Another Blow to Food Safety

Codex

The U.S. Codex Office is moving from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to USDA’s Trade and Foreign Affairs Office and that may not be such a good thing.

The Codex Alimentarius, aka the “Food Code”, is a set of standards, guidelines and codes designed to protect food quality and safety. One example is the safe level of veterinary drug residues in meat and poultry.

Is the Trump regime again sidelining the food safety standards in the U.S.? That seems to be the case. The op-ed by Dr. Richard Raymond is well worth reading. Bit by bit our policy infrastructure is being pulled apart in insidious ways.

Are we emphasizing trade goals over food safety? Was the new USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs the first announced USDA nominee after Secretary Perdue?

The answer to both questions is yes, and is confirmed by the lack of an Undersecretary for food safety who might have advised against this move, and even campaigned in the halls of Congress to maintain the status quo, a status that had very high international respect.
Moving Codex Out of FSIS Will Boost Trade, Not Food Safety
Food Safety News, Sept. 21, 2017, by Dr. Richard Raymond

An Interview Not To Miss!

Trump
(cc) 2015, Michael Vadon

 

Solipsistic reality means that the only reality he’s capable of embracing has to do with his own self and the perception by and protection of his own self. And for a president to be so bound in this isolated solipsistic reality could not be more dangerous for the country and for the world.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on ‘A Duty to Warn’
Renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton on the Goldwater Rule: We have a duty to warn if someone may be dangerous to others.
Bill Moyers, Sept. 14, 2017

Fox Watching the Henhouse

slyfox
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There are many insidious ways to undermine the body politic. The current U.S. Administration has used political appointments to formerly apolitical government agencies to create chaos. Here are a few examples:

Lobbyist Who Once Sued Interior Named To Be Department’s No. 2 Official
His name is David Longly Bernhardt, and he’s worked as the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. He’s sued the Interior Department and helped write legislation on behalf of his client. Largely because of his services, Westlands has paid Bernhardt and the law firm where he works $1.27 million since 2011.

Fresno Bee, April 28, 2017, by Steven Leavenworth

For those familiar with California water issues, the Westlands Water District is a well-known player in thwarting efforts to reduce selenium and other toxic chemicals in California’s irrigation water.

Trump Friend and Climate Foe Sam Clovis Is Up for a Big job at the USDA
The post, undersecretary of research, education, and economics, sets the Agriculture Department’s scientific course. Clovis’s background as a professor of economics fits with the econ and ed parts of the job, but reports of his pending appointment is drawing criticism because he has no experience with scientific research.

Grist, May 15, 2017 by Nathanael Johnson

Clovis was also a Trump campaign advisor and a conservative talk show radio host in Sioux City, Iowa. Surely that makes him qualified to be Chief Scientist for the USDA.

Trump’s New Bank Regulator: Lawyer Who Helped Banks Charge More Fees
Keith Noreika helped big banks avoid state laws protecting consumers. As head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, he now has the power to override those state laws.

ProPublica, May 15, 2017, by Cezary Podkul

It’s Not Only About Healthcare!

The goal of the House Republicans’ repeal of “Obamacare” is to divert money from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to pay for tax cuts for wealthy Americans. The ACA covered not only health insurance provisions but also many other issues related to the health of Americans, especially public health.

foodborne-causes-lg

Food safety funding has been drastically reduced. John Auerbach, CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, reports: “If the bill eventually becomes law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lose 12 percent of its budget, of which a significant portion—$625 million a year—goes directly to state and local health departments.” (Source: House ACA Replacement will Cripple the Nation’s Health, Trust for America’s Health Statement, May 4, 2017).

 

CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people gets sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The 2011 estimates provide the most accurate picture of which foodborne bacteria, viruses, microbes (“pathogens”) are causing the most illnesses in the United States. According to the 2011 estimates, the most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Source: CDC Website

The state and local health departments are the front line protecting Americans from foodborne illness to Zika virus infections. Their budgets need to be greatly increased, not decreased.

The Wall, Again

wall_sand-dune-fence
United States Border Patrol at Algodones Sand Dunes, California, USA. 
Source: Department of Homeland Security, United States Border Patrol

 Trump’s wall is unChristian. Trump’s wall is anti-Christian. Christians who supported Trump should be publicly asked if they support his wall. Call them up. Members of Congress who will be asked to approve funding to build Trump’s wall should be told by the Christians in their districts to vote against it. Call them up.

Christians Can Stop Trump’s Wall
Sojourners, April 26, 2017, by Jim Wallis

The wall, intended to halt illegal immigration, would also block many rivers and streams. This consequence has not yet been discussed much. The wall itself could restrict water flow important to farms and cities on both sides of the border. This could worsen water pollution and lead to flooding disasters. It might also change groundwater recharge in areas fed by rivers.

Trump’s Border Wall Could Have Lasting Effect on Rivers, Water Supply
Water Deeply, April 24, 2017, by Matt Weiser

Mexican engineers believe construction of the border barrier may violate a 47-year-old treaty governing the shared waters of the Rio Grande. If Mexico protests, the fate of the wall could end up in an international court.

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding
National Public Radio (KRWG), April 25, 2017, by John Burnett

100 Days …

bad graph

The following are commentaries about the Twitler’s first 100 days in office. I post their links here because they offer interesting perspectives. If you are not interested in this topic, check out Paul Nicklen’s website. He is an extraordinary photographer and I like his Sense of Place gallery.

The 100 Days That Turned America Upside Down
Moyers & Company, April 26, 2017, by Neal Gabler

The First 100 Days of Resistance Restored Our Faith in Democracy
The Nation, April 24, 2017, by John Nichols

 

Twitler to Order Review of National Monuments, Including Bears Ears

BearsEarsUSGS-2D

Bear Ears, Utah (Source: U.S. Geological Survey (https://3dparks.wr.usgs.gov/nabr/html2/nb077.htm) Public Domain)

 

President Donald Trump this week will order a review of national monument designations — including southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — as part of a wide look at a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval.

On Wednesday, Trump will sign an executive order to demand that the Interior Department secretary examine all national monument designations in the past 21 years to discern whether their size and scope are within the law’s intent, a move that tracks clearly with concerns of members of Utah’s federal delegation about the use of the unilateral presidential power in designating monuments.

Trump to Order Review of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase
The Salt Lake Tribune, April 23, 2017, by Thomas Burr

It was a great day (Dec. 28, 2016) when President Obama issued the proclamation establishing Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. I have been supporting the establishment of this National Monument for a long time. There are many attributes that make this National Monument so special. The collaboration of five sovereign tribal nations is outstanding. These nations are:  Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe. For more information (and lovely pictures) please visit the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition. This land needs to be protected from drilling, dumping, road building, and fracking. Not all of Utah deserves to be poisoned.