The
AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER
November 11, 2002   #201
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective

EDITOR\PUBLISHER: A.V. Krebs
ADDRESS: PO. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203-0201
E-MAIL: avkrebs@earthlink.net
WEB SITE: http://www.ea1.com/CARP/
TO RECEIVE: Name and e-mail address
CONTRIBUTION$ WELCOME !!!
 

COMMENTARY:
POGO WAS RIGHT !!!
WE HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY
AND IT IS US !!!

Throughout the world there is hardly a nation where family farmers have not come to recognize their common enemy --- corporate agribusiness!!! EXCEPT in the United States of America!!!

Examining a county-by-county red n' blue political map of the U.S. after last Tuesday's election one cannot help but recall once again American economist Thorstein Veblen who in his 1923 essay, "The Independent Farmer" contended that "farmers are surrounded by bankers, railroad magnates and food processors who profit from their effective collusive control of the market while the foolish farmer does little more than identify with the very people who are most adept at exploiting him."

Red being Republican and blue being Democrat, the northeast U.S. was a mixed bag of colors while the south was also mixed, but more red than blue. But once one reached the Mississippi River from that point on west it was almost solid red, except for Texas's southwestern border and a strip of land west of the Cascade mountains stretching from the Canadian border to San Francisco, California.

This is not the first time in recent elections we have seen such a pattern and yet with each election we see family farm agriculture in these United States continue to suffer and struggle for mere survival. As has been said the best approach, when one finds oneself deep in a hole, is to stop further digging.

Throughout the 20th century we have witnessed a wholesale exploitation of our agricultural system by corporate agribusiness and its economic and political "communities of economic interests" determined not only to drive farmers, workers and consumers apart, but also to divert the taxpayers' attention away from the root causes of agriculture's chronic crisis. It has done this by preaching about "efficient" farming practices, "excessive" government regulations, by pitting one region of the country against another, one commodity against another, and by replacing a fair price in the marketplace with an unfair and ever-escalating burden of debt.

Unfortunately, most farmers and consumers, until very recently, have failed to fully recognize or understand the self-serving, contorted explanations of agriculture's reality by these corporate policy planners and their many political prostitutes, all of whom have come to represent ever-narrowing "communities of economic interests." Farmers and consumers have also generally failed to comprehend the success of all this corporate/government/land-grant-college planning in destroying farmers' economic and political power through forced liquidation's caused, in turn, by low commodity prices that have been forced on farmers by the corporations and the banks.

Thus, as agriculture has shifted more and more from a labor-intensive to a highly technological capital-intensive system, corporate agribusiness has continued to accumulate more and more concentrated economic and political power. At the same time corporate managers have left to the general public and Mother Earth the privilege of paying the high social and environmental costs of their economic marauding.

Clearly it is time family farmers put aside such petty differences such as regionalism and commodityism, such phony issues as the estate tax question, such myths that the USDA actually represents the interests of family farmers, and such beliefs that the pseudo-populist politicians they routinely vote for year after year actually care for their future.

Tuesday's election results continued to show the repercussions of the Democrat Party's near abandonment of its black and Latino constituencies. Family farmers and our rural communities now need to start preparing to show the Republican Party in 2004 the dire consequences of its ever-increasing slavishly patronizing of those very same "communities of economic interests" that are driving them out of farming and off the land by the thousands.

The hour is late, maybe too late, but family farm agriculture needs not only individual leadership in this dark night of its soul, but more importantly it needs to adopt as its battle cry in the immediate years ahead the mantra of its last true political friend Paul Wellstone --- "organize! Organize !! ORGANIZE !!!"  . . . . . . . . . . .  and "We Will Win !!! . . .  We Will Win !!!"
 

THE PARTY'S OVER

SAM SMITH, UNDERNEWS: What happened on November 5, 2002 was the culmination of a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party that began more than a decade ago under the leadership of a group of conservatives, corporadoes, and con men who convinced their political colleagues that the salvation of the party lay in destroying its purpose.

