The circumstances around GMO labeling are a frustrating place and will be so for a while. Colorado and Oregon have ballot propositions going to voters this fall, 3 states back East have passed labeling in legislative processes, but even with state’s recognizing this issue the implementation of labeling will not happen overnight. This panel on the future of labeling GMOs will examine the current climate in grassroots campaigns, speculation on future action, and expand the discussion into how far the reach of our efforts can go towards food system transparency.
Currently there is a very strong, well-funded, and well-organized opposition that has spent record-breaking sums of money in 2014 alone to fight labeling efforts. This opposition machine is behind quiet work on the federal level trying to prevent labeling via riders in national budget bills. It is also using the same lobbying tactics it has perfected over the last 40 years to continue fracturing our food system.
Grassroots efforts are gaining victories against corporations who have become masterful at violating consumer rights to know what is in their food. One of the biggest tools campaigns are learning to utilize is social media as a vehicle for citizen engagement. This panel will focus on bloggers as citizen journalists who can have a reach that is free of corporate persuasion. Bloggers are now creating the news stories that traditional media are reporting on and it is necessary for these writers to be given the most accurate information for campaigns as they communicate to their followers.
We will discuss what happens in GMO-labeling campaigns and how this affects the information released on social media. While campaigns are facing a clear opponent working against them they are also facing the need for more pragmatism within their own walls. The need for food transparency is a far-reaching issue that draws passionate people with all kinds of opinions and perspectives. One of the biggest assets pro-labeling campaigns has is that we are united in a core desire to have a right to know what we are eating. This is the foundation of our overall strategy.
Come join our 90 minute panel to see what is going on in campaigns, talk long-term strategy, and have fun seeing where our efforts can go.
Kia M. Ruiz – is the New Media Manger for Right to Know Colorado and Speaker Coordinator for ShiftCon. When she is not communicating with some of the grooviest people on the planet that care for their planet and their place on it she is a mama bear to 2 young boys in Colorado. Kia spent over 3 years in a PhD biology program before a life-disrupting accident but earned a graduate teaching certificate focusing on teaching science to a non-science public and taught human bio and marine bio classes during that time. Kia has worked for many federal agencies in a science capacity and has fun on her semi-mama hiatus communicating to the public in the intersection of environmental health and personal wellness. In Colorado you can find Kia outside or running about as a yoga instructor, photographer, writer, and advocate. You can find Kia on her blog Bodhi Bear or on twitter as @kiamruiz.
Will Allen – Will Allen has many years of involvement in the field of sustainable agriculture. Will has taught anthropology and agriculture at the university level and has also farmed his entire life. He was one of the pioneers of organic farming in California and helped start the certification program through the California Certified Organic Farmers Organization. In 1990, Will founded the Sustainable Cotton Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping cotton growers transition to organic production, and working with cotton companies to encourage them to purchase and use organic cotton in their manufacturing processes. He is known throughout the U.S. and in other parts of the world as an expert on organic cotton. Currently, he serves on the policy and advisory board of the Organic Consumers AssociationWill is a founding board member of Farms Not Arms, an organization dedicated to bringing together people from the farming community to oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, Will’s book, The War on Bugs, was published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in White River Junction, Vermont. He is currently traveling throughout the country, promoting the book and meeting with activists who are anxious to work with him on educating the public about the dangers of the U.S.’s toxic chemical-based agriculture system. The public is becoming increasingly convinced, through efforts such as these, that organic farming is the key to the future health of people, as well as, the environment. In 2000, Allen made his first trip to India where he spoke about organic cotton at a forum organized by the New Delhi-based Research Foundation for Science Technology & Education, headed by Dr. Vandana Shiva. In 2004, he returned to India for the World Social Forum in Mumbai. Will spoke on workshop panels at the gathering. He participated in a protest of Coke and Pepsi plants that were polluting farmland and water in Kerela. In addition, he had the opportunity to visit numerous farms in Kerela and the Erode District of Tamil Nadu. He has served as consultants to the Armenia Tree Project and traveled to Armenia in 2005 to meet with small farm
Pamm Larry -Pamm Larry is the Director of Labelgmos.org, the grassroots group that sparked California’s Prop. 37 in 2012. She works locally, statewide and nationally with grassroots groups and other nonprofits to continue the fight for GMO labeling and other food sovereignty issues. You can follow Pamm on twitter as @LabelGMOs.
Alan Lewis – Mr. Lewis directs Government Affairs and Food and Agriculture Policy for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, a 60-year-old health food store chain which operates 90 stores in fourteen Western and Mid-western states. He also oversees organic integrity, certification and compliance for the chain. Mr. Lewis is active in several national trade organizations and is a member of the Boulder County, Colorado, Food and Agriculture Policy Council. His focus is on communicating with policy makers at the federal, state and local level using frameworks that are non-confrontational and inclusive. He has lived for extended periods in Portugal, Haiti, and Dominica, where he developed a keen appreciation for the variables of agriculture within ecological, cultural and economic contexts.
Dave Murphy – Dave Murphy is the founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots movement of more than 650,000 American farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming policies relating to food, agriculture and the environment. Murphy has been called “the most crucial and politically savvy actor in the on-going efforts to help move American agriculture into the 21st century” as a result of his “Sustainable Dozen” campaign, which resulted in four candidates being placed in high level positions at the USDA and his efforts to reform food and agriculture under the Obama administration. In 2006, Murphy moved back to Iowa to help stop a factory farm from being built near his sister’s farm. After seeing the loss of basic democratic rights of rural Iowans, Murphy decided to stay in Iowa to fight for Iowa’s farmers and rural residents and expose the flaws of industrial agriculture to help create a more sustainable future for all Americans. In 2007, Murphy organized the Food and Family Farm Presidential Summit, where 5 of the 6 Democratic candidates pledged their support to help save family farm agriculture and he filmed then Senator Barack Obama’s now famous promise to Iowa farmers to label genetically engineered foods. Previously, he has worked as an environmental and food policy lobbyist and political strategist. His writing has appeared in the Nation, the Hill, Huffington Post and the New York Times. Dave is known as the “big dude from Iowa” by friend and foe alike and is a board member of the Iowa Organic Association. You can find Dave on twitter as @food_democracy.
Lisa Stokke – Lisa is co-founder and associate director of Food Democracy Now!. For nearly a decade, Lisa has focused on creating a local food system in Northern Iowa, working to connect consumers with farmers who raise and grow food sustainably. During the past several years Lisa has organized dozens of events, including the Clear Lake Annual Earth Day Organic Lunch and also events surrounding the Iowa Farmer’s Union 2007 Presidential Summit in Des Moines, Iowa working to showcase local and organic food, farmers and opportunities for her native home in Iowa. In 2010, Lisa was honored to be named a “Woman Making a Difference”, by Shape Magazine. As the mother of four children, Lisa knows the importance of a nutritious meal and ensures that her children eat a healthy, organic diet. She is particularly concerned about achieving school lunch reform through Food Democracy Now! and also within the local community school system and believes that the key to creating health and sustainability lies within teaching our children to be stewards of the water, land and soil. Lisa is hopeful that this administration will ensure the implementation of policy changes so that her children have a sustainable future to look forward to.