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Missed FIC at GreenFest Last Weekend? You Can Still Support Our Work!

green festival logo m1We know everyone starts to get busier as the weather warms up, which is why we won’t hold it against you if weren’t one of the hundreds of supporters who joined us at GreenFest last weekend. But don’t worry – there are still plenty of ways you can get involved!

Attendees came from near and far to listen to keynote presentations by some of our partners, join in workshops, explore eco-friendly products, and of course, learn about organizations like FIC that are working to change the food system. The Campaign fit right in at GreenFest, which features organizations and businesses that aim to improve the social, environmental, and economic health of communities. Want to support the food truth movement?

You can start by joining us in the battle to stop USDA’s proposal to increase poultry line speeds and privatize inspection at processing plants – a plan that retired USDA inspector and FIC whistleblower Phyllis McKelvey says will have devastating impacts on both food and worker safety. Sign our petition urging Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to address these concerns by putting a stop to the plan!

You could also learn more about our involvement in the fight against GMOs in Hawaii. Several state residents came to FIC with concerns over the biotech industry’s influence on local legislative efforts last fall. FIC recently submitted a series of information requests to Hawaii state and county government to determine whether large biotech companies held closed-door meetings in which they may have made improper agreements with local officials regarding pesticide use in the state. Click here to learn more!

Do you believe you have the right to know where your food comes from? If yes, then help us put a stop to a dangerous new series of Ag Gag laws, which are various pieces of legislation that criminalize the act of taking video footage in animal and other agricultural facilities. These laws target individuals who wish to expose wrongful industry behavior rather than the individuals actually engaging in criminal activity. FIC continues to fight these laws, which have been passed in nine states and are pending in five others. Take a moment to sign our petition asking Congress to take a stance against these dangerous bills that threaten to turn whistleblowers into criminals!

FIC had a great time learning more about the community’s interest in our work, educating people on the concept of food integrity and the importance of truth-telling in the food sector, and growing our network of support. We hope to see you all at GreenFest again next year. In the meantime, stay updated by signing up for FIC eNews!

 

Alyssa Doom is Investigation & Outreach Coordinator for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

 

We’re Listening to USDA Poultry Whistleblowers. Petition Secretary Vilsack to do the Same!

poultry_inspector_cropThus far, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has failed to acknowledge the concerns of USDA poultry inspectors regarding his agency's proposal to increase line speeds and privatize inspection at processing plants. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), despite being the public health arm of the agency, seems to be promoting industry profit, as corporations stand to save a projected $125 million a year with the new plan in place, while consumer and plant worker safety pays the price.

Whistleblowers, however, continue to speak out against the plan.

FIC has launched a TakePart petition urging Vilsack to heed the concerns of whistleblowers (as well as other government agencies) and drop the plan.

Just one reason the proposal is a bad idea? Under the plan, harmful health impacts from excess chemical use at poultry plants will only become more serious and widespread. Last night, WSB-TV ran a story featuring poultry plant workers (including former USDA inspector Sherry Medina) who say that chemicals sprayed on the chicken carcasses are making workers sick. Watch the story below:

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Watch Live: WSB-TV Piece on Chemical Use at Chicken Plants

poultry_inspector_cropTonight at 6:00pm ET, WSB-TV is airing a news report about the excess use of chemicals at poultry processing plants, featuring an interview with FIC Director Amanda Hitt and USDA whistleblower Sherry Medina. Check out the story preview and watch live here.

Health concerns that have put inspectors like Sherry out of work as a result of excess chemical use are likely to become more serious and widespread under the USDA's proposed changes to the federal inspection system, which include increasing line speeds and handing government oversight duties to the poultry industry itself.

After 16 years of working as a federal meat inspector, Medina was forced to seek early retirement due to serious health issues that she experienced while working at a Tyson Foods plant in Albertville, Alabama. Shortly after Medina arrived at the plant in 2010, the facility began speeding up processing lines and using massive doses of peracetic acid to chemically wash all chicken carcasses. Previously, only birds showing signs of contamination were isolated and subjected to chemical treatment. Two months after the switch to peracetic acid, according to Medina, nearly all of the inspectors started getting sick.

According to Hitt: "This is just another way in which the USDA's plan is a threat to food safety. I'm all for improving inspection, but this plan isn't it. Not only does the plan put consumers at risk, but the threat to workers is now evident."

Sign FIC's petition to tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop this dangerous plan!

 

Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

 

Tennessee Legislature Wins 'Muzzle Award' for Pushing Anti-Whistleblower Ag Gag Bill

TJCenter_muzzles_biggerLast year, Tennessee was the only state whose legislature passed an Ag Gag bill aimed at silencing whistleblowers who expose abuse on industrial farms. Ten other states introduced similar measures, but each bill ultimately died in state legislatures. FIC was part of a strong campaign against these terrible pieces of legislation, and after a groundswell of pressure in Tennessee (including from country singer Carrie Underwood), Governor Bill Haslam vetoed the state bill.

Despite the campaign's success, we're still wagging our fingers at the legislators that tried to muzzle on-the-ground truth-tellers who believe the public should know what's happening behind factory farm doors. So we were glad to see that Tennessee legislators are being officially recognized for their misdeeds in the 2014 Jefferson Muzzles.

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Oh No You Didn't! CDC Calls Out USDA for Misinterpreting Poultry Plant Study

NIOSHIs USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack so desperate to push his poultry inspection plan forward that he'll try to find evidence supporting it where there is none?

Many poultry industry whistleblowers have told FIC that the USDA's plan, including the increase of already-too-fast line speeds at poultry processing plants, is a threat to public and worker health and safety. But Secretary Vilsack won't listen to the concerns of the actual workers who will be impacted by the faster line speeds. He also won't listen to hundreds of thousands of people who've petitioned the agency to drop the plan.

What about research findings requested by the USDA itself? Turns out he's still not really listening...

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Poultry Inspection Whistleblower Coming to Temple University

phyllis_usdasmock_cropOn 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.

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Is Idaho's Ag Gag Law Constitutional? Lawsuit Takes Anti-Whistleblower Measure to Federal Court

court_iconLast month, Idaho became the first state to pass an anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill since 2012, a disappointing blow. But transparency in the state (already known for its history of anti-transparency legislation) isn't going down without a fight!

A group of organizations and journalists filed a lawsuit this week to overturn the law, which criminalizes would-be whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing on farms via undercover video. Truth-tellers could face up to a year in jail, which is double the state's maximum penalty for animal cruelty.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Idaho's law, which is clearly aimed at protecting the state's multi-billion dollar dairy industry. The industry pushed the bill after videos released by Mercy for Animals showed workers at Idaho-based Bettencourt Dairy (one of the largest dairy companies in the U.S.) stomping and sexually abusing cows in 2012.

FIC intends to submit an amicus brief in opposition to the new law.

Read the statement of a former USDA veterinarian who has witnessed abuse at Idaho dairy farms and believes "we can do better than this dangerous law."

 

Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

 
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