Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Policy Focus: E-Cigarettes: When Regulatory Overkill Actually Kills<p> Each year, nearly half a million Americans die of smoking-related diseases. Smoking-related healthcare costs exceed $300 billion a year. Convincing people to stop smoking is both a public health and economic priority.</p> <p> Electronic cigarettes, more commonly called e-cigarettes, have helped in that effort. In Europe, 6.1 million people have switched from traditional cigarettes to far less harmful vaping products. In the United States, new government data reveals nine million adults now use e-cigarette products&mdash; the vast majority of whom were former traditional cigarette smokers.</p> <p> Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and, crucially, do not burn or smoke. With traditional cigarettes, harm comes from the toxins released (tar) when a cigarette burns. As Professor Michael Russell remarked in his landmark 1976 study on harm reduction, &ldquo;People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar.&rdquo;</p> <p> E-cigarettes do not burn but instead contain a liquid solution made up of glycol and flavorings, and in some cases, nicotine. Vaping (the term for smoking an e-cigarette) closely mimics smoking yet is 95 percent less harmful than smoking and has helped millions of smokers quit traditional cigarettes.</p> <p> Yet access to these products is in danger thanks to new FDA regulations that require all vaping products to undergo a retroactive FDA pre-approval process at a cost of $400,000 and over 500 man-hours per vaping product.</p> <p> Because the vast majority of vape shops are small businesses, and most produce multiple vaping avors (each of which will be required to go through a separate approval), it&rsquo;s estimated that 99 percent of all vaping businesses will close, robbing consumers and, tragically, those who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes of these vital, safe, and useful products.</p> <p> <strong><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/When_Regulatory_Overkill_Actually_Kills_PF17.pdf">CLICK HERE TO READ THE 6-PAGE POLICY FOCUS &gt;&gt;&gt;</a></span></strong></p> http://iwf.org/publications/2803739/Julie GunlockWed, 24 May 2017 09:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF Joins Coalition Urging FDA Commisioner to Ease the Heavy-Handed Regulatory Approach to E-Vaping<p> <span style="font-size: 12px;">WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Independent Women&#39;s Forum today joined&nbsp;</span>Taxpayers Protection Alliance<span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;and 18 other policy leaders and advocacy groups from across the country in sending a letter to&nbsp;</span>Dr. Scott Gottlieb, newly confirmed commisioner of the Food and Drug Administration,<span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;urging him to&nbsp;</span>propel the FDA as a leader in smartly evaluating the risks and rewards of new technologies - like electronic vapor (aka e-cigarettes) - that can improve public health.&nbsp;</p> <p> Additional groups that signed the coalition letter include American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and many other public policy organizations and leaders.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/TF_TPA_FDA_Coalition_Letter.pdf">VIEW PDF OF LETTER</a></strong></span></p> <p> May 23, 2017<br /> <br /> The Honorable Dr. Scott Gottlieb<br /> Administrator Food and Drug Administration<br /> 1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW #1025<br /> Washington, DC 20006<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Dear Administrator Gottlieb,<br /> <br /> We the undersigned organizations dedicated to improving public health and reducing taxpayers&rsquo; burden through innovation, congratulate you on your confirmation to chair the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We look forward to working with the FDA to craft policies to give Americans new and revolutionary options to better their health. Most immediately, we urge the FDA to create an environment that encourages smokers to switch from traditional cigarettes to less harmful alternatives like electronic and heat-not-burn products which research shows are significantly less likely to cause the deadly conditions associated with burned tobacco products.<br /> <br /> The world is moving from analog to digital in almost every aspect. Wearable tech like Fitbit and Apple Watch are changing the way we exercise and monitor our health. Telemedicine is providing access to doctors for those in remote areas or difficult circumstances. Companies like Zipline are using drones to deliver medicine in Rwanda, overcoming a lack of roads and other infrastructure challenges. These advances provide unprecedented access to information and services by bypassing conventional outmoded paradigms and creating new ones.<br /> <br /> The tobacco market has experienced a similar tech-driven disruption. Over the past decade, electronic vapor (aka e-cigarettes) has evolved from a marginal novelty to a significant part of the lives of Americans across the spectrum as they seek out safer and better nicotine-delivery alternatives. As millions switch from smoking to vaping, the mass movement from a harmful analog product&mdash;cigarettes&mdash; to demonstrably safer digitized products should be celebrated as a development with the potential to improve and save millions of lives.