January 14, 2007

1/14/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Respectfully Challenging the Jewish Establishment

2. Article: World's Future Economy Imperiled by Global Climate Change and Other Environmental and Health Threats

3. Veggie Poem by JVNA Activist Jeff Tucker

4. New Book Traces History of Vegetarianism

5. Israelis and Palestinians Cooperate in Cleaning Up Rivers

6. Israeli Haredim Working For a Cleaner Environment

7. Interfaith Retreats for Religious Leaders Scheduled

8. Two Israeli Brothers Accused of Torture in Producing Foie Gras

9. Top 10 Reasons to Go Vegetarian in 2007

10. Efforts to Reduce Cruelty at KFC

11. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim's Newsletter

12. Vegan Clothing Becoming More Popular

13. More Important Global Warming Reports

14. Israeli Council Considers Banning Animal Experiments at Schools

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Respectfully Challenging the Jewish Establishment

As I have indicated before, I think that the JVNA should respectfully challenge rabbis and other influential Jews, as well as Jewish institutions, re getting vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda.

Here are the main considerations:

* The world is threatened as perhaps never before by global warming, widening water shortages, destruction of tropical rain forests and other environmental threats.

* As indicated by many reports, most recently from the UN FAO, animal-based diets play a very significant role in all of these threats.

* Judaism has very powerful teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and at least six basic Jewish mandates are seriously violated by animal-based diets and “livestock” agriculture.

* Unfortunately, with some notable exceptions, the Jewish community is not addressing current environmental crises and the many moral issues related to our diets.

Since the fate of humanity is at stake in our efforts, it is essential that we try to be creative in getting our messages into the Jewish mainstream.

We had hoped to have a respectful debate on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” or a related topic at the same Manhattan Orthodox synagogue that hosted the October, 2006 debate between Bruce Friedrich of PETA and Nathan Lewis, AgriProcessor's lawyer. But, it now looks like that debate is not going to happen.

I think we have to increase our efforts to get respectful dialogues and debates on our issues. To that end, I hope that the mock debate previously included in a JVNA newsletter between a Jewish vegetarian activist and a rabbi might be helpful
(http://jewishveg.com/schwartz/dialogue.html). I plan to send that debate to some rabbis, and please feel free to forward it to people who might be interested. Also, suggestions re this issue are very welcome. Thanks.

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2. Article: World's Future Economy Imperiled by Global Climate Change and Other Environmental and Health Threats

Risk To World Economy Rises From Climate And Disease

by Peter Capella

Geneva (AFP) Jan 10, 2007

The world economy is under growing threat from risks such as climate change, terrorism, pandemics and oil prices because of inadequate action by governments and business, a network of experts said on Wednesday. A report by the World Economic Forum, the reinsurer Swiss Re, Citigroup bank and US broker Marsh and McLennan warned of "a fundamental disconnect between risk and mitigation". It said levels of risk were rising in almost all of the 23 categories on which the network had focused over the last year.

"But mechanisms in place to manage and mitigate risk at the level of businesses, governments and global governance are inadequate," it added, warning that the global economy remained vulnerable despite unprecedented expansion.

From the range of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological threats, the "Global Risks 2007" report pinpointed climate change as "one of the defining challenges of the 21st century."

It said climate change and associated severe storms, water shortages or rising sea levels would have an impact "far beyond the environment".

While effective measures to mitigate global warming could also improve resilience to oil price shocks by diversifying energy supply, the report said, ineffective steps "will almost certainly be a factor in major interstate and civil wars within the next 50 years".

Recent improvements, such as better international cooperation against terrorism, measures against a potential flu pandemic, or better financial risk management in emerging markets, were dismissed as tactical gains.

"The tactical gains may be illusory and are certainly temporary," the report said, warning that they could swiftly and catastrophically be reversed unless the root causes of major threats are tackled.

Major risks to human life over the next 10 years include growing disease, with potentially more than 1.0 million new deaths, wars, loss of freshwater, and at least 8,000 to 40,000 deaths linked to terrorism or transnational crime.

The likelihood of an asset price collapse costing more than 1.0 trillion dollars (770 billion euros) was rated at the lower end of a scale of 10 to 20 percent.

An oil price shock or a hard landing for China's economy were further up the scale of probability and expected to cost the world 250 billion to 1.0 trillion dollars each.

The report examined three "plausible" scenarios, and insisted that cooperation between the United States and China was crucial.

They included the emergence of pandemic flu in Asia in 2008, which grounds flights in Southeast Asia, holds up cargo shipments, triggers a financial chain reaction after a hedge fund collapse and leads to growing militarisation of governments and tensions in Asia.

In turn, fears of cross border movements feed a backlash against free trade before the disease is eventually contained by delayed distribution of a new vaccine in summer 2009, after at least 1.0 million deaths.

In another scenario, a series of chain reactions to storms, floods and climate change starting in 2007 prompt unrest in China, a burst in the US housing bubble, financial upheaval, radical steps in the US to produce bio-fuels locally, and rush on nuclear power in developing countries.

An oil price shock caused by attacks on tankers in the Straits of Malacca in 2008 drives oil above 150 dollars a barrel, causes huge geopolitical shifts in power, a recession, and efforts to mitigate climate change collapse.

The report recommended that governments and companies form "coalitions of the willing" to forge ahead with tackling major risks at international level, rather than simply wait to achieve a consensus.

Recent talks on the next stage of of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which sets caps on damaging carbon emissions, have foundered because of further disagreements between states.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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3. Veggie Poem by JVNA Activist Jeff Tucker

Copyright, Jeffrey M. Tucker, Miami, FL 2006
(Definition, Veggecise: to Green-up physically, environ'mentally' and spiritually as you see fit.)

I want to veggecise you,
get veggecised too.
Growing earthwise,
covered in dew at rising,
glowing with chi allmy days,
growing technicolor dreams, organic ways.

By the evolutionary sliderule
don't account me a fool.

Green me and bean me up:
in a river of chlorophyll swim,
on a platform of conscience rest,
win-win finally at the altar of harmony.

Souls work best when joyfully grounded in community,
and essene instincts thrive.

In our Matrix are many tricks:
for tying tongues
hiding hearts
silencing spirits
weakening wills
baffling believers,
red or blue pills.

Individuals in maze of mirrors, smoke and politics
need allies uncounted, assets unbounded,
awareness untainted…just to survive.

Each trick is a thread,
each thread a threat,
woven into cords that bind.
Truth thrashes about
like a captured beast,
endeavors to sever them.

Those who would bind may just be unkind
or the kind who know not better.
Want things their way by the end of the day,
by their own wants themselves will fetter.
Disenchanted magicians master them,
sitting at whose feet they see no disaster
for the masters' feet have no eyes.
Masters hear only each other.
Masters fear only failure.

Masters teach fear and tricks of the trade:
confound eyes by artists for hire,
untune ears with white noise;
disrupt the unwary,
corrupt the naïve,
schtup the sleepy,
make thinking a crime.
Hands turn in their lathes,
labors bent unto their toys,
so goes my rhyme.
Who missed the boat now would sink it.

Some sell out on a whisper or whim,
others fall out or bend with a breeze,
knees bent before moribund master,
forsaking greenways for gold,
callously cast hopes of our future
into yon heartless Black Hole,
(dark apathy, no empathy, pathological greed and stupidity)
which powers grim Matrix.

When all this is realized…
I advise, Get Veggecised!

EPILOGUE (from Jeff Tucker): I am terrified of Global Warming and various trends in our civilization, aren't you? Everyone need not Go 100%Vegan, hug trees and dolphins, weep over habitat losses and general toxicity. Just consider, please, the consequences of your actions and non-actions, day to day, as a World Citizen, a passenger on Spaceship Earth. Change comes from within then shows up as Ethical Consumerism, Civil Participation.

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4. New Book Traces History of Vegetarianism

Thanks to Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D., fiction writer, speaker, essayist, publisher. And JVNA advisor for forwarding the following book review. Micah Publications (www.micahbooks.com) is the source for Jewish
vegetarian and animal rights books. See website for these and other titles.

Subject: Meat eaters, chew on this - An intellectual history of a food choice shows its ties to political and social radicals, Eastern religious thought and the odd health nut

[San Francisco Chronicle]
The Bloodless Revolution
A Cultural History of Vegetarianism From 1600 to Modern Times
By Tristram Stuart
NORTON; 628 Pages; $29.95
Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell
Sunday, January 7, 2007

In "Animal Liberation," the bible of the modern animal rights movement, philosopher Peter Singer bluntly claims that "[t]he attitudes toward animals of previous generations are no longer convincing because they draw on presuppositions -- religious, moral, metaphysical -- that are now obsolete." Singer was referring to earlier rationales for eating meat, but the claim also implicitly dismisses the history of vegetarianism, which is fascinating and telling. Did you know, for instance, that many 17th century Britons abstained from meat in order to feel closer to Eden, where fruits and vegetables provided sustenance, and Adam and Eve interacted peacefully with animals?

