SEE September Newsletter

Posted on September 5, 2023

Meat Packing injuries…Your dinner might be costing someone an arm and a leg, research shows

As we celebrated Labor Day, it is pertinent to know some workers suffer mightily providing U.S. consumers meat and food, according to data from government and academia, said Sustainable Earth Eating, who compiled the research. The question remains: how safe are workers who process or grow our food?

Injuries in the meatpacking business and with farms, are rising–and often involve amputations—lost fingers, thumbs, arms. An average of 27 workers a day suffer amputation or hospitalization, according to OSHA data from 29 states.

Meat and poultry companies are among the most dangerous. Bureau of Labor Statistics report 26,600 non-fatal injuries—the rate for 100 full-time workers was 5.4 %, compared to 3.0% for all private industry and 3.8% for manufacturing.
Cont’d on pg 3

Upside Foods CEO says ‘Kindness to Fellow Life’ first of three reasons he founded lab-grown meat company

Lab-grown meat producer UPSIDE Foods, founded by cardiologist Uma Valeti, recently scored a first in getting its cultivated chicken on the menu at a San Francisco restaurant, after having received USDA approval in June to sell in the United States, as reported by various media.

Going from cardiology to manufactured meat seems an atypical career move, but Valeti told the Good Food Institute he saw it as a way to save exponentially more lives.

He tried to encourage a lot of people to start companies in the manufactured meats space, but no one would do it


Climate denying nonprofit has money, may gain influence in public schools

Ultraconservative media group Prager University was approved in July as an educational resource in Florida public schools and announced (falsely) in August that it received similar approval in Texas, Arielle Samuelson reported for HEATED.

The Florida approval means “that millions of children across Florida could be taught PragerU material, which includes a video that promotes fossil fuels by subtly comparing climate-concerned students to Nazis,” the report says. That the Texas announcement turned out to be false doesn’t necessarily mean “PragerU (which is not actually a university)” won’t ever get its climate denial content into the state’s school curricula, according to the report, noting that the $1.9 billion nonprofit has in its corner at least one member of the conservative Texas State Board of Education and that it spent more than $20 million last year on marketing in 41 states.


Ohio company to produce special nuclear fuel for domestic use in addressing climate crisis, breaking kremlin’s monopoly

Amid efforts by the U.S. and allies to replace planet-heating fossil fuels with advanced nuclear, Centrus Energy Aug. 28 announced a deal to supply California-based atomic startup Oklo Inc. with high-assay low-enriched uranium needed for its reactors, Alexander C. Hoffman reported in Huffington Post.


This came on the heels of a similar deal Centrus announced July 17 with Bill Gates-backed TerraPower, which is working to convert a coal power plant in Wyoming by 2030. While a new generation of atomic startups are seeking to bring advanced reactors to market, and lawmakers from both parties in Congress say they’re ready to help speed the effort, a major problem has been the world’s only seller of concentrated uranium is an arm of the Russian government, according to the report.


Pollution damages would cost corporations nearly half their profits, if they had to pay

According to a study by economists, the world’s corporations produce so much climate change pollution, they would have to spend about 44% of their profits to pay for the damages, Seth Borenstein reported for the Associated Press, explaining that the conclusions are based on emissions, revenue, and profits data and estimates of nearly 15,000 public companies — and no private ones. Nearly 90% of the damage comes from four industries: energy, utilities, transportation, and manufacturing of materials such as steel. In terms of countries, Russia and Indonesia top the list for corporate climate damages, with the UK and the US at the bottom, according to the study.


Urban Doom Loop’ spurred by commercial real estate vacancy could threaten broader economy

With the pandemic-driven boom in remote work prompting companies to rethink or pull out of their leases, many economists are worried about a “worst case scenario” where landlords could hardly attract new tenants or sell buildings for a healthy price, Rachel Siegel reported in the Washington Post.
The fear is that “business districts would dry up, stifling tax revenue … shoppers and tourists would have fewer reasons to venture downtown to eat or shop, choking off spending and forcing layoffs at restaurants and retail stores,” and the situation could be worse in “midsize cities that have fewer ways [than New York and other hubs] to offset the blow when a major company slashes office space,” according to the report.


