Category Archives: Lawsuits

A Busy Summer for Sustainable Food and Health

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This past summer there have been some important decisions going on in the legal world having to do with public health, organic labeling, and factory farming that I want to share with you. Here are some highlights.

 

In New York, an appeals court affirmed and overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s Soda Ban.

  •  What’s Next? The mayor has indicated that he will bring the case to the court of appeals, but for now, it has been put down. But he should act before the upcoming Mayoral elections, since we don’t know how our future Mayor will view this issue

 

The USDA has issued final interim rules restricting junk food in schools.

  •  What’s Next? Since the rule is “interim,” the USDA has 120 days to make any changes, and you can count on various lobbying groups to do their best to change this piece of legislation as much as possible.  

 

A California judge postponed proceedings in response to a proposed class action against Gruma Corp for advertising GMO tortilla chips as “all natural,” so that the FDA can answer the age-old question of whether non-organic food can be classified as natural.

  •  What’s Next? The FDA’s compliance has many implications; if its guidance surrounding trans fat proves informative, then its decision might not be enough.

 

Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (CALM) struck a deal to pay $28 million to settle antitrust claims when Sodexo Inc. filed suit against them (and a number of other egg companies) alleging that they conspired to produce fewer eggs—by killing off more hens—in order to fix prices.

  •  What’s Next? These companies were able to use this scheme to create  a more “humane” facility for the remaining animals. Just goes to show that there is more to “humane” and “cage-free” than meets the eye.

 

Jarrod Barney Juarez was convicted of one count of animal cruelty following a trial this week for abusing a piglet at a factory farm that was supplying pigs to Tyson Foods. Juarez was sentenced to a fine, court costs, a suspended 30 day jail sentence, and six months of probation.

  •  What’s Next? Juarez’s guilty plea is one of many that comes from a series of undercover investigations undergone by the Humane Society. Hopefully, more of these individuals’ crimes will come to light.

 

That’s all for now. Make sure to follow future posts to stay informed!

 

What You Need to Know About the “Monsanto Protection Act”

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The “Monsanto Protection Act” is what many food activists have coined Section 735 of the Farmer’s Assurance Provision, and has many organic advocates and organizations up in arms. And for good reason. This bill completely contradicts President Obama’s campaign promise to label genetically modified organisms, and gives Monsanto and the USDA power to entirely ignore judicial oversight.

 

What it Changes

 

Prior to the passage of this provision, the USDA’s testing of new GMO crops was subject to judicial oversight. The law previously required the USDA to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) before allowing for the sale and planting of GMO crops. These environmental impact statements were subject to judicial review. For example, in 2010, the Center for Food Safety initiated a lawsuit against the USDA, requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent Monsanto from planting GMO sugar beets since the USDA failed to file a proper EIS. The court ruled for the plaintiff, reversing USDA approval of GMO sugar beets.

 

The new provision, however, undermines this process, and would have allowed for the USDA to ignore the court’s ruling on GMO sugar beats. In relevant part, the Act states:

 

“In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements. . . “

 

Basically, this throws the whole process of judicial review straight down the garbage can. Instead of providing a check for the USDA’s determination, the USDA can ignore the court system and makes its own determinations on GMO crops. And although the provision would only last for 6 months, there’s no telling what legal precedent it could set.

 

Who’s Behind It

The provision was supposedly written by Senator Roy Blunt, in conjunction with Monsanto, a publicly trade agricultural corporation who leads in the production of genetically engineered crops. Talk about conflict of interest! The Center for Food Safety also reported that several democrats were completely unaware of the provision’s inclusion, as it was slipped into the bill last minute.

 

 What you Can Do  

Despite adamant public protest, Obama signed the bill, allowing the law to take effect. Despite Obama’s poor history on US food policy, I’ve always had faith that his policies would improve this term, despite the fact that he appointed Tom Vilsack, former Monsanto lawyer, as the secretary of agriculture. After all, he had healthcare and re-election to worry about first term, and he could only spread his political clout so thin. And while he still has very important civil rights issues on his plate at the moment, this is his last chance to make the more radical policies he promised—to make steps towards labeling GMOs– not to allow more of them to go unchecked. As supporters, we must demonstrate that we are no longer OK with food policy taking a back seat, and that we want him to pursue the policy of labeling GMO’s, as he said he would in 2007.

For more information, check out these links:

Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act

Congress Teams Up with Monsanto to Shred the Constitution

‘Monsanto Protection Act': 5 Terrifying Things To Know About The HR 933 Provision

Sign this petition 

 

What’s Wrong With Naked Juice?

 

 

I know in a lot of these posts I’ve been giving information about the health benefits of juices and smoothies. However, juices like Naked Juice do not count. Drinking these beverages does not give you the same benefits as does drinking homemade juices and smoothies, and probably causes more harm than good. Here are some reasons to stay away.

 Pasteurization

Homemade smoothies and juices are good for your body primarily because they give it all the living enzymes that help digestion and detoxification. Juices like Naked and Odwalla are heated above 110%, killing all of the good enzymes and many of the nutrients that the juices would have without them. What you’re left with is a sugary drink depleted of all its helpful nutrients. No thank you!

Sugar Rush

Look at the back of the label….28 grams of sugar. And that’s only in one serving—meaning half of a bottle! That means one bottle of naked juice goes over what your daily value of sugar should be. Not to mention that this sugar—unlike the sugar that comes from natural, whole fruits—does not have any real fiber. As a result, all of the sugar goes straight to your blood stream, spiking insulin levels and leaving you with a sugar crash and with extra hunger an hour later.

All Natural=Not So Natural

Naked juice prides itself on being “all natural.” In fact, it even boasts “natural flavors” on its ingredients list. However what most people do not know is that “natural flavors” usually means “not so natural.” Large flavoring companies extract flavors from natural sources and bring them back to large laboratories in order to mimic the flavor using chemicals. Such “natural flavors” have addictive properties that are purposefully put into several food and drink products in order to keep us wanting more. To see more on this, check out this 60 Minutes special on how Giavaudan, a large flavoring company, goes through this process.

You May Not Be Drinking What You Think

There is current research that indicates that despite Naked’s claims that the drink has no additives, thereare genetically modified organisms in the drink. These include synthetic fibers, soy lecithin, and several other ingredients that the company deceptively hides on its packaging. To learn more about this, check out this class action that has been filed against them.

These juices may seem great on their surface—“all natural,” “no added sugars,” “equivalent to a full serving of fruits and vegetables”—but looks are deceiving. That’s why it’s so important to take an active role in choosing what goes into your body. With all of the food and drink companies that try to trick us with deceptive labeling, its up to you and only you to take control of your health. So pass by that bottle of not-so-Naked juice and opt for water with lemon, whole fruit, or freshly pressed juice from a health food store instead!