Worst Company EVER: Biotech Giant Monsanto is Under Attack, Obama and the FDA are Under the Gun

 

CREDO Action - Dump Michael Taylor

Via CREDO Action website

By Allison Hibbs

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation long reviled by organic farmers, environmentalists and conscientious foodies worldwide, has drawn more than the usual amount of rancor in recent months. While assailants are hoping the media blitzkrieg will prove as damaging to the company as they claim that its bioengineering and genetic modification practices are to the planet, that hope may prove optimistic in light of its cozy relationship with the United States federal government. Efforts to diminish that relationship have led to the recent circulation of more than one petition calling for the dismissal of FDA Food Safety Czar, Michael Taylor, a former top Monsanto executive.

One reason for the recent outrage is a perceived “crusade” by the FDA against small raw milk dairy farmers, many of whom are Amish, even as they overlook repeated violations by larger, industrial producers. CREDO, a publication of Working Assets, began a campaign in late January to educate and motivate consumers to sign a pledge beseeching President Obama to expel Taylor from the administration.

"While factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations, raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs."

CREDO Action

CREDO believes that the FDA’s efforts would be better spent enforcing food safety regulations at the largest industrial producers, where it claims that “antibiotic resistance has run amuck,” rather than focusing so much of the administration’s efforts on sting operations to arrest small dairy farmers.

"Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman -- Jack DeCoster -- who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall. 3Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions, Michael Taylor thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets of his FDA enforcement raids with guns drawn."

CREDO Action

 

The petition had garnered 151,160 signatures as of SuperBowl Sunday, 75 percent of its 200,000 goal.

SignOn.org Petition: Tell Obama to Cease FDA Ties to Monsanto

Another petition circulating on Twitter and Facebook had reached a total of 220,000 signatures by game time, far surpassing its original goal of 75,000. Written and circulated by Frederick Ravid, this petition includes a longer letter to the president, expressing opposition to the his administration’s appointment of Taylor three years ago.

“Taylor is the same person who as a high-ranking official at the FDA in the 1990s promoted allowing genetically modified organisms into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks,” reads the letter. “This is a travesty.” Pointing out that Taylor was in charge of policy regarding the widely-opposed bovine growth hormone and that he fought against the requirement for disclosures on milk from cows that had been treated with the hormone, Ravid goes on to decry Monsanto as a company directly threatening the health and well-being of US citizens.

Reinforcing these concerns are WikiLeaks documents that surfaced last year implicating the Bush administration in questionable tactics used against countries in Europe to impel them to purchase Monsanto GMO products that they were resisting. Other documents imply that the US government considered putting pressure on the Pope to come out in favor of GMO foods. If any such actions were taken, they have proven largely unsuccessful and Monsanto has been repeatedly thwarted in France, Germany and the UK.

 

Additionally, lawsuits have been brought against the biotech giant by India and Canada for biopiracy and biocontamination, respectively; and a group of 270,000 American organic farmers are also suing the company for biocontamination. Ironically, the move is intended to protect these farmers against possible patent-infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto over GMO seeds that have migrated to – and compromised – their lands.

For all of these reasons (and more), Monsanto has been voted Worst Company of 2011 by Natural Society, and the public seems increasingly to agree. As the acrimony grows, it is beginning to look like the corporation’s PR department has some serious damage control to do if it hopes to retain any influence over government activity.  It is, after all, an election year and Obama may not have the luxury of ignoring so many voters crying “Why, O, why?”

We the Tweeple: Twitter and the 2012 Presidential Election

Written by: Allison Hibbs

“I really think 2012 is going to be the Twitter election.”

That’s what Dick Costolo, CEO of the social media giant, told attendees at a tech conference in California in late January; although the same words might have been uttered by any avid Twitter user who has followed political conversations on the website during the onslaught of GOP debates or the recent State of the Union address leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. Commentary, discussion, fact-checking and ideological rants have flooded the site during these events, involving participants in an interactive political conversation reminiscent of a no-holds-barred town hall brawl.

In fact, among twitterers, trending conversations have often proven to be far more popular than the actual events themselves, a sentiment repeated often during the debates in particular – and with more than a hint of irony.

Twitter appreciation from tweeps during GOP debate on 1/26/12.

