Newsletter - People Act Where US Fails On Climate

Protesters march during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017 in Washington D.C. Thousands of protesters and members of Native nations marched in Washington D.C. to oppose the construction of the proposed 1,172 Dakota Access Pipeline that runs within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. 
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The climate crisis is upon us. It seems that every report on climate conditions has one thing in common: things are worse than predicted. The World Meteorological Report from the end of October shows that Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are rising at a rapid rate and have passed 400 parts per million. According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “the changes we’re making today are occurring in 100 years, whereas in nature they occur in 10,000 years.” The United States is experiencing a wide range of climate impacts from major hurricanes in the South to unprecedented numbers of wildfires in the West to crop-destroying drought in the Mid-West.

Organic Farm Co-op To Be World’s Largest Food Producer Using 100% Renewable Energy

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By Staff of Co-operative News – Organic Valley is creating a solar partnership that is set to increase overall usage in Wisconsin by 15%, and will incorporate insect-friendly habitat. Organic Valley, America’s largest co-operative of organic farmers, is set to become one of the largest food companies in the world to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The co-op is collaborating with the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (UMMEG) and OneEnergy Renewables to create the solar community partnership. Together, the partners will initiate over 12 megawatts (MW) of solar installations in Wisconsin. The electricity created by this partnership will not only enable Organic Valley to cover 100% of its electric energy needs from renewable sources by 2019 but also increase overall solar energy use in Wisconsin by 15%. Beyond the 12 MW project portfolio, an additional 17-plus MW expected to be constructed as well, resulting in nearly 30 MW of new solar in the region. Organic Valley will purchase renewable energy credits from the solar projects near their headquarters and distribution centre enabling the co-operative to be fully renewable-powered. It is hoped the partnership will deliver lower and more stable electric costs for all participants, alongside the environmental benefits of renewable power. Additionally, the solar community partnership will adopt pollinator-friendly solar standards, which Organic Valley says reflects its commitment to “animals, people and the planet”.

Meat Industry, Tyson Foods Linked To Largest Toxic Dead Zone In US History

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By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change – The meat industry, more specifically corporate giants such as Tyson foods, has been directly linked to the environmental catastrophe know as the toxic dead zone. Corporations that are a part of the meat industry use industrial-scale agriculture to raise their animals, which is the number one source of water pollution in the country. Even though there are better solutions available to minimize the impacts on the environment, corporations continue to use resource-intensive and ecologically destructive practices. This pollution has lead to toxic “dead zones”, which are areas where there is no longer enough oxygen for fish to survive. The largest dead zone in the United States is in the Gulf of Mexico. America currently houses five times as many livestock animals as humans. More than a third of America’s agricultural land is dedicated for the production of corn and soy, key ingredients in animal feed products. American humans only consume 10 percent of that which is produced. A new campaign launched by Mighty Earth is aiming to expose Tyson’s role in the process of livestock feed production that causes major pollution – and hold them accountable for it.

‘Appetite For Destruction’: How Feeding Livestock Strains The Planet

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By Dharna Noor for The Real News Network – DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Dharna Noor joining you from Baltimore. There’s a growing awareness that meat production puts a strain on water, land use and habitats, and that it increases greenhouse gas emissions, which drives climate change. But few know the largest environmental impact actually comes from what the animals are being fed. To discuss a recent study on this topic, it’s from the UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund, and it’s titled Appetite for Destruction. We’re joined by Duncan Williamson. He’s the food policy manager for WWF UK. Thanks for joining us today, Duncan. D. WILLIAMSON: Well, thank you very much for having me. DHARNA NOOR: So, your recent report says that producing crops to feed livestock is putting an enormous strain on our natural resources, and it’s a driving force behind wide scale biodiversity loss. How does livestock feed actually have that kind of impact? D. WILLIAMSON: It’s two things. It’s the numbers of animals that we’re producing globally, and where we are growing the crops to feed them, so for example, we know there’s 23 billion poultry animals on the world at the moment. That’s enough for three animals each basically, and most of these animals are grown in intensive systems, so they don’t have access to the outside, so they have to be fed on something, and their feed tends to be maize and soy.

