Stories & Beer: Sept. 25 — Positive Tourism

Marissa Rosen
| Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

logo-2It’s time for a special “Stories and Beer” on Thursday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific (9:30 Eastern) at the Impact HUB San Francisco.  We will be deviating from our usual format to bring you a series of presentations on positive tourism in honor of World Tourism Day (WTD).  Register here!

In support of WTD, Altruvistas, Travel Massive and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) have combined forces to organize a special evening featuring an exciting line-up of speakers:

  • Rodney Fong; Commission VP, San Francisco Planning Commission
  • John Picard; Founder and CEO, John Picard and Associates
  • Malia Everette; Founder and CEO, Altruvistas 

World Tourism Day (WTD) was created  by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. This year’s WTD will be headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico, with complementary events all over the globe.

NOT IN SF? NO WORRIES! RETURN TO THIS PAGE ON SEPTEMBER 25 TO VIEW THE EVENT LIVE! 

Our event is volunteer-driven and will benefit ECPAT, the leading global anti-child trafficking in tourism organization. We’ll be raffling off tours and giveaways to support this wonderful organization.  Giveaways include prizes from Hotwire, Russian River Adventures, Incredible Adventures, Localite Tours, Magic Bus Savor Oakland and more.

Join the WTD conversation on social media at #WTD2014, and join our conversation at #3pChat.

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The End of Apartheid Litigation and the Future of Corporate Accountability

Michael Kourabas
| Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Late last month,

Late last month, a New York District Court judge tossed the last of the apartheid-related cases pending against two American corporations, Ford and IBM.

The quest to hold corporations liable for alleged human rights abuses committed abroad was dealt another blow late last month when a New York District Court judge tossed the last of the apartheid-related cases pending against two American corporations, Ford and IBM.

In a begrudging bow to current precedent, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, of the Southern District of New York, denied plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint because they would be unable to meet the stringent demands of a test announced by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the year.  More importantly, if the law of the Second Circuit becomes the law of the land, U.S. corporations could be effectively immune from civil liability for violations of international law that are perpetrated exclusively by foreign subsidiaries on foreign soil.

The Alien Tort Statute and a refresher on the Supreme Court’s Kiobel decision

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) grants jurisdiction to U.S. District Courts “of all causes where an alien sues for a tort only in violation of the law of nation or of a treaty of the United States.”  As I described in an earlier piece for TriplePundit, the question of the ATS’ application to corporations is muddy.  In the seminal 2013 case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Kiobel), the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by Nigerian citizens who alleged that Shell and other oil companies aided in the Nigerian government’s violent suppression of resistance to drilling operations in Nigeria.  In affirming the holding of the Second Circuit, the majority held that, because all of the alleged human rights abuses occurred abroad, the plaintiffs could not overcome the presumption against the application of U.S. law to conduct occurring outside of the U.S. (aka “extraterritorial” application).

“Touch and concern”

In Kiobel’s most important passage, the Court added that:

 [E]ven where [plaintiffs’] claims touch and concern the territory of the United States, they must do so with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application. Corporations are often present in many countries, and it would reach too far to say that mere corporate presence suffices.  (my emphasis)

The Supreme Court did not define the all-important phrases, “touch and concern” or “sufficient force,” leading lower courts and pundits to fight about whether or not the opinion completely closed the door to lawsuits against corporations that allegedly violated international law in a country other than the U.S.  Further confusing the matter is that the Second Circuit, in its decision in the Kiobel case, held that the ATS “simply does not confer jurisdiction over suits against corporations,” and though the Supreme Court did not appear to go this far, it did affirm the Second Circuit’s holding.

Thus, after Kiobel, whether and/or how a corporation could be held liable under the ATS remains an open question.

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3p Traceability Week: Q&A with Flip Labs on Seafood Traceability

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 14 Comments

Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts for 3p Traceability Week to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — seafood, fashion, minerals and medical marijuana.  Ask your questions in the comments section, and follow along hereThe Q&A closes on Tuesday, September 16. 

2836470601_80e8ea39c0_zFact: More than one-third of the seafood sold in North America is mislabeled, by either type of fish, catch method or provenance. And upwards of 24 million tons of seafood is caught and sold illegally every year.

Traceability is a hot-button issue in all supply chains, but when it comes to the food we eat, these figures become even more unsettling. As Cheryl Dahle, founder of Future of Fish and CEO of Flip Labs, noted in a recent op/ed on Triple Pundit: “Beyond what that deception may mean for your health, it is also a window to other more systemic challenges, including pirate fishing, human trafficking, and widespread fraud and corruption.”