<br /> <br /> Despite the success of educational campaigns on the harms of tobacco use, cessation efforts have hit a plateau, with a portion of the population unable to kick their deadly habit. We recognize that quitting tobacco use is a complex and personal challenge; what works for some may not work for all. This effort demands an all-of-theabove approach. As we noted in a previous letter to Congress:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> The world has made enormous progress in reducing smoking. Decades of improvements in education, research, and cessation methods have helped reduce the percentage of smokers in the US from 42.4% in 1965 to 15.1% today. Despite those efforts, nearly 40 million Americans and a billion people worldwide still smoke &mdash; most in low and middle-income countries that are hit harder by tobacco-related illness. How the FDA regulates new, life-saving technology will influence regulators and policymakers throughout the world.</p> <p> Unfortunately, the FDA&rsquo;s often opaque and heavy-handed regulatory approach has not kept up with the ever-changing landscape of technology and innovation. For example, the Deeming Rule, which took effect August 8, 2016, would dramatically slow the progress of e-vapor harm reduction. As we summarized, the rule:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> ...requires e-vapor product manufacturers to endure a lengthy and expensive pre-market tobacco application process for all products not brought to market before the predicate date of February 15, 2007. Unless a product is &ldquo;substantially equivalent&rdquo; to decade-old products, the FDA estimates that a single application will take 5,000 hours and cost $330,000. The FDA estimates that companies will need to file 20 applications for each product within the first two years of regulation, setting the cost around $6 million per product. Even that would be enough to exclude all but the largest companies, but the National Center for Public Policy Research estimates the real cost will be closer to $1 million per application. The industry has seen massive growth and innovation in the last decade. By setting the predicate date well before the introduction of most modern vapor products, the FDA has ensured that most manufacturers will be forced to shut down, as 99% of products will not go through the required process.</p> <p> We hope that under your leadership, the FDA can become a leader in smartly evaluating the risks and rewards of new technologies that can improve public health. As the speed of innovation continues to increase, we stand ready to work with you in good faith and in context of the best available science to serve the American people.<br /> <br /> We further request a meeting with you or your designee to discuss these concerns.<br /> <br /> Sincerely,<br /> <br /> David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance<br /> Evan Swarztrauber, Director of Public Affairs, TechFreedom<br /> Lisa B. Nelson, CEO, ALEC Action<br /> Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment<br /> Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform<br /> Col Francis X. De Luca USMCR (Ret), President, Civitas Institute<br /> Michelle Minton, Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute<br /> Matthew Kandrach, President, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy<br /> Jason Pye, Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks<br /> George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom<br /> Joseph Bast, President and CEO, The Heartland Institute<br /> Julie Gunlock, Outreach and Program Director, Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum<br /> Heather Higgins, President and CEO, Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice<br /> Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty<br /> Don Racheter, Ph.D, Moderator, Iowa Wednesday Group<br /> Forest Thigpen, President, Mississippi Center for Public Policy<br /> Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research<br /> Pete Sepp, President, National Taxpayers Union<br /> Eli Leher, President, R Street Institute<br /> Paul Gessing, President, Rio Grande Foundation<br /> <br /> cc:<br /> The Honorable Donald J. Trump<br /> President of the United States of America<br /> The Honorable Dr. Tom Price<br /> Secretary of Health and Human Services<br /> The Honorable Mick Mulvaney<br /> Director of the Office of Management and Budget</p> http://iwf.org/media/2803728/Julie GunlockTue, 23 May 2017 12:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMichelle Obama criticizes average Americans food choices, flaunts personal chef • Cam & Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2803741/Julie GunlockTue, 23 May 2017 12:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHey, Michelle Obama: If You Have a Personal Chef, Don’t Criticize Regular Americans’ Food Choices<p> Many Americans think Michelle Obama did a stellar job as First Lady&mdash;evidently including Michelle Obama herself. Last week, she joined former White House chef turned chief sycophant Sam Kass to trade compliments on how together they transformed the way common Americans eat.</p> <p> <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/michelle-obama-criticizes-trump-school-lunch-decision-47376261" target="_blank">Speaking</a>&nbsp;at the Partnership for a Healthier America&rsquo;s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Obama&rsquo;s trotted out stale material (&ldquo;Malia was so sad to see her Kraft Mac-n-Cheese getting thrown out!&rdquo;) while Kass told his own stories about his proximity to the royal family and relished Mrs. Obama&rsquo;s explanation that he had enlightened and encouraged them to rid their kitchen of the lower class horror of &ldquo;processed foods.