Called "moving to the center," the recipe had certain similarities to a Saturday Night Live sketch in which an actor pretends to be George Bush or Trent Lott, but unlike the sketch, it was neither funny nor convincing. It was conceived by the "Democratic Leadership Council," a group whose underlying message was not leadership but abandon ship and which chose as its agent a conservative governor of Arkansas of salesman-like charm and conviction.

Clinton had been the beneficiary of what one journalist called the Great Mentioner. He had been noted, remarked upon and welcomed in the smokeless salons where national politics are created. How one comes to matter in Washington politics is guided by few precise rules, although in comparison to fifty years ago the views of lobbyists and fundraisers are far more significant than the opinion, say, of the mayor of Chicago or the governor of Pennsylvania. This is a big difference; somewhere behind the old bosses in their smoke-filled rooms were live constituents; behind the political cash lords of today there is mostly just more money and the few who control it.

Thus coming to matter has much less to do with traditional politics, especially local politics, than it once did. Today, other things count: the patronage of those who already matter, a blessing bestowed casually by one right person to another right person over lunch at the Metropolitan Club, a columnist's praise, a well-received speech before a well-placed organization, the assessment of a lobbyist as sure-eyed as a fight manager checking out new fists at the local gym. There are still machines in American politics; they just dress and talk better.

There is another rule. The public plays no part. The public is the audience; the audience does not write or cast the play. In 1988, the 1992 play was already being cast. Conservative Democrats were holding strategy meetings at the home of party fund-raiser Pamela Harriman. The meetings --- eventually nearly a hundred of them --- were aimed at ending years of populist insurrection within the party. They were regularly moderated by Clark Clifford and Robert Strauss, the Mr. Fixits of the Democratic mainstream. Democratic donors paid $1,000 to take part in the sessions and by the time it was all over, Mrs. Harriman had raised about $12 million for her kind of Democrats.

The play was also being cast by the Democratic Leadership Council. Although lacking any official role in the Democratic Party, the DLC claimed it was the voice of mainstream party thought. In fact, it was primarily a lobby for the views of southern and other conservative Democrats, yet so successful was its media manipulation that it even got away with calling its think tank the Progressive Policy Institute.

By the late 1980s there was a wide-spread consensus among both the press and the Democratic leadership that the party's problems could be traced to several  factors:

* The loss of control by party bosses due to excessive democratization of nomination and convention procedures.

* Undue pandering to such traditional constituencies as blacks, liberals, and women.

* The need for a new and far more conservative Democratic platform.

By the 1988 convention, this consensus had taken root. US News & World Report reported: "That the Democrats went beyond all bounds to appear bland and `normal' is incontrovertible. The brief, boring and bulletproof platform gave `platitudinous' new meaning. `Notice,' complained New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, offering only one example, `that the word city does not appear in our platform. We talk about suburban hometown American and I figure that doesn't mean the South Bronx.'"

With the rise of this orthodoxy, the media's language changed. What was once a civil rights cause now became "demands of special interest groups." The conservative Democrats' self-definition as "moderates" or "mainstream" was uncritically adopted. And "liberal" began to be used, even in purportedly objective articles, as a pejorative. It made someone like Clinton looked very good.

What followed is presumed to be well known, but isn't. The same journalists who overwhelmingly supported Clinton's candidacy began writing what amounted to an eight year mythology that created a personal legend even as the party he led collapsed. Missing from the legend were some key facts about the Clinton administration:

* the unraveling of 60 years of successful Democratic programs

* the discrediting in the public mind of such fundamental liberal programs as social security, economic policy, and public education. In such ways Clinton served as a warm-up band for the Republicans.

* a replacement of traditional Democratic programs with a smarmy and disingenuous agitprop, most noticeable in Clinton's handling of his black constituency. The same man who was brought to tears in black churches sent young black males to prison in unprecedented numbers and escalated a drug war that became more deadly to these blacks than Vietnam had been to black fighting men.

Of course, you can argue about such things, but there was something else --- also unreported --- that you couldn't argue about: the disintegration of the Democratic Party itself. An analysis I did in 1998 found that during Clinton's administration, the Democrats had lost:

* 48 seats in the House
* 8 seats in the Senate
* 11 governorships
* 1,254 state legislative seats
* Control of nine legislatures

In addition 439 elected Democrats had joined the Republican Party while only three Republican officeholders had gone the other way.

