How Fast Food Poverty Costs America Billions

The three scientists, recognized as pioneers in the development of genetically modified organisms, made their case to reporters at the three-day World Food Prize symposium underway in Des Moines. They will share the $250,000 award that they are to receive in a ceremony at the Iowa Capitol on Thursday. One winner, Robert Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto, said biotechnology and information technology are helping farmers globally improve crop production and can help solve the problem of a growing population with too little food. “Whether it’s a small farmer in India with a cellphone message that wind currents are changing … or planter in Iowa that says, ‘Change the way this field is planted every 10 meters to optimize yields,’ science has so much potential,” he said. “The challenge that’s going to come is: Are we going to limit it by policy and regulation?” Opponents of genetically modified crops say they are harmful to people and the environment. Some organic farmers warn that widespread planting of genetically modified crops could contaminate organic and traditional crops, destroying their value. Others are concerned about the uncharted long-term impact for those who eat products such as milk and beef from animals raised on genetically modified plants. Another winner, Marc Van Montagu, founder and chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium said some of the fear of GMO crops is absurd. He used the example of papayas in Hawaii, which he said were saved through genetic modification. The third winner, Mary-Dell Chilton, founder and researcher at Syngenta Biotechnology, said all the discussion by critics of biotechnology should be directed at the coming problem of widespread hunger as the population grows to 9 billion people by 2050. “There are going to be a lot of hungry people here,” she told reporters at a news conference. “I hope that you will at least give a balanced view of the safety, the utility of these biotech tools. We’re going to need them, believe me.” Environmental groups and activist organizations offered opposing views by holding their own press conference at the same time the food prize laureates were speaking. Cherie Mortice, a retired teacher from Des Moines and a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an action group that fights large-scale farms, said the prize “is the grand promenade of corporate control over food production that undermines the independent family farms that are capable of producing a diversity of healthy foods that can actually make it to our dinner plates.

Food Prize Winners: Science Needed to Fight Hunger

And it’s largely thanks to those same musicians. “Not only did the music (industry) bring money, stable money, into this town, it also brought people, people from all over the country and the world, to live in Nashville,” says Roderick Bailey, who recently was named the Southeast’s best new chef by Food & Wine magazine. Those people brought worldly palates. And an expectation that those palates could be catered to. The Kings of Leon, for example. Band bassist Matthew Followill says the band’s constant touring exposed its members to all manner of great food. And they wanted it when they came home to Nashville. “A lot of the people in the food industry are also big music fans,” Followill said at the band’s Nashville studio. “We kind of felt like Nashville didn’t have a really good food scene going on. And it has changed for sure, in the past three, four, five years and there have been a lot of great restaurants that have come in. But for a while it was kind of lacking in that area compared to some of the other cities on the same scale.” That’s changing. Fast. Last year alone nearly 75 new restaurants opened.

Musicians Play up Nashville Food Scene

(Credit: AP/John Minchillo) Twin studies released at noon Tuesday estimate that the majority of families of front-line fast food workers use public assistance, at a taxpayer cost of nearly $7 billion a year, while seven publicly-traded fast food corporations made $7.4 billion in profit last year. The first study finds that 52 percent of families of workers employed at least 27 weeks a year and 10 hours a week in rank-and-file fast food jobs are enrolled in Medicaid, the Childrens Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children under welfare reform). That includes a majority of those workers who are employed at least 40 hours week. The study, Fast Food, Poverty Wages, was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data. A second study , by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonalds workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks. This is the public cost of low-wage jobs in America, write the authors of the BerkeleyUrbana-Champaign study. The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and federal spending. A spokesperson for McDonalds declined last night to comment on the fast food campaign or the extent of fast food workers use of public assistance. A spokesperson for the fast food giant emailed in August that Our history is full of examples who worked their first job with McDonalds and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonalds. The National Restaurant Association did not immediately respond to a Monday afternoon inquiry. As Salon first reported , New York City fast food workers mounted an unprecedented strike last November, the first in a wave of work stoppages around the country that included a 60-city walkout in August each demanding a raise of $15 an hour and the chance to unionize without intimidation. Little Caesars worker Julio Wilson said before walking off the job that hed made my way through the fast food circuit, with stints at Burger King, Subway, Arbys and McDonalds, and theyre all the same. He told Salon that many fellow employees and their families need to be compensated to be able to live. Funding todays university report represents the fast food campaigns latest salvo against the growing, increasingly representative and virtually union-free fast food industry.