&rdquo;</p> <p> Mrs. Obama, expanding on her familiar and now very tired mac-n-cheese story, explained how she soothed the troubled first daughter by assuring her that mac-n-cheese can still be eaten, but it has to be made from scratch. Then, without a hint of irony, she revealed a rather important detail: she wasn&rsquo;t the one doing the cooking. That was Kass&rsquo; job.</p> <p> That interesting nugget of information came after Kass asked Mrs. Obama to look back on those tough days as a working mom, just before and after Obama was elected to the Senate. As a reminder, that was when Mrs. Obama was earning over a quarter million dollars working at a Chicago hospital while also serving on the board of a large food company (that produces processed foods). Senator Obama was also receiving considerable royalties from his book&nbsp;<em>Dreams From My Father</em>.</p> <p> While most Americans who struggled to make ends meet during the Obama presidency might assume that life was pretty good in the Obama&rsquo;s household even before he ascended to the Oval Office, Michelle wasn&rsquo;t so sanguine, saying instead that life was hard. She was traveling a lot, Barack wasn&rsquo;t home, and she was helping with the campaign. Luckily, she had Kass by her side who, she admitted, was hired as the family&rsquo;s personal chef.</p> <p> While I&rsquo;m sure all moms would love to come home, kick off their high heels, and sit down with their families to a chef-prepared meal, most simply don&rsquo;t have such luxuries. Instead, normal moms just want to produce something quickly (like those &ldquo;processed foods&rdquo; Mrs. Obama so loves to hate&mdash;boxed mac-n-cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, canned fruit cocktail, rotisserie chicken, canned soup) so that they can actually have a conversation with their kids, help them with homework, give them baths and put them to bed. You know, mom things, rather than preparing the homemade b&eacute;chamel sauce and grating a block of organic Vermont cheddar that will eventually be folded into the just-boiled elbow macaroni and then baked for a half hour. Yay! Dinner served at 9pm!</p> <p> In Mrs. Obama&rsquo;s world it&rsquo;s easy to produce homemade baked noodle dishes when you have Sam Kass doing all the work.</p> <p> Eventually moving past her own troubled and difficult time as an upper middle class mom with a staff, supportive husband, and thriving career, Mrs. Obama went on to praise the food industry for cutting calories in foods. That is indeed an accomplishment and the companies as well as the organization that coordinated these calorie reductions&mdash;The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation&mdash;deserve praise. Yet, Mrs. Obama might also reflect on the fact that the food industry makes a practice of responding to consumer demands.</p> <p> One of the demands moms have made for the last several decades (as women have returned to the workforce in droves) is to have more, not less, of what Mrs. Obama likes to pejoratively call &ldquo;processed food.&rdquo; Busy moms and dads usually call these foods by another name&mdash;convenience foods, because these products help parents produce healthy meals in a short amount of time.</p> <p> Mrs. Obama means well and there&rsquo;s no doubt that she&rsquo;s had a transformative impact on the nation&rsquo;s eating habits&mdash;some of it good and much of it bad. But she needs to remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about the very rich: &ldquo;They are different from you and me.&rdquo; Michelle Obama is different from you and me.</p> <p> Which is why most normal parents would do well to ignore her advice.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803672/Julie GunlockThu, 18 May 2017 16:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBabies, Bugs, and a Great Big Scare<p> As the weather warms up across the country, many parents begin to stock up on sunscreens and&nbsp;bug&nbsp;repellents. Happily, moms and dads have a lot of choices in what to buy, but they also need to brace for an onslaught of misinformation, distortions, and outright lies about the dangers of these products &mdash; all of which make shopping a lot more stressful.</p> <p> Years ago, the banal task of visiting the local drug store was about as interesting as watching grass grow. Today, many parents agonize about the correct way to keep their children free of bug bites and sun damage. Faced with vague and often unsubstantiated claims by activist organizations and self-promoting wellness bloggers that certain products are harmful, more and more parents now pause in the drug store aisle, wondering:&nbsp;Will I give my kid a developmental delay, cancer, or autism if I use this brand over that brand?</p> <p> Consider&nbsp;bug&nbsp;repellent. Both moms and dads no doubt have heard nebulous claims that they should avoid&nbsp;bug&nbsp;sprays that contain DEET. They are often advised to steer clear of the &ldquo;big brands&rdquo; in favor of companies that produce &ldquo;natural&rdquo; and &ldquo;organic&rdquo; products &mdash; preferably those produced in small batches.</p> <p> Of course, what parents should know is that leading health agencies &mdash; such as&nbsp;the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization &mdash; all recommend products containing DEET to prevent vector-borne diseases. The&nbsp;CDC&rsquo;s Traveler&rsquo;s Health website even advises Americans to use&nbsp;bug&nbsp;repellents that contain &ldquo;at least 20 percent DEET&rdquo; and specifically mentions easy-to-find products such as&nbsp;Cutter Backwoods and Off! Deep Woods, both of which contain DEET, &ldquo;for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other&nbsp;bugs.