The Public Good: Reports From The Front Lines

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By David Morris for ILSR – In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, a law championed by first lady Michelle Obama. Among other provisions, the law offers universal federally subsidized lunch and breakfasts for schools with a significant proportion of low-income students. Eligible schools must have at least 40 percent of the student body automatically qualify for free lunch because they’re homeless, or in foster care, enrolled in Head Start, or live in households which receive food stamps. About 21.5 million students in the U.S. receive free or reduced-price school lunch on any given school day. About 12.1 million receive free or reduced-price school breakfasts. The new program was created to overcome a significant shortcoming in the existing means-tested program. Many students don’t take advantage of the program because of the social stigma attached. In New York City, for example, 75 percent of public school students are eligible for free or reduced prices but one in three skips lunch. In 2016, Brooklyn high school senior Aminata Abdouramane explained why in Chalkbeat, “The free and reduced-price lunch program creates a social class system that is reinforced daily by the school lunch line. Some students get lunch for free, some get it for a reduced price, and some pay the whole cost. Imagine you’re on the lunch line and another student sees you getting free lunch and takes advantage of this.

Radically Changing How We Face Food Insecurity And Climate Change

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By Josianne Gauthi the Secretary General CIDSE – What we need is a profound and radical transformation, or dare we say, conversion of the world food system. Around the world, people are migrating within and across borders, and for many of them, hunger and food insecurity are driving them. We know that climate change, conflict, and political instability are adversely affecting food security, but if communities are still facing hunger today it is because of the flawed and damaging way in which we produce and distribute food around the world. Indeed, at the heart of the problem, and perhaps the solution, is our very relationship to food and the land it grows on. Food insecurity is largely driven by a food system that is highly controlled by agribusiness, believed to be the only model capable of producing large volumes of food – and waste. But more food is not the same as less hunger! The figures are clear: in 2016 the number of undernourished people in the world came to an estimated 815 million—from 777 million people in 2015. In addition, 75% of the world’s poor rely on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods yet, despite this, they are also the most food insecure, leading many to migrate to urban areas or other countries in search for better living conditions with great uncertainty for their own and their children’s futures. Hunger is not diminishing, it is increasing. We must be tackling its root causes, not increasing production.

NAFTA Renegotiation: What's At Stake For Food, Farmers And The Land?

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By Staff of IATP – The re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada begins on August 16, and there is much at stake for farmers and rural communities in all three countries. Despite promised gains for farmers, NAFTA’s benefits over the last 23 years have gone primarily to multinational agribusiness firms. NAFTA is about much more than trade. It set rules on investment, farm exports, food safety, access to seeds, and markets. NAFTA, combined with the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the 1996 Farm Bill, led the charge to greater consolidation among agribusiness firms, the loss of many small and mid-sized farms and independent ranchers, the rapid growth of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and further corporate control of animal production through often unfair, restrictive contracts with producers. The Trump administration’s negotiating objectives reflect relatively small tweaks to NAFTA, while adopting deregulatory elements of the defeated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Family farm groups have called for the existing NAFTA to be scrapped and propose a fundamentally new agreement with a goal of improving the lives of family farmers and rural communities in all three countries.

Community Market Stand Small Part Of Patching Big Hole With 23rd And Jackson Red Apple Closure

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By Staff for Capitol Hill Seattle Blog – When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure. “They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.” Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after. Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization.

Great Hunger: The Famine Violence Famine Cycle

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By Kathy Kelly for VCNV – Earlier this year, the Sisters of St. Brigid invited me to speak at their Feile Bride celebration in Kildare, Ireland. The theme of the gathering was: “Allow the Voice of the Suffering to Speak.” The Sisters have embraced numerous projects to protect the environment, welcome refugees and nonviolently resist wars. I felt grateful to reconnect with people who so vigorously opposed any Irish support for U.S. military wars in Iraq. They had also campaigned to end the economic sanctions against Iraq, knowing that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children suffered and died for lack of food, medicine and clean water. This year, the Sisters asked me to first meet with local teenagers who would commemorate another time of starvation imposed by an imperial power. Joe Murray, who heads Action from Ireland (Afri), arranged for a class from Dublin’s Beneavin De La Salle College to join an Irish historian in a field adjacent to the Dunshaughlin work house on the outskirts of Dublin. Such workhouses dot the landscape of Ireland and England. In the mid-19th century, during the famine years, they were dreaded places. People who went there knew they were near the brink of death due to hunger, disease, and dire poverty. Ominously, behind the workhouse lay the graveyard. The young men couldn’t help poking a bit of fun, at first…

Food Companies Fail to Protect Environmental Activists in Supply Chains

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo to pave way for palm oil plantation. Photo by David Gilbert/RAN

By Benjamin Dangl for Toward Freedom. Industrial farming of food ingredients such as soy and palm oil, for example, have led to massive deforestation and displacement of rural communities in Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere throughout the globe. Activists standing up against such industries in defense of forests, rivers, land, and the livelihoods of local communities have been threatened and murdered at an increased rate in recent years. Four environmental activists were murdered each week in 2016 for defending their communities and environment from the impacts of agribusiness, mining, and logging industries, according to a report from the human rights organization Global Witness. In Colombia, activists standing up against the impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine, have faced regular threats and violence. Jakeline Romero has organized against the water shortages and displacement caused by this mine, which is owned by Glencore, BHP Billiton, and Anglo-American. “They threaten you so you will shut up,” Romero told Global Witness. “I can’t shut up. I can’t stay silent faced with all that is happening to my people. We are fighting for our lands, for our water, for our lives.”

