Government Accountability Project supports a community of whistleblowers, truth-tellers and advocates to safeguard our food through the Food Integrity Campaign. Help us protect and empower the people who protect our food’s integrity.
Watch whistleblower Rudy Howell take to the skies to deliver a 95-foot-tall and 875-foot-wide message to the chicken industry. To learn more about Rudy, visit his whistleblower profile.
Food Whistleblowers are in the best position to warn of threats…
The first panel of the FIC10 conference was titled, “Overcoming Legal Barriers to Truth-Telling.” The panel featured litigation experts who venerated whistleblowers and their special ability to protect the integrity of our food system. Paul Levy from Public Citizen noted that seeking legal advice early offers the best chance to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and allow their voices to be heard.
Food Integrity is a matter of personal choice and political will…In “Food and Climate Change,” panelists explored the importance of shifting individual dietary choices, as well as pressing companies and legislators to make changes. FIC researcher Anna Levy emphasized the need for “meaningful trade reforms” on an international level, while moderator Daniel Vogel reminded attendees that what they buy at grocery stores impacts our environment in profound ways. Lisa Archer of Friends of the Earth noted that we have “to do both.” If you are interested in learning more about the link between climate change and food, please consider reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, We Are the Weather, which illustrates the power of personal responsibility regarding food choices and mitigating climate change.
During the FIC10 Conference panel, “Underrepresented Truth,” former dairy farmworker Crispin Hernandez described his immigration to the U.S. and how he became a low-wage worker. Due to a lack of training and access to proper medical attention, he suffered lifetime injuries while working in industrial animal agriculture. His story is one few consumers hear.
Fellow panelist, Larry Baldwin from Crystal Coast Waterkeeper, likewise shared his stories of underrepresented truth. He discussed his work advocating for environmental justice in North Carolina, where community organizers shed light on how industrial hog waste from CAFO’s are destroying surrounding communities.
Thankfully, both Hernandez and Baldwin also relayed how successful litigation has advanced their causes.
Contract growers (a.k.a. industrial poultry farmers) and their advocates spoke out on the FIC10 Conference panel titled “Growing Resistance.” They described just how far the poultry industry will go to keep farmers silent about unfair practices. Contract poultry begins with the promise of a better future, commences with exploitative lending, fails to meet even moderate expectations of fairness, remains unchecked through the use of corporate bullying and the threat of retaliation, and culminates in the decimation of rural communities.
“Farmers are paying the price for corporate efficiency,” concluded Tyler Whitley of Rural Advancement Foundation International. Other panelists included moderator Steve Etka of Etka Consulting; Rudy Howell, Perdue contract farmer for 25 years and advocate for farmers who wish to improve the system; Carlton Sanders, former Contract Poultry Grower; and Mike Weaver, a former contract poultry grower who raised birds for Pilgrim’s Pride for 16 years.
The last panel of the FIC10 Conference, dubbed “Fast Food,” emphasized how the so-called efficiency of USDA’s increased line speeds at pork and poultry plants comes at a cost to workers, animals, and the consumer. Former USDA meat inspector Phyllis McKelvey declared, “There’s no way any human being or machine can catch everything” at the new line speeds. FIC adds to Phyllis’ comment and suggests that not only are these speeds not humanly possible, they are not humanely possible either.
The Food Integrity Campaign created this satirical game to draw much-needed attention to a Trump administration rule that would deregulate the pork industry. Learn more about Bacon Defender—and the reality behind the game—on our Stop Trump’s Pork Rule campaign page.
This animation visualizes the speed at which USDA inspectors are forced to check for contamination at some Hormel pork processing plants. Three seconds per 250-pound hog is way too fast to keep things like fecal matter, toenails, hair, lesions, and tumors out of the food supply. FIC got over 32k people to tell Hormel: Slow down high speed hog inspection! Read more in this blog post.
FIC’s “Ag Gag Undercover” video series was created to raise awareness about the controversial anti-whistleblower bills introduced in various U.S. states. While the agriculture industry and legislative sponsors try to muddle the public with their reasons for the legislation, these videos aim to simply get at the heart of why Ag Gag bills are problematic and an affront on truth-telling. Learn more and take action on our Ag Gag campaign page.
USDA whistleblower Phyllis McKelvey worked in the public and private capacities within the poultry industry for 44 years. She is an outspoken advocate of safe poultry inspection practices. This event was recorded on March 20, 2013 at American University’s Washington College of Law as part of the American Whistleblower Tour.
On December 21, 2012, Government Accountability Project (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign hosted a lunch lecture featuring former GAP client and whistleblower Renee Dufault. She gave a presentation on how nutritional and environmental factors (such as mercury exposure) interact with genes to affect a person’s metabolism, potentially leading to obesity and the development of type-2 diabetes. Renee focused on the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and how it hinders the body’s ability to eliminate mercury from the body. A former FDA researcher, Renee now heads the Food Ingredient & Health Research Institute (FIHRI), a nonprofit devoted entirely to food ingredient safety, education, and research.