She went on to explain that these problems can’t be addressed by a few consumers making the choice to “eat local.” “We need to rebuild the systems and behaviors of the global interconnected brokers, corporations and governments that touch your food before it hits your plate,” she wrote.

To accomplish this, stakeholders in the seafood industry have come together to compile verified data on where and how a fish is caught. Regulators already require any seafood caught or sold in the U.S. to provide documentation of where, when and how it was caught. But, as 3p correspondent Lauren Zanolli pointed out, that information is still often filed on paper forms, and there is no way of knowing if it will follow the right piece of seafood through the supply chain. So, naturally, some questions remain about how to improve traceability in seafood supply chains.

As part of 3p Traceability Week, Cheryl Dahle of  Flip Labs will be on-hand all week to answer your questions about seafood traceability. Respond with your questions in the comments section below!

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3p Traceability Week: Q&A with MJ Freeway on Medical Marijuana Traceability

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 15 Comments

Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts for 3p Traceability Week to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — seafood, fashion, minerals and medical marijuana.  Ask your questions in the comments section, and follow along hereThe Q&A closes on Tuesday, September 16. 

4473997946_9140fb05b5_zSustainability is inching ever-closer to the mainstream, but it isn’t the only green revolution sweeping the nation. I’m referring, of course, to marijuana legalization. The “Reefer Madness” days are long gone: Medical marijuana sales are now permitted in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and two states (Washington and Colorado) have outright legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over.

The industry has proven to be a big money-maker — Colorado raked in about $12.6 million the first three months after marijuana was legalized — but some growing pains remain. Washington and Colorado, where recreational pot is legal, have seen a wave of ‘marijuana tourism.’ As flocks of tourists seek out a taste of legalized marijuana, some inexperienced smokers may catch a sour buzz — as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd experienced firsthand when she took one too many bites of a pot edible while visiting Denver. As Dowd found out, some edibles do not include dosage instructions; the candy bar she ate, for example, was intended to be divided into 16 pieces for novices, but that recommendation was not included on the label.

When it comes to medical marijuana, these concerns can become even more pronounced. Things like dosage instructions, predictable levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and verification that the marijuana contains no additives are necessary if the product is to be dispensed for therapeutic purposes. For both medical and recreational use, it is also pertinent for legal processors, infused product manufacturers and retailers to verify that the marijuana they sell was sourced from legal grow operations. All of these concerns make traceability a big issue for this fledgling industry.

As part of 3p Traceability Week, the MJ Freeway team will be on-hand all week to answer your questions about medical marijuana traceability. Based in Denver, Colorado, where both medical and recreational marijuana sales are legal, MJ Freeway provides software solutions that help producers, processors, infused product manufacturers and retailers track the product throughout the supply chain — from field to cash register. Respond with your questions in the comments section below!

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3p Traceability Week: Q&A with Indigenous on Fashion Traceability

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 13 Comments

Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts for 3p Traceability Week to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — seafood, fashion, minerals and medical marijuana.  Ask your questions in the comments section, and follow along hereThe Q&A closes on Tuesday, September 16. 

6626081235_996c0cb8ab_zThe fashion industry has one of the most controversial supply chains out there: Finding a garment that’s made from sustainable materials by workers who were paid fair wages can seem next to impossible for concerned consumers.

Since clothing manufacturing is typically contracted out to third-party factory operators, it was once possible for big brands to claim ignorance and hide behind their convoluted supply chains — but those days are long gone. Ever since the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse claimed the lives of 1,129 garment workers in 2013, the spotlight has increasingly centered on sustainability within the fashion supply chain — and a growing number of consumers are asking where their clothes came from.

Behind relatively simple questions — such as what a garment is made from, who made it and where — lie even more complicated queries: Is end-to-end traceability even possible? Will brands jump on board? What is already being done to pull back the veil on the fashion supply chain?

As part of 3p Traceability Week, Matthew Reynolds and Scott Leonard, co-founders of the fair trade fashion label Indigenous, will be on-hand all week to answer your questions about fashion traceability. Respond with your questions in the comments section below!

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3p Traceability Week: Q&A with Source Intelligence on Mineral Traceability

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 14 Comments

Join Triple Pundit and a panel of experts for 3p Traceability Week to discuss traceability in four controversial arenas — seafood, fashion, minerals and medical marijuana.  Ask your questions in the comments section, and follow along hereThe Q&A closes on Tuesday, September 16. 

