Just when you thought the scandal surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops couldn't get any worse, breaking news of a novel pathogenic microorganism that might be linked to GM agriculture is spreading like wildfire across the internet. While you couldn't write a better sci-fi script if you tried, this research is potentially of grave concern. A senior U.S. soil scientist has written to the federal government about a novel microorganism apparently linked to GM crops that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals, raising significant concerns about human health. The letter was written to the USDA in light of the then pending decision to approve Monsanto's Roundup Ready Alfalfa, which has been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Yet it appears that no official action was taken to investigate the research before the green light was given for commercial planting.
Animal Welfare Approved, the nation’s leading certification label for family farmers raising their animals with high welfare standards, is hosting Jeanette Orrey, the United Kingdom’s famous “Dinner Lady” (that would be a lunch lady on this side of the pond) the week of January 11th. Orrey is a leader in the U.K.’s efforts to provide school lunches made of fresh, local organic food. She will be visiting with school officials, farmers and proponents of healthy school lunches in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia.
According to Andrew Gunther, Program Director for Animal Welfare Approved, Orrey’s work in the U.K. dovetails nicely with the U.S. movement to educate children about food and improve school lunches. “Right now, U.S. work focuses very strongly on fresh fruits and vegetables,” he says. “Jeanette began by sourcing beef from local farmers for her school, so we felt her work would be of interest to her U.S. counterparts. Farmers in the Animal Welfare Approved program provide healthy, safe, nutritionally superior products which should be part of any child’s school-provided lunch. To this end, being a part of the dialogue regarding healthy eating by our nation’s youth and in our nation’s schools helps us to achieve our mission of promoting our family farmers while ensuring children receive the best food possible.”
Accompanying Orrey on her journey will be Animal Welfare Approved staff, Bill Telepan, chef/owner of Manhattan’s Telepan Restaurant, and Nancy Easton, a New York City teacher for 20 years. Telepan is a long-time Animal Welfare Approved supporter and a board member of Wellness in the Schools. Wellness in the Schools is a grassroots organization that promotes children’s environmental health, nutrition and fitness within the New York City public schools. Easton co-founded Wellness in the Schools and serves on its board. The New York City school system serves approximately 1.1 million students.
“We’re excited to join the conversation about the best way to serve safe, nutritious and delicious food in schools,” Gunther commented. “Each country faces different challenges in achieving the same goal and everyone is looking forward to talking shop and exchanging ideas and stories. It’s a coming together of those dedicated to serving great food in schools.”
During her stay, Orrey will meet with the following proponents of healthy school lunches in addition to visiting a number of schools in each of the three school districts:
New York City Department of Education
Eric Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer for Nutrition and Transportation
Dianne Frankel, Director of Operations
Chef Jorge Collazo, SchoolFood Executive Chef
Stephen O’Brien, Director of Food and Food Support
Queens County Farm Museum, NYC
Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, Executive Director
Michael Grady Robertson, Director of Agriculture
Arlington County Public Schools, VA
Amy Maclosky, Food Service Director
Jeanette Orrey is the School Meals Policy Advisor to the Soil Association. Jeanette’s achievements and guidance were central to the success of the Food For Life campaign and an inspiration for Jamie Oliver’s fight to improve school meals. Her life has been a whirlwind of training, lecturing, meetings with ministers and, of course, awards ceremonies. She has received recognition of her work from, amongst others, Radio 4’s ‘The Food Programme’ (2003); The Observer (2004); Good Housekeeping (2005) and the Guild of Food Writers (2006) for her book ‘The Dinner Lady’.