Posts by:

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Maryland Antibiotics Legislation May Have Little Impact

This post was co-authored by Claire Fitch, Carolyn Hricko, Bob Martin, Keeve Nachman and Jim Yager.

The headlines say that the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017 will make all chickens raised in Maryland free of antibiotics. While this sounds promising, the legislation has several deficiencies and will not achieve its sponsors’ intent.

A gutted version of the bill has recently passed in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates and is on its way to reconciliation Read More >

Uncomfortable Questions about Urban Ag

This blogpost was co-authored by Claire Fitch and Carolyn Hricko.

urbanagtweet1Urban agriculture is a topic that can get tricky, fast. Once the glow of growing food in urban spaces fades, big, complex questions arise: What are the goals? Who is it serving? Who is, and will be, the face of urban agriculture? With Farm Bill discussions ramping up, these questions become even more important. Read More >

Ruffled Feathers at Wicomico County Town Hall

RS181_White chickens behind screen door 91830955-scrIt was 9:30 at night. The 100 or so people attending the Poultry Town Hall Meeting had been listening to a panel of speakers for two and a half hours, and the staff was ready to close up for the night. But the Q&A session would not wind down, and the Wicomico County Council President took the microphone to refute some points made by a team of us at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (cf., this letter.)

The town hall took place in Salisbury, Maryland, at the Wicomico Youth and Read More >

CLF Responds to Misleading White Paper about Meat and Climate Change

A few weeks ago, Dr. Frank Mitloehner—a Professor at the University of California, Davis—released a white paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction.” In it, Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He states that livestock production is responsible for only 4.2% of U.S. GHG emissions, which fails to account for several major emissions sources (including the production of animal feed, the transportation of feed and animal products, and several other sources). The paper is critical of efforts, such as Meatless Monday, that encourage citizens to understand how their diet choices affect the environment and begin to reduce intake of animal products.

The Center for a Livable Future has provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003. We have addressed Dr. Mitloehner’s mischaracterization of the evidence and continue to support the adoption of Meatless Mondays as an achievable way for most Americans to take a step toward reducing their environmental footprint. Read our complete response to Dr. Mitloehner’s white paper here.

Limiting Antibiotics Misuse in Food Animals – Legislation We Need

This blogpost is co-authored by Claire Fitch, Robert Martin, and Keeve Nachman.

RS47_E. Coli 104696230-scrAntibiotic resistance is a major public health crisis. Continued misuse of antibiotics will result in these lifesaving drugs no longer being effective in treating even the most routine infections.  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide support for the need for immediate action to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. Each year, at least two million Americans develop these infections, and of those, 23,000 die from them. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more costly to treat, can require lengthier hospital stays, and are more likely to require invasive procedures like surgery. Read More >

We Need to Collect Data about Antibiotics Used on Farms

Courtesy: Flickr Lucid Nightmare

Which antibiotics are used on which farms? Photo courtesy: Flickr Lucid Nightmare

You have probably heard the oft-cited statistic that 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States end up in food-producing animals rather than people. We know this because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires drug manufacturers to report the amount, in kilograms, of antibiotics that are sold, and whether they are intended for use in food animal production or medicine.

What may surprise you is that we have no idea how the 14.8 million kilograms of antibiotics sold for use in food-producing animals are actually used on farms. We do not know Read More >

Ruling in Support of EPA and Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.

Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.

Five years ago, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a landmark decision to foster the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The agency’s plan was the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), the goal of which was to identify and control major sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the seven Bay jurisdictions (six states and the District of Columbia) that comprise the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The TMDL effort calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, a 24 percent reduction in phosphorus, and a 20 percent reduction in sediment in the Bay Read More >

Submit Comments on the Dietary Guidelines

my-sustainable-plateUPDATE 5/11/15: By late afternoon Friday, May 8, more than 24,000 comments had been submitted on the recommendations made by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. By comparison, the last iteration of the Dietary Guidelines recommendations, in 2010, collected less than 2,000.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has been involved in ongoing efforts to keep the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations on lowered meat consumption and sustainability measures in the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines (jointly issued by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, and due out sometime this fall). The extended comment period ends May 8, which means we all have 3 short days to submit a public comment! In case you need some talking points, we’re pasting CLF’s Food System Policy Program’s comment below. Also check out the My Plate, My Planet website to read fact sheets on the Dietary Guidelines (developed here at CLF) and submit your own comment. Read More >

Earthquakes and Food Insecurity in Nepal

Pokhara Pame, Nepal, 2013.

Pokhara Pame, Nepal, 2013.

Nepal is heavy on our minds. The earthquake, aftershocks, and avalanches that have ravaged parts of the country since Saturday have led to food and water shortages, displacement, and the potential for disease outbreak. As many have noted, the infrastructure in Nepal was ill-equipped to deal with a disaster of this scale, as half the population lacked access to improved sanitation before these events and poor roads disconnected many remote villages from back-up sources of food and water.

The Nepali Government has predicted Read More >

Somerset County Residents Fight Back Against Expanding Chicken Industry

20060227_chickensThis post was co-written by Michele Merkel and Claire Fitch and co-posted in Food & Water Watch.

Somerset County has been in the cross hairs of the poultry industry for quite a long time, with an inventory of 14.9 million broiler chickens – the largest of any county in Maryland, and the sixth largest in the United States. Big companies, including Perdue and Tyson own these birds, which are raised in large industrial facilities for their entire lives, and produce enormous quantities of waste. With nowhere to put the tens of millions of pounds of manure generated by these birds, the county is now considering poultry litter incinerators while Read More >