Tristram Stuart, a precocious young British writer, has no doubt read
"Animal Liberation." In fact, judging from his 65-page bibliography, he appears to have read just about every word ever written about vegetarianism. His book, "The Bloodless Revolution" (a pun from an alternative name for the Glorious Revolution of 1688) is an intellectual history of vegetarianism in 17th and 18th century Europe, with nods to the years since. It is a beautifully written work of impressive scholarship, perhaps the most erudite yet to appear on the subject of vegetarian history. Previous authors have sketched major vegetarian thinkers, but Stuart goes further, interacting extensively with primary-source materials, thoughtfully challenging the conclusions of other scholars and bolstering his own credibility by outing a few closet meat eaters, such as Alexander Pope.

The rejection of meat has frequently been accompanied by political and social radicalism. Reformers such as Roger Crab in the 17th century and John Oswald in the 18th saw meat as a symbol of unjust luxury and renounced it in solidarity with the poor. Foes of the Catholic Church courted heresy by abjuring food from animals and extending their moral concern beyond the one anointed species. In the years after the French Revolution, students (many of them vegetarians) made their way across the English Channel in search of other barricades to storm; in response, the Crown resisted animal welfare laws as a form of "patriotic opposition to the onion-eating French and their radical allies in Britain."

Vegetarian thought certainly has had its share of characters, and in less able hands this history might come off as a series of maladjusted kooks whose radical ideas needn't be taken seriously. But the picture that emerges from "The Bloodless Revolution" is a group of individuals troubled enough to take action against a practice -- the killing and eating of animals -- that unquestionably has profound moral implications. In an age in which a staggering 50 billion farm animals each year are reared in appalling conditions, slaughtered for our food and thoughtlessly consumed, any book that sets out an alternative is welcome. An excellent book that does so is indispensable.

It is worth noting that Stuart is not a vegetarian. As he has written elsewhere, he opposes the ecological impact of the factory farm, rather than meat itself, which he eats when he can be satisfied that the animals were reared and killed sensitively. (He does both himself.) But given the intensive animal farming methods ubiquitous today, he acknowledges that the best choice is probably to become a vegetarian. Regardless, Stuart wears his beliefs lightly, avoiding the moralism that has given the Western world an easy excuse to ignore the persuasive case for vegetarianism for, apparently, centuries.

Michael O'Donnell is a writer and lawyer in Chicago.

full story

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5. Israelis and Palestinians Cooperate in Cleaning Up Rivers

Israeli-Palestinian team cleaning up regional rivers
By Nicky Blackburn January 07, 2007
Israel spearheads effort to save Jordan River
Israel's future looks greener
Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
Palestinian Water Training Institute

When Michael Cohen visited the Alexander River estuary in the center of Israel a few weeks ago with other researchers, he was shocked at what he found.

"The river was so unclean, there were dead fish, plastic bottles and other garbage floating downstream and it was a disgusting brown colour," says the director of special projects at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on Kibbutz Ketura near Eilat.

"The tide was out, so the filthy river just stopped five feet from the Mediterranean. The sea looked so pristine and clear, but at high tide, all the filth from the river washes straight into the sea polluting it for miles around," he told ISRAEL21c.

The miserable state of the Alexander, which runs through both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is one of the reasons why a team of Israeli and Palestinian researchers have joined forces to create a blueprint for action to restore the quality of not only the Alexander, but the 15 rivers that flow through both Israeli and Palestinian areas.

Rivers, as everyone knows, are not confined by borders. Cleaning a river in one location, will not stop it becoming polluted elsewhere, if people continue to dump sewage or industrial waste along the route.

Most of the rivers that flow through PA and Israeli land are heavily polluted with raw sewage, effluent, and industrial waste. This is the first time, however, there has ever been any kind of joint monitoring of water quality or combined action plan to clean the rivers up.

The team of 14 researchers from the Arava Institute on the Israeli side, and the Water and Environment Development Organization (WEDO) in Bethlehem on the Palestinian side, is being funded with a $1 million grant from the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The three-year Trans Boundary Stream Restoration Project began in October 2004, and after two years of monitoring, team members are now in the final stages of putting together an effective river restoration strategy for Israel and the PA which is tailored to the unique ecological and geographical conditions of local streams. Final recommendations will be available in July this year (2007).

The group, who meet regularly in the field and elsewhere to assess their work, focused on two steams that flow through large population centers in both Israel and the PA - the 25 mile Alexander, which flows from the heavily populated West Bank city of Nablus to its estuary not far from Netanya in Israel; and the River Hebron, which passes Hebron in the West Bank, flows through Beersheva as the River Besor, and then runs on to Gaza and the sea.

The researchers set up 15 monitoring stations along the length of both rivers - six on the Alexander (three on each side), and nine on the Hebron River (four on the PA side) and began monitoring the quality and flow of the water, and the ecological health of the streams.

"This is the first time any monitoring of water quality has been carried out on these two rivers," says Lior Asaf, scientific coordinator of the project on the Israeli side.

So far 300 measurements from these rivers have been analyzed, and a further 100 samples taken during recent storms have now been sent away to be checked. Though the data so far is still raw, the results are clear, says Asaf, a hydrologist from the Arava Institute.

"Both steams are heavily polluted," he says.

There are numerous point pollution sources that originate in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to the project's recently published annual report. In the Alexander, untreated sewage is dumped into the stream at Nablus, and the annual report states that there are 70 sources of pollution along the steam's route, including sewage and effluents from refugee camps, towns, the Palestinian city of Tulkarm, stone cutting industries, landfills, and leather factories. In addition, from October to December, waste from surrounding olive press factories is added to the general pollution.

In Israel, pollution sources include treated and untreated sewage, fishpond effluents and industrial effluents. Winter storms and floods bring even more pollution.

Since 1995 some $12 million has been spent on restoration efforts to the Alexander, and Israel has even set up a wastewater treatment facility on the river. In 2003, the river won the international Riverprize award in Australia for this work. Despite this, however, the report states: "Despite considerable restoration efforts, to date, the stream is still severely polluted, unsuitable for human use with unhealthy ecosystems."

Without any kind of wastewater treatment facility, the Hebron stream is inevitably in worse condition than the Alexander, according to Asaf. The major source of pollution is raw sewage discharged from Hebron. Domestic sewage is also pumped into the stream from the Israeli settlement of Qiryat Arba. In addition, according to the report, wastewater from almost 100 industrial facilities flow into the steam, treated effluents are discharged from Dimona, wastewater from Ofakim, and on occasions treated wastewater leaks out of municipal waste facilities in Beersheva.

"Raw sewage flows for over 60 miles from Hebron, through Beersheva to Gaza," says Asaf. During winter storms pollution also comes from Ramat Hovav, a toxic waste disposal site that contains some of Israel's heaviest chemical industries.

In the past, both the Alexander and the Hebron steams traditionally dried up during the summer months. Now they have become a permanent, year-round conduit for sewage and effluent, says Asaf. "In the last 50 years, many streams have been transformed into sewage canals," he explains.

With the monitoring virtually complete, the Palestinian-Israeli team has now set about the last part of their program, developing the foundations for an effective river restoration strategy for Israel and the PA.

Four team members (two Israeli and two Palestinian) recently took part in a two-week workshop at the University of Maryland, to learn about the clean up of the once heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay.

"We are not simply coming up with a report or a survey, but are developing a real road map to move things forward," says Asaf. "We plan to develop a clear plan of what should be achieved. Many people say we should wait for peace and then we will all have a clear vision of what's going on, but we believe that we can't wait for that. We should address our problems now because natural resources do not know boundaries. We need to come forward with a clear Palestinian and Israeli vision of how to address these problems, what is in our best interests, what should be done, and how much it will cost."

The Palestinian and Israeli researchers, who include Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Moslems and Palestinian Christians, meet regularly and communicate mostly in English. Their most recent meeting took place in Beit Jalla, just outside of Jerusalem.

"We meet in a place that is usually safe for both of us," says Asaf.

The project demands a great of cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli teams and Asaf says the researchers work extremely well together. "Certainly from the perspective of "peace making" the initiative has exceeded the participants' expectations," the annual report states.

In May the research team plans to hold a joint workshop in Akaba in Jordan where they will invite policy makers from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. "We have received a positive reaction so far," says Asaf.

In the meantime, the researchers have also approached the Ministry of Environment in Israel to encourage them to continue monitoring water quality in the two rivers using the framework of monitoring stations already set up by the team. "We believe it is easier to encourage people to go forward once we have this framework for information," says Asaf.

Asaf is a firm believer that the only way to solve the problem of the region's polluted rivers is by working together. Israel, for instance, now has plans to build a wastewater facility on the Israeli side of the Hebron river. "In the short term that may prevent pollution down stream, but if we don't deal with the source of the pollution it will not solve the problem forever," Asaf insists. "If we don't take control we won't do the right job.

"Our team includes many people from different religions, but there is no difference between any of us," Asaf continues. "As human beings we need clear water and water resources. We need natural places that we can come and relax and enjoy ourselves, not places fouled by raw sewage and effluents. We can only achieve this if we work together. Only multilateral action will solve these problems."

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6. Israeli Haredim (Strictly-Religious People) Working For a Cleaner Environment

New environmental group aims to enlist haredim
Matthew Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 7, 2007

Global warming, the thinning ozone layer and the greenhouse effect are not presently at the top of the haredi community's priority list, but an organization known as Haredim Le'sviva (Haredim for the Environment) wants to change that.