While Democrats had been losing state legislative seats on the state level for 25 years, the loss during the Clinton years was striking. In 1992, the Democrats controlled 17 more state legislatures than the Republicans. After November 2000, the Republicans controlled one more than the Democrats. It was the first time since 1954 that the GOP had controlled more state legislatures than the Democrats (they tied in 1968).

In fact, no Democratic president since the 19th century suffered such an electoral disintegration of his party as did Clinton.

This unreported truth helps to explain why the Democrats didn't do better in 2002. The Republicans merely continued their successful assault on a party that had become hopelessly weakened by an exploitive, ungrounded, self-indulgent elite that had swept through Democratic politics much like the Enron cavaliers treated the energy industry, not to mention their own shareholders and employees. They were, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, careless people: "They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

There are few signs the party has figured this out. It still clings to Clinton like an abused spouse in denial and accepts other leadership that runs the gamut from the unappealing to the indefensible.

For the party to recover, it must divorce itself from the con men who have done it so much damage. It must find its way back to the gutbucket, pragmatic populism that gave this country Social Security, a minimum wage, veterans' programs, the FHA, civil rights, and the war on poverty. It must jettison its self-defeating snobbism towards Americans who go to church or own a gun. It needs to be as useful to the voter in the cubicle as it once was to the voter on the assembly line. It must find a soul, a passion, and a sense of itself. Most of all, it must get rid of those false prophets and phony friends who have not only done it so much damage but have left the country fully in the hands of the cruel, the selfish, the violent, the dumb, and the anti-democratic.

UNDERNEWS, November 6, 2002, From the Progressive Review: Inside the Beltway, Out of the Loop, Ahead of the Curve. Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source Edited by Sam Smith. Subscribe: mailto:prorev-subscribe@topica.com
 

November 10, 2002
New York Times Editorial
THE OTHER POLITICAL PORK

If you raise pigs in America, you're obliged by the terms of the 1985 Pork Act to give 40 cents out of every $100 worth of sales to support a  national pork marketing program. You know the slogan: "Pork: the Other White Meat."

Four-tenths of a cent on the dollar does not sound like much, but it adds up to a $50 million marketing program. The resentment among farmers about the pork checkoff, as it is called, has increased over time. Some farmers hate parting with the money, but many say it supports an advertising campaign that represents only the biggest players in the pork business.

When the Agriculture Department held a referendum on the subject two years ago, hog farmers voted to do away with the checkoff, despite the fact that the National Pork Producers Council, which administers the checkoff funds, spent $4 million to defeat the referendum. But when Ann Veneman took over as Secretary of Agriculture, she threw out the results on the grounds that the prereferendum petitioning had been flawed.

Late last month, a Federal District Court judge, Richard A. Enslen, rightly declared the pork checkoff unconstitutional and ordered that checkoff collections halt soon. The argument for the checkoff no longer makes sense for reasons that have to do with the seismic shift in the hog industry.

In 1985, when the Pork Act was passed, some 52 million pigs were raised on more than 388,000 farms in America. Last year, nearly 60 million pigs were raised on fewer than 82,000 farms. These days the industry is dominated by factory farms, and the family farmer who raises hogs is an exception.

Moreover, to call pork "the other white meat" angers small producers, especially the growing number who raise pigs on pasture. Those farmers know that pork from such pigs isn't white at all --- it's closer to red --- and that the products consumers see in magazines misrepresent the meat they raise.

Ms. Veneman says the the check-off program has "widespread support" from hog farmers and that she is asking the Justice Department whether to appeal. The truth is that there is even more support for ending the program, support demonstrated in a democratic manner, not in back-room negotiations with the National Pork Producers Council. Ms. Veneman should let well enough alone and allow the pork checkoff program to lapse.
 

