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Ag-gag?

Food, food wars, and ag-tech are a growing area of interest in cleantech.  So I’m on a bunch of ag and food related mailing lists. But when I first read the one email I got yesterday – texted post below – I thought I was reading a really bad version of The Onion.

Ag-gag?

Farmarazzi?

What the hell are people doing on someone’s farm with their cameras that convinces an ag company to spend lobbying dollars getting an ag-gag bill passed?

Has no one heard of trespassing?  I have to say, if random people started stopping and wandering across my land without asking snapping pictures, I’d be mildly annoyed.  And if they then were taking pictures so they could use them to cause me some sort of economic losses.  Damn I’d be calling the police and using those pictures as evidence of the trespassing.

1) Doesn’t trespassing already cover most of this?

2) How bad have you been ticking people off that they want laws passed for photographs?

3) Why are you emailing me this crap from the SLOW FOOD USA list? I barely tolerate your normal emails.

4) Are you really emailing me asking me to go trespass?

5) Do you not think small farmers and ranchers would be as ticked about you trespassing just as much as large ones?

 

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Dear Supporter,

Last week 22,000 people told legislators that taking photos of farms should not be a crime. Since then, one of these “ag-gag” bills failed in Florida. But Iowa votes today, and Minnesota isn’t far behind.

Now is a critical time to voice our opposition to the legislators in those states.

Sign our petition and stand up for transparency and the right to take pictures of farms. »

You can read more about it below.


Imagine if taking photos of farms were illegal — and the photographer was subject to fines and possibly jail time. If Big Ag got its way, that’s exactly what would happen. Right now they’re pushing legislators in Minnesota, Florida, and Iowa to criminalize taking photos or videos of their facilities.[1]

I guess industrial agriculture has something to hide. Maybe it’s the way factory farms mistreat workers, animals, and the environment.

The clock is ticking — Iowa’s legislation could pass an important hurdle as soon as next week. If we can raise a big enough stink, we can stop this state-based legislation from spreading nationwide.

Sign our petition and stand up for transparency and the right to take pictures of farms. »

But that’s not all. We don’t just want to stop Big Ag’s attempt to restrict consumers’ right to know — we also want to use this as an opportunity to lift up the good, clean and fair farmers who like consumers to come and see exactly how their food is produced.

So join the farmarazzi! In the next few days we’ll be calling on you for help. Plan a visit to a nearby farm (or just step outside, farmers) because we’ll be holding a contest for the best farm photos, and sending a flipbook of the winning photos to the legislators in question. Can’t wait to get started? Share your favorite farm photos by uploading and posting them on our Facebook wall here: http://www.facebook.com/SlowFoodUSA.

Thanks,
Jerusha Klemperer
Slow Food USA

Cleantech Forum Snaps – Affirmative Action, Star Trek, and Starvation

Three comments I really liked from the premier conference on cleantech:

Art Rosenfeld, California Energy Commission – It’s all about cool white roofs to combat climate change.  Art is one of the deans of energy efficiency in California.  It’s been long known that white roofs can cool a building and help reduce the heat island effect in cities (cities are always hotter than the country, basically because they make more heat, and shifting from trees to concrete, asphalt and asphalt shingled roofs both reduces the cooling affects of aspiration and absorbs a larger portion of heat into the phyiscal environment).

So Art is now effectively calling for step by step, low cost and simple geoengineering through policy to combat both energy efficiency demons and climate change.  E.g, not only do cool white roofs reduce heat in the city, they reduce the cooling bill in the building, and reduce GHGs from energy use.  He posits that a shift from black roofs to white roofs and/or shifting roof design to flatter roofs that are more effective in white roofs would save literally billions upon billions of tons of CO2e over time, with no measurable cost difference.

So, call it the affirmative action program for cleantech, but color matters.

Sheeraz Haji, CEO Cleantech Group – It’s all about Data.  The idea is pretty simple – everything in cleantech from here on out – e.g. smart grid, energy efficiency, solar performance, water use, EVs, etc all depends on more, cheaper, faster, more granular, timely and better data and the analysis it can drive.  Sheeraz’s question to define future opportunities in cleantech is, “so what does data need?”

John Denniston, Kleiner Perkins – It’s all about food.  Think food security, food v fuel, water use, fertilizer source and ag run-off, crop yields, etc.  I love this topic.  For those of you who haven’t heard of him, go google Norman Borlaug, the recently passed away sage who made possible our ability to not starve and threw Malthus for a loop for the last few decades with dramatic crop yield improvements from his selective plant breeding and fertilizer intensive ag.  The favorite argument of the day, which John mentioned, is the “in the next x decades of years we’ll need more food than in the last x – thousands of years”.  Right or wrong, the scale is sure changing. 

So, whether your answer to John’s all about food is less people, more GMO, more technology, more water efficiency, or shifting diets, we’re going to need another Norman Borlaug or life is gonna suck.