Not only desecration of Shabbat by El Al or the sale of immodest clothing in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem will be at the forefront of haredi interests if Haredim Le'sviva has its way, but also educating against littering and encouraging recycling.

In the first conference of its kind, haredi MKs and a dozen local government politicians together with Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, will meet Monday in Bnei Brak to discuss recycling, air and noise pollution and the adverse effects of cellular phone antennas.

Environment Minister Gideon Ezra will also attend the conference. McCann Erickson, an ad agency with a haredi department, will be sponsoring the gathering.

So far none of the major haredi halachic authorities has come out publicly in support of the move and without their support it is doubtful that Haredim Le'sviva's initiative will gain momentum.

However, according to Yehudah Ganut, a young haredi educator from Petah Tikva who founded the organization several years ago, two prominent rabbis are backing his organization. Rabbi Yitzhak Zilberstein, an expert in medicine and halacha, and Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Stern, a member of Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Vozner's rabbinic court, both support increasing haredi awareness to environmental issues.

Akiva Briland, a member of Haredim Le'sviva, told The Jerusalem Post that there were many classical Jewish sources supporting environmental protection.

"For instance, Jewish law states that a tree must be planted 50 amot (25 meters) from the city out of consideration for the landscape and the Midrash [homiletic rabbinic commentary] warns man to be careful not to destroy the world," said Briland.

Briland and Ganut say that haredim realize the importance of protecting the environment, but they have yet to be mobilized.

According to a survey conducted by Mutagim, a leading pollster, 94% of haredim surveyed said that protecting the environment was important. Some 72% said they were bothered by air pollution and the same amount said they wanted to live in a green setting.

In a related development, the government set in motion Sunday a recycling bill that would include as refundable 1.5 to 2 liter plastic bottles. The government set up a committee that is supposed to prepare the legislation within a month. The Sephardi haredi Shas party has opposed the bill, arguing that it would hurt large families. Shas said that including the bigger bottles as eligible for a deposit refund would raise the price by half a shekel.

"We do not have enough refund outlets for the bottles," MK Amnon Cohen (Shas). "So haredi families will pay the extra price without getting their money back."

Haredim Le'sviva recommended allowing non-profit organizations to collect the bottles, thus encouraging citizens to recycle them.

Briland said that in Bnei Brak last year, four million bottles were returned for refunds.

This article can also be read here.

Copyright 1995-2007 The Jerusalem Post

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7. Interfaith Retreats for Religious Leaders Scheduled

Meeting the Sacred in Creation
2007 Interfaith Environmental Retreats for Religious Leaders
Kitsap Peninsula, WA - April 16-19 Garrison, NY - May 14-17

GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental coalition, is pleased to announce the schedule for its 2007 contemplative retreats for Christian clergy, Rabbis, men and women religious, and people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. The retreats - entitled Meeting the Sacred in Creation - explore one of the most neglected aspects of the spiritual life in the western world - the relationship between the human soul and the natural world. The retreats will be held at the Pilgrim Firs Retreat Center on Washington State's Kitsap Peninsula (April 16-19), and at the Garrison Institute in the heart of New York's Hudson valley (May 14-17). The retreat leaders will be Kurt Hoelting of Inside Passages and Rabbi Lawrence Troster of GreenFaith. The cost of each retreat is $400, which includes all meals and lodging. To register for either retreat or for further information, e-mail Rabbi Lawrence Troster at ltroster@greenfaith.org or call GreenFaith at 732-565-7740

Kurt Hoelting is a clergyman (United Church of Christ), meditation teacher and wilderness guide with twenty five years of experience in Zen meditation practice. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Kurt founded Inside Passages (www.insidepassages.com) in 1994. He has guided several dozen contemplative sea kayaking retreats in Alaska, including trips co-led by Gary Snyder, David Abram, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Rabbis Rachel Cowan and Sheila Weinberg. His work with rabbis and Christian clergy explores the application of Eastern meditative discipline to the revitalization of Western contemplative practice, and the deepening of an understanding of the meaning of caring for Creation.

Rabbi Lawrence Troster is Director of GreenFaith's Fellowship Program and a nationally recognized religious-environmental leader. He has worked as the Rabbinic Fellow of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and he has published and lectured widely on theology, environmentalism, liturgy, bioethics, modern cosmology and Judaism. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the University of Toronto, he has served congregations in Toronto and New Jersey.

Pilgrim Firs Retreat Center and the Garrison Institute will serve as hosts for the two retreats, providing accommodations and meeting space in settings chosen for their ecological settings and commitments. Participants will enjoy hikes and substantial time outdoors, several hours daily in silent meditation, and vegetarian and organic food. Each day will begin and end in shared contemplative silence, interspersed with hikes, group dialogue, and shared worship.

“In an era of global ecological crisis,” says Hoelting, “caring for Creation has emerged as a moral obligation for all people of faith. Yet we will not work to save that which we do not love. Connecting our faith directly with the natural world has become an essential part of our spiritual journeys. Our very survival may depend now on our ability to make this connection real for ourselves, and the communities we serve.”

“The environmental crisis has not arisen solely because of technology, economics or politics,” says Troster. “It is fundamentally a spiritual crisis, which requires a spiritual solution that cannot be confined to a single tradition. We need wisdom gained from the world's great religions and through relationship with the sacred in nature to guide us. 'Meeting the Sacred in Creation' offers the space to connect with that wisdom.”

Founded in 1992, GreenFaith is an interfaith coalition for the environment which inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse spiritual backgrounds to deepen their relationship with nature and to take action for the earth. GreenFaith's work arises from beliefs about Creation shared by the world's great religions, and makes its impact through programs that enable houses of worship to become centers of environmental leadership. “Humanity's religious traditions command us to be good stewards of the earth,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith' Executive Director. “Care for the environment can bring people of diverse faiths together to create a future where the earth and all life flourish. Our programs make this happen every day.”

To register for either retreat or for further information, e-mail Rabbi Lawrence Troster at ltroster@greenfaith.org or call GreenFaith at 732-5650

Rabbi Lawrence Troster
Director, GreenFaith Fellowship Program
201- 833-5166

"How great are Your works, O Lord!
Your designs are beyond our grasp."
(Psalm 92:6)

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8. Two Israeli Brothers Accused of Torture in Producing Foie Gras

Brothers accused of torturing animals
Jan. 8, 2007
By JPOST.COM STAFF (Jerusalem Post)


Two brothers from Moshav Ben-Yakkai were accused Monday of animal abuse caused by regular force-feeding of their commercially grown geese, Army Radio reported.

The men had originally requested from the Agriculture Ministry authorization to feed their geese freely, but in reality, they force-fed an average of 2,000 of their fowl per day.

Israel outlawed the practice in April 2006 following complaints that it violated the law regarding humane treatment of animals.

The brothers are accused of torturing animals, abuse, cruelty and breaking the animal treatment law.

Roi Kilger, head of the Agriculture Ministry's supervisory unit, explained that the ministry had discovered the continuous incidents after two Thai workers relayed information and proof that force-feeding was taking place.

"The information was submitted in a ministerial prosecution and is now being dealt with," Kilger said.

"Anonymous," a non-profit organization which works to protect animal rights said that the move proved that "finally, people are seriously paying attention to every complaint and are becoming decisive in diminishing this cruel phenomenon."

Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.

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9. Top 10 Reasons to Go Vegetarian in 2007

Thanks to PETA's Bruce Friedrich for forwarding the interesting material below:

Top 10 Reasons to Go Vegetarian in 2007

Many people's New Year's resolutions include losing weight, eating better, getting healthier, and doing more to make the world a better place. You can accomplish all these goals by switching to a vegetarian diet, and you'll enjoy delicious, satisfying meals as well. Here are our top 10 reasons to go vegetarian in 2007:

1) Slim Down While Feeling Good
Is shedding some extra pounds first on your list of goals for the new year? Vegetarians are, on average, up to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. And unlike unhealthy fad diets, which leave you feeling tired (and gaining all the weight back eventually), going vegetarian is the healthy way to keep the excess fat off for good while feeling full of energy.

2) It's the Best Way to Help Animals
Every vegetarian saves more than 100 animals a year from horrible abuse. There is simply no other way that you can easily help so many animals and prevent so much suffering than by choosing vegetarian foods over meat, eggs, and dairy products.

3) A Healthier, Happier You
A vegetarian diet is great for your health

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure than
meat-eaters. Vegetarians get all the nutrients they need to be
healthy (e.g., plant protein, fiber, minerals, etc.) without all the nasty stuff in meat that slows you down and makes you sick, like cholesterol and saturated animal fat.

4) Vegetarian Food Is Delicious
So you're worried that if you go vegetarian, you'll have to give up hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and ice cream? You won't. As the demand for vegetarian food skyrockets, companies are coming out with more and more delicious meat and dairy product alternatives that taste like the real thing but are much healthier and don't hurt any animals. Plus, we have thousands of tasty kitchen-tested recipes to help you get started!