Arkansas Farmers Join Cooperatives to Make Small Farming Possible

Cows on a farm. Photograph courtesy of Bryan Clifton.

By Staff for the Food Tank. In addition to providing fresh produce and meat for families in Arkansas, New South Produce Cooperative and Grassroots Farmer’s Cooperative supply financial and agricultural support for their member farms. Based in Little Rock and Clinton, respectively, these farmer-owned and operated co-ops connect members to distribution networks, provide technical assistance, and help small farmers raise capital as a collective. New South Produce Cooperative and Grassroots Farmer’s Cooperative are providing small farmers with the tools they need to keep their small farms up and running. The farmers in these cooperatives have been able to expand their businesses and reach a wider network of consumers thanks to the cooperative business model.

Activists Dump Ben And Jerry’s Ice Cream

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By Organic Consumers Association. FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) held protests today against Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, in seven US cities, and Mexico City. US cities are: Austin, Texas; Burlington, Vt., Chicago; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; and Washington, D.C. “Ben & Jerry’s charges a premium for its ice cream based on claims that its products are “natural” and “GMO-Free,” and that the company is committed to a program of “social responsibility,” which includes concern about environmental issues, global warming, fair labor practices, animal welfare, and economic success for all its partners, including dairy farmers,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. “Serving up ice cream made with milk from cows raised on GMO animal feed and contaminated with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller violates all these promises.

Five Indigenous Farming Practices Enhancing Food Security

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By Staff for FoodTank – On the 2017 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Declaration, formally adopted in 2007, is an international human rights instrument that sets a standard for the protection of indigenous rights. UNDRIP addresses the most significant issues affecting indigenous peoples regarding their civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights. It recognizes a range of fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples including their right to self-determination, spirituality, language, lands, territories, resources, and free, prior, and informed consent. Over the centuries, indigenous peoples have provided a series of ecological and cultural services to humankind. The preservation of traditional forms of farming knowledge and practices help maintain biodiversity, enhance food security, and protect the world’s natural resources. There are approximately 370 million indigenous peoples in the world occupying or using up to 22 percent of the global land area, which is home to 80 percent of the world’s biological diversity.

Monsanto Papers And Weedkiller In Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream—What's The Connection?

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By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association – Not long after the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) announced that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, another story broke—one that validates the importance of finding glyphosate, even at low doses, in any food. According to internal Monsanto documents (and as reported by GM Watch, Sustainable Pulse and other news outlets), Monsanto forced the retraction of a critical long-term study, first published in 2012, showing that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—lower than those detected in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—caused serious liver and kidney damage in rats. (We also tested four organic brands—Alden’s, Julies, Three Twins and Whole Foods 365 Organic. All tested clean, except the 365 store brand, which had a trace of AMPA, a glyphosate metabolite). Shortly before the study was retracted, the editor of the journal that originally published the study, began working for Monsanto, under a consulting contract. (The study, led by G.E. Séralini, was republished in 2014, by the Environmental Sciences Europe).

Dirty Dairy: Why Consumers Need To Force Ben And Jerry's To Go Organic

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By Ronnie Cummins for Organic Consumers Association – The Vermont brand has been built on a bucolic image of cows grazing on endless pastures . . . Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other Vermont companies have used this idyllic imagery to sell their products. Gone are the days, however, when most of Vermont’s cows were grazing in spectacularly scenic landscapes. Now a majority of Vermont’s cows are locked up in . . . ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs . . . grazing on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides. – “Vermont’s GMO Addiction: Pesticides, Polluted Water and Climate Destruction,” Regeneration Vermont The most important thing we can do today as conscious consumers, farmers and food workers is to regenerate public health, the environment and climate stability. We can do this most readily by moving away from industrial, GMO and factory-farm food toward an organic, pasture-based, soil-regenerative, humane, carbon-sequestering and climate-friendly agriculture system. What’s standing in the way of this life-or-death transformation? Rampant greenwashing. The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised “natural” and “socially responsible” food products in the U.S. confuses even the most well-intentioned of consumers and lures them away from purchasing genuine organic or grass-fed products.