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mething%20that%20will%20happen%20in%20the%20future%20%E2%80%93%20it%E2%80%99s%20happening%20now.%20Generations%20throughout%20the%20world%20are%20urging%20governments%20to%20protect%20not%20only%20their%20citizens%20but%20the%20citizens%20of%20the%20world.%20As%20Bill%20Gates%20recently%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNKdlnoAqIs%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Esaid%3C/a%3E,%20we%20need%20%E2%80%9Cunprecedented%20(global)%20cooperation%E2%80%9D%20immediately%20to%20deal%20with%20climate%20change.%20In%20theory,%20governments%20would%20ensure%20environmentally%20safe%20and%20sustainable%20practices%20in%20their%20own%20territory,%20and%20there%20would%20be%20global%20cooperation%20in%20this%20effort.%20This%20requires%20that%20corporations%20create%20products%20that%20are%20sustainable,%20and%20that%20consumers%20purchase%20those%20sustainably%20produced%20products.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EIn%20the%20U.S.,%20consumers%20are%20becoming%20pressured%20into%20purchasing%20sustainable%20products.%20Generally,%20bans%20on%20products%20affect%20the%20consumer%20and%20consumer%20habits,%20like%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/20/nyregion/what-to-know-new-york-state-ban-plastic-bags.html%23:~:text=This%252520week%25252C%252520New%252520York%252520is,face%252520fines%252520up%252520to%252520%252524500.%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Eplastic%20bag%20bans%3C/a%3E,%20which%20require%20consumers%20to%20use%20reusable%20bags%20and%20give%20stores%20the%20reduced%20expense%20of%20purchasing%20plastic%20bags.%20Even%20though%20the%20underlying%20goal%20of%20those%20bans%20is%20to%20decrease%20plastic%20pollution,%20which%20is%20necessary,%20corporations%20are%20not%20forced%20to%20change.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EInstead%20of%20the%20government,%20on%20any%20level,%20promulgating%20bans%20on%20products%20or%20production%20practices%20that%20are%20known%20to%20significantly%20impact%20climate%20change,%20the%20burden%20is%20placed%20on%20the%20consumer.%20There%20is%20consumer%20demand%20to%20find%20products%20that%20encourage%20sustainability,%20but%20the%20ability%20for%20consumers%20to%20find%20sustainable%20products%20is%20limited.%20Consumers%20are%20required%20to%20gather%20large%20amounts%20of%20information%20about%20products%20and%20how%20the%20product%20was%20produced%20to%20understand%20whether%20a%20product%20is%20sustainable.%20Often,%20that%20information%20is%20either%20impossible%20to%20find%20or%20includes%20complex%20verbiage%20that%20requires%20expensive%20research.%20Consumers%20are%20left%20with%20limited%20information.%20So,%20who%20do%20consumers%20trust%20to%20get%20information%20from%20about%20the%20food%20they%20purchase?%20The%20food%20product%E2%80%99s%20label%20created%20by%20the%20corporation%20that%20produces%20the%20item.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EAs%20a%20consumer,%20it%20is%20easy%20to%20believe%20that%20the%20government,%20in%20some%20capacity,%20is%20regulating%20the%20food%20system%20to%20ensure%20safe%20food%20and%20that%20the%20information%20on%20the%20food%20is%20true%20and%20accurate.%20Several%20major%20food%20companies%20are%20now%20advertising%20that%20they%20are%20focused%20on%20improving%20the%20environment%20and%20ensuring%20sustainability%20practices.%20One%20of%20those%20companies%20is%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.smithfieldfoods.com/sustainability/environment%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3ESmithfield%3C/a%3E,%20one%20of%20the%20largest%20pork%20producers%20and%20biggest%20water%20polluters%20in%20the%20U.S.%20To%20change%20consumer%20perception,%20Smithfield%20claims%20to%20be%20%E2%80%9Cstewards%20of%20the%20environment.%E2%80%9D%20The%20corporation%20makes%20affirmative%20statements%20that%20they%20have%20the%20%E2%80%9Cgoals%20of%20reducing%20natural%20resource%20damage%20and%20ensuring%20100%25%20compliance,%20100%25%20of%20the%20time%E2%80%9D%20in%20various%20forms%20of%20advertisements.%20Smithfield%20goes%20on%20to%20say%20that%20they%20are%20working%20on%20those%20goals%20by%20%E2%80%9Cfinding%20innovative%20solutions%20to%20optimize%20%5Btheir%5D%20supply%20chain,%20reduce%20waste%20and%20improve%20%5Btheir%5D%20energy%20and%20water%20efficiency.%E2%80%9DAt%20face%20value,%20these%20statements%20sound%20great%20for%20consumers%20who%20are%20looking%20for%20products%20that%20promote%20sustainable%20practices.