Tweets range from inane to insightful, from snarky insults to eloquently phrased questions or impassioned pleas. Anyone looking to get in on the action simply has to add the right hash-tagged phrase to his or her comment to be included in the thread. Keeping up with comments in the heat of the moment becomes nearly impossible, but one has only to go back to the thread when they have time and they can read up on what was said, follow links to related news stories, check the integrity of comments made by those on stage during the event or simply laugh at the more humorous tweets.

During the CNN Debate hosted by John King, opening comments made by Newt Gingrich blasting King for opening with a question about his personal life were widely ridiculed and reposted by active tweeters. While the audience seemed to appreciate his indignation, the twitterverse was not as kind.

1/19/12 CNN debate/ Begala tweet re: Gingrich

It is fairly common knowledge – at least among those familiar with the social medium – that the use of the Twitter platform was an advantage to the Obama camp during the 2008 election cycle: he received far more mentions than his opponent and a disproportionate number of Twitter users identified themselves as democrats. (This doesn’t take into account the number of tweets regarding Republican vice-presidential hopeful, Sarah Palin, who received a large amount of mentions – most of which were unfavorable.) But Twitter has gained significant numbers over the last four years and Republican politicians have increasingly taken to using the platform for their own messaging and organizational purposes. GOP presidential hopefuls employ staff members to follow the tweets during their appearances to find out which topics they are concerned with and which personality attributes or answers they prefer. There is, unquestionably, much to be learned from immediate feedback and they intend to take it to heart.

From the look of it, however, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do if they want to turn the advantage in their favor. During the President’s State of the Union address on Jan. 24, tweets were significantly less scathing and more topically relevant than those posted during the debates. Twitter users still seem to skew further to the left of the aisle than the general public.

Tweets re: GOP debate vs. SOTU

Nevertheless, Twitter has – if nothing else – had the effect of combating political apathy and has brought the public political debate to a whole new level. Those who are chagrined when barred from political discussion in social forums have now found an outlet through which they can share ideas, facts, emotions and hopes – in the hopes of staying informed, sharing information and influencing election outcomes, presidential or otherwise. A new era in politics has indeed arrived.

Welcome to Election 2012, the Year of Twitter.

Google Me Could Take On Facebook

Google Me is rumored to be the a direct competitor of Facebook

The rumors could be true.  Google Me is supposedly the latest project being hammered out by a large staff of tech elves soon to be in direct competition with Facebook, the largest and most popular social media website today.

Lately Google has been pumping up Google Buzz, adding new apps and allowing users to be more easily connected.  Google Me, however; could take their venture into the social media world a lot further.

There will be a few things for Google to overcome if it wants to be a large competitor of Facebook, which currently has 450 million users and growing.  It is thriving far more than MySpace, and the interface is user friendly and well connected to other social network sites like Twitter and Digg.

The new information about Google Me originated from Adam D’Angelo, a former Facebook CTO and owner of the website, Quora.  D’Angelo seems confident in his predictions, but Google is still keeping it under wraps for the most part.

Google Me, if it is true, would add healthy competition to the social media landscape, which has been so saturated that only a few remain on top like Facebook and Twitter.  Google has had great success with its other online ventures that it will be interesting to watch as the company ventures further out into the social media arena.

Social Media Aids Travellers Stranded By Volcano

Social Media

Social Media

Travelers stranded by the Icelandic volcano spewing dangerous ash in to European airspace are finding comfort and resources via social media. The volcano has been erupting for nearly a week, completely grounding air travel in its wake. Ash contains tiny rock particles, which can be detrimental to the aircraft engines, thus causing what some have dubbed the worst flight delay since 9/11.
Social media has come to the rescue of these bedraggled travelers, and not just as forum to air grievances. Many are also finding rides and rooms vial Twitter and Facebook. Tod Brilliant, a California resident, created the Facebook group “When Volcanoes Erupt: A Survival Guide for Stranded Travellers,after he and his 31-weeks-pregnant wife Andrea were stranded in London.

“We’re feeling pretty helpless, and it’s therapeutic to help other people network,” said Brilliant. “There’s nothing more futile than shaking your fist at a volcano.”
“People have been very generous. A band of neighbors on tiny Percy Street in Stratford-upon-Avon have taken it upon themselves to make sure that Andrea and I have what we need,” Brilliant said. “It makes me want to cry thinking about it.”
While there is no guarantee as to when the airspace will be cleared, it appears that weary travelers have a virtual, and sometimes real, shoulder to lean on as they wait for their ticket home.