Since the 1990’s genetically engineered foods have been on the market, mostly unbeknown to the consumer. The vegetables, fruits, and packaged goods you purchase could contain scientifically modified ingredients. On top of being a little Frankenstein-ish, GMO foods are terrifying because there have been no long term studies done on them, there is a possible genetic effect on humans which is unknown, and doctors have cited it as possible causes of some food allergies and diseases.   Is there a way to know whether you are purchasing a GMO food? Not currently. It’s always a risk, even for items labeled “natural” on the shelves.

 

 

Next week, all of that may change in California. This election, Proposition 37 proposes GMO food be labeled as such for the benefit of the consumers. The law would require any food from plant or animal that contains GMO ingredients to be labeled with a few exemptions. Farm animals fed GMO grain, restaurants, and alcohol are all exempt from this current law as they are regulated differently  It also bars GMO products from labeling themselves as “natural,” which unfortunately is an unregulated marketing word.

Living in California and a huge organic supporter, we are excited for the possibility of this law. Consumers have a right to know what is going in their bodies and it seems the populace agrees. The latest polls are showing over 60% of California voters are in favor of the proposition. Plus one look at who is against it, will make up your mind quickly, Monsanto has been a huge critic, pouring gobs of money into the opposition campaign. They are quite possibly the largest GMO farming corporation that has come under fire for labor violations recently. Would you trust those guys? 

Other than knowing what we are putting into our bodies, passing such a law is so important is that it will set a precedent for other states to follow suit. Organic advocates, parents, and pretty much everyone who buys food will win in the long run if this law is passed. Well, you know that slogan: you are what you eat, and we certainly don’t want to be something made in a lab. Please Vote YES on Prop 37!

 

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Although in earlier posts we mentioned that our company has not openly supported a specific candidate over another, upon many nights of research, we have decided to officially endorse the Obama campaign!! After looking over countless articles and reading Obama and Biden’s beliefs, choices, and plans for our country, it has become clear that their views are very much in line with the views and vision of Autonomie Project.

We feel that this election is too close for comfort and is of such historical significance that we must do everything we can, as individuals and as a company, to support our chosen candidate.  That includes educating you, beloved readers, on the issues that matter most to us and how Obama and Joe Biden plan to help.  So read away, and let us know if you agree!

  1. Investment and Creation of 5 Million Green Jobs: AP applauds Obama’s support of the Green economy. Obama believes that one of the keys to boosting the economy and improving the environment is the development of a robust Green Market sector that would provide millions of jobs to replace the millions we are losing due to volatile capital markets, all while making our planet a healthier place.
  2. Support for Small Business and Start Ups: This one hits especially close to home, as AP is barely a year old and needs all the start-up help we can get!  We are just a few friends on a mission to spread the word of Fair Trade through organic fashions. Obama’s plan provides tax relief to small businesses so that innovation (like ours!) can be encouraged and new jobs created.  He also supports funding for incubators of start ups in disadvantaged communities.
  3. Worker’s Rights: Obviously labor and worker’s rights are very important to us at Autonomie. Obama has called to raise the minimum wage and to end the use of replacement workers when a union is on strike.  He also wants to push forth the Employee Free Choice Act protecting workers’ rights to organize.
  4. New Energy for America: This is the phrase Obama has used to describe his energy and environmental plan. Highlights of the plan include a move to reduce green house gases by 80%; develop an American-made, plug-in hybrid car market that will put 1 million hybrid cars on the road by 2015; end our addiction to foreign oil; and to push forth a plan to implement alternative energy as a source for electricity in American homes.
  5. A Responsible End to the Iraq War: It’s no question at this point that the Iraq War was a mistake and is eating up billions of American taxpayer money. Obama is calling for a responsible withdrawal of troops and plans to focus on finding the real people behind the 9-11 attacks.

These are just a few of the key issues we see eye-to-eye with Obama and are the reasons why we have chosen to not only vote for him as individuals, but to endorse him as a company!  Please stay informed, volunteer for the campaign, and realize this is the most important election for our generation. The choices we make on November 4th will affect our country and the world for us and our future generations.

