Washington​: Stop the approval of GMO apples! a repost

I’m Peter Stocker of the organization Friends of the Earth, and I started a petition to U.S. Department of Agriculture, which says:

The USDA should not approve the genetically engineered Arctic apple. 

If approved by the USDA, genetically engineered apples could end up everywhere from school lunches to grocery stores, posing risks to our health, our environment, and apple farmers across the U.S.

Unlabeled genetically engineered apples could contaminate conventional and organic foods, including fruit slices, juice, baby foods, and applesauce—products predominantly consumed by children and babies, who are at increased risk for any adverse health effects.

GMO apples may contaminate nearby organic and conventional apple orchards and could potentially cause valuable export markets to reject U.S.-grown apples, as happened in the past when wheat and rice crops were found to be contaminated by GMOs. The U.S. Apple Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, British Columbia Fruit Growers’ Association, and other apple grower groups have repeatedly stated their disapproval of these GE apples due to the negative impact they could have on farmers growing organic and non-GE apples and the apple industry as a whole.

This product is unnecessary and poses numerous risks to apple growers, the food industry, and consumers. The USDA should not approve this genetically engineered apple.

The USDA is poised to approve the first genetically modified apple. 

If approved, these genetically engineered apples could end up everywhere from school lunches to grocery stores, posing risks to our health, our environment, and apple farmers across the United States.

Like other GMOs, they won’t be labeled and won’t have undergone independent safety testing—regulators will rely on the company’s sole assessment that the apple is safe for human consumption. 

Worse yet, this GMO apple was genetically engineered via a new, virtually untested experimental technique called RNA interference, which many scientists are concerned may have negative, unintended impacts on human health and the environment.

We need your help today, right now, to tell the USDA to say no to GMO apples.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.


–Peter Stocker

FDA Partners With Veterinary Labs to Help Animals


03/26/2014 12:05 PM EDT
FDA has formed a web of veterinary labs to assist one another in detecting potentially harmful substances in animal foods and tissues. FDA research biologist Renate Reimschuessel, pictured above, started the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), and has grown the program to 34 state and university veterinary laboratories across the country.

Read the Consumer Update to learn more about what this FDA network is doing to keep pets safe.

Walmart has bowed to pressure from A Better Balance


WALMART: SUPERCENTER” by alphageek is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Dear Friend,
Breaking news! Walmart has bowed to pressure from A Better Balance and our allies to improve its policies for pregnant workers! This is a huge development for low-wage working women. As detailed in the Washington Post, “anytime the world’s biggest retailer changes how it treats its workforce–especially women, with whom the company has a fraught history–the rest of the industry tends to take notice.”  
The path to this victory began with an email to A Better Balance in 2012. We heard from Brittany,* a 28-weeks-pregnant Walmart worker who was sent home because she needed a modest accommodation on the job in order to stay healthy. Alarmed by this story, we sent a letter to Walmart’s general counsel, outlining the ways in which Walmart’s treatment of pregnant workers violated the law. After further investigation, ABB, joined by the National Women’s Law Center, and Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, filed a class action pregnancy discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Walmart and its discriminatory policy.     
“Three months before my baby was born, Walmart forced me out the door,” said Kathy,* the Walmart sales associate at the center of the EEOC charge who was seven months pregnant when Walmart refused to accommodate her restrictions despite routinely accommodating workers with a wide array of non-pregnancy-related disbailities. “I was doing my job as a sales associate just as I had been for months, but suddenly I lost the paycheck that my family was counting on—simply because I was pregnant.”   
What happened to Kathy and Brittany is part of a larger national trend at Walmart, in which pregnant workers are treated like second-class citizens in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
After we filed our charge with the EEOC and after two Walmart workers proposed a shareholder resolution, with our assistance, demanding changes, Walmart announced its new Accommodation in Employment policy, which now explicitly states that temporary disabilities caused by pregnancy are eligible for the same reasonable accommodations as other disabilities. 
Although a major win, this policy change does not go far enough: Walmart can continue to evade its legal obligations and force pregnant workers off the job if they are not considered “disabled” under the policy.
“While we are enthusiastic about this policy change, there is still work to be done,” said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President of A Better Balance. “Over and over again, Walmart has failed to accommodate pregnant workers. Many pregnant women without illnesses or complications are advised by their doctors to stay off tall ladders, drink water throughout the day, or take other steps to prevent health problems. Walmart must further update its policy to make clear that it will provide reasonable accommodations for all pregnant workers who need them, regardless of whether they are ‘disabled.’  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act mandates equal treatment, nothing less, and we will continue to fight until Walmart obeys the law in full. No woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy.” 
We are thrilled that our efforts will assist hundreds of thousands of pregnant Walmart associates across the country, and we will continue pushing for broader reform. Click here to read the Washington Post’s story about our work on this case and please share this story with your friends.
Thank you for all that you do,
Sherry, Dina, Phoebe, Jared, Elizabeth, Risha, Liz, & Rachel