5) Meat Is Gross
It's disgusting but true: Meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids, all of which make animal products the top source of food poisoning in the United States. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested supermarket chicken flesh and found that 96 percent of Tyson chicken
was contaminated with campylobacter, a dangerous bacteria that causes 2.4 million cases of food poisoning each year, resulting in diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.

6) Help Feed the World
Eating meat doesn't just hurt animals; it hurts people too. It takes tons of crops and water to raise farmed animals-in fact, it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh! All that plant food could be used much more efficiently if it was fed to people directly. The more people who go vegetarian, the more we can feed the hungry.

7) Save the Planet
Eating meat is one of the worst things that you can do for the Earth; it's wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution, and the meat industry is one of the biggest causes of global warming. Adopting a vegetarian diet is more important than switching to a "greener" car in the fight against global warming.

8) All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
The list of stars who shun animal flesh is basically a "who's who" of today's hottest celebs. Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Tobey McGuire, Shania Twain, Alicia Silverstone, Anthony Kiedis, Casey Affleck, Kristen Bell, INXS lead singer J.D. Fortune, Benji Madden, Alyssa Milano, Common, Joss Stone, and Carrie Underwood are just a handful of the super-sexy vegetarians who regularly appear in People magazine. Check out our recent "World's Sexiest Vegetarians" poll for more hot, compassionate celebs.

9) Look Sexy and Be Sexy
Vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat-eaters and have more energy, which is perfect for late-night romps with your special someone. (Guys: The cholesterol and saturated animal fat in meat, eggs, and dairy products don't just clog the arteries to your heart; over time, they impede blood flow to other vital organs as well.) Plus, what's sexier than someone who is not only mega-hot, but also compassionate?

10) Pigs Are Smarter Than Your Dog
While most people are less familiar with pigs, chickens, fish, and cows than they are with dogs and cats, animals used for food are every bit as intelligent and able to suffer as the animals who share our homes are. Pigs can learn to play video games, and chickens are so smart that their intelligence has been compared by scientists to that of monkeys.

Ready to get started? Take the 30-Day Veg Pledge and we'll help you every step of the way. Have a happy, healthy, and humane new year!

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10. Efforts to Reduce Cruelty at KFC

Kentucky Fried Cruelty?
By Allison Hurwitz
Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007

It's no shocker that animals have to die for the sake of big, juicy fast food sandwiches. But what if the chickens that made up that patty were scalded alive in boiling water or had their throats slit while still conscious. Still hungry?

This month marks the fourth anniversary of Norfolk-based, internationally relevant People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' campaign against fast-food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken. The animal rights group continues to spread public awareness of inhumane factory farm practices while putting pressure on the corporation to amend its regulation standards.

According to PETA's Factory Farming Campaign manager, Matt Prescott, virtually all fast food corporations buy their chickens from large producers who keep the animals under terrible conditions. PETA has targeted KFC in particular for what it sees as the restaurant's blatant disregard of recommendations to improve the situation, its denial of wrongdoing and its lying and manipulating to and of the public.

The treatment of poultry on American farms is a tricky issue on multiple levels. For starters, chickens and turkeys-animals that Prescott says account for 98 percent of the meat consumed in the United States-are not protected by any regulated standards. Defying logic, the United States Department of Agriculture chooses not to include them in the Humane Slaughter Act, which covers other animals raised for food such as beef cattle and pigs.

It's important to note that the Slaughter Act was written almost 50 years ago in 1958 and not a single facility has been penalized by the USDA for violating its standards. Even when farms have been caught utilizing disturbing practices, the Department of Agriculture has chosen not to sanction. Port Folio Weekly would like to know why and we plan to investigate this.

Without regulation, poultry producers do not have an obligation (excepting, of course, a moral one) to employ humane procedures. Restaurants like KFC contract with large factory farms such as Tyson to secure the chickens that they will batter with 21 herbs and spices, dunk in oil and present on nice plastic trays in their stores.

At these farms, birds are subjected to cruel atrocities including being boiled alive, having their legs crushed and beaks seared off un-anaesthetized, getting their throats slit while fully conscious and the injection of extreme antibiotics (administered so as to allow them to survive in beyond filthy conditions) that cause them to be so massively top-heavy that they collapse under their own weight.

So why doesn't PETA go directly to the source and target the poultry producers with their campaign? Without USDA policing, these companies have no incentive to change, says Prescott. But a company like KFC - the largest purchaser of chickens in the world - has the power to influence their suppliers. Prescott asserts that when buyers talk, companies like Tyson listen.

PETA would like to see the slaughtering of birds changed. The current system allows for too much error. (A factory farm worker told Prescott that workers expect, on average, for 40 birds to be inadvertently boiled alive on any given day). PETA recommends a process of controlled-atmosphere killing, where chicken enter a chamber that gradually replaces oxygen with gasses.

It's not a matter of money that has stalled movement: KFC executives have admitted that PETA's recommended changes would only cost the company $.02 per meal. For years, PETA experts attempted to work cordially with Kentucky Fried Chicken executives to make changes. In 2001, the restaurant even formed an advisory board to evaluate practices. According to PETA's website, this council rarely met; its
recommendation went unheard; and members resigned over the fast food company's lack of concern.

Prescott says only when it became apparent KFC was not willing to make any progress did they decide to take the campaign public.

"Protesting and boycotting are the last resort," he says. "We try to work cooperatively and explain the reasoning, but when they prove callous and stubborn and won't listen, we have no choice."

In January 2003, PETA had reached its limit and began handing out educational materials and approaching KFC patrons nationwide with the truth about the food's origin. Prescott estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of waiting customers PETA approaches decide to leave the restaurant.

There are three KFC locations in the Norfolk-Portsmouth area, an amount that seems suspiciously small relative to the chain's presence in other cities. Prescott says he can't be sure but hopes this has something to do with the PETA campaign. Of the local restaurants, the Five Points KFC is a main target of the animal welfare group: For the past year and a half, between two and four volunteers have picketed there every single day.

The PETA campaigners have no plans to throw up the white flags anytime soon. They will continue to fight until the practices change - either from an increase of federal regulations (an issue they are also addressing) or from internal motivation.

Prescott encourages locals who want to be involved with the campaign to stop by the offices at 501 Front St., log on to www.peta.org or call 622-PETA. Of course another effective route could be to simply kiss the Colonel goodbye until he cleans up his act in the coops.

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11. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim's Newsletter

January 10, 2007 20 Tevet 5767

Remarks from the Executive Director
Dvar Torah: "Were our mouths as full of song as the sea…"
Science Article: Biodiversity and Human Health: Exploring the
Action Corner: Winterize Your Home: Conserve Energy While Saving
Inquiries for the Eagle: How Can I Reduce Waste in My Purchases?
Organizational Update
Upcoming Events
On A Wing

[Not all of the above items are in this JVNA newsletter.]

This email contains an abbreviated version of our latest newsletter.
Please click on any of the links below in order to view the full
article from our website, or visit
http://canfeinesharim.org/newsletter.shtml for the entire newsletter.

Tu b'Shevat is Coming! In my community, the meetings by email, phone,
and over sandwiches are in full swing for our biggest annual program. You can get your community involved! Canfei Nesharim has a wealth of resources available for communities who want to educate about the
importance of protecting the environment on the New Year of the Trees, including articles by Orthodox rabbonim about environmental issues and trees, and sample sedarim for you to use in your home and your community. Get your community involved today by visiting our site for Canfei Nesharim's Tu b'Shevat Learning Campaign (www.canfeinesharim.org/tubshvat.shtml). And if your community
participates by organizing a program or sharing resources, please email us at info@canfeinesharim.org so that we can acknowledge you on our website at the end of the program.

This week is also your last opportunity to become a founding member of Canfei Nesharim in our first membership drive. Many of you have already joined and earned great gifts (and the opportunity to win Rabbi Becher's Gateway to Judaism) since the campaign began on December 6. Don't miss your chance - join today on our Membership Campaign page (www.canfeinesharim.org/member.shtml). Our immediate goal is to sign on 180 new members by January 15. We hope you will join with us as we take flight!

In one more note, I wanted to share the exciting news: Canfei Nesharim was granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS on January 4, 2007. This means we can now take tax-deductible donations of products and in-kind resources, in addition to cash donations (which have always been tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor). If you have any products (or your own volunteer hours) that you'd like to donate, please let us know!

With best wishes,
~Evonne Marzouk

"Were our mouths as full of song as the sea…"
By: Ilana Stein, Johannesburg, South Africa

My favourite part of davening on Shabbat is Nishmat Kol Chai - The soul of all life shall bless Your Name, Hashem. For those of us who see the world as one fragile ecosystem, a multitude of interconnected beings and organisms, all created for the glory of the Creator, this praise song sums it up spectacularly. It also tells us that human beings are not the only ones who praise G-d but on the contrary, all who have breath do. It is a reminder that other beings have a place on this planet, not just for our benefit (although this is also true) but because G-d created them.

To read the full article, click here:

I know that we have a mitzvah, Bal Tashchit, not to waste, but it seems complicated today to understand what that might mean. I know that I should not waste food, but what else can I do to avoid and reduce waste?

To respond to this question, in this issue we begin a three-part series on how to reduce waste in your purchases: Before you Shop, While Shopping, and After You Shop.

