Posts in Environmental Health
Climate on Your Plate

What should climate-conscious people do to eat most sustainably? How people approach their diet is deeply personal and can be extremely controversial. Roughly 1 in 9 people in the world are undernourished. Addressing hunger while making the food chain more sustainable is critical for addressing climate change. Are GMOs the answer to food shortages, or do they jeopardize our crops with destructive cycles of pesticide resistance? Is our appetite for animal protein unsustainable, is worldwide veganism possible? Greg asks farmers, scientists and others what’s best for climate and our health.

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Column: Method soap's Pullman factory can benefit S.C. Johnson — if cost cutting doesn't get in the way

“This appears to be an effort by S.C. Johnson to bolster its brand by adding companies that focus on sustainability and specialize in biodegradable and nontoxic ingredients,” says Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of California-based As You Sow, an advocacy group that tracks corporate environmental efforts.

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Roundup Revealed: Glyphosate in Our Food System

As You Sow has brought this issue to the attention of major companies, including Kellogg, a leader in sustainable agriculture who responded by agreeing to survey its supply chain about pre-harvest use of glyphosate.

"Experts, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, agree that pesticides are not necessary or helpful to feed the world," said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. "Investors would be prudent to analyze their exposure to pesticide-intensive agriculture and prioritize sustainable solutions."

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As KFC changes policy, Yum shareholders pull proposal on cutting antibiotics

As You Sow, an environmental health watchdog group, and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), recently withdrew the proposal following “productive discussions” with the restaurant company.

“This policy is good news for modern medicine and for long-term shareholder value,” said Austin Wilson, environmental health program manager at As You Sow.

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Tim’s, Burger King to cut some antibiotics from chicken supply

RBI has been on the receiving end of pressure from major investors and Oakland-based shareholder advocacy group As You Sow to curb the use of medically important antibiotics in their livestock supply chains.

Noting McDonald’s and other companies have already “taken action” on antibiotics, As You Sow in 2016 put forward a shareholder resolution for RBI to adopt an “enterprise-wide” policy on phasing out use of antibiotics in its meat supply chains for any reasons other than therapeutic use or “non-routine disease control.”

As You Sow in March agreed to withdraw the resolution, after RBI agreed to “make disclosures” on its website in calendar 2016 about its policies on antibiotic use in livestock, covering its beef, pork and poultry supply chains.

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McDonald's investor renews push for antibiotic reduction in all meat

The sisters are part of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which along with ShareAction, Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative and As You Sow, also are targeting companies such as Sanderson Farms (SAFM.O) and Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N) with similar campaigns aimed at preserving the efficacy of antibiotics.

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Consumer Groups Push KFC to Stop Routine Antibiotic Use in Its Chicken

As per federal government guidance, KFC does not allow the use of such antibiotics for growth promotion. Medical experts warn that the routine use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent illness in healthy farm animals contributes to the rise of drug-resistant “superbug” infections that kill at least 23,000 Americans each year and represent a “catastrophic threat” to global health.

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Shareholders press Yum for stricter antibiotics policy

The proposal from shareholder activists As You Sow, of Oakland, California, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia comes as KFC lags rivals McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), Chick-fil-A, Subway and Wendy’s Co (WEN.O) in setting policies to curb the routine use of antibiotics in chicken production.

“Yum Brands’ silence in the face of this looming antibiotic resistance crisis is bad for business,” said Austin Wilson, As You Sow’s environmental health program manager.

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Disney revenue rises 9 percent on success of ‘The Jungle Book’

● Yum Brands investors on Tuesday filed a shareholder proposal requesting that it quickly phase out harmful antibiotic use in its meat supply, taking aim at the practices of the company’s KFC fried chicken chain. The plan from shareholder activists As You Sow of Oakland, Calif., and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia comes as KFC lags rivals McDonald’s Corp., Chick-fil-A, Subway and Wendy’s Co. in setting policies to curb antibiotic use.

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Are You Eating Toxic Chocolate? Lead Found in Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s and Other Chocolates

Testing commissioned by As You Sow, and conducted at independent laboratories, indicates that the chocolate products contain lead and/or cadmium, and they fail to provide the legally required warning to consumers.

“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children," said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow's environmental health consultant.

As You Sow has filed legal notices against chocolate manufacturers, including Trader Joe's, Hershey's, Green and Black's, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, Godiva, See's Candies, Mars, Theo Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Ghirardelli, Earth Circle Organics and more, for failure to warn of lead and/or cadmium in their chocolate products.

Recent revelations of lead contamination in water in Flint, Michigan raised awareness that lead is irrefutably linked to neurological impacts in children. Since 1992, As You Sow has led enforcement actions resulting in removal of lead from children's jewelry and formaldehyde from portable classrooms.

“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children," explained Danielle Fugere, As You Sow president. “Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products."

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Is there lead in your chocolate?

As You Sow, a California-based consumer advocacy group, believes that some chocolate has more lead than necessary. An updated survey released by the group this week found levels of lead in chocolate at nine times the daily amount that California considers safe to avoid reproductive harm. In addition, the group also found cadmium up to seven times the state's maximum daily exposure.

The group had multiple samples of 50 different cocoa products analyzed by an independent lab and found more than half contained lead and cadmium levels above the state's limits, which are more strict than federal guidelines. As You Sow won't disclose the exact amounts of metals found in the products, in hopes of working directly with the manufacturers to help target sources of these metals, it said.

    "Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products," said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow.

    Eleanne Van Vliet, a consultant on testing for As You Sow, said that lead and cadmium can enter the products a variety of ways.

    "It depends on the growing, processing, manufacturing, shipping. So there are a few possible sources, from our research," she said. "We would really like to have the chocolate industry come together and determine the sources."

    She says consumer groups and advocates like As You Sow have become more powerful and political with the help of social media. Last March, As You Sow was active in helping remove titanium dioxide nanoparticles from Dunkin Donuts' powdered sugar. Recently, Mars, the maker of M&M's and Snickers, announced that it will begin to include genetically modified food labeling on its products in order to comply with a 2014 Vermont law that requires food with genetically modified products to be labeled.

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