PILGRIM'S PRIDE CORP. PLANT,
LINKED TO SEVEN  LISTERIA DEATHS
FAILS TO TAKE "CORRECTIVE ACTION"
IN MONTHS PRIOR TO DEADLY OUTBREAK

"But this is happening everywhere, especially in large plants. If you look at all the recalls, you'll see the same story: Enforcement is substandard, and the plants are not living up to the responsibility of policing themselves."

--- Larry Berman, a USDA food inspector in Albany, New York, with 33 years on the job.

"The USDA is no longer in a position to prevent problems before they occur, and that spells disaster for the consumer."

--- Arthur Hughes, who has worked as a meat inspector in Maine for 35 years and serves as president of the Northeast Council of Meat Inspection Locals

OLIVER PRICHARD AND APARNA SURENDRAN, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Federal inspectors found dozens of food safety violations at a Wampler Foods poultry plant in the months before a deadly listeria outbreak was traced there, but "corrective actions were either not implemented or ineffective," according to internal inspection documents.

The Montgomery County [Pennsylvania] plant had been cited more than 40 times since January for sanitation violations such as leftover food particles in conveyor belts, water leaks onto meat, mold on pipes, and a cockroach in a locker room, according to inspection documents obtained by The Inquirer.

The plant in Franconia Township has been closed since October 12, after it was identified as the likely source of the listeria outbreak that killed seven people, sickened at least 46, and caused three miscarriages. The Wampler plant recalled 27.4 million pounds of poultry and chicken products, the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

Wampler's parent company, Pilgrim's Pride Corp., closed the plant voluntarily after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified it as the likely source of listeria. It will not be allowed to reopen until its plan for improved food safety is approved by USDA.

The Wampler plant's spotty sanitation record is similar to that of many large
meat-processing plants around the country, according to industry watchdogs, and the recall has exposed a flawed food-inspection system that inspectors say allows too much contaminated meat to reach the public.

The recall "was a wake-up call for the industry," said Garry McKee, the new administrator of the federal Food Safety and Inspection Service. Some companies "haven't been responding to what needs to be done to fix the problems," he said in an interview.

The inspection service has been ordered by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to develop a better testing program for listeria in the aftermath of the Wampler recall.

(Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes listeriosis, a serious infection that mainly affects pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea.)

"We're scheduling [officers] to go to all U.S. plants to make sure they're being properly monitored," McKee told the American Meat Institute last week. If his officers find that a plant doesn't have adequate safeguards, they can remove the USDA inspectors, making it impossible for the plant to move its product out into the market.

USDA inspectors are present daily at 6,400 meat-processing plants around the country.

Inspectors and consumer advocates contend that a system of regulation introduced in 1998 has given too much authority to plant operators, tied inspectors' hands, and imperiled consumer safety.

"What I'm clearly seeing with Wampler is a plant that's not doing effective sanitation, and responding to problems only when the inspector finds something --- which she does rather frequently," said Larry Berman, a USDA food inspector in Albany, New York, with 33 years on the job. He was not involved with the Wampler inspection.

"But this is happening everywhere, especially in large plants," Berman said. "If you look at all the recalls, you'll see the same story: Enforcement is substandard, and the plants are not living up to the responsibility of policing themselves."

Wampler spokesman Gary Dunlap acknowledged that "there are going to be issues where the USDA will come in and find something that could have been overlooked" by plant workers, but he said there was no "systemic problem" with the plant. "Before the recall," Dunlap said, "the USDA never thought that we had an issue that was serious enough to close the plant."

Critics fault the system of regulation now in use, called the hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system.

The plan allows meat processors to devise their own plans for identifying and correcting high-risk points in their operations. The USDA inspectors oversee each company's implementation of its plan. In essence, HACCP marked a shift from the traditional "poke-and-sniff" inspection method to a more focused and scientific system.

Inspectors complain that the system has changed their role from one of inspection to oversight, and they said many plant operators have HACCP procedures that exist on paper only. Some regulators in the field have dubbed the system "Have a Cup of Coffee and Pray."

Part of the problem, inspectors said, is that an HACCP system designed to         supplement traditional methods has completely replaced those methods, with inspectors largely relegated to checking a plant's paperwork instead of its meat.