Read the answer:

- Tu b'Shevat is Coming! This year, Tu b'Shevat is the Shabbos of February 2-3. As part of our annual Tu b'Shevat Learning Campaign
(www.canfeinesharim.org/tubshvat.shtml), Canfei Nesharim has articles by Orthodox rabbonim to share with your community, sample sedarim and
other programming ideas. Get your community involved with these great
resources! If your community participates in the campaign, tell us your story at info@canfeinesharim.org.

*Canfei Nesharim is an organization of Orthodox Jews who are dedicated to educating the Orthodox community about environmental issues and their connection to Torah and halacha.

Subscribe: CanfeiNesharim-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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12. Vegan Clothing Becoming More Popular

Uncruel Beauty
The New York Times
January 11, 2007

HADASS KANTOROWICZ is on the fence. "I eat less meat than I used to," said Ms. Kantorowicz, a self-described tantric healer who stopped in last week at Organic Avenue, a vegan general store in downtown Manhattan. "I'm definitely a lot more conscious than I used to be." While she appreciates the virtues of a meat-free diet, she stops short of embracing a vegan way of life, one that would ask her to forsake a croc-embossed bag or patent leather pumps. "And I'm not ready to wear hemp," she confided.

But a proliferation of vegan-friendly fashions and stores that ban animal products outright from their shelves may tempt her to change her tune. If she has yet to adopt the zero-tolerance approach advocated by the most militant vegetarians, she typifies the customer that many vegan marketers are now courting.

National chains like Whole Foods; boutiques like MooShoes, a New York outlet for imitation-leather wallets, belts and bags; online stores like Pangea; and eco-minded labels like Moral Fiber, Real Fake, Novacas (no cows) and Matt & Nat are encouraging shoppers, even those merely flirting with a "cruelty free" diet, to embrace its precepts not just in the kitchen but in their wardrobes. To their minds, vegan chic, once an oxymoron, is a glossy new marketing handle. Clothes and accessories once shunned for their aura of hair-shirt deprivation have acquired a hint of luxury.

Vegans, who may be thought of as extreme vegetarians, strive for a diet and way of life that is noninjurious to both animals and the environment, directly or through the processing of materials like leather, wool or silk. From motives of conscience or health, most reject shoes and clothing made from hides, even those made with animal-based glues and dyes.

"People are more conscious today of what they're wearing, why they're wearing it and how it affects the environment," said Robert Burke, a fashion retail consultant in New York. To ignore such issues "is not sexy today," he said.

Six months ago Denise Mari opened Organic Avenue on the Lower East Side. "At one time being vegan meant focusing on what you had to give up," she said. "Today we're stepping beyond the mundane what-you-need-to-survive approach" and concentrating instead on "how to make this a fun lifestyle that other people can relate to."

"We'd like people to say, 'Wow, look how fashionable this is! I want it for its style.' "

At her shop Ms. Mari sells hemp and bamboo tanks and shirtdresses, and even men's suits made from ahimsa silk, a fiber processed without injuring silkworms ($700).

Certainly Ms. Mari and other merchants are beneficiaries of a spike in the vegetarian population. As of last year, there were an estimated 4.8 million vegetarians in the United States, one-third to one-half of them vegan, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit educational organization. That number has nearly doubled since 1997.

But today retailers and designers are aiming at potential customers identified in a survey last year by Mintel International, a consumer research company, as "occasional vegetarians." They shop vegan selectively, as the Mintel study pointed out, but their "purchasing power is paramount."

This health- and eco-conscious population has contributed most visibly to the growth of a $1.2 billion market for vegetarian goods (primarily dairy, egg, cheese, meat and poultry substitutes and tofu), according to Mintel, one that jumped 63.5 percent between 2000 and 2005.

Just a half-dozen years ago, shoppers searching for cow-friendly wares had to resort to shoes from Payless, "vegan" by virtue of their synthetic materials, or to utility plastic or canvas boots, wallets and backpacks sold through Vegan Essentials, one of a handful of online stores. Now even a few mass marketers are incorporating stylish vegan products into their lines. Vans promotes its Geoff Rowley vegan skateboarding shoes, made from synthetic nubuck and rubber. Rampage, a mall brand, is advertising "cruelty free" imitation leather styles.

In New York an outcropping of eco-conscious boutiques carries goods that would pass muster with even the strictest vegetarians. Kaight, a five-month-old store on the Lower East Side, offers hand-stitched dresses of recycled cashmere and wool; organic denim jeans; and Linda Loudermilk dresses made from Lyocell, a biodegradable wood pulp fiber ($275). NY Artificial, in the meatpacking district of all places, sells one-of-a-kind synthetic suede and leather bags ($275 to $475) and corset-wide belts made from vegetal, a canvas coated with tree sap.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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13. More Important Global Warming Reports

a. State of the State: Bold Move on Global Warming
California will create the world's first global warming pollution standard for transportation fuels, ratcheting down fuel carbon content 10 percent by 2020 under a plan put forward by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The new standard could have implications for the auto industry and change the way gasoline is produced around the globe.

b. EU Says Climate Change Will Transform the Face of the Continent
Europe, the richest and most fertile continent and the model for the modern world, will be devastated by climate change, the European Union predicts.

c. Petition drive:

Dear Richard,

Sign our petition today.

Today marks the opening shot in our effort to pass effective global warming legislation in 2007.

Senators Lieberman and McCain have just reintroduced their Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. In the coming days, as many as six other bills could be introduced in the Senate alone.

Your job and mine is to make sure we enact effective legislation.

Sign our petition to support real action on global warming.

We are evaluating every new bill as they come in. Meaningful global warming action must meet these four criteria:

Set a hard cap on global warming pollution and a concrete timetable for reduction;

Make sure all forms of global warming pollution are covered;

Set new standards for environmentally sound ethanol and other biofuels;

Foster free market competition for next generation energy sources.

The clock is ticking. Scientific evidence of global warming's toll mounts every day. Yet, global warming naysayers continue their efforts to block meaningful action. They will try to weaken bills by loading them up with loopholes and so-called "safety valves."

That's why it's important to send a clear and powerful message to Washington. This is the year to pass meaningful global warming legislation.

Sign our petition today.

Thanks for all you do!

The Global Warming Team at Environmental Defense

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14. Israeli Council Considers Banning Animal Experiments at Schools

Thanks to author, editor, publisher and JVNA advisor Roberta Kalechofsky for forwarding the following item:

Council to decide fate of animals used in educational experiments

By Tamara Traubmann, Haaretz Correspondent

The National Council for Experimentation on Animal Subjects is slated to decide Sunday whether to continue to allow the use of animals in experiments for educational purposes. While in Europe and the U.S. the use of animals in instructional experiments has declined significantly in recent years, in Israel thousands of animals are operated on and put to death every year as part of medical and life sciences studies.

The experiments are carried out largely in order to illustrate principles that are already known.

The council was established as part of changes made to the 1994 Animal Welfare Law. Council chair Prof. Ehud Ziv and his deputy, Dr. Zelina Bengershon, refused to give Haaretz a copy of the draft proposal that will be submitted to the council on Sunday for approval. According to a copy that was obtained by Haaretz, the latest version contains no major changes: Experiments for educational purposes are not treated any
differently from research experiments.

The law calls for using alternatives to animal experiments when possible but leaves the decision to the course's teacher. However, the new version specifies that the lecturers must receive permission from the curriculum committee of the educational institution.

'No justification'

Opponents argue that there is no longer any need to use animal experimentation in the teaching process. "In light of the advanced illustrative means existing today, there is no justification for conducting experiments on animals" for educational purposes, says attorney Ehud Peleg, legal adviser to Noach, the umbrella organization of animal rights groups in Israel and the organization's representative to the council.

This position has the backing of several experts, including Israeli scientists, some of them members of the council. The council itself, however, refuses to rule that there are reasonable alternatives to all such experiments, which would force all institutions of higher education in the country to switch to these alternatives.

What are the alternatives? According to Tamir Lousky, a Master's student at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot and a member of InterNICHE, the International Network for Humane Education, a plethora of alternatives is available. He cites the use of computerized models and simulators, including technologically sophisticated dummies that can "bleed" and respond to a range of circumstances, as well as digital videos of operations and computerized simulators.

Tamir Lousky cites a recent article published in a major U.S. veterinary medicine journal that reviewed 17 earlier studies comparing the achievements of students whose studies included animal experimentation and those where alternative methods were employed. The authors, from Tufts University, concluded that all of the studies found similar levels of achievement in both groups.

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** Fair Use Notice **
The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.