&rdquo;</p> <p> Parents should also be aware that vector-borne diseases continue to be a problem in this country. In 2015,&nbsp;the CDC recorded&nbsp;over 2,000 cases of West Nile virus, which tragically resulted in 119 deaths. In 2014, 25,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported. And Zika continues to concern public health officials.</p> <p> Yet activists continue to promote studies that have shown harm to animals exposed to DEET. While it&rsquo;s true that these studies exist, it&rsquo;s important to know that in these experiments, the animals are&nbsp;exposed to massive doses of the chemical, a much larger amount than what&rsquo;s found in the products on store shelves.</p> <p> Parents should ask themselves: Should I rely on these claims from activist organizations based on studies that in no way reflect the way humans use&nbsp;bug&nbsp;repellent (if your child is drinking DEET, you have larger problems on your hands), or should I trust the medical community, which overwhelmingly endorses the use of DEET to avoid diseases caused by insect bites?</p> <p> Sunscreens are also subject to alarmist hyperbole. The first synthetic sunscreens were developed nearly 100 years ago and since then have vastly improved in both utility and effectiveness. Yet, activists tell parents that they should forgo synthetic sunscreen in favor of more &ldquo;natural&rdquo; alternatives &mdash; like raspberry seed oil, sesame oil, and Shea butter. While these &ldquo;natural&rdquo; sunscreens do provide some protection from the sun, synthetic sunscreens do as well, are perfectly safe, and are often much more affordable and readily available than their boutique &ldquo;natural&rdquo; and &ldquo;organic&rdquo; counterparts.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <p> As with DEET, sunscreens are also subject to scaremongering by activists who claim studies demonstrate the chemicals they contain harm humans. Yet, again, in these studies, the animals were exposed to extremely high doses of the chemicals. As one doctor explained to the&nbsp;Wall Street Journal, those conclusions came from studies &quot;where scientists had the mice bathe in the sunscreen daily and even eat it&hellip;&quot;</p> <p> Of course, scaring consumers is a very lucrative business, which is why certain large-scale companies &mdash; like actress Jessica Alba&#39;s Honest Company &mdash; use fear-based marketing to suggest their products are &quot;safer&quot; and &quot;better&quot; for children. This marketing hasn&#39;t shielded the company from criticism, though. In 2014, a wave of angry and very social media-savvy parents&nbsp;posted pictures of their sunburned children&nbsp;on various websites after using Honest Company sunscreen. Clearly the product &mdash; filled with those natural, &quot;safer&quot; ingredients &mdash; had failed to protect their children&#39;s skin from badly burning.</p> <p> Parents deserve better information about important essential summertime products such as&nbsp;sunscreen and&nbsp;bug&nbsp;repellent. But moms and dads also need to take charge and check sources to ensure they are using science- and evidence-based information when it comes to their children&#39;s safety.</p> <p> As parents everywhere begin enjoying the spring and early summer, they shouldn&#39;t be persuaded by activists pushing alarmist messages or promoting the &quot;natural&quot; narrative. Mosquitos, ticks, and the sun are natural things. But it&#39;s important to remember, they&#39;re also deadly.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock is a mom of three young boys and a writer for Independent Women&#39;s Forum. She is based in Arlington, Virginia.&nbsp;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2803690/Julie GunlockThu, 18 May 2017 08:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWashington Insider: Tensions Over Big Business Links to Alarmism<p> Julie Gunlock is policy director at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and runs the organization&#39;s Culture of Alarmism Project. She wrote recently in the Investors&rsquo; Business Daily regarding Cargill&rsquo;s decision to partner with the Non GMO Project and offers some pointed criticism. She thinks the Cargill decision &ldquo;misinforms consumers about GMO safety&rdquo; and masks the Project&rsquo;s purpose of ridding the American marketplace of genetically modified crops.</p> <p> The Non GMO Project runs a verification program which charges companies to test food products for the presence of GMOs and awards those companies a non-GMO verification label that can be placed on food packaging, Gunlock reports.</p> <p> For its part, Cargill claims their decision came in response to demands from customers for GMO-free products. Gunlock says she doesn&rsquo;t doubt Cargill&rsquo;s rationalization, but complains that it could have provided this verification independently and without aligning with a &ldquo;radical anti-GMO activist organization that tries to stoke public fear about GMOs.&rdquo;</p> <p> She argues that consumers should be aware of some key facts &ldquo;that they won&#39;t find in Non GMO Project&#39;s materials,&rdquo; and which she provides. Thousands of studies have confirmed the safety of GMOs and the world&#39;s leading health organizations &mdash; the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Union, and the World Health Organization, to name only a few &mdash; have all declared that GMOs are safe for human and animal consumption.</p> <p> If GMOs were really a significant threat to human health, we&#39;d have seen evidence by now, she thinks. &ldquo;Yet people and farm animals have been consuming GMOs since 1996 with no adverse impacts on their health; in fact, life expectancy has risen during that same time period,&rdquo; Gunlock says.