"Because we no longer do the inspections, HACCP has become a substitute --- and it's a damn poor one," said Arthur Hughes, who has worked as a meat inspector in Maine for 35 years and serves as president of the Northeast Council of Meat Inspection Locals. "The USDA is no longer in a position to prevent problems before they occur, and that spells disaster for the consumer."

McKee, the new administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, warned industry officials last week that too many processors were not proving that their self-monitoring systems worked. As a result, "they are not killing pathogens or even reducing them in their plants. Some are not even recognizing that pathogens exist. That's like playing catch with a hornet's nest and not recognizing that you might get stung.
"Let me be clear: To ignore HACCP is to put the public's health at risk, and this is simply unacceptable."

Felicia Nestor, director of food safety with the Government Accountability Project, said HACCP represents a "continuation of USDA favoring the industry," and it discourages inspectors from halting production. "If there's any doubt about the safety of the product, the benefit of the doubt goes to the industry," Nestor said. "It's only when there's a definite and verifiable safety issue that the inspectors are allowed to take action."

Nestor's organization, established to assist "whistle-blowers" in government, obtained the internal inspection reports and made them available to The Inquirer. Nestor said her organization would also turn over the internal USDA inspection reports to members of Congress who have asked the Agriculture Department to provide more information about the Wampler incident.

Janet Riley, spokeswoman for the Arlington, Virginia-based American Meat Institute, calls HACCP a success. She points to federal studies showing a decrease in incidents of bacterial contamination and food-borne illnesses since HACCP's introduction. "HACCP is an appropriate system, and it is working," Riley said. "Besides the nuclear industry, we're the most regulated and inspected industry out there.""

In the Montgomery County plant, inspection records show many sanitation         deficiencies were cited repeatedly. In the month leading up to the October 12 recall, the inspector issued ten sanitation violations.

Since September 3, noncompliance reports were written for offenses such as meat residue from the previous day on equipment in the frank processing area, brown residue on overhead pipes, leftover meat particles in the conveyor belts, and water with black particles seeping into an open container of frozen meat.

Of particular concern to food safety advocates were violations involving moisture releases into production areas from roof leaks, condensation and cleaning hoses, which nurtures the spread of listeria. Listeria samples were found in the drainage areas in the plant. "Listeria thrives in moisture, so anytime you have moisture in a ready-to-eat plant, you have the potential for listeria," said Donna Ronsenbaum, a food safety consultant with Safe Tables Our Priority, a consumer advocacy group. "It makes the potential for cross-contamination extraordinary."

In cases where similar sanitation offenses had been previously recorded, the inspector wrote that "corrective actions were not implemented, not accomplished in a timely fashion, or ineffective. Day to day, week to week, that's no different than any other plant," said Larry Sharp, a meat inspector from Flint, Mich. "These companies are doing whatever they want.

"My favorite saying is, `Production as usual'."
 

CHUCK LAMBERT, NCBA ECONOMIST NAMED
BY VENEMAN USDA UNDERSECRETARY
FOR MARKETING AND REGULATORY SERVICES

Long-time National Cattlemen's Beef Association economist Dr. Chuck Lambert is joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Services.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman November 7 announced the appointment of Lambert, who will assume his new duties at the Agriculture Dept. December 2. In his new office, Lambert will have oversight over USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which administers U.S. phytosanitary and sanitary measures. Lambert had served at NCBA for the past 15 years, most recently as chief economist.

Lambert takes over for James G. Butler, who Veneman appointed as the new Deputy Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, giving him responsibility for USDA's farm, food and trade programs.
 

IRRADIATED BEEF BURGERS
SOON TO BE DISGUISED AS
"COLD-PASTEURIZED" BURGERS

CINDY SKRZYCKI, WASHINGTON POST: How does cold-pasteurized hamburger sound to you?

It's music to the ears of the food industry, which hopes that the current rules for labeling irradiated food will soon be changed to allow terms such as "cold-pasteurized" on foods that have undergone the treatment to kill various pathogens.