The choice is ours. Let’s make real change together! OBAMA-BIDEN 2008!

As our previous post covered an animal rights initiative that would ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts. Today we want to take a look at Proposition 2 in California that would alter the way farm animals are confined. This bill is not the most comprehensive bill for animal abuses in the industry. However, it is a clear step in the right direction. This proposal would ban cages of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. It will also bans all confinement for egg laying hens, gestation crates for breeding pigs, and veal crates for veal calves. Lastly, it will institute a penalty of $1000 or up to 6 months in jail if anyone is found in violation of the act.

Supporting this proposition would take a step towards banning animal cruelty that is caused by housing farm animals in unsafe and unsanitary situations.  Earlier this year we wrote a blog detailing the cruelty of the egg industry called The Truth About Eggs. In this post we detailed some of the more serious abuses to egg laying hens, including the fact that hens are kept in ultra tight quarters, depending on the factory, but the USDA reports the average floor space provided is somewhere less than a half a foot per hen. So the ban on battery cages would be a huge improvement to the industry, but will not stop all the abuse including the cruel deaths to male chickens and non egg producing hens.

This bill will also ban the crates used for sows. These pigs are used to breed and are kept in cages so tight that they can not turn around and barely larger than the sow itself for their entire life. And the cages are stacked so tightly together that sometimes there are up to 20 pigs stored in tight quarters. These crates are already banned in the UK, Sweden, and by the EU, although they still make up a large part of the US pig breeding industry. But now California has a chance to change that. If Prop 2 passes, this type of cage will be outlawed. It may not completely improve the quality of life of the pigs, but at least it will alleviate some suffering caused by these cages.

Baby cows used for veal will also released from their confinement if this bill passes. Veal calves are kept in what are referred to as veal crates. They are taken immeadiately from their mothers side, kept chained to a crate where they can not turn around, and denied proper nutrition. The calves are often kept in the dark and are left in unsanitary conditions. Many well known veternarians and other scientists believe these practices to be inhumane and support banning these abuses. Prop 2 will ban the crates, but unfortunately not all the abuses.

Beyond animals these abuses harm, there is one more group to think about: the humans who eat the meat and eggs supplied by these malnourished animals. Because the animals are kept in such tight quarters, it increases the possibility for them to contract diseases that could be passed to humans such as salmonella and e. coli. Also, because the animals are confined their entire lives, they do not exercise and enjoy normal activity, bringing down their overall nutrition (thus bringing the nutrition and health down in their meat). In a report published by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, they scientifically explain the spread of disease to humans through confined farm animal meat and they quote the FDA saying that the cases of these diseases in humans is on the rise in the US.

So thanks for reading our view on Prop 2 in California! We know it won’t solve all the problems, because trust us there are many more abuses and practices that threaten the health of humans. But as we said before, it will make a difference in thousands of animals well being and hopefully will be a step towards elminating several other abuses. We are in Massachusetts, but wish we could vote for this bill. If you are a Californian, we urge you to read the facts and get informed on this issue! California has a chance to end this abuse and set and example for the rest of the country!!

It feels like the election has been so focused on our next president, that we are all forgetting about our local elections, where we can make a huge impact! Where the presidential election is obviously of utmost importance, we also want to take a look at a few propositions that will appear on November ballots. We are very excited about two awesome animal rights acts in both California and Massachusetts. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight Question 3 or Greyhound Protection Act in Massachusetts. This being our home, we are very excited about the possibility of our state banning dog racing!

Now you may wonder, what’s wrong with dog racing? It a historic business and the animals have laws protecting them. Although, this may be true, laws are not always enforced and at least 800 dogs have suffered injuries in the past 5 years including death. Racing is actually a dangerous sport for dogs and because they are running at such high speeds it can result in series harm. Many opponents of this bill will say that this number is not accurate, however Massachusetts state law requires a report to be written every time a dog has an injury. Grey2K an animal rights and greyhound protection group issued a well documented and well researched 92 page report which includes pictures and actual injury reports. Opponents of the bill were also recently fact checked by the Boston Globe for inflating racing numbers to make it appear as if a smaller percentage of dogs were actually harmed. Actually both sides of the issue have attacked each other for inflated or minimizing numbers. But either way 1 dog harmed is too many for us and 800 is far too many!