%20However,%20a%20deeper%20look%20into%20the%20statement%20makes%20consumers%20wonder%20whether%20these%20statements%20are%20just%20a%20marketing%20ploy%20to%20sell%20more%20products.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EA%20large%20part%20of%20the%20issue%20is%20that%20Smithfield%20has%20a%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/11/north-carolina-hog-industry-lagoons-pipeline%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Ehistory%3C/a%3E%20of%20causing%20massive%20pollution,%20largely%20through%20pink%20lagoons%20that%20house%20hog%20feces%20that%20repetitively%20overflow%20into%20freshwater%20sources,%20often%20drinking%20water.%20These%20lagoons%20are%20full%20of%20bacteria%20and%20diseases%20spread%20by%20feces.%20For%20decades,%20Smithfield%20has%20wined%20that%20the%20technology%20to%20create%20better%20waste%20management%20is%20too%20expensive,%20while%20the%20local%20communities,%20who%20are%20mostly%20not%20white%20people,%20suffer%20from%20chronic%20diseases%20linked%20to%20the%20facilities.%20These%20communities%20are%20often%20left%20without%20legal%20recourse%20as%20Smithfield%20relies%20on%20protection%20from%20local%20ag-gag%20laws%20and%20exceptions%20in%20federal%20statutes.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EHow%20can%20Smithfield%20cause%20massive%20pollution%20and%20environmental%20harm%20to%20the%20local%20communities,%20and%20be%20allowed%20to%20make%20statements%20about%20being%20%E2%80%9Cstewards%20of%20the%20environment%E2%80%9D?%20The%20answer%20is%20that%20there%20are%20issues%20of%20federal%20oversight%20and%20little%20action%20for%20consumers%20to%20take.%20Even%20though%20there%20are%20several%20federal%20statutes%20that%20give%20government%20agencies%20the%20power%20to%20regulate%20certain%20activities,%20there%20are%20gaps%20and%20limits%20the%20agencies%E2%80%99%20power%20to%20regulate%20those%20activities.%20Federal%20agencies%20rely%20on%20several%20statutes%20for%20legal%20authority%20to%20regulate%20specific%20issues.%20Administrative%20law%20requires%20that%20statutes%20give%20agencies%20the%20authority%20to%20regulate%20certain%20issues%20under%20certain%20legal%20authority,%20and%20without%20that%20legal%20direction,%20the%20agency%20cannot%20regulate%20the%20issue.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EFor%20example,%20food%20labels%20are%20regulated%20under%20the%20Fair%20Packaging%20and%20Labeling%20Act%20(FPLA),%20which%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.ftc.gov/policy/cooperation-agreements/memorandum-understanding-between-federal-trade-commission-food-drug%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Eauthorizes%3C/a%3E%20the%20Federal%20Trade%20Commission%20(FTC)%20to%20regulate%20%E2%80%9Cthe%20truth%20or%20falsity%20of%20all%20advertising%E2%80%9D%20on%20food%20and%20the%20Food%20and%20Drug%20Agency%20(FDA)%20to%20prevent%20misbranding.%20Through%20the%20FPLA%20and%20other%20federal%20statutes,%20the%20FDA%20has%20limited%20power%20to%20regulate%20the%20required%20information%20on%20food%20labels,%20like%20the%20standard%20of%20identity%20of%20a%20food%20product%20and%20the%20nutrition%20fact%20panel,%20but%20the%20FDA%20has%20no%20power%20to%20regulate%20any%20advertisements%20on%20packages.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EThis%20means%20that%20the%20FTC%20is%20the%20only%20federal%20agency%20to%20regulate%20%E2%80%9Cfalse%20advertising%E2%80%9D%20on%20the%20labels,%20like%20Smithfield%E2%80%99s%20misleading%20sustainability%20statements.%20However,%20the%20FTC%20has%20limited%20power%20to%20regulate%20the%20label,%20unless%20the%20statement%20is%20blatantly%20false%20or%20misleading.%20The%20statutes%20that%20the%20FTC%20relies%20on%20for%20authority,%20like%20the%20Langham%20Act,%20generally%20focus%20on%20competitive%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.oyez.org/cases/2013/12-761%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Eprices%3C/a%3E,%20so%20companies%20must%20show%20that%20they%20have%20lost%20profits%20from%20the%20false%20advertisements%20on%20a%20competitor%E2%80%99s%20label.%20The%20fundamental%20aspect%20of%20the%20law%20to%20protect%20consumers%20from%20misrepresentations%20in%20advertising%20on%20food%20focuses%20on%20profit,%20not%20the%20safety%20of%20the%20consumer.%20This%20leaves%20consumers%20with%20little%20to%20no%20legal%20action%20against%20companies%20for%20deceptive%20practices%20unless%20the%20consumer%20is%20injured%20by%20a%20defect%20in%20the%20product%20or%20if%20the%20product%20causes%20the%20consumer%20harm.