In his epic book of poetry Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman advises “Resist Much. Obey Little.” But when it comes to corporations trampling on local rights, the city of Madison, Wis., advises other cities and counties to do what it has done: Resist much. Obey not.
In October, the Madison City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring the city a “TPP-Free Zone,” and promising that if Congress passes the Trans Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement, “We will not obey” it.
The TPP is the largest global trade pact to be negotiated since the World Trade Organization (WTO). Most of the details of the deal remain a mystery, because negotiations are being conducted in secret. But we know, from some of the drafts that have been leaked, that the TPP would hand transnational corporations the power to “protect their future profit potential” by suing countries, states, counties or cities in order to wipe out existing laws—laws specifically designed to protect communities’ best interests.
Those interests could include everything from internet freedom and banking and finance regulation, to the passing of bans on growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“Call it a sovereignty issue, or local control, or threat of lowering local standards with regard to government procurement (elimination of any “buy local” ordinances), food safety ordinances, living wage ordinances, environmental requirements, prevailing wage requirements on construction, etc.—[Madison City Council members] saw all these as threats to their authority and the job they had been elected to do." – David Newby, Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition.
Will more cities and counties follow Madison’s lead?
More than 36 years ago the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged there was a problem with the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. In March 2012, a lawsuit forced the FDA’s hand. Last week (December 11, 2013), the FDA finally announced a plan to curb the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to treat and fatten up livestock on factory farms.
But the mostly voluntary, loophole-riddled “plan” falls far short of what scientists say is needed to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now pose a real and widespread danger to public health.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y. 25th District), the only microbiologist in Congress and author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), had this to say about the FDA’s long-awaited plan: “The FDA’s voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”
With at least 2 million people infected every year in the U.S. with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resulting in 23,000 deaths, you’d think the FDA could come up with something better than a plan that relies on the good will of corporate agribusiness and Big Pharma to protect us. Then again, the fact that lobbyists from just a few groups spent over $17 million—just since the first of this year—to quash efforts to limit the use of antibiotics on factory farms might explain the FDA’s thinking.
Could Coca-Cola be working any harder to earn your vote for a spot in the Corporate Hall of Shame?
Coke pretends to care about the obesity epidemic. But denies that its products are one of the biggest contributors. Now the company has come up with a secret campaign to get restaurants to foist more soda on customers who might have been content to order the healthier alternative—tap water.
Coke calls its covert gambit "Cap the Tap," urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: "Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain." Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, "by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages."
Coke poured $1.455 million into the campaign that ultimately defeated, by 51 percent - 49 percent, the Washington State ballot initiative to label GMOs. The junk food giant hoped you wouldn’t find out about that, which is why it tried—and failed—to secretly funnel the money through the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of trying to dupe consumers into believing that not only is aspartame, a key ingredient in Diet Coke, safe, but it’s actually good for you. Coke is taking out full-page ads to promote its lies.
It’s not too late. Please help us vote Coca-Cola into the Corporate Hall of Shame.
When mainstream media starts paying attention, you know you’re having an impact.
An article this week by the Associated Press confirms that your willingness to boycott products and sign petitions, your conscious—and conscientious—buying decisions, are forcing Big Food to make, at the very least, small changes. According to the report, Americans are not only paying closer attention to what they eat, they’re making such a stink about “mysterious, unpronounceable” ingredients that some manufacturers are reformulating top-selling products.
OK, so we’re still a long way from the finish line. But as Wall Street food analyst, Ali Dibadj, points out in the article:
"It used to be that people would just decide not to buy the product. Now they're actually agitating for change. There's a bullhorn—which is the Internet—so you can get a lot of people involved very quickly."
You are the “people” Dibadj is talking about. Your involvement, your passion, your energy and your work are moving the ball forward.
When Joan Johnson founded Sunspot Natural Market in Kikomo, Ind., 36 years ago, GMOs and social media weren’t part of anyone’s vocabulary.
Today, Joan and her team have mastered the art of using Sunspot’s facebook page as a social media bully pulpit for the anti-GMO movement. Posts like “Remember our battle cry: Just say “NO!” to GMO!” remind consumers that they have a choice.
Facebook updates on GMO labeling initiatives, the Monsanto Protection Act and Marches against Monsanto, interspersed with articles and videos, remind folks of Joan’s tenaciousness when it comes to educating her customers—and suppliers.
Joan’s anti-GMO campaign—which earned Sunspot a place on the Organic Consumers Association’s Top 12 Right to Know Grocers list—was born five years ago. Soon after, the store’s suppliers learned that the words “battle cry” were no exaggeration when it comes to Joan’s determination to rid her stores’ shelves of products containing GMOs.
Sunspot buyers read labels, check incoming deliveries and contact manufacturers when they suspect a product may contain GMOs. When they attend trade shows, they grill manufacturers about the GMO ingredients in their products, and drop those that aren’t able to come clean. They even pressure local livestock producers to discontinue using GMO feed.
Joan tells us that her choice to name her store "Sunspot" is no accident. “Sunspot hopefully lives up to its name: A sunny, hopeful, happy place or, more scientifically, a storm on the sun that mixes things up a little!”
Want More Vitamins, Healthy Omega-3s and Antioxidants? Go Organic!
The health risks posed by meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on factory farms are well known. But now there’s growing evidence that organic alternatives not only eliminate those health risks, but actually provide significantly more nutritional value.
Organic farming prohibits the use of most of the above, including the routine administering of antibiotics and growth hormones. That fact alone leads to higher-quality animal products. But the latest science also tells us that products that come from animals raised organically provide higher levels of antioxidants, lower levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, and higher levels of healthy omega-3s and many vitamins. A new study this month says that organic milk contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk.
Here are some interesting comparisons between meat, milk and eggs from animals raised on factory farms, vs. their grassfed, free-range and organic alternatives.
“I got breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the yard,
So that recession ain’t hittin’ me as hard.
My stock grows exponentially.
What, the Wall St. Journal never mentioned me?”
Keith "Fathom" Cross, who describes as “100 percent soul vocalist, full-blooded emcee, aspiring urban farmer, scholar and brother to all that exists” raps about saving seeds, growing his own food and not worrying about the Dow Jones crashin."
Research shows that Vitamin D is critical for your health. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t get enough. Want to know for sure? During the month of February, Mercola.com is offering a Vitamin D testing kit for $65. The Vitamin D home test kit is an easy-to-use prick test. You return it by regular mail, and your results are mailed back to you.
All proceeds from sales of the test kit will go to the GrassrootsHealth D Action Study. The D*Action project has been initiated by GrassrootsHealth, a public health promotion organization, along with 42 leading vitamin D researchers. The project aims to demonstrate how health can be achieved right now with what’s known about vitamin D, through a combination of vitamin D measurement and health outcome tracking.