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

On August 22, 2012, the SEC issued a final rule on conflict minerals in accordance with Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The rule requires companies to disclose annually whether any conflict minerals — tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo or an adjoining country — are necessary to the functionality or production of a product. If these minerals are deemed necessary, as defined by the provision, companies must provide a report describing “the measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of those minerals.” Each report must include an independent private-sector audit.

Outside of the jewelry you’d expect, these minerals are used in a wide array of products, including the beloved technology many Americans now consider to be essential to their way of life. In fact, some estimates suggest that at least half of all SEC issuers will be impacted by the regulation.

June 2 was the first filing deadline for registrants to comply with the SEC’s conflict minerals rule — which sent the Web into a flurry about how companies were handling the requirement. While disclosing the presence of conflict minerals may sound simple, most companies had to complete rigorous supply chain investigations in order to discern where minerals came from in the first place. This challenge begs the question: If companies don’t know where minerals come from, how are consumers supposed to make informed decisions about the products they buy? And, perhaps even more importantly, how can we hope to eliminate conflict minerals — and other minerals mined in socially or environmentally irresponsible ways — from store shelves?

As part of 3p Traceability Week, Tristan Mecham, director of product development for Source Intelligence, will be on-hand all week to answer your questions about minerals traceability. Respond with your questions in the comments section below!

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Google, Ford Among Companies Accused of Climate Change Hypocrisy

Leon Kaye | Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Climate change, climate change hypocrisy, forecast the facts, citizen engagement laboratory, google, ford, ebay, ups, Microsoft, Leon Kaye, climate change deniers

Ford is accused of climate change hypocrisy, but is that fair?

Companies including Google, UPS, Ford Motor Co., Microsoft and eBay have long positioned themselves as leaders in the fight against climate change — their work, in fact, has been regularly featured here in Triple Pundit by many of our writers, including me. But Forecast the Facts, a project of the Citizen Engagement Laboratory, has issued a scathing report on what it describes as their funding of “climate change deniers.”

And it is the aforementioned companies for which Forecast the Facts has the harshest words. This report “raises questions about Google’s own honesty”; calls out Bill Ford for his company’s donations to climate deniers who “thwart, even mock, sustainability”; equates US$1 million in Microsoft donations to funding Big Tobacco scientists; and in turn is dismissive of eBay’s and UPS’ efforts related to sustainability based on some of the donations these companies have given out the past few years.

But is it fair to paint these companies as hypocritical based on some of their political donations?

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PwC: Five-Fold Rise in Pace of Carbon Emissions Cuts Needed

| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

344841Ongoing increases in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mean the world’s largest economies will have to work that much harder and pick up the pace of energy-sector GHG emissions reductions in order to avoid the risks and impacts of runaway climate change, according to an analysis of economic growth rates and GHG emissions for G20 economies produced by PwC.

Home to the world’s largest economies, G20 countries will have to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector 6.2 percent for every dollar of GDP — every year from now to 2100 — in order to keep global warming within the 2 degrees Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) limit agreed to by nearly 200 nations as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Copenhagen Accord. That’s more than five times the current pace, PwC analysts highlight in the sixth annual Low Carbon Economy Index, 2 degrees of separation – ambition & reality report.

“After a decade of carbon inertia, we are way behind, and now need to decarbonise at more than five times our current rate to avoid 2 degrees Celsius … Making up for the inadequacy to date will be technologically harder, financially costlier, and climactically riskier in the future.” Leo Johnson, a partner in PwC’s sustainability and climate change unit, stated.

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Chiquita Sued For Deceptive Sustainability Claims

RP Siegel | Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 3 Comments

BananasOne aspect of our world that has undisputedly changed is the increased transparency and availability of information. This makes it harder for companies and politicians to get away with making false claims.

Last month, Chiquita Brands International received notice of a lawsuit filed by Seattle-based Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) accusing the company of deceptive advertising practices. Specifically, the company claims in their advertising that their “bananas are farmed in an ecologically friendly and sustainable manner.”

This, according to WASH founder Eric John Harrison, “is far from the truth.”

Says Harrison: “Chiquita sells millions of pounds of bananas that are produced in ways that destroy natural ecosystems and contaminate the drinking water of local communities living next to Chiquita’s largest Guatemalan supplier. The pesticides and fungicides used on these Chiquita-contracted plantations are toxic, and the aerial application falls on homes, schools and residents.” According to the lawsuit, some 7,200 residents are at risk in the Guatemalan communities of Ticanu, Barra Nahualate, Playa Semillero, San Francisco and Madre Vieja.

WASH has previously reached a settlement with Chiquita’s rival Dole in Guatemala in which Dole agreed to provide clean drinking water to seven communities in the vicinity of Ocos.

