The metaphors of war have long been a part of public health.
We fight illness. Sometimes we beat disease and sometimes we lose the battle. We shore up and mobilize our immune defences.
For most of this year we have been in lock-down to protect ourselves from an invisible enemy and now we are looking for a magic-bullet, in the form of a vaccine, to save us.
The way we talk about health influences the choices that we make, both as individuals and in terms of public healthcare.
As long as we are at war with nature, and at war with our bodies we will frame our healthcare choices in terms of a war.
That choice means we never have to delve too deeply into the origins of illness. We don’t have to acknowledge the complexity of the socioeconomic factors that influence who is most vulnerable―and we can easily be controlled by the politics of fear.
As this week’s two-part essay reveals, it’s long past time for the public health dialogue to move beyond its out-dated words of war.
Let’s measure health in its broader context, according to the quality of our lives, the quality of our food and our environment and not according to narrow metrics of vaccine uptake.
READ ‘Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 1’
READ ‘Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 2’
It's tough enough when independent farmers who raise organic regenerative poultry have to compete in a marketplace dominated by corporate-owned factory farm "Big Brands."
It's even tougher when those Big Brands make false claims about their products.
This week, OCA joined five other nonprofits in filing a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against Cargill for falsely implying that its Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey products are produced by "independent family farmers." Because, well, they aren't.
Not only that, but Cargill makes a host of other false claims about its Honeysuckle and Shady Brook brands, all intended to imply that the brands have far-reaching benefits for workers, animals and the environment.
In fact, far from the bucolic family farms portrayed by Cargill’s marketing, Cargill’s actual production methods exploit contract farmers and slaughterhouse workers, systematically abuse animals and cause grave harms to the environment.
Read our press release
Read the full FTC complaint
Read 'This Major Company Is Under Fire for Allegedly Mislabeling Turkeys'
Read 'MN-based Cargill Faces Federal Complaint Over Turkey Labels'
Find regenerative poultry products near you
We need our leaders to lead.
As President-elect Biden considers his new cabinet we must encourage him to choose those who understand the multiple and intersecting crises we face, especially around climate change.
The Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats have proposed a slate of potential cabinet picks that includes the top advocates for regenerative organic food and farming, including organic farmer and Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for Agriculture Secretary.
But fears are already mounting that Biden will feel pressured to avoid confrontation―and a potential veto―and choose those whom Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell approves of.
Biden has options: there are alternative political and legal strategies open to him that will allow him to fill out the executive branch without allowing McConnell to become a de facto co-president.
Let’s put some alternative pressure on and ensure he appoints a cabinet of people who 1) don’t have ties to agribusiness, fossil fuel companies or corporate lobbyists; 2) represent the diversity of America; and 3) are ready to act with the urgency that the climate, economic, health and farm crises demand.
Take Action: Join the #BidenBeBold Campaign: Tell the President-Elect to Appoint a Climate Justice Cabinet!
“Like a pandemic, climate change is an inevitable threat that we must address before it is too late...we need to support a recovery for farmers that puts the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss at its core.”
These are not the rousing words of Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Al Gore, but a message from global Ag-Tech giant Syngenta.
This kind of messaging can also be found in similar “green” campaigns from the other “big five” global pesticides producers Bayer, BASF, Corteva and FMC.
It’s not so much a road to Damascus moment for Big Ag as it is a cynical co-option of the language of transformation.
Companies that produce pesticides and GM crops, that patent seeds, that encourage large monocultures and markets that drive small farmers out of business are increasingly using greenwash words to sell their wares.
But make no mistake. Nothing will ever make these companies, whose products have directly led to biodiversity loss and accelerating climate change, meaningful participants in a better, cleaner, safer world.
It’s time to call these green fakers out.
Read ‘Investigation: How Pesticide Companies Are Marketing Themselves as a Solution To Climate Change’
The idea that the world might soon be unable to feed its human population is an old and powerful narrative that has recently been extensively exploited by agribusiness.
But it’s an idea that actually rests on some pretty shaky foundations, mostly based on flawed mathematical models that support a business-as-usual model of farming and food production.
According to a new analysis by Dr. Jonathan Latham these models either underestimate global food supply (now and in the future), or they cause the models to overestimate global food demand (now and in the future).
Dr. Latham argues that rather than a food shortage we have a global glut. As such there is no real justification for extreme measures to improve yields, or to turn to GMOs or pesticides in order to feed the global population.
If we want to feed the world well, agricultural practices and policies should be driven by criteria such as ecological sustainability and cultural appropriateness―not trumped-up concerns about yield.
READ: ‘The Myth of a Food Crisis’
How do we create abundance?
Science and Big Business say we should only look forward―to more complex technology and innovation. But centuries ago, Native Americans already knew one of the secrets.
Long before Europeans reached North America and the first settlers sat down to the first Thanksgiving meal, many Native Americans cultivated staples corn, squash and beans together in one plot. They called these plants “sisters” to reflect how they thrived when they were grown together.
Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and created fruitful trade economies.
If the European settlers learned anything from this example, the lesson didn’t stick with them for very long. Today we rely on monoculture farming that damages our land, our climate and, ultimately, our bodies.
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals this year it’s worth asking ourselves: why did these superior Native farming practices decline and what benefits could emerge from bringing them back?
READ ‘Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures’
The holidays (we hope) will bring a welcome pause for many of you in what has been an exhausting whirlwind of a year.
Like many of you we are looking forward to family, food and simple comforts. But we can’t stop for long because there is still so much to do.
This week, in particular, we have seen a flood of stories demonstrating how language can be used to fool us. How words of war can panic us into foolish actions, with far-reaching consequences. How words of transformation are being co-opted to fool consumers, to twist the scientific and regulatory agenda and to further the domination of larger corporations and a degenerative industrial food and farming system.
For us words like “sustainable” and “regeneration” have meaning. We are ready and willing to stand up for those words, to file the lawsuits, to advocate for the policies, to make a noise so that the real power and meaning behind these words does not get lost.
We are thankful for your support in this mission and we hope we can continue to count on it.
Make a tax-deductible donation to Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
Support Citizens Regeneration Lobby, OCA’s 501(c)(4) lobbying arm (not tax-deductible)
Donate $100 or more and we’ll send you a copy of Ronnie’s new book
Click here for more ways to support our work
Prospective Association Between Organic Food Consumption and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Findings From the Nutrinet-Santé Cohort Study
Researchers Warn that Some COVID-19 Vaccines Could Increase RISK of HIV Infection
Asymptomatic 'Casedemic' Is a Perpetuation of Needless Fear
Gates Ag One: The Recolonisation of Agriculture
Lawsuit: Tyson Managers Bet Money on How Many Workers Would Contract COVID-19
'The Real Looting in America Is the Walton Family': GAO Report Details How Taxpayers Subsidize Cruel Low Wages of Corporate Giants
WHO Says ‘No’ To Remdesivir To Treat COVID-19