The irradiated hamburger appearing in an increasing number of supermarket meat cases --- including Giant Food as of [November 10] -- now cannot carry such terminology, but several new directives from Congress have given the food industry a boost in its long campaign to change how irradiated food is labeled.

To the dismay of consumer groups that regard irradiating food as dangerous and under-researched, three provisions in the 2002 Farm Bill (the Farm Security and Investment Act of 2002) would open the door to changing current FDA rules. Those rules require labels to say "treated with radiation" or "treated by radiation."

The package also has to display an international symbol in the shape of a flower called a radura to alert consumers to the special processing. The Agriculture Department, which shares labeling responsibilities with the Food and Drug Administration, allows variations on meat and poultry labeling, currently allowing companies to use statements such as "Treated with irradiation for your food safety."

The food industry and its critics have long been concerned with the question of what to call irradiated food. The process uses gamma rays, electrons or X-rays to kill pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. But to some, the process and the word conjures up images of radioactive food that has been zapped with nuclear energy. The World Health Organization has deemed the process safe, while consumer groups such as Public Citizen have said too little research has been done on the chemicals that are formed in irradiated food.

Since 1963, the FDA has approved a long list of foods for irradiation, including spices, pork, poultry, red meat, eggs, sprouts and seeds, juice, and fresh fruits and vegetables. As use of the process has grown, the food industry, led by the National Food Processors Association, has been pushing for labeling changes that would supplement the word "irradiation" or replace it altogether. "Cold pasteurization" just doesn't sound as scary.

"It has always been the goal of the industry to eliminate the word. They wanted another synonym," said Anthony Corbo, legislative representative for Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. "They've gotten cute in saying radiation is like pasteurization or using a microwave." Pasteurization is a heat treatment used to kill bacteria in milk, juice, eggs and some fish.

The Minnesota Beef Council says on its Web site: "Irradiation is nothing more than a form of cold pasteurization. It is just another method of food preservation like freezing, drying, canning, pickling, pasteurization or fermentation."

Since 1999, when the FDA began looking at labeling changes for irradiated products, the industry indicated that it would like to call irradiated food almost anything but irradiated. It felt that the word, along with the radura, looked more like a warning than an assurance of safety to consumers.

"We would like to see this opened up so there is a clearer understanding among consumers," said Timothy Willard, spokesman for the National Food Processors Association. "The allowable statements are too narrow."

But the FDA was unconvinced about changing the labeling requirements. The effort stumbled when consumers, queried in focus groups about changing the labeling, said they wanted to know that food had been irradiated. Consumers also said they didn't consider current labels cautionary.

The provisions in the farm bill accelerate the regulatory process, or bypass it altogether. Backed by Sen. Tom Harkin (Dem.-Iowa), the provisions require the FDA to consider allowing use of the word "pasteurization," companies could petition the agency for such "alternative labeling" if the process used is as effective as pasteurization.

The FDA also is directed to issue an entirely new labeling rule, and in the meantime companies could ask the agency to consider other kinds of labels for their products. Finally, it allows the Agriculture Department to drop its ban on irradiated beef in the nation's school lunch program, a change that is likely to result in a proposal to do just that by the end of the year.

In response to the bill, the FDA issued guidance to companies last month telling them how they could petition for changes to their labeling. The agency does not have to make public the petitions, or take comments on them. It also must respond to them in 180 days, and rejections can be appealed in court.

Public Citizen considers the bill's provisions to be end runs around the regulatory process. "It's been done in a very underhanded way," Corbo said.

ODonna Mathews, vice president of consumer affairs for Giant Food, expects there will be consumer interest in the product, which is labeled as irradiated ground beef, displays the radura as well as the phrase "irradiated for food safety." In its news release, announcing the arrival of 93% lean and 85% lean irradiated ground beef, Giant said the process is "environmentally safe and non-nuclear." It added that it's much like milk pasteurization.
 

PUBLIC CITIZEN'S CRITICAL MASS ENERGY
AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM ASKS:
"IS IRRADIATED FOOD TRULY SAFE ???"

Marketing Myths About Irradiation:
** The electron-beam process is environmentally-friendly and does not harm the food
** It is a "safe" choice for consumers
** No toxic substances are created during irradiation
** It is like milk pasteurization
** Nutritional loss during irradiation is not significant

But is irradiated food truly safe?

