In the COVID-19-driven time warp of the past 90 days, politics, economics and public opinion have changed drastically.
Important aspects of social behavior seem to have improved—less non-essential travel, less consumption, more family focus, reduced greenhouse gas pollution (17 percent less worldwide in early April), increase in demand for healthy, home-cooked foods, appreciation for nature, mutual aid, social solidarity and more attention paid to the plight of farmworkers, small farmers, healthcare workers and food chain workers.
Unfortunately, other impacts of the pandemic are quite negative, in fact catastrophic: widespread anxiety and fear, extreme political polarization and economic meltdown, including a massive number of bankruptcies of small businesses, with 40 million workers unemployed in the U.S. alone.
In addition, the federal government, led by the White House and Senate Republicans, abetted by corporate Democrats, has relaxed pollution, environmental and food safety standards, and handed out multi-trillion-dollar bailouts, with little or no government oversight, to the fossil fuel industry, corporate agribusiness and Fortune 500 corporations—instead of providing sufficient resources for those businesses, farmers, workers, families and individuals who most need help.
As Arundhati Roy suggested early on in this crisis, historically, pandemics have served as "a portal, a gateway between one world and the next." How we walk through that portal, whether we choose to imagine another world—and fight for that world—is up to us.
Read Ronnie's essay of the week: 'Pandemic Shock: Digital Dictatorship or Green Recovery?'
Would you believe your Smithfield pork chop was the “safest possible” U.S. pork product—if you knew that pork products produced by Smithfield are commonly contaminated with dangerous pathogens?
And what if you knew that the U.S. Department of Agriculture frequently notifies Smithfield that pork processed product in its slaughter plants is more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella than similar products in slaughter plants of the same size?
Safe to say, you wouldn’t. Yet Smithfield makes that exact (false) claim, in hope of convincing more consumers to buy more Smithfield pork products.
Last week we sued Smithfield. You can read all of the reasons here, in the complaint.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike Smithfield, one of the four Big Meat corporations (along with Tyson, Cargill and JBS) that dominate industrial meat production.
There’s the animal abuse. The water pollution. The air pollution.
There’s the fact that Smithfield, a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China, destroys rural communities in the U.S. in order to satisfy its own country’s insatiable appetite for pork.
And then there’s Smithfield’s exploitation of slaughterhouse employees. Smithfield, like the other Big Meat producers, has never been known for treating workers fairly or with dignity.
That situation is so bad now, during the COVID-19 crisis, that workers at one facility recently sued the company, for:
“ . . . failing to provide workers with sufficient protective equipment; forcing them to work shoulder to shoulder; giving them insufficient opportunities to wash their hands; discouraging them from taking sick leave; and failing to implement a plan for testing and contact tracing.”
But these aren't the reasons we sued Smithfield. We sued the company for lying to consumers. Because there are laws against that. And we think consumers have the right to know when corporations lie to them.
Read our press release
Read the full complaint
Read ‘Food Safety Claims Land Smithfield Foods Inc. in D.C. Court’
It’s been tough to watch the narrative about the origins of the COVID-19 virus split almost evenly into two camps: the lone bat in the wet market camp vs. the genetically engineered by humans in a lab camp.
It’s been even tougher to sit by as the engineered-in-a-lab theory, despite supporting evidence from credible scientists, has been quickly dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” unworthy of due investigation.
We suspect the public will never hear the full story behind the origins of this pandemic, unless we explore all of the complex, nuanced motivations by those who have a stake in controlling the narrative, and marginalizing anyone who doesn’t fall in line.
To that end, we’ve been conducting interviews with scientists and others who are digging deep, looking under the rocks, lifting the covers, shining the spotlights—insert your own analogy here—to get to the truth.
This week, we share—in both video and transcript format—interviews with four people who think the public has the right to know what really happened, and are working to find out what that truth is.