On top of serious dog injuries, the treatment of the dogs has come under fire. Thousands of dogs are kept in cages for up to 20 hours a day when not racing. These cages are often described as not large enough for the dog to turn completely around, as highlighted in the pictures taken at Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, MA. Along with confining the dogs, they are fed low grade food that is considered unfit for human consumption, meaning it can contain diseases such as salmonella. Likely due to their close quarters there have been instances where several dogs became sick and perished from unknown diseases. Such as in 2005 when 19 dogs died within hours at the Wonderland Greyhound Park. Also, there have been reports of the animals being drugged and a huge story broke when it was discovered that a dog named Reese from the same racetrack tested positive for cocaine twice!

Another item opponents to the bill say is there would be a job loss of 1200 people if this bill is passed. This number may seem daunting, especially in a recession. However, it has been well documented that dog racing is a failing industry and even track owner’s have admitted racing is on its last leg. And the racetracks have only been able to survive through aid given to them by state government. Between 2004 and 2007 Massachusetts state government gave these two racetracks $5 million in special funds of taxpayers money to keep the racetracks alive!! Now as we are in this current economic crisis, state funding is getting cut everywhere, do we really want to see our money used for special interest rather than in our schools and police force?

As this article is much longer than expected, if you are still reading it, we hope you take the time to go over the facts. And the main question you must ask yourselves, don’t all dogs deserve a loving, caring home and a stress free life? Would you treat your dog this way?

As a follow up to the ongoing debates and the VP Green Report we published last week, we want to examine presidential candidates views on the environment. We figured since we covered the vice presidential candidates we would give the main attractions some lip service. Both Obama and McCain have very different plans for our country on a number of issues. Here at Autonomie, we wanted to highlight their ideas and history on both the environment and energy policies. So here we go:

As we mentioned before, here at Autonomie Project we are not endorsing a particular candidate but will be voting with the ticket that best meets our values as individuals and as a company.

John McCain:

  • Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, which caps pollution to 2004 levels by 2012, although only in utilities, industry, and transportation.
  • He has proposed a Cap and Trade Policy that would set a limit of greenhouse production and create a market where ability to emit pollution would be traded. Believing that the lower cost energy production would succeed. The reduction for the cap are set to the following: reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Barack Obama:

  • Obama has stated he intends to keep the federal ban in place on offshore drilling, as well as drilling in Alaska. However, during the course of the campaign he has said he will consider it; stating “…we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”
  • He also believes a cap and trade system is the key to cutting emissions. His plan calls to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 rates by 2050 and emission permits would be up for sale, causing polluters to pay for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.
  • Obama has been a strong supporter of developing new types of alternative energy and has introduced his New Energy for America plan which would not only fund new research for alternative energy, but also provide short term releif for middle America.
  • He has called for the creation and funding for hybrid and new cleaner car emissions research and devolopment. In fact, to fund this he introduced the Heath Care for Hybrids Act, this asks the American auto industry to produce and devlop more efficient hybrids in exchange for the government taking care of retired auto workers heath insurance. He is proposing to get 1 million Plug-In Hybrids on the road by 2015.
  • Cosponsored the Coal to Liquid Fuel Production Act of 2007 which used high energy to convert coal into liqued fuel, which is quite damaging to the environment. Many environmentalists opposesed this bill. However, Obama has since stated that he will only support coal energy if it emits 20 percent less carbon than traditional fuels.

So there you have it: a quick rundown of the key issues both Obama and McCain support regarding the environment. Now its up to you to decide who has a better plan for the environment, energy, and the future of our nation!! The choice is yours.

This is a re-printed letter from Co-op America, that we find extremely important! It takes just a few minutes to send out letters to all the candidates in this election, Presidential and local. We just did it ourselves! So make sure your environmental concerns are addressed and click on the Take Action Button today!!!!!!

Over the course of this campaign, we’ve heard a lot of talk about oil pipelines in Alaska, “drill, baby, drill,” and even an unfortunate embrace of so-called “clean coal” technology, though no form of coal is ever truly “clean.”