</p> <p> The vast majority of food produced and consumed in the U.S. contains GMOs, she notes. For instance, 92% of corn, 94% of soybeans, 90% of canola and 95% of sugar beets are grown using GMO seed and GMOs are present in roughly 80% of processed foods.</p> <p> Removing GMOs from store shelves won&#39;t do anything to improve public health, she argues, but it would have a negative effect on the average American&#39;s food budget. According to a 2010 Iowa State University study, removing GMOs from the marketplace would boost costs of key ingredients and cut average global yields for many crops. Removing GMOs from processed foods would also costs jobs as some food products would simply cease to exist and food companies would shrink, reducing staff and offering fewer products to the American consumer.</p> <p> GMOs have also improved the lives of farmers in developing nations, Gunlock says. For instance, in India, with the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, one group of female farmworkers saw their incomes rise sharply. Because farmers were able to plant more crops, employment rates across the board increased, she says.</p> <p> GMOs have also helped reduce agrochemical use and, because of increased yields, have allowed for the preservation of land for uses other than farming.</p> <p> Yet, despite all of this positive news, misinformation and fearmongering about GMOs persists. Activist groups like the Non GMO Project deserve much of the blame, she thinks.</p> <p> And, there&rsquo;s more; one reason GMOs continue to be vilified and is simply the unwillingness on the part of food companies, like Cargill, to help educate consumers about the GMO process. Food companies&#39; willingness to place the Non GMO Project&#39;s verified label on their products is an important example of this complacency, she argues.</p> <p> Cargill&#39;s main error was to focus solely on pleasing one customer, the subset of shoppers looking for non-GMO food products, while forgetting an important business partner &mdash; the farmers that choose to sell Cargill their GMO corn. These farmers understandably bristle at the idea of working with a company that sidles up to an organization demonizing their farms, she says.</p> <p> Cargill&#39;s claim that it cares about its customers and wants to respond to their demands is noble, she says, but thinks Cargill also has a duty to their partners &mdash; in this case, the American farmer &mdash; to expose radical activist groups that actively work to misinform and frighten consumers about safe agriculture and food manufacturing processes.</p> <p> One of Cargill&#39;s mottos is &quot;helping farmers prosper.&quot; Cargill should remember this motto in their efforts to build coalitions, she argues. Partnering with an activist organization that seeks to destroy the biotech industry, harm farmers and limit consumer choices will do nothing to advance this worthwhile goal.</p> <p> Well, it will be interesting to see how Cargill responds in the future to farm group complaints about its link with the non-GMO group. Certainly the foodie-driven war on GMOs will continue, and perhaps assume an even higher profile as USDA works to satisfy Congressional requirements for labels on foods containing GMOs.</p> <p> So far, there seems to be little indication of a decline in efforts to stigmatize GMOs, but the new administration can be expected to be at least a little less sympathetic to anti-GMO efforts. Thus, the ongoing food label fight will be important for to producers to watch closely as USDA produces its recommendations and plans for implementation in the coming months, Washington Insider believes.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2803664/Julie GunlockWed, 17 May 2017 19:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumActress Making Sense: Sexes are Different!<p> It&#39;s nice to see prominent females deviate a little from the feminist-approved script. As <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2803645/Miss-USA-Slammed-for-Saying-Healthcare-is-a-Privilege-Rather-than-a-Right">Patrice wrote this morning</a>, the newly crowned Miss USA is coming under fire for what&#39;s considered her &quot;controversial&quot; comments on healthcare and feminism. And now, this morning, I read that a Hollywood star has gone off script. What&#39;s next? Hillary starts to make sense?</p> <p> According to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4505518/St-Trinian-s-star-Talulah-Riley-slams-feminist-Emma-Watson.html">Sabastian Shakespeare&#39;s must-read column in the Daily Mail</a>, actress and ex-wife of tech billionaire Elon Musk Talulah Riley slammed wishy washy feminist Emma Watson for her &quot;confusing&quot; campaign on gender equality.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> Talulah supports equal rights for women, but can&rsquo;t stand the way Watson&rsquo;s HeForShe crusade appears to seek to eliminate differences between the sexes.</p> <p> &lsquo;Men and women should have equal rights, of course, but [they] are also different and there&rsquo;s nothing wrong with that,&rsquo; Talulah tells me. &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t have to start unifying gender in order to establish political equality.&rsquo;</p> <p> ...</p> <p> Riley, who has twice divorced U.S. tech billionaire Elon Musk, says of Watson&rsquo;s drive: &lsquo;The HeForShe campaign creates a lot of confusion when it comes to gender equality, because people are getting stuck in a semantic argument, rather than addressing the actual issue. People are associating gender equality with being exactly the same and, of course, that&rsquo;s not what it means.</p> <p> &lsquo;You lose the real issue when you have that confusion.&rsquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> One never likes to assign too much power to celebrities and I&#39;ve made a career of telling people to ingore celebrity advice. Yet, these sorts of moments are good to see. They show a shift in the narrative and a brave willingness on the part of these two women to stand up for their own beliefs--rather unpopular beliefs at moment that go against the popular culture.</p> <p> Let&#39;s hope women are inspired by these moments and start to question the script.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2803651/Julie GunlockMon, 15 May 2017 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShifting Taxes From One Industry To Another Helps No One<p> I&rsquo;m always going to cheer proposals to eliminate sales taxes, even when the proposal is part of some sort of silly social justice cause.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s how California Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Christina Garcia are selling their latest attempt to eliminate taxes on tampons and diapers, saying the state shouldn&rsquo;t tax necessities for women and children.</p> <p> &ldquo;There is no happy hour for menstruation,&rdquo; Garcia told the<a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-tampon-tax-dies-20170508-story.html"> LA Times</a>.</p> <p> Groan.</p> <p> Setting aside the annoying &ldquo;taxing tampons is tyranny&rdquo; talk, at first I was happy to hear about this tax cut. But then came the poison pill. It turns out that instead of just eliminating sales taxes on tampons and diapers, Fletcher and Garcia&rsquo;s proposal (which failed) increased taxes on hard liquor in order to make up the gap in tax revenues.</p> <p> To some, this may seem like a fair trade. You remove the tax from necessities and add them to luxuries&mdash;like hard liquor. Yet, as David Ozgo of the Distilled Spirits Council&mdash;a DC-based trade association that represents spirits manufacturers&mdash;reminded Assembly members at a hearing on the proposal last week, shifting taxes from one industry to another often carries negative unintended consequences, like job loss. In fact, according to some estimates, this two-cent per drink tax increase will cost the liquor industry $170 million in retail sales, resulting in 2,400 job losses.</p> <p> And some of those job losses will happen to women&mdash;ya know, the very types of people Fletcher and Garcia are trying to help with their misguided tax relief bill.</p> <p> Ozgo, referring to the baby of one of the hearing witnesses who testified about the cost of diapers, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-tampon-tax-dies-20170508-story.html">made this important observation</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> Mr. Chairman, I would like to go on record saying, I too like babies&hellip;This is a particularly cute one. Unfortunately, there is nothing very cute about an unemployed cocktail waitress.</p> </blockquote> <p> Let&rsquo;s hope Fletcher and Gonzalez remember that cocktail waitress the next time they try to help women.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2803636/Julie GunlockFri, 12 May 2017 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSchool overreach: student suspended for 'liking' photo of airsoft gun • Cam & Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2803616/Julie GunlockTue, 9 May 2017 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDiet Soda Doesn't Kill! • Bill Cunningham Showhttp://iwf.org/media/2803611/Julie GunlockSun, 7 May 2017 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Unholy Alliance Between Big Biz And Big Alarmism<p> Cargill, one of America&#39;s biggest food and agriculture companies, recently announced its partnership with the Non GMO Project, an organization focused on misinforming consumers about GMO safety, and, as the organization&#39;s name implies, ridding the American marketplace of GMOs.</p> <p> The Non GMO Project also runs a verification program where they charge companies to test food products for the presence of GMOs and then awards those companies a non-GMO verification label that can be placed on food packaging.</p> <p> Cargill claims this move comes in response to their customers demanding GMO-free products. If this is true, Cargill is smart to provide products and services that please their customers. Yet, Cargill could have provided this verification independently and without aligning with a radical anti-GMO activist organization that tries to stoke public fear about GMOs.</p> <p> Consumers should be aware of some key facts that they won&#39;t find in Non GMO Project&#39;s materials. Thousands of studies have confirmed the safety of GMOs and the world&#39;s leading health organizations &mdash; the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Union, and the World Health Organization, to name only a few &mdash; have all declared that GMOs are safe for human and animal consumption.</p> <p> If GMOs were really a significant threat to human health, we&#39;d have see evidence by now. Yet people and farm animals have been consuming GMOs since 1996 with no adverse affects on their health; in fact, life expectancy has risen during that same time period.</p> <p> The vast majority of food produced and consumed in the U.S. contains GMOs. For instance, 92% of corn, 94% of soybeans, 90% of canola and 95% of sugar beets are grown using GMO seed and GMOs are present in roughly 80% of processed foods.</p> <p> Removing GMOs from store shelves won&#39;t do anything to improve public health, but it would have a big affect on the average American&#39;s food budget. According to a <a href="http://www.card.iastate.edu/products/publications/synopsis/?p=1121">2010 Iowa State University study</a>, removing GMOs from the marketplace would cause a spike in prices on corn, soybeans, and canola &mdash; three primary ingredients in processed foods &mdash; by an average 5.8%, 9.6%, and 3.8%, respectively.