Episode 11-Food: Science, Politics, Action!
Marion Nestle is is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Michael Pollan ranked her as the #2 most powerful foodie in America (after Michelle Obama), and Mark Bittman ranked her #1 in his list of foodies to be thankful for. From 1986-88, she was senior nutrition policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services and editor of The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. She is also the author of several prize-winning books, including Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Her most recent books in 2013 are the tenth anniversary edition of Food Politics (with a foreword by Michael Pollan); and a new book, Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics. Check out her blog at www.foodpolitics.com (and follow her on twitter @marionnestle).
Anna Lappé is a widely respected author and educator, known for her work as an expert on food systems and as a sustainable food advocate. The co-author or author of three books and the contributing author to ten others, Anna’s work has been widely translated internationally and featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, Oprah Magazine, among many other outlets. Named one of Time magazine’s “eco” Who’s-Who, Anna is a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund. She is currently the head of the Real Food Media Project, a new initiative to spread the story of the power of sustainable food using creative movies, an online action center, and grassroots events. Her latest book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, was named by Booklist and Kirkus as one of the best environmental book’s of 2010. Her video series on food myths is at http://foodmyths.org/ .
Rebecca Spector is West Coast Director of the Center for Food Safety. She has been working in the environmental and agricultural sector for more than 20 years; prior to CFS, she served as director of development at Green Seal, the first U.S. product eco-labeling organization, and at Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet. Rebecca is associate editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture and Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food.
Take action in support of GMO labeling and in opposition to the DARK Act; also, learn more about state actions for GMO labels.
Episode 10-Gulp, with Mary Roach!
Mary Roach is our funniest science writer. Her first book Stiff looked at what happens to the body after death, from cryonics to cadaver donation and more. In Spook she looked at the science (normal and paranormal) of life after death, in Bonk sex research, and in Packing for Mars she found out how the astronauts manage their bodies (and body wastes) in space. Now Gulp takes on digestion from the mouth to, well, you know. In the New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote that Gulp is “far and away her funniest and most sparkling book, bringing Ms. Roach’s love of weird science to material that could not have more everyday relevance.” See Mary’s tour dates for the paperback release of Gulp and more on her website. And I’m really sorry I made Mary cry!
Virginia Hughes writes about science and medicine, focusing mostly on genes, brains and drugs. Her blog, Only Human, is hosted by National Geographic, and her writing has appeared in Nature, Smithsonian, the New Yorker online, and many other publications. See her recent blog post “The Humble Heroes of Weight Loss Surgery: Stomach Acids and Gut Microbes,” and her post last May on the “obesity paradox, “The Obesity Apologists.”
Episode 9-Can You Pass the (Deoxyribonucleic) Acid Test
On Lamarck and Darwin: We mentioned a Middle School teacher’s guide (written by a biologist from the St. Louis Zoo) and the Princeton Review AP Biology study guide, for their review of Lamarck’s giraffe (or turtle) story. Also see the Science in Seconds (“what an idiot”) video. A more detailed view of the Lamarck/Darwin split is at MaverickScience.com.
Science on epigenetics: The December Smithsonian magazine article on Michael Skinner is a must read; also see a 2011 interview with Dr. Skinner. See the March 2014 Nature article “The Sins of the Father” and their 2002 article “Time to Take Epigenetics Seriously.” Also see the press release on the Columbia University Medical School study, “Acquired Traits Can Be Inherited via RNAs.” The October 2010 special issue of the journal Science includes the article, “Epigenetics in the Extreme,” check it out. We also used clips from the University of Michigan video, “Epigenetics: Or Why DNA is Not Your Destiny.” There are many other popular science article and videos, including:
- Kevin Morris, The Scientist, “Lamarck and the Missing Link.”
- A brief video from NOVA.
- Discover Magazine, “DNA is Not Destiny.”
- Carl Woese, “A New Biology for a New Century.”
- Carl Zimmer, NY Times, “Now: The Rest of the Genome.”
Genetic test companies: You can see marketing claims on the websites of the genetic testing companies Pathway Genomics, Genetic Testing Laboratories, and 23andme. See how one client of 23andme found the test missed her status as a carrier of a variant of a “BRCA” gene linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Also see the Whitehead Institute press release on their study showing that individuals can be identified from their online genetic test results.
Episode 8 – Satire and Activism with Harry Shearer
You know Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls, bass guitarist for Spinal Tap. You know him for the many characters he voices on The Simpsons. You know his many movies, including several with Christopher Guest, like A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration. You may also know he does a weekly radio program, Le Show, heard on public radio stations nationwide (and available as a podcast via iTunes, stitcher, or from WWNO radio). His satirical music is often featured on Le Show: Waterboarding USA is also found on his 2007 album Songs Pointed and Pointless, and the online video was nominated for a Webby Best Music Video award. His “Dewey Gordon” song Least Untruthful Answer is from the June 16, 2013 Le Show. His award winning documentary on the flooding of New Orleans, The Big Uneasy, was featured at many film festivals. In 1998, he was granted the Upton Sinclair Award from the Liberty Hill Foundation. You can follow him on twitter @theharryshearer.