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3ENot%20only%20are%20consumers%20at%20a%20disadvantage%20because%20they%20cannot%20sue%20companies%20for%20misleading%20advertisements,%20but%20companies%20are%20also%20given%20an%20added%20layer%20of%20protection%20from%20consumers%20because%20they%20have%20no%20legal%20recourse.%20Corporations%20have%20the%20power%20to%20make%20customers%20vulnerable%20to%20deceptive%20marketing%20tactics%20and%20naively%20hopeful%20for%20government%20oversight.%20The%20FTC%20rarely%20files%20suits%20about%20corporate%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp%23:~:text=Greenwashing%252520is%252520the%252520process%252520of,company's%252520products%252520are%252520environmentally%252520friendly.%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Egreenwashing%3C/a%3E,%20which%20%E2%80%9Cis%20the%20process%20of%20conveying%20false%20impressions%20or%20providing%20misleading%20information%20about%20how%20corporation%20products%20are%20more%20environmentally%20sound%E2%80%9D.%20As%20more%20and%20more%20consumers%20desire%20sustainable%20products,%20corporations%20have%20larger%20incentives%20to%20market%20toward%20those%20consumer%20desires.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3ERecently,%20the%20FTC%20filed%20a%20greenwashing%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/smithfield_ftc_complaint.pdf%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Ecomplaint%3C/a%3E%20against%20Smithfield%20about%20false%20claims%20on%20its%20products%20that%20state%20the%20corporation%20implemented%20sustainable%20growing%20practices%20to%20protect%20the%20environment.%20The%20corporation%20continually%20makes%20affirmative%20sustainable%20statements,%20even%20though%20it%20received%2066%20violations%20in%202019%20due%20to%20its%20production%20practices%20and%20massive%20water%20pollution%20that%20violates%20the%20Clean%20Water%20Act.%20The%20FTC%20said%20that%20consumers%20rely%20on%20statements%20about%20product%20practices,%20and%20Smithfield%20was%20preying%20on%20consumers%20who%20purchase%20products%20based%20on%20the%20sustainability%20statements%20made%20by%20the%20corporation.%20Maybe%20it%E2%80%99s%20a%20step%20in%20the%20right%20direction%20for%20consumers,%20but%20the%20fact%20that%20Smithfield%20had%20so%20many%20environmental%20violations%20before%20the%20FTC%20stepped%20in%20highlights%20the%20leeway%20companies%20are%20given.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EThere%20are%20other%20pending%20cases%20against%20Smithfield%20about%20its%20misrepresentations%20on%20labels.%20The%20corporation%20is%20fighting%20another%20legal%20challenge%20about%20whether%20its%20production%20practices%20lead%20to%20an%20increase%20in%20consumers%E2%80%99%20risk%20for%20food-borne%20illnesses.%20In%20May%202020,%20the%20Organic%20Consumer%20Association%20(OCA)%20filed%20a%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/organic-consumers-assoc-sues-smithfield-for-misleading-consumers-with-false-claims-of-superior-safety-301063786.html%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3Ecomplaint%3C/a%3E%20against%20Smithfield%20in%20D.C.%20Superior%20Court.%20The%20OCA%E2%80%99s%20complaint%20alleged%20that%20Smithfield%20plants%20were%20more%20likely%20to%20produce%20products%20that%20have%20salmonella%20than%20other%20similarly%20sized%20facilities.%20The%20complaint%20continues%20to%20allege%20that%20Smithfield%20is%20violating%20D.C.%20Consumer%20Protection%20Procedure%20Act%20by%20stating%20its%20products%20are%20the%20%E2%80%9Csafest%E2%80%9D%20for%20consumers.%20In%20December%202020,%20the%20court%20denied%20Smithfield%E2%80%99s%20motion%20to%20dismiss%20the%20claim.%20This%20at%20least%20allows%20the%20court%20to%20inspect%20whether%20consumers%20have%20been%20misled,%20but%20without%20a%20federal%20statute,%20consumers%20on%20a%20national%20level%20may%20still%20have%20misleading%20advertisements.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EEven%20with%20pending%20litigation,%20Smithfield%20and%20other%20corporation%20are%20given%20a%20free%20pass%20to%20use%20marketing%20tactics%20that%20say%20these%20companies%20are%20working%20to%20improve%20the%20environment,%20but%20the%20production%20practices%20that%20the%20corporation%20has%20does%20nothing%20to%20enhance%20sustainability.%20The%20tactics%20just%20sell%20more%20food.%20Consumers%20are%20continually%20burdened%20to%20deciphering%20whether%20foods%20are%20sustainable,%20and%20consumers%20cannot%20trust%20that%20statements%20are%20truthful.