Monday, October 10, 2011

Ag gag laws and other environmental, animal rights, and food news...

First (via Climate Change), as this article in, of all places, Forbes, reports, environmentalists joined the Occupy Wall Street protests last week.
Wednesday’s march was also buoyed by another group of rabble-rousing upstarts: environmentalists. Fresh off their own nonviolent stand outside the White House — where they spent two weeks protesting the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline — the re-energized U.S. environmental movement has now found an even bigger, broader stage. And like most factions of Occupy Wall Street, it seems perfectly happy to share that stage with other interests.

...McKibben and now hope to conjure some of that mojo in Washington (which also held its own “Occupy D.C.” march Thursday) for “ Occupy State Department,” a protest to stop lobbyists from dominating Friday’s final public hearing on Keystone XL. The State Department will rule on the proposed pipeline by year’s end, and critics have accused it of “bias and complicity” in favor of the project. On top of that, Haigh says, many hearings so far have suspiciously become pro-pipeline pep rallies.
The inclusion of organized environmentalists, as the story points out, should come as no surprise:
Occupy Wall Street’s first “official” statement lists an array of grievances with corporate America, many of which are at least indirectly related to environmental and public health. Referring to corporations in the third person, some of its most clearly environmental grouses include:

  • “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.”

  • “They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.”

  • “They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.”

  • “They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.”

  • “They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.”
  • Second, on the other side, corporate interests and their political lapdogs continue their offensive against animal rights and environmental organizations that interfere with their profiting through destruction.* As Food & Water Watch reports:
    Today, the vast majority of animals raised for meat, milk and eggs live in extreme conditions where they are unable to express their most basic instinctual behaviors. Many of these animals never once feel grass under their feet or the sun on their back.

    Numerous organizations are committed to exposing the reality of what factory farming means for animals welfare. This has always been a challenging task, but it may soon become even more difficult. With the help of several state legislators, the meat industry is working harder than ever to ensure they maintain exclusive control over their public image by banning unauthorized images from their facilities.

    Over the past year, representatives in four states (Florida, Iowa, Minnesota & New York) have introduced legislation that would make it illegal to record any image or sound inside a farm without the owner’s permission. The Iowa and Minnesota bills would also criminalize the re-broadcasting of these images by the media.

    Proponents say the legislation is necessary to protect private property from theft and vandalism and to ensure bio-security. But all of these concerns are already well covered under current laws. The real motivation behind this legislation is unmistakably clear—the videos recorded on these farms confirm the worst fears of conscientious consumers and severely damage the industry’s carefully crafted public image.
    I suspect ALEC ghostwriting...

    Finally, The Nation last month ran a set of pieces about social justice and the food movement, kicked off by Frances Moore Lappé's essay.

  • Frances Moore Lappé, "The Food Movement: Its Power and Possibilities"

  • Raj Patel, "Why Hunger Is Still With Us"

  • Vandana Shiva, "Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds"

  • Eric Schlosser, "It's Not Just about Food"

  • Michael Pollan, "How Change Is Going to Come in the Food System"

  • They're quick reads; the quality varies. My favorite line is from Vandana Shiva: "That is why we have to make food democracy the core of the defense of our freedom and survival. We will either have food dictatorship for a while and then a collapse of our food systems and our societies, or we will succeed in building robust food democracies, resting on resilient ecosystems and resilient communities. There is still a chance for the second alternative."

    *I've finished Green is the New Red,

    and highly recommend it. It moves, in two important senses - touches the reader (through substantive reporting and without heroizing activists) and zips along. The best aspect is the way Potter situates the environmental and animal rights movements and the onslaught against them within a historical context, particularly with reference to the McCarthy era. Also important is the discussion of the special "terrorist" prisons that have emerged in the US in recent years.

    1 comment:

    1. Here is a good video on animal rights: