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Press Room

Food Safety Teach-In Session Notes and Descriptions

Dan Imhoff, Director of Watershed Media
"Food Safety and the Fate of the Commons"
While food safety measures are in place to safeguard the common good, further discussion is needed about its broader societal impacts. What happens, for instance, when defending industrial food production systems compromises the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs (the medical commons) or sacrifices wild habitats and native species that can actually benefit agriculture (the biological commons)? Perhaps we need expanded parameters for what constitutes safe food.

Jo Ann Baumgartner, Director of Wild Farm Alliance
"Why Marketing Food Safety Doesn't Work: The Leafy Green History of Habitat Destruction"
Long before the spinach tragedy in 2006, processors realized industrially shaving leafy greens from the ground required farm audits to keep objects such as frogs from being bagged. Afterwards, the free market kicked in, through one-upmanship between shippers/buyers selling the 'safest' product, and new lucrative food safety auditing services based as much on perception as on science. Misguided requirements scapegoating wildlife have led to habitat destruction, extensive poisoning, and fences that go nowhere.

Diana Stuart, Doctoral Candidate, UCSC
"Native Habitat and Wildlife Pose Little Risk: Working From the Science We Know"
A literature review of scientific studies indicates that wildlife associated with natural environments pose little risk to food safety. Studies of deer show they carry relatively little to no traces of E. coli 0157: H7, even when sharing the range with cattle. A recent review of field rodent research concluded it is unlikely they carry pathogens. Other research shows vegetation serving as wildlife habitat protects water quality and can even reduce the transport of pathogens.

Dave Runsten, Director of Community Alliance with Family Farmers
"Defending Family Farmers: Industrial Food Safety Fallout"
Family farmers who are not producing leafy greens for the processing industry are being affected indirectly by extreme food safety metrics within the industry. Attorneys, insurance companies, and auditors have convinced most buyers such as food service companies and supermarkets that all such produce is dangerous, even though there is no evidence that whole leafy greens from family farms have seriously sickened or killed anyone. CAFF has been developing simplified food safety metrics that farmers can employ to defend themselves against unwarranted buyer demands.

Bu Nygrens, Purchasing Manager and Co-owner of Veritable Vegetable
"Why Not All Produce Shippers Have Bought into Voluntary Leafy Green Regulations"
As a long-time distributor of organic produce that values sustainability and a systems approach, Veritable Vegetable (VV) does not subscribe to marketing schemes that purport to guarantee "safe" leafy greens. Science based and common sense protocols must be developed that address the diversity of scale in the food system, and take into account diverse farming situations and sustainable practices. VV takes a holistic approach toward food safety that does not put the burden on farmers alone.

Robert S. Lawrence, M.D., Director of Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
"CAFOs: Incubators for Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Our Food?"
A discussion will cover the evidence linking the inappropriate use of antibiotics in sub-therapeutic doses as growth promoters in the industrial production of food animals in the United States to the emergence of bacteria resistant to these antibiotics and the subsequent threat to the health of the public. Confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs where thousands of animals are crowded together and exposed to antibiotics used for growth promotion create the perfect environment for eliminating bacteria susceptible to antibiotics and selecting out the bacteria with genetic mutations allowing them to survive in the presence of the antibiotic. Inadequate attention has been given to the use of antibiotics as growth promoters that are important in the treatment of infections in humans, especially the very young, the very old, and those whose immune systems are weakened by chemotherapy for cancer or by infection with HIV.

"Public Trust in Jeopardy: Perspectives From a Panel of Conservationists"
• Jill Wilson, Environmental Scientist, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
• Jovita Pajarillo, Associate Director Water Division, Region 9 US EPA
• Terry Palmisano, Senior Wildlife Biologist, California Department of Fish and Game
• Bill Stevens, Natural Resource Management Specialist, National Marine Fisheries Service
• Danny Marquis, Resource Conservationist, Natural Resource Conservation Service

Becky Weed, Farmer, 13 Mile Lamb and Wool Company
"Brucellosis, Bison, and Food Safety: Animal Health Rules Run Astray and How They're Changing"
Animal health rules that were established decades ago to eradicate brucellosis from domestic livestock herds no longer fit the nation's needs for brucellosis management, for the only remaining reservoir is in wildlife, not domestic herds. The complicated history of bison, elk and cattle in the Greater Yellowstone Area illustrate how well-intentioned food safety rules, when misapplied, can distract us from real issues in both agricultural and wildlife policy. The brucellosis case illustrates how food safety, trade, and marketing issues can get muddled, perhaps providing some cautions in how we interpret more recent events involving e.coli contamination of vegetable crops.

Andy Kimbrell, Director of Center for Food Safety
"Irradiation, Genetic Engineering and Cloning Livestock: Harmful Food Technologies and Sustainable Alternatives"
Food safety is under attack from many directions. The FDA proposed irradiation of leafy greens is not the solution to food borne illness. In fact, it serves to distract attention from the unsanitary conditions of industrial agriculture that create the problem in the first place. Genetic engineering, nanotechnology and cloned livestock are additional developments that create new and unique risks to human health and the environment. Safety testing and labeling is needed- consumers have a right to know what they are eating.










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