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August 25, 2009

Conventional food industry resorts to lies and smears to protect profits

Desperate Food Industry Tries to Tar Michael Pollan and Organic Produce | Health and Wellness | AlterNet
With growing numbers of food-conscious consumers, big corporations are trying to sully the reputation of alternatives to their style of agriculture. What do you get when you cross a grassroots movement with a food industry fearful of losing its influence? Bogus studies, campaigns of misinformation and opinion pieces filled with myth and vitriol.... The turning point was when First Lady Michelle Obama planted an organic garden on the White House lawn only to receive a letter from The American CropLife Association telling her that they hoped she recognized the value of conventional agriculture in American life. The letter can be read here. Then, there were false allegations that the garden was contaminated with lead. In the face of all this, the first lady stuck with her commitment to keeping the garden organic. ...
Who was behind that "news" report covering "research" that said organic were no better for you than conventionals?
The aforementioned study by London’s School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on the nutrient values of organic foods looked at various studies on the subject and compiled them to reach its conclusions. No new study was conducted. The meta review ignored some recent studies on nutrients, including one focused on antioxidants. ... The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a respected college within the University of London, so all would seem to be on the up and up. But, this is the same school that published a hateful and not at all scientifically-rigorous study blaming fat people for global warming. ... The study was commissioned by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. ... The FSA is supposed to serve consumers, and it does in many cases, but like our very own USDA and FDA, the agency can be influenced by the food industry. Their slogan says it all: “safer food, better business”.

August 23, 2009

Tom Ridge admits he used the Terror Colors to distract from Republican scandals and Democratic victories

What should we have known? - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com
The basic issue is this: Tom Ridge, he of the color-coded terror alerts, has now confirmed what many of us suspected all along: that declarations of a higher threat level were called for political purposes, so as to step on Democratic messages or divert attention from Republican scandals. Yet Ambinder (and others) say that they were justified in ignoring the strong circumstantial evidence that this was happening, and that those who saw the truth in real time could not and should not have been taken seriously. Ambinder initially said that he wasn’t going to listen to people motivated by “gut hatred” of Bush; he’s now apologized, but said that the skeptics still had no right to be that suspicious of Bush administration motives in the absence of hard data. But there was, in fact, plenty of hard data. Brad emphasizes the writing of Ron Suskind, who revealed many of the national-security scandals very early in the game — and was discounted not because his reporting was weak, but because it was considered unreasonable to suggest that what was actually happening was indeed happening.

The truth about Fiji's bottled water

Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle | Mother Jones
THE INTERNET CAFE in the Fijian capital, Suva, was usually open all night long. Dimly lit, with rows of sleek, modern terminals, the place was packed at all hours with teenage boys playing boisterous rounds of video games. But one day soon after I arrived, the staff told me they now had to shut down by 5 p.m. Police orders, they shrugged: The country's military junta had declared martial law a few days before, and things were a bit tense. I sat down and sent out a few emails—filling friends in on my visit to the Fiji Water bottling plant, forwarding a story about foreign journalists being kicked off the island. Then my connection died. "It will just be a few minutes," one of the clerks said. Moments later, a pair of police officers walked in. They headed for a woman at another terminal; I turned to my screen to compose a note about how cops were even showing up in the Internet cafés. Then I saw them coming toward me. "We're going to take you in for questioning about the emails you've been writing," they said. What followed, in a windowless room at the main police station, felt like a bad cop movie. "Who are you really?" the bespectacled inspector wearing a khaki uniform and a smug grin asked me over and over, as if my passport, press credentials, and stacks of notes about Fiji Water weren't sufficient clues to my identity. (My iPod, he surmised tensely, was "good for transmitting information.") I asked him to call my editors, even a UN official who could vouch for me. "Shut up!" he snapped. He rifled through my bags, read my notebooks and emails. "I'd hate to see a young lady like you go into a jail full of men," he averred, smiling grimly. "You know what happened to women during the 2000 coup, don't you?" . . .
Yeah, you're going to want to read the whole thing.