Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!
The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.
TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.
At a 2010 Congressional briefing sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter, I warned the continued and routine overuse of antibiotics in U.S. meat production could be shooting the global competitiveness of that industry in the foot.
Update: Hear an interview with former Chipotle employee Maria Cortes on the latest Radio Sustain (mp3)!
A growing and impressive number of health professionals are calling for changes in the next Farm Bill. Below is our press release from today:
Is chronic disease mostly a product of environment, and not genes, as we've been led to believe? That provocative question is the focus for a new report by The Bioscience Resource Project.
After my fascinating meeting last week on a West African food security reserve, my second meeting in Ghana was also about cereals.
In my more desperate hours, I sometimes wonder whether raising my physician voice is enough to foster change, to make the food system healthier and more sustainable.
While the world's governments gathered in Cancún, ultimately failing to reach a meaningful multilateral commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help save the planet, I was across the Atlantic in a different tropical country: Ghana.
Last month, the journal San Francisco Medicine published what we hope will become an annual nutrition issue, titled Food for Thought: Practical Nutrition for Physicians. Some of the gems include a piece from our own David Wallinga, MD on "An Unhealthy Food System: Suggestions for Physician Advocacy" and another from Brian Raymond, MPH of Kaiser Permanente called "Taking Action: A Health Sector Guide to Food System and Agricultural Policy."
Read the entire issue (.pdf).
There is growing scientific evidence that environmental exposures affect both individuals' health and the health of the population as a whole. Our health professionals are on the front lines treating diseases associated with a variety of environmental contaminants.
In a new article for Medscape titled "Greening Your Practice," IATP's David Wallinga, M.D., outlines how clinicians can address two critical environmental issues with important health consequences: the daily exposure of people to combinations of toxic chemicals, and an unhealthy "obesogenic" food environment. Dr. Wallinga writes, "Because chemical and food environments are inherently community issues, clinicians may find advocacy for healthier chemical and food policies to be an essential component for reducing the unhealthy food and chemical exposures already affecting their patients."
You can read the full article here.
Many things “cause” the obesity epidemic, acting together. But the general consensus around how to respond to this fact has changed significantly.
For years the focus within academic medicine was on changing lifestyle or behavior—in short, approaches that focus on the individual. The approach didn't work very well.
The new approach is to change the default environment that appears to constrain individuals to make bad choices and become obese in the first place by eating more calories than they can burn. A permissive culture that allows even the youngest, most vulnerable children to be bombarded with soda and other junk food ads is one example. Local zoning that leaves many neighborhoods lacking in sidewalks or bike lanes—or virtually any way of getting from point A to B except by car—is another.
But might there be some other mysterious factors like environmental chemicals or contaminated food? Science pointing in that direction is mounting.
This week, Nature reports on a study that looks at the obesity epidemic of the four-legged kind. (Though it’s hard to see how pets and laboratory animals would be as impacted by marketing or zoning as are kids.)
The study, called "Canaries in the Coal Mine," and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, looks at statistics on more than 20,000 animals and finds an epidemic of obesity in family pets, among laboratory animals and even among wild animals living near people.
The study raises as many questions as it answers. The authors acknowledge that there are many conceivable explanations for what they observed. Perhaps rats are fatter because our garbage has become richer as we have. However, an NIH-funded workshop on the “Role of Environmental Chemicals in the Development of Diabetes and Obesity,” is being held January 11–13, 2011in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This promises to be a story we’ll be hearing more about.