Unveiling the Myths:
** Irradiation exposes food to a dose of ionizing radiation that is equivalent to millions of chest x-rays.
** Whether ionizing radiation comes from radioactive materials or electron-beams its effect on food is the same; the only difference is how the radiation is produced.
** Irradiation disrupts the chemical composition of everything in its path --- not just harmful bacteria.
** Irradiation creates chemicals called "radiolytic products" that do not occur naturally in food and that the FDA has never studied for safety.
** Research dating to the 1950s has revealed a wide range of problems in animals that ate irradiated food, including premature death, a rare form of cancer, stillbirths, genetic damage, organ malfunctions, low weight gain and vitamin deficiencies.
** In legalizing food irradiation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not determine a level or radiation to which food can be exposed and still be safe for human consumption, which federal law requires.
** Irradiation destroys vitamins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients in food.  Each process a food undergoes depletes nutrients.  Irradiation is an additional step, so once the food is cooked, it is less nutritious than food that has not been irradiated.
** Irradiation and pasteurization are completely different processes!  Pasteurization merely heats the food/drink to kill bacteria.
** Irradiation masks and encourages filthy conditions in slaughterhouses and food processing plants.
** Irradiation can kill most bacteria in food, but does not remove the feces and other filth that carries this bacteria.

Take Action!
** Vote with your food dollars --- don't buy irradiated ground beef!
** Write a letter to the editor explaining the problems with irradiated food!
** Flyer at a local store to raise awareness in your community! (contact us for flyers)
** Fax the USDA and tell Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, to keep irradiated food out of the National School Lunch Program!
To send a free fax via the Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program website:
http://www.citizen.org/cmep/foodsafety/food_irrad/articles.cfm?ID=8493
.
Questions about the radfood list can be directed to cmep@citizen.org .
 

MPC IMPORTS FLOODING
NATION'S CHEESE MARKETS,
UNDERMINING U.S. DAIRY FARMERS

JOEL GREENO, FAMILY FARM DEFENDERS: Dairy farmers face historically low prices for their milk this year. In August and September of 2002, Wisconsin farmers netted $100 million less in revenue per month than they did a year ago in 2001. It is estimated that the farm dollar turns over in the economy three to seven times.  That means Wisconsin  alone is losing $300 million to $700 million a month in economic activity.

The major reason for the most dramatic plummet in milk prices to farmers since 1978 is cheese processors, like Kraft, that illegally use an inexpensive and plentiful imported substance called milk protein concentrate (MPC) to fuel its profits while deflating dairy prices.

MPC is a dairy powder that is 42-90% casein protein. It is commonly used as an ingredient in glue and animal feed. All MPC is imported. The U.S. imported more than 36,000 metric tons of MPC within the first six months of 2002 from countries such as New Zealand, Argentina, Poland, India, China and the Ukraine. In 2000, over 52,000 metric tons of MPC entered the U.S.--- the equivalent of 4.6 billion pounds of domestic milk. MPC is shipped to the U.S. as a chemical or pharmaceutical product, circumventing dairy tariff and quota rate schedules, allowing corporations to skirt the limits imposed by current trade agreements.

MPC is manufactured from waste or what is left over from other dairy products' manufacturing. It is made by two procedures called ultra filtration and blending. New Zealand and Australia use ultra filtration, creating MPC in its purest form.  But most countries use the blended method, which starts with 32% protein nonfat dry milk and then adds casein until manufacturers reach the desired protein level.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) never approved MPC as a food ingredient because it does not meet "Generally Regarded as Safe" standards. MPC does not have a "standard identity," meaning consumers have no idea whether it contains waste products that constitutes a health hazard and it is not inspected at port entries.

Food processors use imported MPC instead of domestic dairy protein additives like nonfat dry milk because it is considerably cheaper. MPC allows a greater yield, fueling greater profits at lower investment costs. For example, MPC concentrate cost $7 per hundred pounds in 2001, about half the price U.S. farmers received for blended liquid milk. These price discrepancies also directly effect the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Increasing MPC use and imports leaves more dry milk on the market, which CCC buys under its price support program.  From 1996 to 2000, CCC support program costs increased by $572 million --- an additional cost to taxpayers directly linked to displaced dry milk saturating dairy markets.