January 7, 2007

1/7/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Help For Our Movie Sought From Food Companies, Celebrities, etc./Suggestions Very Welcome/Thanks

2. Challenging the Jewish Community Re Global Warming/NY Times Editorial/My Letters/More

3. Is Upton Sinclair’s Book “The Jungle Still Valid Today?

4. Jewish Press Article on Conservative Initiative On Working Conditions in Slaughterhouses/My Letter

5. Reacting To the Recent Announcement About Eating Cloned-Meat Not Being Dangerous

6. Will 2007 Be the Warmest Year in Recorded History?

7. How Dietary Changes Can Lead to a Healthier Planet

8. What Is The Real Source of Recent E-Coli Poisoning?

9. Will There Be Competition Between Corn For Food and Corn For Ethanol?

10. Model Meeting For Groups Concerned About Sustainability

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Help For Our Movie Sought From Food Companies, Celebrities, etc./Suggestions Very Welcome/Thanks

I am considering contacting companies that produce kosher vegetarian foods and also celebrities to see if we can get some financial help for our movie, tentatively titled: “A Sacred Truth: Applying Jewish Values To Heal the World.” As the next item indicates, humanity is threatened as perhaps never before and it is increasingly urgent that we get our message out and our movie will be a very effective way to do that. Suggestions very welcome. Many thanks.

Also, we are still seeking background stock footage to enliven our many excellent interviews. Suggestions also welcome re this.

And, once again, donations are badly needed and would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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2. Challenging the Jewish Community Re Global Warming/NY Times Editorial/My Letters/More

As indicated in my sample letter below and material in previous JVNA newsletters, there are increasing indications of global warming and its effects. Unfortunately, with some notable exceptions, including important campaigns by COEJL and Canfei Nesharim, the Jewish community is generally not giving sufficient attention to the threats. Hence, I think that it is very important that we try to get the issue onto the Jewish agenda, and that we point out the strong dietary connections. I am working with Dan Brook on a major article on this issue and hope to share it with you soon.

My sample letter is below. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements. Also, please use my letter and material previously sent to you as the basis of your own letters and talking points. The planet that you would be helping to save is the only one that we have!
Dear Editor:

Global climate change is arguably the greatest current threat to humanity and one of today’s greatest moral issues, Hence, it is essential that the Jewish community play an active role in responding, based on our obligation to protect human life and the environment.

Almost daily, there are new reports about record heat waves, widespread forest fires, an increase in the number and severity of storms, severe droughts, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps and other indications of global climate change. Three reports in late December 2006 dramatized that global warming is occurring and that it is happening far faster than climate scientists once expected: (1) an inhabited Indian island was completely evacuated because it had been inundated by rising sea waters, leaving 10,000 people homeless; (2) a giant ice island (120 feet thick and 2,500 square miles in area) broke free from a Canadian Arctic ice shelf; (3) the Bush Administration, which has been resistant to reacting to global warming, announced that polar bears are in jeopardy, mainly due to thinning ice, and moved to put them on the threatened list and to take steps to protect them.

Some renowned climate scientists, such as James Hansen of NASA, are warning that global climate change may reach a 'tipping point' and spiral out of control within a decade, with disastrous consequences, if current conditions continue. No wonder that Time magazine announced its April 2006 special report on global warming with “Be Worried. Be Very Worried.”

While generally overlooked, an important approach to reversing global warming is a shift toward plant-based diets. A November 29, 2006 390-page report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” points out that animal-based agriculture causes about 18 percent of greenhouse emissions, an amount greater than that caused by all vehicles. In addition to helping to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path, such a shift would reduce the epidemic of diseases afflicting the Jewish community, diminish the widespread mistreatment of billions of farmed animals and show the relevance of Judaism’s eternal values to current threats.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
NY Times editorial/followed by my letter to the editor

The Senate’s Task on Warming
Published: January 6, 2007

Here are a few bulletins from planet Earth:

Dec. 12 — Exhaustive computer simulations carried out at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., suggest that the Arctic Ocean will be mostly open water in the summer of 2040 — several decades earlier than expected. Scientists attribute the loss of summer ice largely to the buildup of carbon dioxide and other man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Dec. 14 — Experts at NASA’s Goddard Institute predict that 2006 will be the fifth-warmest year since modern record-keeping began, continuing a decades-long global warming trend caused, again, by the buildup of man-made carbon dioxide.

Dec. 27 — The Interior Department proposes adding polar bears to the list of threatened species because of the accelerating loss of the Arctic ice that is the bears’ habitat. The department does not take a position on why the ice is melting, but studies supporting the proposed listing identify greenhouse gases as the main culprit, adding that if left unchecked these gases will create ice-free Arctic summers in three decades.

But we knew that.

One can only assume that the Senate’s new Democratic leadership is paying attention. California’s Barbara Boxer is the new chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, replacing James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who regards global warming as an elaborate hoax drummed up by environmentalists and scientists in search of money. Ms. Boxer has already scheduled hearings, and there will be no shortage of legislative remedies to consider. All share one objective, which is to attach a cost to carbon dioxide through a cap on emissions.

The underlying logic is that if people and industries are made to pay for the privilege of pumping these gases into the atmosphere, they will inevitably be driven to developer cleaner fuels, cleaner cars and cleaner factories.

This is the path most developed countries have chosen. Europe has imposed caps on industrial emissions, and European companies have begun investing in new technologies and cleaner factories in places like China, partly as a way to meet their own obligations to cut emissions and partly as a way to lead China to a greener future.

These hearings need to be conducted in a thoughtful manner. There has been enough noise, from the Inhofe right and from the doomsayers who see each hurricane as a sign the apocalypse is upon us. But it is also important that Ms. Boxer and her colleagues not lose sight of a fundamental reality: Saturating the atmosphere with greenhouse gases is loading the dice in a dangerous game

January 6, 2006

Editor, NY times

Deer editor,

Your January 6 editorial, "The Senate's Task on Warming," is right on target in stressing that, in view of the many recent reports on global arming, the senate should take bold action in combating this great threat. However, I wonder why you seem to be ignoring the implications of your December 27, 2006 editorial, "Meat and the Planet," which discussed the November 29. 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report that indicated that livestock agriculture produces more greenhouse emissions than transportation. With the fate of humanity at stake, can we afford to continue to raise and slaughter over 50 billion farmed animals worldwide annually? To move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path, it is essential that there be a major shift toward plant-based diets.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

Petition drive re global warming

Thanks to JVNA advisor Rina Deych for forwarding this message:

You've probably heard the news reports - the northeast has been pummeled with rain. Fierce thunder and rain storms have inundated low-lying areas, flooding basements, causing evacuations, and bringing down trees and power lines. Unless we take action, this is what global warming will bring us. Please sign Friends of the Earth's petition.

While no particular storm system can't be attributed to global warming, we know that global warming is causing more killer storms. We can expect more of the same if we don't dramatically cut our emissions of global warming pollutants. Please commit to joining our global warming strike force and ask your friends to join too.

What is the global warming strike force? The first step is to sign the petition - demanding action from our leaders. Over the coming months, we will keep you informed of the progress of Friends of the Earth's global warming campaign. And, from time to time, we will ask you to take action to support efforts to stop global warming.

We need your help. Please sign the petition.

Spread the word to your friends

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3. Is Upton Sinclair’s Book “The Jungle Still Valid Today?

100 Years Later, the Food Industry Is Still 'The Jungle'
New York Times
Published: January 2, 2007

Nothing in “The Jungle” sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things “in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”

Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” as a labor exposé. He hoped that the book, which was billed as “the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of wage slavery,” would lead to improvements for the people to whom he dedicated it, “the workingmen of America.” But readers of “The Jungle” were less appalled by Sinclair’s accounts of horrific working conditions than by what they learned about their food. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” he famously declared, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

“The Jungle,” and the campaign that Sinclair waged after its publication, led directly to passage of a landmark federal food safety law, which took effect 100 years ago this week. Sinclair awakened a nation not just to the dangers in the food supply, but to the central role government has to play in keeping it safe. But as the poisonings of spinach eaters and Taco Bell customers recently made clear, the battle is far from over — and in recent years, we have been moving in the wrong direction.

When “The Jungle” was published, the public reaction was instantaneous. Outraged readers deluged President Theodore Roosevelt with letters. Roosevelt was ambivalent, but he invited Sinclair to the White House for lunch, and promised to send his labor commissioner and assistant Treasury secretary to Chicago to investigate.

Sinclair settled into a New York City hotel and started a publicity campaign. He wrote articles with titles like “Campaign Against the Wholesale Poisoners of the Nation’s Food,” and released more stomach-churning details. Armour made its potted hams, he charged, by taking nubs of smoked beef, “moldy and full of maggots,” and grinding them with ham trimmings. In a newspaper letter to the editor, he dared J. Ogden Armour, the meatpacking magnate, to sue for libel.

Sinclair suspected Roosevelt’s team would do a whitewash. But its report strongly reinforced the allegations of “The Jungle.” It included an array of Sinclarian images, like workers using privies without soap or toilet paper and returning “directly from these places to plunge their unwashed hands into the meat.” Popular outrage continued to grow, and the momentum for reform became unstoppable.

As a result of Sinclair’s crusade, Congress passed the Food and Drug Act, which had been effectively blocked by industry. At the start of 1907, it became a federal crime to sell adulterated food or drugs, and the new law set up a system of federal inspections. Food had to be labeled, and it was illegal to misstate the contents. Future laws would expand on this newly declared government responsibility to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.

In recent years, the momentum has shifted. Since the Reagan era, conservatives have tried to turn “government regulation” into an epithet. Books like “The Death of Common Sense,” a 1990’s best-seller, have twisted the facts to argue that laws like a New York ordinance requiring restaurants to clean dishes in a way that kills salmonella are somehow an infringement on liberty.