Chiquita’s practices, according to Harrison, were hidden, even to Rainforest Alliance, which monitors activities in the area and has endorsed Chiquita with their green frog logo. This could be due to the use of independent contractor COBIGUA, which sells million so of pounds of bananas to Chiquita annually and even bears the Chiquita logo on its trucks.

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Policy Points: On Carbon and Water, Policymakers Should Listen to Small Business

American Sustainable Business Council
| Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Policymakers, business owners and concerned citizens gather at the Maryland Climate Change Summit in Annapolis, Md.

Policymakers, business owners and concerned citizens gather at the Maryland Climate Change Summit in Annapolis, Md. in 2013.

By Richard Eidlin

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues proposals for new regulations, lobby groups that say they represent business interests screech and holler. They say that regulations hurt business and kill jobs. And unfortunately, some policymakers listen to them.

But what do actual business owners say?

It turns out that they agree with the general public. For example, across party lines, they support proposals that protect clean water and limit the impact of climate change. Policymakers would do much better to listen to these actual business owners, rather than lobby groups that are out of touch.

Two recent polls make the point quite clearly. The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) commissioned scientific, national polls of small business owners. One set of questions focused on clean water, and the other asked about carbon pollution.

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No OSHA Inspection Ever for Scrap Metal Plant, Scene of Fatal Accident

Leon Kaye | Wednesday September 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Recycling, OSHA, scrap metal recycling, workers protection, workplace safety, Illinois, Texas, Leon Kaye

Junked autos, part of the huge scrap metal recycling business in the U.S.

Scrap metal recycling is a US$50 billion business that as of 2013 employs over 150,000 people in the United States. While the slump in volatile metal prices caused revenues to plateau in 2013 after a prosperous few years, scrap metal recycling will long be profitable — especially when considering the fact 95 percent of cars eventually end up at a recycling facility. For this industry’s workers, however, with these jobs come risks.

A recent example is the death of a worker at an Illinois scrap metal recycling facility earlier this year. The company has now been fined US$470,000 by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Organization (OSHA) for eight different violations, ranging from the lack of employee protection from hazards to even a complete failure to post signs pointing out dangerous equipment. Furthermore, the dearth of safety features at a metal shredder is what led to the employee’s arm to be trapped in a conveyor belt, which led to his death. What is most disturbing, however, is that OSHA had never inspected the facility, as noted in an interview on Think Progress.

But while this case makes it easy to highlight this one company and OSHA’s shortcomings, the reality is that the scrap metal sector is one of the more dangerous settings for American workers — and little is done to enforce safety protections for workers.

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Can the VC Community Disrupt Serial Incarceration?

| Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Defy Ventures graduates Coss Marte Lasyah Palmer and Jamel Graham speak on stage at SOCAP 2014

Defy Ventures graduates Coss Marte, Jamel Graham and Lasyah Palmer speak on stage at SOCAP 2014

There is nothing the startup community loves more than a good disruption. And what better to disrupt than the prison-industrial complex — after all, a staggering 100 million Americans have criminal records and keeping them locked up costs us $63.4 billion a year.

As of last October, the U.S. incarceration rate was 716 per 100,000 people. While the United States represents about 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Worse still, 76 percent are rearrested after release and of those 89 percent are unemployed at re-arrest. So, we see the connection between crime and poverty in action.

One former member of the investment community is turning to a uniquely American solution to solve the problem: entrepreneurship.

The formerly incarcerated are not without skills. Think about it: Drug sales require cash flow management, sales and marketing. Robberies — successful ones at least — require strategic planning. Catherine Hoke — who comes from the venture capital and private equity world — founded Defy Ventures in 2010 to show ex-convicts (she prefers the term “Entrepreneurs in Training” or EITs) how to use the skills they already have to develop legal businesses.

Hoke spoke at SOCAP 2014 about Defy Ventures’ model. The nonprofit provides training to EITs in skills like leadership, business plan development, finance, sales and marketing — and even things like etiquette: how to dress for a meeting and how to shake hands in a business setting. The program’s mentors and teachers include startup luminaries like Seth Godin and Tim Draper. As inspiring as the Defy Ventures story was, I was skeptical. How could 300 hours of training really disrupt a life, disrupt a community? After all, people have been trying to solve the cycle of urban poverty and prison for decades, and the number of people in prison just keeps increasing.

My skepticism vanished when I chatted with three Defy graduates about their experiences in the program.