Because, truth be told, unless we fully expose the origin of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are doomed to endure another, possibly much worse, pandemic in the future.
Watch & read our interview with Stuart Newman
Watch & read our interview with Jonathan Latham
Watch & read our interview with André Leu
Watch & read our interview with Sam Husseini
MORE ON COVID-19
COVID-19: A Leaked Franken-Virus Jointly Engineered and Financed by the US and China?
Read ‘Wuhan and U.S. Scientists Used Undetectable Methods of Genetic Engineering on Bat Coronaviruses
SIGN THE PETITION: Stop the Genetic Engineering of Viruses! Shut Down All Biowarfare Labs Now!
If you want to know where Big Pharma stands on protecting consumers from being poisoned by chemicals, start here.
The website FiercePharma.com posted an article this week about reports that Bayer is nearing a settlement agreement with the more than 125,000 people suing the company over Roundup weedkiller. The article starts out with this:
“Investors suffering losses from Bayer’s Roundup legal woes are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, as the German conglomerate is said to be nearing a final settlement that could put tens of thousands of lawsuits behind it.”
Wow. So the victims here are Bayer, who’s “finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” and Bayer shareholders, who have been “suffering losses?”
Funny, we would have thought that the victims in this story are the tens of thousands of human beings and their families, devastated by cancer—not the corporation that sold those people a weedkiller, falsely marketed as “safe,” that caused cancer.
Meanwhile, looks as though Bayer (which paid more than $60 billion for Monsanto in 2016, then later announced it was dropping the Monsanto name) is testing a new, “no-glyphosate” version of Roundup. It’s being marketed on Amazon as containing a “100% natural active ingredient.”
No clue as to what that “100% natural” mystery ingredient actually is—but we’ll be looking into it, and reporting back later.
Read ‘No More Legal Headache for Bayer as It Nears $10B Roundup Settlement: Report
More on the Monsanto Roundup trials
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to ban Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller!
As COVID-19 swept through U.S. slaughterhouses, plants closed, leaving farmers with millions of animals they couldn’t get to market. This prompted Tyson to take out an ad in the New York Times, warning that the “food supply chain is breaking.”
But COVID-19 didn’t break the food system. The four Big Meat titans—Tyson, Smithfield, JBS and Cargill—broke the supply chain. They did it by forcing consolidation in the meatpacking industry, which ultimately created another “too big to fail” industry.
Congress has a plan to save Big Meat, by taking an old law intended to help family farmers, and turning it into a taxpayer-funded rescue plan for big corporations.
Companies like Tyson and Cargill don’t need our help. They can use bankruptcy protection laws to “reorganize” their debt and restructure their operations.
Who does need our help? The independent family farmers and ranchers who raise grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, while also being good neighbors and good stewards of the land.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: No Bailouts for Big Meat!
OCA is based in Minnesota. Some of our staff live in Minneapolis.
But even if that weren't the case, we would still ask you to sign this petition. Because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Injustice—in this case, the obvious cold-blooded murder of a non-violent "suspect"—poisons our society every bit as much as toxic chemicals poison our bodies.
We are incensed, disturbed, outraged and above all, deeply sorry for this man who's life was senselessly stolen, and for the family and friends who mourn his loss.
But as this young man, speaking from the thick of the chaos in Minneapolis says, "If we want change, we all have to change."
In the meantime, delayed justice equals delayed healing. So we stand with all those who demand that the people who killed George Floyd be held accountable, now. And we ask you to stand with them also.
SIGN THE PETITION: Demand the officers who killed George Floyd are charge with murder.
Vandana Shiva: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest
The Food We Produce Is Killing Us and Decimating Biodiversity – A Change Has to Be Made
Dear USDA: What Will It Take?
COVID-19 Sparks a Rebirth of the Local Farm Movement
Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos
15 Indigenous Crops to Boost Your Immune System and Celebrate Biodiversity
Dr. Michelle Perro: How to Power Up Your Immune System