Monsanto's Foxes, Pink Slime, and Mad Cow

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Monsanto's Foxes Guarding the Hen House

In 2009, President Obama appointed the infamous Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer-lobbyist, as Food Safety Czar in the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), and Tom Vilsack, Iowa's former Biotech Governor of the Year (an award from the industry organization representing Monsanto and the other genetic engineering companies), as Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture. What are some of the consequences of having Monsanto's foxes guarding our food safety hen house? The following alerts are a couple of examples of Taylor & Vilsack's worst crimes, followed by an action link to put pressure on President Obama to drop these guys before the 2012 election.

No Labels or Safety-Testing of Frankenfoods

May 26 will mark 20 years since the FDA decided, at the behest of the biotech industry and corporate agribusiness, and under the leadership of Michael Taylor, to keep Americans in the dark about whether our food has been genetically engineered or not. Thanks to Michael Taylor, genetically engineered foods don't have to be safety tested or labeled, and the Food & Drug Administration conducts no premarket review or approval, as long as Monsanto and their fellow chemical pushers (Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, BASF) conclude that the genetically engineered food is not "materially different" from normal food. Twenty years later, Michael Taylor's FDA has rubber-stamped Dow's conclusion that their Agent Orange Corn (genetically engineered to resistant massive doses of the herbicide 2,4-D used in Agent Orange) is comparable to normal corn. Tom Vilsack's USDA is ready to give Agent Orange Corn final approval. Soon, we'll be eating unlabeled corn engineered with genes from a soil bacterium that isn't killed by 2,4-D herbicide - something we've never eaten before, and that's never been safety tested. 2,4-D is currently the 7th largest source of dioxin pollution in the US and is toxic to the eye, thyroid, kidney, adrenals, ovaries/testes, and neurological system. Agent Orange Corn is projected to increase 2,4-D use 50 times over. Take Action by Tomorrow - April 27, 2012!

Pink Slime

The filler found in 70% of (non-organic) hamburger meat, dubbed "pink slime," a "high-risk product" and an "economic fraud" by USDA scientists, is a mixture of leftover dog-food-grade beef scraps and ammonia. Pink slime beef is regularly served up in U.S. school cafeterias and restaurants, and promoted as "lean finely textured beef" in U.S. supermarkets. Fatty beef trimmings, which are especially susceptible to E. coli and salmonella contamination, were thought to be made safer when doused with ammonia, but those pathogens have been found in "pink slime." Three quarters of Americans are concerned about pink slime and more than half have changed their eating habits as a result, but Taylor's FDA and Vilsack's USDA are doing everything they can to keep pink slime in the food supply unlabeled. Sign Food Democracy Now's Petition to Stop "Pink Slime"

Force-Feeding Hormones and Antibiotics to Animals: A Biological Time Bomb

As a Monsanto lawyer, Michael Taylor wrote a memo outlining the strategy Monsanto would use to sue farmers who wanted to advertise the fact that they didn't use Monsanto's genetically engineered growth hormone by labeling their milk as "rBGH-free." Later, as an FDA regulator, he pushed Monsanto's rBGH through an approval process he created and crafted a policy that requires hormone-free dairy farmers to put a disclaimer on their product noting that, according to the FDA, there's no difference between natural milk and milk produced with the use of rBGH. One of the many problems caused by the use of rBGH is that when cows are artificially forced to over-produce milk, their udders swell and become infected with mastitis, requiring farmers to employ a wide variety of antibiotics (many of which are rarely tested for in milk) in an attempt to control the infections. The General Accounting office warned the FDA in 1993 not to approve rBGH for this very reason - fearing increased antibiotic residues in rBGH-derived milk and dairy products. A far larger problem than antibiotic residues in milk however is the routine lacing of antibiotics (80% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to animals to make them grow faster, not to humans to make them recover from infections or disease) in animal feed on America's factory farms. This force-feeding of antibiotics in industrial agriculture (banned on organic farms and all farms in the EU), combined with doctors' over-prescribing antibiotics to their human patients, has turned into a major public health issue, with animal and human pathogens steadily developing resistance to antibiotics. Since 1993, when rBGH was approved, and more importantly when the feeding of antibiotics to animals on factory farms skyrocketed, the number of people dying from infections acquired
in hospitals in the United States jumped from 13,000 to 100,000 per year. Faced with this massive, but reversible, public health crisis, the FDA has done absolutely nothing. Take Action to Keep Antibiotics Working for People - Not Factory Farms!

Vilsack and Taylor Must Go!

When it's laid out, the case against Michael Taylor and Tom Vilsack is overwhelming. These minions of Monsanto should not be in charge of our food supply! Tell Obama to Dump Taylor and Vilsack! SignOn.org Petition

Support the Organic Revolution!

OCA and our lobbying ally, the Organic Consumers Fund, put our money where our mouth is. With the 2012 California Ballot Initiative, and GMO labeling legislation being debated in 18 other states, we have a real chance to hit Monsanto, corporate agribusiness, and the supermarket chains with the skull and crossbones they fear so much: mandatory labels on genetically engineered food, and a ban on the industry practice of marketing billions of dollars of GMO-tainted foods as "natural." At the same time we are continuing our struggle to strengthen organic standards and significantly expand the market for organic food and products, especially those produced locally and regionally; while warning consumers about the dangers of junk food, factory farms, antibiotics in animal feed, and chemical agriculture in general. Please Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible) Please Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in California and other states)

Mad Cow USA

The deadly prions that carry Mad Cow disease certainly aren't killed by ammonia or cooking, and there's scientific evidence that all cattle tissue can harbor Mad Cow Disease (BSE), not just the so-called "specified risk material" (brains, spinal column tissue, etc.) banned from the human food supply. This week, the USDA admitted that they had detected a case of Mad Cow Disease in the US for the first time since 2006. We suspect there are many other USA Mad Cows confined in feedlots and factory scale dairies. It is important to remember that there has never been a single case of Mad Cow Disease in an animal raised its entire life on an organic farm or ranch. Why? Because organic standards prohibit the routine Big Ag practice of feeding blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to cattle and other animals. OCA agrees with the statement made by Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union on April 24: "Consumers Union is seriously concerned by the announcement today of a new case of mad cow disease in a cow from Central California. This raises three important questions about the safety of US beef." "First, the USDA testing program for mad cow disease is way too small..." "Second, detection of BSE is needlessly hindered by the fact that USDA prohibits private companies from testing their own beef..." "Third, the ruminant to ruminant feed ban in the US to prevent spread of mad cow disease is inadequate..." Read More Take Action For an Extensive Look at Mad Cow and its History, Visit Our Campaign Page

Little Bytes: Top Stories of the Week

Changing the Climate in Our Schools

GMO Label Movement Faces Hurdles in Vermont

'Pink Slime' Outrage Goes Viral in Stunning Display of Social Media's Power

Greenwashing Walmart

Why Obama Must Drop Michael Taylor

Vermont: Scores Testify in Favor of GE Food Labeling Bill

Message From Our Sponsors

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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