</p> <p> The average global yields for these crops would also decline, which would cause production to fall by 14 million tons. Removing GMOs from processed foods would also costs jobs as many food products would simply cease to exist and food companies would shrink, reducing staff and offering fewer products to the American consumer.</p> <p> GMOs have also improved the lives of farmers in developing nations. For instance, in India, with the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, female farmworkers saw their <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/gm_crop_produces/">incomes rise by an average 55%</a> from 2002-2008. Because farmers were able to plant more crops, <a href="http://wrap-test.warwick.ac.uk/2489/1/WRAP_Subramanian_0380313-hr-211209-jds_final.pdf">employment rates across the board increased</a>.</p> <p> GMOs have also helped reduce agrochemical use and, because of increased yields, have allowed for the preservation of land for uses other than farming.</p> <p> Yet, despite all of this positive news, misinformation and fearmongering about GMOs persists. Activist groups like the Non GMO Project deserve most of the blame.</p> <p> Yet there&#39;s another reason GMOs continue to be vilified: The unwillingness on the part of food companies, like Cargill, to help educate consumers about the GMO process. Food companies&#39; willingness to place the Non GMO Project&#39;s verified label on their products is just one example of this complacency.</p> <p> Cargill&#39;s main error was that they focused solely on pleasing one customer &mdash; the subset of shoppers looking for non-GMO food products &mdash; while forgetting an important business partner &mdash; the farmers that choose to sell Cargill their GMO corn. These farmers understandably bristle at the idea of working with a company that sidles up to an organization demonizing their farms.</p> <p> Cargill&#39;s claim that it cares about its customers and wants to respond to their demands is noble. Yet, Cargill also has a duty to their partners &mdash; in this case, the American farmer &mdash; to expose radical activist groups that actively work to misinform and frighten consumers about safe agriculture and food manufacturing processes.</p> <p> One of Cargill&#39;s mottos is &quot;helping farmers prosper.&quot; Cargill should remember this motto in their efforts to build coalitions. Partnering with an activist organization that seeks to destroy the biotech industry, harm farmers and limit consumer choices will do nothing to advance this righteous goal.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803556/Julie GunlockTue, 2 May 2017 20:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Believe Celebrity Science • Cam & Cohttp://iwf.org/media/2803550/Julie GunlockTue, 2 May 2017 14:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Gwyneth Paltrow and Other Celebrities Shouldn’t Be Your Source for Science<p> This past weekend, many people held &ldquo;march for science&rdquo; demonstrations and gatherings across the country to protest&hellip;well, something, though it was hard to know exactly what. Predictably, entertainers like Rosario Dawson, Peter Capaldi, Kate Walsh, Kerry Washington, Debra Messing, supermodel (and destroyer of Pepsi) Kendall Jenner, designer Kenneth Cole, and television personality Bill Nye, The Science Guy were all supportive of the March and the vague positions promoted by the March organizers.</p> <p> These elites are all entitled to their opinions and entitled to promote them on social media, but people shouldn&rsquo;t mistake celebrity endorsement as a sign of legitimacy, nor should March organizers forget that celebrities make bad spokesmen for science.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s not that most entertainers are developmentally delayed, it&rsquo;s that sycophants and paid-for-friends (hair dressers, stylists, publicists, spouses) have for so long surrounded them that many are incapable of any sort of self-doubt or self-examination. Lacking much intellectual humility or curiosity, they don&rsquo;t exactly exude one of the tenets of the scientific process: the need to constantly question, and reevaluate evidence, as well as staying open to criticism by other scientists or new discoveries that would lead to a new conclusion.</p> <p> Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example of how entertainers usually misunderstand complex scientific issues yet have no problem presenting themselves as knowledgeable experts on these serious topics.</p> <p> For instance, in the weeks leading up to the March for Science, Paltrow tweeted a harrowing message to her 2.8 million followers, warning them that they&rsquo;re being poisoned by their cosmetics because items like lipstick contain lead. Yet, if Paltrow had talked to an actual toxicologist (or <a href="http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/lipstick.asp">even checked Snopes</a>, which dismissed this hysterical nonsense in 2015), she would have learned that the level of lead (which is used as a color additive) in lipstick is so miniscule that it has no epidemiological effect on the human body. The <a href="https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm194557.htm">FDA confirmed this on the agency&rsquo;s own website</a>, explaining that, after conducting safety tests on lipstick, they found that the lead levels were so low that the agency &ldquo;does not believe that any of the products tested pose a safety concern.