Lobbyist, Frankenrice, Organic Senator & more

  UCS is hiring a qualified lobbyist to work on food and environment issues. The application deadline is January 2, 2007. Read the full job posting here.

1. USDA approves GE rice, rewarding contamination of the food supply
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the genetically engineered rice variety that Long Grain Riceillegally contaminated the U.S. food supply and shipments to export customers. The approval allowed the company responsible for producing the rice, Bayer CropScience, to bypass a stringent safety review process, thereby encouraging more contamination incidents in the future. When the contamination was discovered last August, Europe closed its borders to U.S. rice, and hundreds of rice farmers brought class action lawsuits against Bayer. The USDA’s decision goes against more than 15,000 comments from the public opposing the post-hoc approval, two-thirds of them from UCS members and activists (compared to only 350 comments favoring the approval). Read more in The Washington Post (free reg. req’d), or read the USDA’s announcement.

2. Organic farmer elected to the Senate
Supporters of sustainable agriculture were cheered by the election of Jon Tester, the new junior senator from Montana. Read more.

3. Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act passes in lame duck session
A new federal law signed by the President just after Thanksgiving threatens to muffle criticism of factory farms. The statute, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, criminalizes activities that bring economic harm to animal enterprises. Critics of the law contend that it could be interpreted to cover activities such as circulating information about factory farm practices that lead to a loss of profits for a company. Though the law states that it is not intended to prohibit conduct protected by the First Amendment, the threat of criminal sanctions could nevertheless have a chilling effect on the expression of concerns about animal agriculture. To read the text of the law, visit http://thomas.loc.gov and search under “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” or download the Humane Society’s analysis (pdf).

4. A new book on bird flu and industrial poultry operations
A new book by public health expert Dr. Michael Greger, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, argues that animal factories might lead to human pandemics. Read more.

5. What You Can Do: Sign our turkey petition
Thanksgiving may be over, but there’s still time to sign our petition to turkey producers asking them to protect consumers’ health by limiting their use of antibiotics in animal feed. Factory farm turkeys are routinely fed antibiotics to promote growth and to compensate for overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. The practice encourages the proliferation of bacteria that are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Sign the petition.

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