%20Unless%20the%20FTC%20is%20able%20to%20file%20additional%20complaints%20against%20companies,%20which%20is%20unlikely,%20customers%20will%20continue%20to%20fall%20victim%20to%20corporate%20marketing%20tactics%20and%20pay%20higher%20price%20points%20for%20food%20products%20that%20appear%20to%20be%20sustainable.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EThere%20is%20a%20bit%20of%20hope.%20Beyond%20the%20recent%20complaints%20and%20civil%20cases,%20there%20are%20a%20growing%20number%20of%20projects%20to%20protect%20consumers.%20There%20are%20efforts%20to%20create%20new%20declarative%20statements,%20like%20the%20%3Ca%20href=%22https://cleanlabelproject.org/%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3EClean%20Label%20Project%3C/a%3E%20that%20aim%20to%20protect%20consumers%20from%20greenwashing.%20For%20instance,%20one%20of%20the%20labels%20is%20called%20the%20%E2%80%9C%3Ca%20href=%22https://cleanlabelproject.org/purity-award/%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3EPurity%20Award%3C/a%3E,%E2%80%9D%20which%20%E2%80%9Cevaluates%20products%20for%20substances%20that%20would%20never%20be%20found%20on%20a%20product%20label.%E2%80%9D%20Other%20labels%20through%20this%20project%20ensure%20the%20consumer%20knows%20that%20the%20product%20is%20not%20harmful.%20However,%20this%20perpetuates%20the%20problem%20because%20third-party%20organizations%20are%20giving%20consumers%20the%20information%20they%20expect%20from%20corporations.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3EThe%20burden%20should%20not%20fall%20solely%20on%20the%20consumer.%20Corporations%20should%20not%20be%20allowed%20to%20make%20sustainable%20statements%20without%20data%20that%20proves%20production%20practices%20are%20sustainable.%20Consumers%20deserve%20transparency%20from%20corporations,%20and%20corporations%20should%20be%20required%20to%20show%20consumers%20their%20sustainable%20practices,%20without%20the%20protection%20of%20ag-gag%20laws.%20The%20moral%20requirement%20of%20corporations,%20who%20continue%20to%20pollute%20the%20environment,%20is%20firmly%20rooted%20in%20the%20necessity%20of%20sustainable%20practices%20for%20humanity%E2%80%99s%20long-term%20future.%20Consumers%20cannot%20and%20should%20not%20be%20the%20ones%20to%20take%20on%20the%20majority%20of%20the%20task.%20Corporations%20need%20to%20put%20their%20money%20into%20whether%20their%20advertising%20is%20and%20create%20actual%20sustainable%20growing%20practices.%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3E%3Cem%3EAbout%20the%20author:%20Amy%20Joy%20Allen%20is%20an%20LL.M%20candidate%20at%20the%20University%20of%20Arkansas%20School%20of%20Law%20and%20lives%20in%20New%20York.%20Amy%20earned%20her%20J.D.%20with%20an%20advanced%20certificate%20in%20environmental%20law%20at%20Elisabeth%20Haub%20School%20of%20Law%20at%20Pace%20University,%20and%20her%20B.A.%20in%20Psychology%20and%20Literature%20from%20Eugene%20Lang%20the%20New%20School%20for%20Liberal%20Arts.%20Amy%20has%20interned%20with%20Practical%20Law,%20worked%20as%20a%20student%20attorney%20at%20the%20John%20Jay%20Food%20and%20Beverage%20Clinic,%20and%20external%20at%20Walmart.%20Amy%20is%20actively%20seeking%20opportunities.%3C/em%3E%3C/p%3E%0A%3Cp%3E%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3E(To%20sign%20up%20for%20a%20free%20subscription%20to%20Food%20Safety%20News,%20%3C/i%3E%3C/b%3E%3Ca%20href=%22https://www.foodsafetynews.com/subscribe/%23.VtSWqcdln_R%22%20target=%22_blank%22%3E%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3Eclick%20here%3C/i%3E%3C/b%3E%3C/a%3E%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3E.)%3C/i%3E%3C/b%3E%3C/p%3E%0A%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3Cdiv%20id=%22background%22%3E%3Cdiv%20id=%22background_shading%22%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3C/div%3E%3Clink%20rel=%22stylesheet%22%20href=%22https://markups.kdanmobile.com/mymarkup/front/the_components/reformat/style.css%22%20type=%22text/css%22%3E%3C/body%3E

Summary | 11 Annotations
Climate change is no longer something that will happen in the future – it’s happening now. Generations throughout the world are urging governments to protect not only their citizens but the citizens of the world. As Bill Gates recently said, we need “unprecedented (global) cooperation” immediately to deal with climate change. In theory, governments would ensure environmentally safe and sustainable practices in their own territory, and there would be global cooperation in this effort.