Paul Krassner founded The Realist in 1958 and published, edited, and wrote for the magazine on and off for more than 40 years. All editions of The Realist, which included interviews with and writings from numerous notables including Norman Mailer, Groucho Marx, Michael Moore and many others, can be found at The Realist Archives Project. He edited Lenny Bruce’s autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, and based the name of his own autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut, on a line from his FBI file. He co-founded the Yippies with Abbie Hoffman, took LSD with Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, and testified at the Chicago 8 conspiracy trial. He continues to write occasional columns for AlterNet, The Huffington Post and other outlets; his writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Mother Jones, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, High Times and many other publications. In May 2004, he received an ACLU Uppie (Upton Sinclair) Award for dedication to freedom of expression. In December, 2010, the writers’ organization PEN honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. You can order copies of his books, get links to recent articles, and order the poster-sized, digitally-colored edition of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy on his website.
Negin Farsad is the co-writer, co-director, and co-star of The Muslims Are Coming, a hilarious look at a group of Muslim comedians who travel the country performing standup and confronting Islamaphobia. She was named one of the 50 Funniest Women by the Huffington Post, and was named a 2013 TED Fellow – her TEDTalk focuses on her work in Social Justice Comedy (see her recent article on the influence of social justice comedy, “Dirtbag Comedians Will Inherit the Earth”). Prior to The Muslims Are Coming she produced and directed the documentary Nerdcore Rising, and has also produced, wrote and/or directed Comedy Central’s The Watch List, MTV’s Detox, and the PBS animated series 1001 Nights. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts and Government from Cornell University and two Masters degrees in public policy from Columbia University (she’s really smart!). Follow her on twitter @NeginFarsad.
Brian Janosch is a writer-at-large at The Onion, and a co-founder of Cultivated Wit. He is relatively confident he’s the only person in America who has worked for Field and Stream, Parenting, Maxim then The Onion consecutively. At The Onion, he spent four years as deputy managing editor coordinating the writers room, including leading production of The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. The website Fuck You Congress is now hoping it will not need updating soon; Comedy Hack Day, on the other hand, is expecting to hold several 2014 events. And Rush Limbaugh still doesn’t even want to be alive anymore. Follow Brian on twitter @bjanosch and @CultivatedWit .
Music from the show includes Harry’s songs Waterboarding USA (available on his album, Songs Pointed and Pointless) and Least Untruthful Answer (from Le Show, June 16, 2013), Christmas With the Devil and Just Begin Again by Spinal Tap, Pro Choice by Julie Goldman, Psychedelic Relic by Roy Zimmerman, Draft Dodger Rag by Phil Ochs, Social Media Protest Song by John Glass and James Elliott, and Mother of Pearl by Nellie McKay.
Episode 7 – Breasts: A Bellwether of Health
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History won an LA Times Book Prize in science and technology, and was named a Notable Book of 2012 by the New York Times. You can see and hear several interviews and media appearances with Florence Williams on her website.
The report, Breast Cancer and the Environment: Prioritizing Prevention, released earlier this year by the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC), which was co-chaired by Jeanne Rizzo of the Breast Cancer Fund, is available for download from the Breast Cancer Fund website.
Episode 6 – Poisons By The Dose
In addition to her books, you can read Deborah Blum’s regular Wired blog Elemental and her New York Times column. Recent topics on her blog include the possibility that Yasser Arafat was murdered through radiation, the world’s dumbest poisoners, and the deaths of 23 children in India who ate pesticide-laced food at school. See Pete Myers’ work on a Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption, a resource to help chemists identify and avoid chemicals likely to disrupt the endocrine system.
Learn more about CEH’s work on ending health threats from arsenic-treated wood playground equipment, and our current work to eliminate the cancer-causing chemical cocamide DEA from shampoos and other products.
Episode 5 – Blinded By Science
Jim Thomas and the ETC Group closely follow developments in geoengineering on their Hands Off Mother Earth campaign homepage. In this episode, Jim describes what happened when maverick geoengineer (and long-time con man) Russ George brought his ocean fertilization scheme to the Native people who live on Haida Gwaii, an island community off of the British Columbia coast. New Energy Times also has background on Russ George’s history of pseudo-science scams, and the Vancouver Sun has been following developments in Haida Gwaii.
Dr. Vyto Babrauskas was the first person to earn a PhD in fire science, and has been at the forefront of the field for more than 40 years. In the late 1980’s, makers of flame retardant chemicals asked him to conduct a highly controlled study to assess their products, so he did. What happened next was a decades-long public relations campaign that industry conducted to mislead the public, furniture makers, and legislators about how these chemicals are used in the real world. The result: for decades most of our furniture has exposed us to harmful flame retardant chemicals – substances linked to cancer, developmental problems and other serious health problems – even though the chemicals provide no fire safety benefit as used in furniture. See the CEH website for more information. You can also learn more from the Green Science Policy Institute and see Arlene Blum in the Toxic Chemical Soup.