Despite all of this, consumers can find MPC on at least four dozen ingredient labels in supermarkets. Kraft alone sells over three dozen of these products which include Singles, Velveeta, Macaroni and Cheese, Lunchables and Cheez Whiz. Kraft constitutes approximately 57% of the U.S. cheese market, often setting milk's price.  And, to sidestep FDA identity standards, most Kraft "Singles" and many "Lunchables" list MPC as an ingredient under the guise of "pasteurized process cheese food." It is no wonder Kraft advertises adding a little "magic" into its Kraft "Singles."

Farmers and activists from across the nation have united to expose MPC use, holding press conferences outside the Wisconsin State Capitol, various corporate headquarters and the World Dairy Expo. Help our nation's farmers, health and economy: join farmers and consumers in boycotting foods that contain imported milk protein concentrate, particularly targeting Kraft "Singles" and "Lunchables."

Start by reading ingredient labels in supermarkets: if you find MPC products in your local store, inform store managers about its illegal use and ask them to remove these products from their shelves. Contact your Congressperson and Senators and ask that he/she regulate MPC imports and prevent its illegal use in human food by forcing the Food and Drug Administration to enforce federal cheese standards, taking regulatory action against illegal adulterated products like MPC.
 

NORTH CAROLINA POULTRY GROWER SUICIDE
REFLECTS PLIGHT OF MANY U.S. POULTRY FARMERS

MARY CLOUSE, CONTRACT AG REFORM PROJECT, RAFI-USA: There has been a tragedy in the farming community of the county where our offices are situated [Pittsboro, North Carolina].

A 48-year old poultry grower committed suicide on Sunday morning, October 27th in one of his chicken houses. He leaves his wife and two sons, 13 and 16 years of age, and a beautiful farm heavily in debt.

It was the debt, the recent loss of a house of birds due to an equipment failure, constant urging by the poultry company he contracted with to spend more money to upgrade his facilities and finally the notice from the company that his contract has been cancelled that apparently overwhelmed him.

A poultry grower family in Georgia operates a non-denominational, non-profit foundation that has set up a special fund for donations for the family. The poultry farmers and the Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance vouch for the integrity of The Joseph Foundation and the family that runs it, Karen and Richard Justinn. Since it is a 501c3 Foundation, your donations are tax deductible, and 100% of the donations go to the Johnson family.

Donations for the family of Jimmy Johnson should be sent to:

Joseph Foundation
c/o Richard & Karen Justinn
8315 Hwy 172
Comer, Georgia 30629

Please write "Jimmy Johnson Fund" in the memo space on your check.
Thank you for your compassion for this family.
 

                                               EDITOR'S NOTE

Preparing to post this 201st edition of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER it is
gratifying to know that over 1100 people throughout the world are currently receiving it
on a regular basis and judging from comments received feel it is a valuable source of
information. However, it is also quite troubling to realize that less than 4.5% of that
readership has ever seen fit to make any contributions toward its continued existence.

To that small cadre of contributors this editor can only express his profound gratitude
and appreciation for I realize that in some cases even a small donation was a sacrifice for
them.

From the outset it was never the purpose of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER to
charge a subscription fee for the original intention of this newsletter was to get it into as
many hands as possible as a vehicle for monitoring corporate agribusiness from a public
interest perspective, just as was the establishing of a web site
[http://www.ea1.com/CARP/] to provide facts, background, analysis and educational
information on corporate agribusiness.

Thanks to the generosity and creativity of the editor's oldest son David and his business
colleagues at ElectricArrow in Seattle, Washington that sight is being maintained on a
virtual pro bono basis.

Having said all this, may I repeat CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS are always and
will always be most welcomed for editors of such publications as THE AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER can not always live on bread and water alone. Such checks made out to
A.V. Krebs can be sent to P.O. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203.