NY Times Features ABB Clients and Cites New Report on Pregnancy Penalty

Dear Friend,
A Better Balance is pleased to present our latest report, The Pregnancy Penalty: How Motherhood Drives Inequality and Poverty in New York City.
Despite advances in gender equality over the past 40 years, women continue to jeopardize their livelihoods simply by having children. One such woman, a client of A Better Balance, is featured  in “The Working Life” column by Rachel Swarns in today’s New York Times. The story highlights how Angelica was pushed out of her job when pregnant because she needed temporarily to avoid working overtime to stay healthy and employed. She and her family lost critical income as a result. This is precisely the kind of situation the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is designed to address, and ABB is using the law to help Angelica.

ABB client, Sonica Smith, is now being accommodated at work.
But Angelica’s story is just one of many we have heard showing how mothers are regularly penalized in the workplace, resulting in economic harm to them and their families. As explained in the Times:
We know that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can make a difference. Talk to Sonica Smith, a pregnant sales associate at Zara, a clothing store, who recently negotiated regular breaks to rest and go to the bathroom. Talk to Floralba Fernandez Espinal, who was reinstated after being forced out of her job at a thrift shop. Both women were represented by Dina Bakst, the co-president of A Better Balance, the legal advocacy group that now represents Ms. Valencia, who hopes to recoup the wages she lost.
Our report names, explains and offers solutions to the pregnancy penalty: bias and inflexibility towards women in the workplace that starts when they become pregnant and snowballs into lasting economic disadvantages. Informed by the latest research and by the experiences of our hotline callers, we offer a set of proposals to address the pregnancy penalty in New York City, and encourage the city to set an example for others in the fight against income inequality and the gender wage gap.
How can you help?

Thanks for all you do to support our work.
The A Better Balance Team,
Sherry, Dina, Phoebe, Jared, Elizabeth, Risha, Morenike, Rachel, Jake & Molly

VP Biden ~~ on voting rights

One of the most important things we do as Democrats is protect the right to vote. We’re the political party working to expand that right, so votingcan be easier and more secure, and so that more voices are heard — not fewer.That’s why Democrats started the Voter Expansion Project. We’re taking everything we’ve learned and built from years of fighting Republican attempts to block access to voting, and using it to help even more people vote.

And you know what? When more Americans vote, Americans elect more representatives to stand up and fight for their families, and protect their future. In other words, they elect more Democrats.

I’ll turn it over to our favorite VPOTUS to tell you more about our project — then please let him know you’re with him:

I’ll be sending you more information on the Voter Expansion Project shortly, and I look forward to working with you.



Pratt Wiley
National Director of Voter Expansion
Democratic National Committee

P.S. — Speaking of Vice President Biden, he just announced that he’s going to be using Twitter a lot more during these midterm elections. Be sure to follow @JoeBiden!