DAYTON — Institutions are failing to heed the warnings of science and failing to protect life and health, according to keynote speaker Stacy Malkan at the Dayton Convention Center.
She says there are companies obscuring the debate about food to have “license to poison.”
Malkan has been investigating the food industry for three years as co-director of U.S. Right to Know (US RTK), a nonprofit organization aimed to educate and inform consumers about what the chemical and food companies have been doing behind the scenes “to manipulate media, government, policy-making, regulatory institutions and scientific institutions.”
She shared her discoveries at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) 2018 conference, Feb. 17, themed “A Taste for Change.”
“We’ve reached a level of absurdity that I think is so scary, but is also telling — because they’re on the ropes,” said Malkan. “They don’t know how to deal with a market that doesn’t want to buy their food. And that’s where we’re absolutely winning — and winning in a big way.” The audience applauded this statement.
She added that the organic industry has to get more active in politics. “The consumers are getting it, the women are there, there’s no stopping that change in market demand. But what has to happen now is turn that into a political movement to change the rules of the game so that organic has a fair and even playing field.” Once again, the crowd erupted.
Malkan believes the situation right now is that there are “some people who see and some people who don’t yet see that the institutions that are failing us and failing our children are just human decisions. And we are always free to make different decisions and to create new systems that respect and value life.”
She claims that US RTK now has about 10,000 documents that companies never expected to “see the light of day.” She focused on patterns of who is working with whom, how payments were being made between trade associations, institutions and companies.
She described this as the “fake news frame about the fake news of the future,” pointing out the narrators about our food systems who claimed they were independent but were not.
Fake news frame about the fake news of the future
The Atlantic Harvest, which claimed that in order to feed nine billion people by 2050, genetically engineering food, plants and animals will be required.
“This is woven together into a high-tech feel-good merit about the future and it was sponsored by Dow DuPont,” said Malkan, explaining that this fact upset lot of people and raised concerns with environmental groups.
Malkan said she wrote a piece about it, too, called “Transforming the Food We Eat with Dow DuPont” and in the article she asked “Is anybody at this small table of discussion going to raise the issue of the toxic legacy of this company? Will The Atlantic host a ‘transforming climate’ event with ExxonMobile?”
Maybe, she said, because two years ago The Atlantic Food Summit was sponsored by Elanco, “a division of Eli Lilly that makes ractopamine, a growth-promoting chemical used in meat production that is banned in 100 countries due to health concerns, but still used here.”
Malkan explained that at the Food Summit, Jeffrey Simmons, Elanco president, addressed the Atlantic Food Summit with a tiny table to represent the small percent who are driving the debate on food and increased food regulation on meat producers.
However, Malkan believes this table represents something else. “I actually think it’s a really great example of how tiny, tiny that table is of people who are making decisions about our food.” Malkan says they want to talk about the future, but not the past or the present stories relevant to our food.
“DuPont knew about health risks of its Teflon chemical 25 year ago with workers on the line, pregnant women were having babies with birth defects. They covered up that information, they put it in a drawer for 20 years.”
She brought to light other issues, some which have been going on for decades, dealing with academics (such as Academic Research) working with companies (such as Monsanto) when they claim to be independent. Other issues include using public relations teams, front groups and even the EPA to manipulate science.
“They have way too much power over our food system,” said Malkan. She shared the numbers from 2015, showing $150 billion combined revenue and $30 million in lobbying of the companies: Syngenta, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Bayer.
“When the mergers [of these five companies] are complete, which they almost are — 65 percent of global pesticide sales and 61 percent of commercial seed sales will be in the hands of three companies,” said Malkan.
“How do we flip the script on this?” she asked. “We have and we are.” She emphasized the fight to label GMOs and the significant increase in organic sales and production.
The attack on organic moms
Malkan read the title of an article from the New York Post, “The tyranny of the organic mommy mafia.” She continued to read from the article, “The arrogance and class snobbery of the organic food mafia. If these moms haven’t come to your neighborhood yet, you just wait.”
She said that Academics Review was the main news source for this article, which claims to be an independent group of scientists. Malkan pointed out that Academics Review came out with a 30-page report outlining that organics was basically a black marketing scheme.
She says that they really made a point that they were an independent group and described themselves as non-profit. But here’s what they found in actual emails: “Monsanto was involved in the whole thing from the start,” said Malkan.
The other main source used for the “mommy mafia” article was Julie Gunlock, author of “Cupcakes and Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.”
Malkan explained that that authors of the article and the book were both part of The Independent Women’s Forum.
“None of that was disclosed in the article,” said Malkan. “The person reading it would just think this was a reporter covering third party sources that they found, but the whole thing was a front group job from start to finish.”
“What is really important to look at is not even the politicians in office, but what’s the money behind them? Who’s really calling the shots?” said Malkan.
The good news?
She added the “good news” is the growing organic industry. “We know it’s driven by women because women buy 85 percent of all of consumer products, so this is all about women,” said Malkan. “But it’s also about millennials. It turns out that millennial moms are the biggest group of organic purchasers.”
She also shared a statistic that showed the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies lost $18 billion in market share since 2009, according to a Fortune special report, “The war on big food.”
“There’s a lot of good news out there. Things are changing and they’re changing fast,” said Malkan.
“Where do we find the narrative to change the story about our food system? We find it in our hearts. We find it in those stories that get us excited, that we feel,” she said. “Because we know them to be true about our families, about our experiences, about our love of the land.”
For more information on the U.S. Right to Know investigations and work, visit www.usrtk.org.