The monthly recap below appeared in FIC's March e-Newsletter (first Tuesday of the month). If you would like to receive monthly updates and other urgent alerts via email, please sign up here.
Governor Otter Lets Idaho Conceal Farm Abuses
What do Idaho agribusinesses have to hide? A lot, apparently. Last Friday, Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the state's anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill into law, criminalizing would-be whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing on farms via undercover video.
This move came despite a concerted campaign by FIC and coalition partners (thanks to everyone who called the governor and urged him to veto the bill!). Even yogurt company Chobani came out against the legislation, stating that it "would limit transparency and make some instances of exposing mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment."
On Friday, FIC also released a statement by a former USDA veterinarian who has witnessed abuses at Idaho dairy farms, articulating the need for undercover video to hold wrongdoers accountable. Check out his full statement here.
This Salon article quotes FIC Director Amanda Hitt, who explains the impact the law will have on not only those exposing animal welfare violations, but also environmental and workers' rights whistleblowing.
Idaho has a history of passing laws that make it easier for factory farms to escape proper oversight. While we are disappointed, FIC remains steadfast in fighting these laws. Follow us as we take on Ag Gag threats in Tennessee and Arizona. If you live in Tennessee, find the contact information for your legislators here and urge them to oppose anti-whistleblower bill HB 2258! If you live in Arizona, find your legislators here and urge them to oppose the anti-whistleblower bill HB 2587/SB 1267 even with the proposed amendments!
Transparency Battle with Big Chemical Companies
Yet another giant biotech company, BASF, has joined a lawsuit aimed at blocking Kauai County's recently enacted legislation that requires both pesticide data reporting and the implementation of buffer zones to shield schools and other public spaces from pesticide fumes. BASF joins Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics (a Dow Chemical subsidiary) in opposing what Kauai residents (and FIC) consider basic public health interests.
See FIC's investigation into whether biotech companies exerted improper influence over government officials while the legislation was being debated.
More news updates on Kauai here and here.
FIC, Poultry Workers Campaign against USDA Proposal
Last Thursday, poultry workers from North Carolina, Mississippi and Arkansas traveled to the nation's capital to stop USDA's proposal that would endanger workers' health and safety by speeding up production lines at poultry processing facilities throughout the U.S. During their meeting with lawmakers and administration officials, FIC and others joined together in a Twitter campaign (using the hashtag #SafetyOverSpeed) against the agency's inspection plan.
FIC also blogged about a recent Harris Poll showing that 73 percent of Americans think there should be more government oversight of the food supply. Another reason that the plan, which would remove many government inspectors and transfer their duties to private industry workers, is not in the public interest either.
Eye on Monsanto
What has biotechnology behemoth (and consistent violator of food integrity) Monsanto been up to recently? Here's the latest Monsanto news:
- Food industry groups are proposing voluntary federal genetically engineered (GE) food labeling in an attempt to crush state efforts for mandatory labeling (which Monsanto continues to oppose).
- According to a new study, Monsanto's Roundup Ready could be linked to a fatal kidney disease.
- An ecologist who has been studying monarch butterflies for years blames Monsanto's GE corn and soybean crops for the butterfly's plummeting populations.