Do consumers have a right to know where their food comes from? What if there is a federal law decreeing that they have that right? Not anymore. None of that matters. International trade treaties — nowadays often negotiated in secret — trump United States law aimed at protecting consumers.
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Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl on December 28, 2015, ruled that a lawsuit filed by journalism and environmental groups challenging the constitutionality of Wyoming's law could continue. The state had moved to dismiss the suit.Topics on the Beat:
Here are some reports of possible interest to environmental journalists from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Congress does not release them to the public, but the Union of Concerned Scientists' Government Secrecy Project does.Topics on the Beat:
It's never too early for journalists to complain about secrecy. Case in point: the database of drone owners which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to register. A key task force recently recommended that the database be exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act.Topics on the Beat:
The University of Missouri "safe space" incident on Nov 9, 2015 rekindled questions and debate about journalists' First Amendment right of access to spaces. One of the best practical guides to law on this issue is the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press publication, "A Reporter's Field Guide."Region:
An important, but little-known, transparency law requires that FAC meetings be open to the public. But a new study shows that more than two-thirds of the time, they are not. On those committees, industry "experts" who have a financial stake may be telling agencies to ignore scientific findings in their regulation of things like environmental health and toxic chemicals.
A war has broken out over academic emails — a war seemingly between academic freedom and the public's right to know. The smoking emails have prompted scandals galore, and produced stories. The issue got an airing in a plenary session October 9, 2015, at SEJ's Annual Conference. The WatchDog has details.
Whether pesticides harm the birds and bees — or human health — matters a lot. One of the public's protections is the requirement for disclosure in the nation's pesticide laws. Three groups, represented by Earthjustice, argue that EPA has authority under current federal pesticide law to require disclosure of inert ingredients.
Disclosure issues have been in the news of late — especially the war over research on genetically modified organisms. Now journalist Sara Reardon, in Nature News & Comment, has taken a deep look at disclosure policies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The battleground over transparency on food origins and ingredients is much wider than labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, as journalist Elizabeth Grossman points out in a recent piece in Civil Eats.