UPSIDE, continued from pg 1

“And so I decided to start one myself,” he said. He founded his company as Memphis Meats in 2016. “I came to the realization that if I continued as a cardiologist, I might save maybe a few thousand lives over the next thirty years. But if I am successful in helping to change the way meat is made, I could positively impact billions of human lives and trillions of animal lives.”

(see UPSIDE, below)

Valeti told FoodDive there are three important reasons why he decided to focus his career on manufactured meats.
“One is kindness to fellow life. Number two is the opportunity to decrease the enormous impacts on the environment from growing animals for meat. And then the third one is what if we can make meat healthier?”in a Washington Post interview, Valeti pointed to the goal of getting the best possible cells from animals to grow in a lab. The process takes two weeks, and at the end you have chicken, beef or pork. The pricing is currently “just above organic,” but “[w]ith time, I believe it’s inevitable that we’ll get to parity to conventional meat and lower than that.”
The demand for meat will double in the next 30 years, Valenti said, indicating that the ethical proposition is enormous.

“If we don’t have to kill 80 billion animals every year, eventually, and not give up the product — I think the proposition is very clear,” he told Post interviewer Shannon Osaka. In terms of humanity’s use of resources, he said, the current problem is:

“We use about 40 percent of all the freshwater we have right now to feed animals to feed us, about 40 percent of all the arable land to grow crops to feed animals to feed us. And consider for a moment, if that demand is doubling, we cannot afford to have 80 percent of our water and land be used to feed animals to feed us. There has to be a better solution….”

Valeti says the company started with chicken because it’s the most consumed meat everywhere in the world, including in the United States.
“We have a technology and a method with incredible promise that will preserve the choice of eating what we love and also that protects the life and the environment we care about,” he said in the Post interview.

Upside Foods has won various industry awards, including New York Times’ Good Tech Awards, FastCo’s Next Big Thing in Tech, and the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the Nation, as reported on the company’s PR website.
The company has raised a total of $608 million, including from the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund (ADG), Baillie Gifford, Bill Gates, Cargill, Future Ventures, John Doerr, John Mackey, Kimbal and Christiana Musk, Norwest, Richard Branson, Softbank, Temasek, Threshold, Tyson Foods, and others.

Cont’d from pg 1

Many undocumented work “at will” and fears of deportation halt reporting of hazardous work conditions/practices.

  •  Typical worker protections don’t cover things like need for breaks that would improve  safety. Employees say, accidents always happen when they are tired, or working overtime. Meat factories work 24/7 shifts.

“Also, because profit margins are thin, pace of work is hazardous, combining machinery with sharp knives and equipment— is a deadly situation.”

An average of 27 workers a day suffer amputation or hospitalization, according to OSHA data from 29 states, the Economic Policy Institute reports. Meat and poultry companies remain among the most dangerous.

  • Meat and poultry companies continue to be among the most dangerous. (Source: BLS) compared to other industry statistics. BLS data report 26,600 non-fatal injuries—the recordable cases rate for 100 full-time workers was 5.4, higher than the rate for all private industry (3.0) and manufacturing (3.8)
  • This industry hires many undocumented workers and provides them “employment at will.” The workers fear for their jobs, and OSHA’s typical worker protections do not cover the methods, like the need for breaks, that would improve employee safety and reduce injuries. Employees say, the accidents always happen when they are tired, or working frequent overtime hours. Meat factories work 24/7 shifts.
A Penn State study, showed the agricultural sector is the most dangerous in America with more than 60,000 people treated in emergency rooms over a 5-year period for non-fatal, agricultural-related injuries and 573 deaths or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. ( 2015-2020.)  Nearly one-third of ag-related injuries involved youth.
[1] USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded it

Categories: News Release