Over the past few weeks I have been busy commenting on pretty negative news— genetically modified salmon is a step closer to being on the market; the Supreme Court overturned an injunction that would stop the USDA from allowing a partial deregulation of Monsanto genetically modified alfalfa; a study was released, based on highly questionable science, that grassfed beef isn’t any healthier than grainfed beef; GMs are being driven to market even though 53 percent of Americans object; and Smithfield is being given control of environmental comities —but rays of light are shining through the darkness. What a welcome to the beginning of the week when I can read a report that focuses on a real solution. Big Ag isn’t going to like the recent report issued by the United Nations one bit because it threatens its very existence. Big Ag wants you to believe that unsustainable farming practices that lock animals in barren cages and feedlots are the only way to provide enough meat, dairy and eggs. That arable systems only work if you spray the fields three or four times with poisons. That fruit farms require nerve gas linked to autism to produce a crop. That leaving mountains of poisonous manure and contaminated water that sickens our children is just the cost of doing business. That this abhorrent failing system that takes profit from farms and diverts it to corporate monoliths with no conscience or morality is just the way it has to be. Yes, Big Ag really needs you to believe that this massive failed experiment called modern mono-agriculture is our only chance to stave off worldwide hunger. But, it turns out, it’s not. The new U.N. report, “Dead Planet, Living Planet: Biodiversity and ecosystem restoration for sustainable development," made me smile. The report documents over 30 successful reforestation case studies and proudly proclaims, “Restoration is not only possible, but can prove highly profitable …” In one region alone, known as the “Desert of Tanzania,” agroforestry (planting trees and crops on the same parcel) increased household income by up to $500 U.S. a year. The average yearly household income for Tanzania is under $500 U.S. per year.
Release No. 0137.09
Contact: Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
April 28, 2009
“I want to reiterate that U.S. pork is safe. While we in the U.S. are continuing to monitor for new cases of H1N1 flu, the American food supply is safe.
There is no evidence or reports that U.S. swine have been infected with this virus. USDA is reminding its trading partners that U.S. pork and pork products are safe and there is no basis for restricting imports of commercially produced U.S. pork and pork products.
This is not an animal health or food safety issue. This discovery of the H1N1 flu virus is in humans. Any trade restrictions would be inconsistent with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
According to OIE, because the current H1N1 flu related human health event has been described as swine influenza, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) announced that there has been no infection in animals confirmed in the zones where cases of human infection have been detected. Therefore, it is not necessary to introduce specific measures for international trade in swine or their products, nor are consumers of pork products at risk of infection.
United States Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk urged all trading partners to base any food safety measures taken to protect their populations on scientific evidence and in accordance with their international obligations. In a statement, Kirk said that ”restrictions on U.S. pork or pork products or any meat products from the United States resulting from the recent outbreak do not appear to be based on scientific evidence and may result in serious trade disruptions without cause.’
To our trading partners, I would say again that our pork and pork products are safe.”