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In the U.S., consumers are becoming pressured into purchasing sustainable products. Generally, bans on products affect the consumer and consumer habits, like plastic bag bans, which require consumers to use reusable bags and give stores the reduced expense of purchasing plastic bags. Even though the underlying goal of those bans is to decrease plastic pollution, which is necessary, corporations are not forced to change. 
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Instead of the government, on any level, promulgating bans on products or production practices that are known to significantly impact climate change, the burden is placed on the consumer. There is consumer demand to find products that encourage sustainability, but the ability for consumers to find sustainable products is limited. Consumers are required to gather large amounts of information about products and how the product was produced to understand whether a product is sustainable. Often, that information is either impossible to find or includes complex verbiage that requires expensive research. Consumers are left with limited information.
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One of those companies is Smithfield, one of the largest pork producers and biggest water polluters in the U.S. To change consumer perception, Smithfield claims to be “stewards of the environment.” The corporation makes affirmative statements that they have the “goals of reducing natural resource damage and ensuring 100% compliance, 100% of the time” in various forms of advertisements. Smithfield goes on to say that they are working on those goals by “finding innovative solutions to optimize [their] supply chain, reduce waste and improve [their] energy and water efficiency.” 
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These lagoons are full of bacteria and diseases spread by feces. For decades, Smithfield has wined that the technology to create better waste management is too expensive, while the local communities, who are mostly not white people, suffer from chronic diseases linked to the facilities. These communities are often left without legal recourse as Smithfield relies on protection from local ag-gag laws and exceptions in federal statutes. 
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Federal agencies rely on several statutes for legal authority to regulate specific issues. Administrative law requires that statutes give agencies the authority to regulate certain issues under certain legal authority, and without that legal direction, the agency cannot regulate the issue.
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The fundamental aspect of the law to protect consumers from misrepresentations in advertising on food focuses on profit, not the safety of the consumer. This leaves consumers with little to no legal action against companies for deceptive practices unless the consumer is injured by a defect in the product or if the product causes the consumer harm. 
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The FTC rarely files suits about corporate greenwashing, which “is the process of conveying false impressions or providing misleading information about how corporation products are more environmentally sound”. As more and more consumers desire sustainable products, corporations have larger incentives to market toward those consumer desires. 
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 There are other pending cases against Smithfield about its misrepresentations on labels. The corporation is fighting another legal challenge about whether its production practices lead to an increase in consumers’ risk for food-borne illnesses. In May 2020, the Organic Consumer Association (OCA) filed a complaint against Smithfield in D.C. Superior Court. The OCA’s complaint alleged that Smithfield plants were more likely to produce products that have salmonella than other similarly sized facilities. The complaint continues to allege that Smithfield is violating D.C. Consumer Protection Procedure Act by stating its products are the “safest” for consumers. In December 2020, the court denied Smithfield’s motion to dismiss the claim. This at least allows the court to inspect whether consumers have been misled, but without a federal statute, consumers on a national level may still have misleading advertisements. 
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There are efforts to create new declarative statements, like the Clean Label Project that aim to protect consumers from greenwashing. For instance, one of the labels is called the “Purity Award,” which “evaluates products for substances that would never be found on a product label.” Other labels through this project ensure the consumer knows that the product is not harmful. However, this perpetuates the problem because third-party organizations are giving consumers the information they expect from corporations. 
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Corporations should not be allowed to make sustainable statements without data that proves production practices are sustainable. Consumers deserve transparency from corporations, and corporations should be required to show consumers their sustainable practices, without the protection of ag-gag laws. The moral requirement of corporations, who continue to pollute the environment, is firmly rooted in the necessity of sustainable practices for humanity’s long-term future. Consumers cannot and should not be the ones to take on the majority of the task. Corporations need to put their money into whether their advertising is and create actual sustainable growing practices. 
2021/03/31 13:18