The monthly recap below appeared in FIC's August e-Newsletter. If you would like to receive monthly updates and other urgent alerts via email, please sign up here.
A follow-up New York Times article to the recent exposure of FDA's surveillance of agency whistleblowers focused on the "disruptive" personality traits of one of the whistleblowers. Many other negative adjectives (like "annoying," "confrontational," and "disgruntled") were used to describe him – an unfortunately common practice used to discredit individuals who've unveiled public health threats or other wrongdoing.
GAP's Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) has worked with many whistleblowers who have experienced attacks against their character as a means to undermine their credibility. Some dub these truth-tellers as troublemakers, but FIC calls them public health heroes. Without "disruptive" whistleblowers, the public may have never become aware of pink slime, a slaughterhouse owner charged with animal abuse might still be in business, and a study exposing mercury in products with high fructose corn syrup may never have been published.
New USDA Ombudsman for Humane Handling Whistleblowers
The USDA finally appointed an ombudsman to give agency whistleblowers a safe outlet to report humane handling violations – a move recommended by the late Dr. Dean Wyatt, a GAP client and USDA veterinarian. After suffering retaliation for blowing the whistle on animal abuse at two slaughterhouses, Dr. Wyatt explained to a 2010 congressional subcommittee how an independent ombudsman could create a culture such that other USDA employees won't ever have to undergo anything similar to what he experienced.
The FIC team is glad to see Dr. Wyatt's suggestions realized in the creation of this new position. We will be monitoring how the new ombudsman functions, and will keep you updated on any future developments.
Hip Hop Artist Pharrell Names Record 'Pink Slime'
It's no coincidence! The controversy over ammoniated beef trimmings commonly referred to as "pink slime" has created big enough waves to even make an appearance in the music industry. Like FIC, well known hip hop artist and producer Pharrell Williams isn't a fan of the beef filler … and decided to name his new EP 'Pink Slime' in direct reference to the product that was once ubiquitous in fast food hamburgers.
This intriguing news is all the more reason to be thankful that Kit Foshee – former employee of pink slime maker Beef Products, Inc. – risked his job and livelihood to expose concerns he had regarding the company's ammoniation process. Check out the full timeline of Foshee's disclosures on our website.
Food Safety Law Stalled ... What Does This Mean for Whistleblowers?
FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is signed into law, but we’re still waiting for the regulations to implement it! So, what does this mean for FDA whistleblowers?
Whistleblowers reporting threats to food safety are especially important while these provisions remain pending. Fortunately, the law's whistleblower provision – protecting corporate workers who report violations of FDA regulations – has been in full effect since President Obama enacted the legislation in January 2011.
Learn more about the FSMA whistleblower provision and how it protects food industry workers on the FIC blog.
Eye on Monsanto
What has biotechnology behemoth (and consistent violator of food integrity) Monsanto been up to recently? Here's the latest Monsanto news in the last month:
- FIC received almost 1,000 Facebook likes on our blog post about a former Monsanto employee talking on the radio about why he became disillusioned with the company's claims regarding genetically engineered crops. (Like FIC on Facebook to stay updated more regularly on our work!)
- FIC also reported on various troubling Monsanto updates both at home and abroad, including: a group of farmworkers filing a lawsuit against the company for horrible labor and housing conditions; Monsanto being linked to a coup that recently ousted the president of Paraguay who resisted GE crop approval; and a conventional corn and soybean farmer finally switching to non-GE crops after becoming fed up with Monsanto products.
Join FIC for Trivia Tuesday!
Do corporate and government attempts at solving famine or malnutrition abroad really work?
Find out what farmers and other food integrity advocates on the ground have to say about what's really going on with these programs. Follow FIC on Twitter for today's #TriviaTuesday and join the discussion!