Jonathan Marks is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and is presently a Templeton Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at Notre Dame. You can read his Anthropomics blog on the Havasupai case, and see Ricki Lewis’ article on the PLOS Genetics blog (including a lengthy debate in the comments section). A New York Times video recounts the story, including brief interviews with representatives from the Havasupai tribe. Jessica Cussins also wrote about the Havasupai case for the Center for Genetics and Society blog.
Music includes clips from The Junior Science Club Theme by Logan Whitehurst, Just Won’t Burn by Susan Tedeschi, Burning Down the House by the Talking Heads, Flesh and Blood by Johnny Cash, and Blood Money by Bon Jovi.
Episode 4 – The Buzz About Bees
The conventional wisdom says that a number of factors are responsible for bee colonies collapsing, from viruses, to climate change, to multiple pesticide exposures. But a study by Harvard professor Chensheng (Alex) Lu and two beekeepers shed light on the primary role in sudden bee losses from a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. In episode 4 we hear from Professor Lu on his study and why he thinks the pesticide industry and our government are engaged in a disinformation campaign to cloud the issues around these deadly insecticides.
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We also hear from Peter Jenkins of the Center for Food Safety on the lawsuit the group filed this year against EPA to force the agency to withdraw approval of the most widely used neonicotinoids, and from beekeeper Steve Ellis, who is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.
A wonderful Boston Globe story describes how Professor Lu joined beekeepers Dick Callahan and Ken Warchol to conduct their neonicotinoids study (you can see a video of Ken leading a beekeeping class, notice Ken is the only one not wearing protective gear!). Also see the video beekeeper Steve Ellis took showing bees dying in the willow trees near a farm that was applying neonicotinoids.
Episode 3 – When Corporations Attack
If you’re an activist for human rights, environmental health, or other progressive action, the NSA may not be the only ones watching you. Corporations under scrutiny for their harmful operations are fighting back, often with underhanded, deceitful, and even threatening intimidation campaigns. We talk to Tyrone Hayes and Eveline Lubbers about what happens, when corporations attack!
Eveline Lubbers has documented corporate attacks and outlined the history and strategies of anti-activist campaigns in her recent book, Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark. The London Sunday Times said of Secret Manoeuvres,
In the recent frenzy over media phone hacking, the shadow warriors of corporate espionage have escaped scrutiny, until now. Eveline Lubbers’ book shines a timely and sharp light on the dark arts of serving and retired cops, spooks and squaddies who are spying, bugging and lying for big business with impunity.
Also see TobaccoTactics for background on Big Tobacco’s disinformation campaigns. The Center for Media and Democracy Studies has also created the SourceWatch website, a great resource for research on corporate front-groups and the corporate public relations industry.
Tyrone Hayes is a Professor at UC Berkeley and a national expert on pesticides, in particular the herbicide atrazine, which he has studies for more than 10 years. When his studies showed atrazine could alter hormones in frogs, the chemical’s producer Syngenta went on the attack. Read the latest on Syngenta’s campaign in the report co-published by 100 Reporters and Environmental Health News. Also check out more on atrazine at Dr. Hayes’ website, atrazinelovers.com.
Episode 2 – BioBeware
We hear from Jim Thomas on the story of how the birth of modern synthetic chemistry began with the color purple and what this means for dealing with the risky new technology of synthetic biology. Also, Becky McClain, the first biological lab scientist to be injured on the job by a genetically engineered (GMO) virus on her lawsuit against the world’s biggest drug company, and Edward Hammond on the failed oversight of bio-research labs.
You can see Jim Thomas’ 2008 talk on synthetic biology and the history of synthetic chemistry, his part of a debate sponsored by the Long Now Foundation. Check out the ETC Group for much more on synthetic biology and other risky technologies (including Jim’s recent debate about a synthetic anti-malaria drug, artemisinin and a “Kickstopper” campaign to put a stop to some very reckless GMO shenanigans).
Becky McClain’s victory against Pfizer was featured in the New York Times and many media outlets. An appeals court upheld a $2.3 million jury award to her in December 2012. For more background on her story, see interviews with Becky from the Council for Responsible Genetics and Workers Comp Hub. Also see the talk Becky gave on accepting the 2010 Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage.
You can find more on Edward Hammond’s research on IBCs and get more information at Prickly Research (including more on the gay bomb, GMO smallpox, and how Edward got kicked out of a UN chemical weapons treaty meeting) . Edward’s work on lab safety was also profiled in Science magazine. You can also see the video of Nobel-prize winner Richard Roberts questioning Robert Webster at the May 2012 National Academy of Sciences meeting. Also see a recent article in Nature highlighting the safety and ethical issues around creating more infectious organisms in the lab.
Be sure to read Simon Garfield’s book, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World. It’s fascinating!
Episode 1 – Dads Dearest
It’s almost Father’s Day! We speak to three Bay Area progressive activists about fatherhood and activism. Hear Ludovic Blain, Innosanto Nagara, and Michael Green, and learn why PJ talks so much!