Food safety has been particularly hard-hit by this anti-regulatory climate. Harmful bacteria are rampant in meatpacking plants and in produce fields, but government oversight is eroding. The Bush administration has slashed the number of Food and Drug Administration inspectors, and it has installed a former lobbyist for the cattle industry as the Agriculture Department’s chief of staff.

But this is an unusually promising moment for food safety. Wide media attention was given to last fall’s spinach contamination, which killed three and injured more than 200 in 26 states, and to the Taco Bell food poisonings, which made dozens of people ill. And Democrats have recaptured Congress, which should hold hearings to get to the bottom of those recent food disasters and to explore what the next ones are likely to be. It should push for larger budgets for food inspections and, as one Democratic-sponsored bill calls for, create a single federal agency with responsibility for food safety.

The powerful meat and produce industries can be counted on to call on their allies in Congress and the White House for help in resisting. That would come as no surprise to Sinclair, who was already complaining loudly in 1906 that Armour & Co. had contributed $50,000 to the Republican Party, and that the meatpackers had hired a prominent government official “as confidential adviser as to federal inspection problems.”

The answer, Sinclair believed, was always the same: providing the American people with the gritty truth that they needed to protect themselves. “The source and fountain-head of genuine reform in this matter,” Sinclair insisted, “is an enlightened public opinion.”

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4. Jewish Press Article on Conservative Initiative On Working Conditions in Slaughterhouses/My Letter

Kashrus Officials Wary Of New Kashrus Definitions
Friday, January 5, 2007 issue

Officials of kashrus agencies are applauding efforts by the Conservative and Reform movements to involve their flock in observing kashrus, but they are wary of attempts to broaden its definition.

Evidence continues to mount that more Conservative Jews are buying kosher products, but experts say that the numbers are still comparatively small. The Reform movement too has in recent years established a task force on kashrus, but it has yet to define its interpretation. At times the movement seemed to be espousing traditional kashrus, but at other times it has included vegetarianism and even eco-kashrut, the newest term used by both the Conservatives and Reform.

In a recent development, a joint commission of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly is working to create a tzedek hechsher, a certification for food produced in a socially just way, particularly with regard to safe, fair working conditions. The label would be used in addition to traditional kosher certification.

The Conservatives say that the new label isn’t intended to replace existing kosher certification, which is under Orthodox supervision, but constitutes a broader definition of kosher food that incorporates ideas of social justice from the Torah and Talmud.

Kashrus officials reached by Kosher Today weren’t exactly sure how to react to the new eco-kashrut designation, but most did say that the Torah already covered the social justice issues that eco-kashrut is supposed to cover and that kashrus means the laws of kosher, period. Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of kashrus for the Orthodox Union, said that concern for workers’ rights and animal welfare “are worthy goals,” but rejected trying to create certification for such things within the context of kosher food production.

My letter in response/suggestions welcome, as always:

Dear Editor:

Re your January 5 article, “Kashrus Officials Wary Of New Kashrus Definitions,” I am glad that various social justice conditions are increasingly being considered with regard to the production of meat. As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I hope that kashrus officials will consider the following respectful question: In view of Judaism’s powerful teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people and the negative effects that the production and consumption have in each of these areas, shouldn’t Jews seriously consider shifting toward plant-based diets?

I think that the Jewish Press would be doing a public service and a kiddush Hashem by having a respectful dialogue/debate on these issues in your paper. It could greatly improve the health of many Jews, show the relevance of our eternal teachings to current issues, and help move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

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5. Reacting To the Recent Announcement About Eating Cloned-Meat Not Being Dangerous

[EXCERPT: It makes sense only to the corporate forces behind the food system that they should be able to make money and create efficiencies by replacing any form of natural reproduction with $15,000-a-shot cloning attempts. ... If the administration sticks to its plans, consumers will face new dilemmas about their food system, their government's inaction and their own eating choices.]

Living Food: Reckless cloning
Sunday, December 31, 2006

As discomforting as most Americans find the idea, the Food and Drug Administration's tentative approval for allowing the sale of cloned meat and milk makes a certain kind of sense. The plan is a logical extension of an industrialized food system that treats plants, animals and nature with an often-reckless disregard.

For animals, it's a system of routine cruelties: docking pigs' tails, clipping chickens' beaks and taking cattle off grazing land to live their lives standing in manure in so-called confined animal feeding operations. It makes sense only to the corporate forces behind the food system that they should be able to make money and create efficiencies by replacing any form of natural reproduction with $15,000-a-shot cloning attempts.

We'd like to think Americans will reject having their country become the first to allow cloned products. A poll for the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found 64 percent of consumers uncomfortable with animal cloning. There already is talk of companies marketing "clone-free" meat. But we already put up with so much that is deeply unnatural in our food system that the Bush administration's bet on shoving cloned foods on the public may be well calculated In one of 2006's most brilliant books, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael Pollan traced the industrialization of the food system in ways that shock even readers with fairly sophisticated
consumer-level knowledge of health and nutrition. Life on a farm, except in the most consciously nature-oriented operations, is nothing like in
storybooks. Single-crop fields stretch across the heartland. E.coli outbreaks spring from raising beef in the stinking cities of confined animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs. Pigs' tails must be docked (with pliers, no anesthetic) because the intelligent animals, prematurely weaned at 10 days rather than the normal 13 weeks to be placed in confinement, try to exercise their instincts by sucking and chewing on one another's tails.

"A normal pig would fight off his molester, but a demoralized pig has stopped caring," Pollan writes. " 'Learned helplessness' is th psychological term and it's not uncommon in the CAFOs, where tens of thousands of hogs spend their entire lives ignorant of earth or straw or
sunshine, crowded together beneath a metal roof standing on metal slats suspended over a septic tank."


In saying that it is safe for this country to become the first to allow cloned products, FDA scientists speak of cloned livestock as "virtually indistinguishable" from other animals. If the administration sticks to its plans, consumers will face new dilemmas about their food system, their government's inaction and their own eating choices.

© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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6. Will 2007 Be the Warmest Year in Recorded History?

Forwarded message:

2007 to be 'warmest on record'
Last year was the warmest on record in the UK, Met Office figures show

The world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007, the UK's Met Office says.

An extended warming period, resulting from an El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean, will probably push up global temperatures, experts forecast.

They say there is a 60% chance that the average surface temperature will match or exceed the current record from 1998.

The scientists also revealed that 2006 saw the highest average temperature in the UK since records began in 1914.

The global surface temperature is projected to be 0.54C (0.97F) above the long-term average of 14C (57F), beating the current record of 0.52C (0.94F), which was set in 1998.

How global temperatures have changed

The annual projection was compiled by the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia.

El Nino effect

Chris Folland, head of the Hadley Centre's climate variability research, said the forecast was primarily based on two factors.

The first was greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, he said.

"This is a statistical method; it is a number that represents the heating of the atmosphere.

"Greenhouse gases cause heating, while aerosols cause cooling," Professor Folland told BBC News.

"The other factor which allows us to make a forecast that whether one year is significantly different from the next is the effect of the El Nino."

Guide to El Nino and La Nina

El Nino events are marked by the arrival of unusually warm waters off the north-western coast of South America, and are described as the largest influence on the year-to-year variability of the Earth's climate.

This year's potential to be a record breaker is linked to a moderate strength El Nino already established in the Pacific Ocean.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that it was expected to continue into the first quarter of this year, which would have a knock-on effect.

"There is a big lag between the El Nino and the warming of global temperatures - it takes about four months or perhaps a bit longer," Professor Folland explained.

"We have two methods of forecasting the effect of the El Nino. One is a statistical method based on two patterns of sea surface temperatures in the El Nino region, and the other is a complex mathematical model."

He said that the forecast was then fine-tuned by looking back over data from the previous 50 years.

"We have actually run this forecast three times, updating it every month... and it is completely stable."


In December, the WMO released provisional data on the global average surface temperature for 2006. It estimated that last year was 0.42C (0.75F) above the 1961-1990 average, making it the sixth warmest on record.

However, the UK experienced the warmest year on record in 2006, according to Met Office figures released alongside the global forecast.

The meteorologists said the mean temperature for the year was 9.7C (49.5F), 1.1C (2F) above the long-term average, based on the period between 1971-2000.

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7. How Dietary Changes Can Lead to a Healthier Planet

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding the valuable article below:

Eating for Six Billion? Culinary Activism for a Healthier Planet
By Jason Schoen Friends of Animals
Act•ionLine, Winter 2006 - 2007

For most of us, it would be easiest to sit back and wait for the heads of government and industry to solve the problem of global warming. After all, making changes in our own lives would be inconvenient, the effects of global warming may not be obvious where we live, and, in any case, the impact one person can have on a worldwide problem seems minimal.

Taking responsibility for our own personal impact on the climate would, however, send a powerful message to our representatives that we as a society are not only ready for stronger greenhouse gas regulations but that we demand them.

So some people look to environmental organizations to find out what individuals should be doing to offset global warming. The standard set of recommendations includes using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, driving less, buying more efficient appliances or vehicles, and choosing renewable energy where possible. Of course, we should take such recommendations seriously. Nevertheless, such changes can be hard to quantify; and they may understate the magnitude of the problem global warming presents. That’s why a study conducted by University of Chicago professors Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin and published last year was especially important. The suggestion resulting from their study? Complete vegetarianism.