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Intel: The Push to Stop Conflict Minerals is Gaining

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

conflict_minerals_Wolframite_Mining_DRC_Julien_HarneisHuman rights activists have been waiting for at least a year to see the Department of Commerce’s breakdown of global conflict mining sites. Still, the department’s announcement last week that its data was, well, inconclusive, was no surprise.

In a 24-page report that was intended to address the whereabouts of conflict mineral mines and processing facilities, the DOC admitted that while it was able to supply a list of 400 operational sites throughout the world, its hands were tied when it came to determining certifiably which used slave or abusive labor in their camps.

“We do not have the ability to distinguish such facilities,” the DOC said matter-of-factly.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act charged the DOC with the responsibility of identifying “all known conflict mineral processing facilities world-wide” and filing a report by January 2013, a deadline the DOC apparently wasn’t able to meet. And to its defense, the challenge of narrowing down where all gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin come from is formidable. Both the Garmin Corporation (which makes GPS equipment using mined substances) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness has weighed in on this requirement, with the latter questioning whether the Act actually helps or hinders human rights in repressed areas.

Still, the challenge hasn’t deterred some companies and agencies from trying to remove conflict minerals from the marketplace. The Intel Corp., which announced in January of this year that it would source all of its microprocessor materials from conflict-free zones, has now upped the ante. The company says that by 2016, it wants its supply chain to be completely conflict-mineral-free.

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Op/Ed on CSRwire: We Did Our Job, Time to Move On

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 8 Comments

Ed Note: The following op/ed is from Joe Sibilia, former CEO of CSRwire, which was recently acquired by 3BLmedia.

CSRWire-logo-websiteBy Joe Sibilia

Like a flower that blooms and dies to seed new growth, CSRwire.com lived out its usefulness, spawning and raising awareness for innovative approaches to a new economy.   Our talented team has been seasoned by the dripping drama of a federal court case, driven by the challenges of a shifting media landscape, determined by detractors’ defilements and championing a new approach to business — an awesome effort.  With a full appreciation that the bloom was fading and the end was near, they extended the limits of their imagination, experimented and explored new boundaries.   It was time to move on and continue our experiment with innovating new ideas.

As we close the doors on a remarkable 15 years, there is a lot of history and achievements to remember and many organizations and individuals to appreciate.  Although this space is not big enough to recognize everyone, we’ll do our best to highlight many. 

It has been said that life is too short to learn from your own mistakes; we should learn from the experiences of others. Learn from our mistakes and benefit from our experiences.  This post will focus on appreciating our many friends and colleagues. My earlier post focused on sharing what we learned.  I hope to engage in further conversations.

Vice President of Partnerships Kristen Sibilia sums up the philosophy leading CSRwire best: “Business is personal, it’s family.”  We ask ourselves: “If we treat our business relationships like immediate family, would we act differently?”  We’ve treated our business partners as true family members. A lifetime indoctrination in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable startups helped us remain critical and open to innovation. We appreciate all your efforts.

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Millennials Take On Monsanto

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 9th, 2014 | 30 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

johnroulacBy John Roulac

The issue of how we grow and process our food, while it’s always been important, is now a hot topic both at the kitchen table and on Wall Street. From the recent scandal about a chemical used in yoga mats being found in Subway bread to the rising awareness of genetically modified organisms GMOs and demands to label their presence in foods, the public is fast awakening to the need for safe, whole, natural nourishment.

In early May 2014, the stock price of Whole Foods Market dropped about 20 percent in 24 hours, based largely on fears that Walmart and other grocery giants will overtake its share of organic food sales. The number of equity funds looking to invest in the next Annie’s or Clif Bar is astounding. Astute investors now understand that food impacts not just waistlines but bottom lines.

The elephant in the room is that agriculture, not transportation, is globally the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases — an issue that gets glossed over by Al Gore and 350.org alike. The media, whether in the recent New York Times food reportage or in the May 2014 National Geographic cover story on “The New Food Revolution,” all fail to mention the three most pressing food issues: the climate change connection; the vast subsidies to corn, soy and wheat; and the massive increase in the use of Monsanto Roundup with its human health and ecosystem impacts.

Central to the conversation are the questions: How do we grow our food in a more sustainable way, and who decides? Should America lead the world in turning over our heritage of ancestral seeds to Monsanto or DuPont for them to patent as intellectual property? It’s becoming ever more widely known that each firm has a long history of making lethal war chemicals, creating toxic manufacturing sites that leak carcinogens into disadvantaged communities everywhere, and influencing the EPA, USDA, Congress and the White House so that decisions made — such as the Farmer Assurance Provision (widely called by its critics the “Monsanto Protection Act”) — favor biotech.

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