Holt-Giménez is executive director of Food First
, the institute for food & development policy.

In part 2 of their interview, filmed in August of 2008, Eric talks about modern agriculture, how it came about, and the injustice it has created.