Eshel and Martin calculated the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from several different diets humans could adopt. They found that a completely vegetarian diet made by far the lowest contribution of these gases. Based on their analysis, Eshel and Martin found the difference between our population’s typical diet and committing to a complete vegetarian diet to be approximately the difference between driving a SUV or an average sedan. While these scientists are perhaps the first to make this striking claim, the work of other scientists too suggests that what we eat is having a significant impact on global warming.

A key study comes from James Hansen, a scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen explains the human factors in global warming in easy-to-understand terms: The gases that people have added to the atmosphere cause a heating of the Earth's surface as if two miniature 1-watt holiday bulbs had been placed over every square meter of our planet’s surface. This is equivalent to increasing the brightness of the sun by about 1 percent. If we carry on “business as usual,” Hansen has explained, greenhouse gases will increase at an accelerating rate through the 21st century.

Hansen’s “Global Warming in the 21 st Century: An Alternative Scenario” indicates the importance of focusing our attention on greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. Methane, notably, accounts for half of all other relevant emissions, and its largest source is animal agriculture. The scientific consensus judges the warming potential of methane at about 21 times the effect of carbon dioxide. Given these points, a key to transcending “business as usual” would mean opting out of animal agribusiness. And that is something we can all do right now. As individuals -- and as social beings who meet and have an impact on other people in our sphere -- we really do have the power to take meaningful responsibility.

At one time, the questions to ask regarding global warming were “Is it happening?” and then “Are humans contributing to it?” and finally “Do we have to worry about its effects?” A broad scientific consensus has formed behind the view that global warming is, in significant part, being caused by human decisions and activities. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, if we continue with “business as usual” the projections for the future include a rate of warming which, by 2100, could eliminate a majority (about 60%) of species on the planet. Today, there’s only one appropriate question “What can we do to stop global warming?”

Deciding what to eat is something we do several times a day. It’s exciting to think that something so pleasurable is true activism.

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8. What Is The Real Source of Recent E-Coli Poisoning?

Thanks to Maida Genser and Pamela Rice for forwarding the following article:

Deadly Bacterium Linked to Livestock Infecting Vegetables
Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2006

E. coli O157:H7 has been a particular problem. Unlike the usually benign E. coli bacteria that live in warm-blooded animals and humans, the strain produces toxins that destroy the intestinal lining, leading to bloody diarrhea, kidney failure and, sometimes, death. It was first blamed for a food-borne-illness outbreak in the early 1980s, leading some microbiologists to suggest that it arose in industrial livestock, which are force-fed grain and pumped with antibiotics. ... The strain that caused September's spinach outbreak, which killed three and sickened about 200, has been found in cattle feces near a California spinach field and in wild pigs that roamed through it. ... The source of the Taco Bell outbreak has not been found, but the company suspects green onions -- also from California. Fresh tomatoes served in restaurants this fall, believed to have made nearly 200 people sick, carried another [meat-based] bacterium, salmonella.

Ancillary (A): Deadly E. Coli Outbreak Hits 20 States
Associated Press, Sept. 15, 2006

Produce California's spinach industry is now the financial victim of an outbreak it probably did not cause, and meanwhile, thousands of acres of other produce are still downstream from these lakes of E. coli-ridden cattle manure.

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9. Will There Be Competition Between Corn For Food and Corn For Ethanol?

Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food
All 110 acres of corn harvested by Mid-Missouri Energy last fall from a farm in Saline County will be used for ethanol production.
Published: January 5, 2007

CHICAGO, Jan. 4 — Renewing concerns about whether there will be enough corn to support the demand for both fuel and food, a new study has found that ethanol plants could use as much as half of America’s corn crop next year.

Dozens of new ethanol plants are being built by farmers and investors in a furious gold rush, spurred by a call last year from the Bush administration and politicians from farm states to produce more renewable fuels to curb America’s reliance on oil. But the new study by the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental group, found that the number of ethanol plants coming on line has been underreported by more than 25 percent by both the Agriculture Department and the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry’s main lobbying group.

The Earth Policy Institute says that 79 ethanol plants are under construction, which would more than double ethanol production capacity to 11 billion gallons by 2008. Yet late last month, the Renewable Fuels Association said there were 62 plants under construction.

The lower tally has led to an underestimate of the grain that would be needed for ethanol, clouding the debate over the priorities of allocating corn for food and fuel, said Lester R. Brown, who has written more than a dozen books on environmental issues and is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. “This unprecedented diversion of corn to fuel production will affect food prices everywhere,” Mr. Brown said.

Bob Dinneen, the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the group had not intentionally tried to play down the number of plants under construction. “It has been a moving target,” Mr. Dinneen said in an interview on Thursday. “We are not trying to hide the ball. We are trying to keep up with a growing and dynamic industry as best we can.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has generally played down concerns in the food versus fuel debate over ethanol, saying that estimates showed there would be plenty of corn to meet the demand for both. “We can absolutely do that without having a deleterious impact on consumer food prices,” Mr. Dinneen said.

The National Corn Growers Association said Thursday that farmers were keeping up, noting that growers produced their third-largest crop in 2006 of 10.7 billion bushels. “All demands for corn — food, feed, fuel and exports — are being met,” Rick Tolman, chief executive of the corn growers, said in a statement. “Farmers have always responded to price signals from the marketplace and, historically, we have had much more challenge with overproduction than shortage.”

With spot prices of corn soaring to record highs of nearly $4 a bushel last month, farmers are expected to plant some 85 million acres of corn this year, an increase of 8 percent over 2006 and what would be the largest corn-seeding in the country since 1985, said Dan Basse, president of AgResource, an agricultural research company in Chicago.

Ethanol has raised the incomes of farmers and given new hope to flagging rural economies. But the reliance on corn to produce ethanol in the United States has drawn concerns from some economists, who question whether the drive to corn-based fuel will push up the prices of livestock and retail prices of meat, poultry and dairy products.

Mr. Brown is among those who believe the ethanol industry is growing too quickly. He called for a federal moratorium on the licensing of new distilleries. “We need a time out, a chance to catch our breath and decide how much corn can be used for ethanol without raising food prices,” he said Thursday.

Like many other experts, he advocates moving past corn-based ethanol into cellulosic ethanol, produced from plant waste and nonfood crops like switch grass.

For now, however, in the anticipation of high potential returns, ethanol plants that rely on corn are being built by everyone from farmers to Bill Gates of Microsoft to a mix of Wall Street investors. In addition to the 116 ethanol plants in production, and the 79 under construction, at least 200 more ethanol plants, with a capacity of 3 billion gallons a year, are in the planning stages.

In all, ethanol distilleries now running or in the works will pull an estimated 139 million tons of corn from the 2008 corn harvest, according to the Earth Policy Institute. That is about double the demand projected by the Agriculture Department and will require over half of the projected 2008 corn harvest of about 11 billion bushels.

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10. Model Meeting For Groups Concerned About Sustainability

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding the following article (I thought it might give others ideas for similar meetings):

Subject: CBI Sustainable Living Meeting: Thurs, Jan 18 in Sacramento

Happy New Year, all!

I wanted to let those of you who were not able to make our first meeting some of what we discussed and tell you about our next meeting. I hope you can join us Thursday, January 18 from 7 until 8:30 at _______ _______ .

The focus of our December meeting was brainstorming our priorities for 2007. We decided it would be best to choose one or two areas of focus under the broad umbrella of sustainable living and then choose 3 to 5 concrete activities for each. Following are the areas and possible activities that were discussed as well as the person(s) who will present at our January meeting the activities for each:

- Food - Susan Rosenberg and Stella Levy
* Local, organic food
* Edible landscapes
* Slow food Shabbat
* Eco kashrut
* Fair trade coffee & other products

- Waste Reduction - Eileen _______
* Recycling at temple
* Purchase of materials, supplies
* Composting

- Transportation - Alex ____________
* Coordinate ride-share for temple events
* Promote cycling, walking, public transit, carpooling, e.g. sponsor a "Walk, Bike, Bus or Carpool to Religious School Day"

- Preserving and Restoring the Natural Environment - Theo __________
* Plant trees on American River Parkway
* Continue to maintain a mile of the Parkway
* Sponsor hikes in combination with discussion of Jewish teachings about the environment

- Decreasing the use of nonrenewable energy sources - this is an overarching theme of many of the above areas or could be its own focus area. If you have specific activities for this or have other suggested areas or activities, please share them at our next meeting.

Overarching all of this are Jewish values and teachings about humans as the stewards of our planet. We plan to have a Sustainable Living column in the Koleinu each month educating members of specific sustainable living practices they can adopt.

Another important discussion we had at the December meeting was about a Sacramento ordinance which prohibits the planting of many edible plants in people's front yards. The Sacramento City Council will likely vote on amending this provision in January. Stella Levy has been actively monitoring the issue and will get us all information about this important, local issue so that we can get involved as individuals if we so choose.

Please let me know if you are able to attend January 18 meeting and thanks to you all for your interest.


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