On Thursday, April 3, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will bring the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability to Temple University. The Tour stop will feature whistleblower Phyllis McKelvey, who has collected more than 196,000 petition signatures to publicly raise serious safety concerns about the USDA's proposed poultry inspection model.
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. This event, like all stops, features a moderated discussion with a prominent whistleblower. Details of the discussion are:
Whistleblowing for Food Safety
April 3, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Paley Library Lecture Hall, Ground Floor
1210 Polett Walk
The event, free and open to all, is part of the Beyond the Page Public Programming Series sponsored by Temple University Libraries, which this year is focusing on food-related topics.
Amanda Hitt, Director of GAP's Food Integrity Campaign, will facilitate the discussion about the role whistleblowers play in protecting the public interest and food integrity. Hitt will also discuss industrialized food production and distribution practices, as well as efforts to implement "Ag Gag" laws, which seek to stop whistleblowers from reporting abuses in our food systems.
The Tour stop is sponsored by GAP, Temple University, and the Temple Legal Studies Department at the Fox School of Business.
- Phyllis McKelvey is a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) chicken inspector who spent 44 years working in the poultry sector (both for private industry and the government). Before leaving the USDA in 2010, Phyllis witnessed firsthand the deficiencies of the agency's new poultry inspection model when she observed the pilot program. She reported that the new system turns many government inspectors' duties over to company employees and increases line speeds to the point where an inspector has only 1/3 of a second to view a carcass. She recalls that it was impossible to inspect birds as they whizzed down the line. Her concerns about this program led her to start a petition asking the USDA to halt its adoption, which attracted nearly 200,000 signatures.
- Amanda Hitt is the Director of GAP's Food Integrity Campaign (FIC). Amanda oversees FIC operations and is responsible for ensuring that FIC fulfills its mission of enhancing food integrity by facilitating truth-telling. She works closely with partner organizations, clients, legislators, and the media to alter the balance of power between the food industry and consumers. As the FIC Director, she protects the rights of those who speak out against the practices that compromise food integrity, and promotes policies that empower whistleblowers and food activists. Amanda has a background in both law and public health: she graduated cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law and received her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins.
GAP Senior Fellow and Tour Director Dana Gold stated, "We are very excited to be included in Temple University Libraries' year-long investigation of food and food-related topics. The subject of whistleblowing and how to raise concerns is of particular importance to students who may witness wrongdoing in their future professions. Hearing about how whistleblowers have played a fundamental role in protecting the public's food supply is a powerful example of ethics in action."
About the Tour
GAP's American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
The Temple University stop is the seventh of several to be held this academic year. Previous 2013-14 stops have included Syracuse University, Florida International University, American University, West Virginia University, Auburn University and Princeton University. After Temple, the Tour will visit the University of Southern California, Stanford and West Chester.
GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its Tour. Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Frank Serpico (NYPD) and Sherron Watkins (Enron) have all appeared at different campuses as part of GAP's Tour.
Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.