With less than one month to go before Election Day, we need to let our candidates know we’re demanding a comprehensive, modern, green energy policy that will put this country back on the right path in more ways than one.

Right now, we can launch a new green energy plan for the US that is intentionally designed to meet five urgent needs at once. We can:

  1. tackle the rising price of fuel, a hardship for many American families,
  2. transition the US away from its dependence on foreign oil,
  3. push back against the perils of climate change, and
  4. reverse rising unemployment rates, which reached a five-year high in September.
  5. create real investment into our economy that will counter the ongoing Wall Street meltdown, and its impact on Main Street.

While Co-op America members have been making green-energy changes in their lives for many, many years, the time is NOW for a major system change.

We’re challenging each of you to come together with us and tell all presidential and congressional candidates that our country is ready for a clean energy infrastructure that makes it easier to live green.

All of our candidates need to be reminded that if we do this – if we implement a comprehensive green energy policy that calls for energy efficiency, cleaner cars, and renewable solar and wind power –  we’ll ALL reap the rewards of a cleaner environment, reinvigorated economy, and more secure future.

When you click through to take our action, you’ll be prompted for your ZIP code, which will bring up all congressional and presidential candidates running for office in your area.  Then you can add your own personal touch to our editable message, urging all of the candidates to endorse a greener energy platform.  Please take this urgent action today.

Send your message to the candidates now »

For background on Co-op America’s clean-energy recommendations, check our latest editorial, in which we debunk the myths that can discourage progress on green energy, and outline the components that any elected leader should have in her or his energy policy.  (Please post it widely online, send it to your local paper, and otherwise help us get the word out.)

Then, click through to our action page for more information on what should NOT be included in our energy policy (off-shore drilling, oil-and-gas subsidies, new coal plants, risky nuclear plants), before using our form to send your own message to Congress.

Thanks for joining with us to keep this critical issue at the top of our leaders’ minds, as we push for action now, and under the new administration in 2009.

Here’s to all you do,
Alisa (signature)
Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director, Co-op America

P.S. Clean energy news: The solar energy tax credits were extended for eight years as part of legislation signed into law on October 3.  You can now get 30% tax credits for solar installed on your home or business – without a cap on the amount of the credit.  Thanks to all of our members who joined with us in pushing for these tax credits!

As we type this, the Vice Presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have finished their first debate. As you all know our country is an economic crisis as well as an environmental one.  But do you know where each candidate stands on environmental and energy policies? We at Autonomie recognize how important environmental issues as well as a sustainable energy plan is to all of you…as much as it is to us. That is why tonight we would like to lay out the two Vice Presidential candidates views on both energy and the environment. We encourage you to take the time to weigh the ideas of both candidates before making a decision in November.


We want to make note that here at Autonomie Project we are not endorsing a particular candidate but will be voting with the ticket that best meets our values as individuals and as a company.

John Mccain’s VP Candidate: Sarah Palin

  • Palin is a known supporter of Bush’s plan to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which has been a protected reserve since the 1950’s.  She is also a staunch supporter of off-shore drilling. In fact, she actually disagrees with Senator McCain’s view on this matter.
  • The Bush administration added the Polar Bear to the endangered species list and Palin, who is an avid hunter, sued the federal government.
  • As far as Global Warming goes, Palin is on record telling the Newsmax.com: “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”
  • She publicly opposed a Proposition in Alaska that would have protected the Bristol Bay as well as drinking water from mining run-offs.
  • Palin has taken on Big Oil companies in Alaska including adjusting a Petroleum Profits Tax that eliminated tax loopholes, however she does support fossil fuel drilling on domestic lands.

Barack Obama’s VP Candidate: Joe Biden

  • He has stated, “The scientific evidence is clear: We need to take significant steps toward worldwide reduction of greenhouse gases to avoid permanently altering our climate.”
  • Biden has introduced legislation to the Senate to fund research for better lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.

So there you have it,  a quick run down of  some of the environmental policies of both the Vice Presidential candidates. Now it’s your turn, make a choice, and please remember to vote!!

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