&rdquo;</p> <p> Of course, it&rsquo;s understandable that people are nervous. Cosmetics do contain things that seem scary&mdash;like chemical preservatives with long, multi-syllabic names. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so easy to scare people about products one applies directly to the body. But what&rsquo;s not talked about is just what these preservatives do&mdash;protect consumers from opportunistic bacteria that can cause real health problems, like breakouts, skin and eye infections, bumps and itchiness (For even more evidence that preservatives make cosmetics safer, check out this <a href="https://youtu.be/UPjoOQDyQMo">side-by-side view of cosmetics</a> with and without preservatives and tell me which one you want to smear on your face).</p> <p> Paltrow and her Twitter followers might also be reassured to know that the cosmetic industry is already heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. In other words, there&rsquo;s a regulatory structure already in place to ensure the safety of the products that end up in your makeup bag.</p> <p> Sadly, Paltrow is a known peddler of fake news from dubious sources. For that lipstick tweet, Paltrow provided a link to a report by the Environmental Working Group&mdash;a widely dismissed (by actual scientists) and very radical environmental group that pushes junk science in order to scare consumers into demanding tougher regulations on an already overregulated cosmetic industry (tip to the ladies: more regulations will lead to higher costs on your favorite blush and eye shadow).</p> <p> Paltrow might also examine the health, beauty, and nutrition advice she promotes on her own lifestyle blog GOOP, which is far from scientifically sound. For instance, Paltrow <a href="http://goop.com/you-probably-have-a-parasite-heres-what-to-do-about-it/">provides guidance</a> from a &ldquo;naturopathic physician and homeopath&rdquo; (otherwise known as &ldquo;not really a doctor&rdquo;) about how to rid oneself of the quite serious problem of parasitic infestation after vacationing in a tropical location: sit in a tub of goat&rsquo;s milk to rid oneself of the parasite. Oddly, the Centers for Disease Control has other <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/health_professionals.html">recommendations</a>, like seeking actual medical help.</p> <p> Paltrow also says bee stings are an <a href="http://www.vogue.com/article/gwyneth-paltrow-apitherapy-bee-stings-treatment">effective treatment</a> for skin irritations and to reduce the appearance of scars. She&rsquo;s told women that <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gwyneth-paltrow-defends-vagina-steaming-advice-a7145026.html">vaginal steaming</a> promotes hormonal health when it&rsquo;s really just a good way to injure a pretty tender and important part of your body. Paltrow recommends invasive and totally unnecessary <a href="http://gawker.com/5873449/gwyneth-paltrow-now-sells-goop-colon-cleanses">colon cleanses</a> to rid one&rsquo;s body of toxins (that&rsquo;s what your liver does), <a href="http://nypost.com/2013/04/15/you-can-be-a-gwyn-orexic/">starvation diets and food restriction</a>, and that people should forgo <a href="http://goop.com/the-safest-non-toxic-sunscreens/">&ldquo;toxic&rdquo; sunscreen</a> during sunny summer months. Her nonsensical guidance would be comic gold if they weren&rsquo;t so scientifically unsound and potentially harmful.</p> <p> Americans need to remember that ill-informed, pretty people make good entertainers yet they make poor sources for information on science and other policy matters. Marchers for science, politicians, and the media reporting on health and wellness issues would do well to remember the distinction.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803513/Julie GunlockThu, 27 Apr 2017 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Freak Out Over Diet Soda • Cam & Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2803502/Julie GunlockTue, 25 Apr 2017 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEat Your (Frozen!) Vegetables<p> If you listen to the health bloggers, mom bloggers, fitness bloggers, the ubiquitous Gwyneth Paltrow-wannabe bloggers, you&#39;d think the only way to get healthy is to 1) shop exclusively at Whole Foods, 2) only buy organic produce, and 3) buy only fresh fruits and vegetables, never frozen or (gasp!) canned.</p> <p> But, that&#39;s silly. First, shop where it make sense for your budget. For me, that&#39;s a combination of my local chain grocery store, the Asian market for hard-to-find produce, and occasionally a high-end grocery store for certain items I can&#39;t live without.</p> <p> Each week, frozen foods make it into my cart. I can&rsquo;t live without frozen peas, cauliflower (frozen cauliflower makes the best mash), beans, spinach and chopped broccoli (great as a filler in soups). Frozen food is cheap and easy to store and convenient as I can take from the bag what I need and return the contents to the freezer for later use. &nbsp;</p> <p> And now, there&#39;s more evidence that frozen food is actually better than fresh food (although, both remember that both fresh and frozen are great so don&rsquo;t worry if you&rsquo;re eating fresh over frozen, but if you&#39;re lookign to save money, you dont&#39; have to feel guilty). According to this article on Foxnews.com, frozen is actually slightly higher in nutrients.</p> <blockquote> <p> A team of scientists from the University of Georgia compared fresh with frozen, as well as a third category dubbed &quot;fresh-stored.&quot; This mimicked the typical length of time people tend to store fresh produce after buying it and was found to be around five days.</p> <p> The researchers focused on these family favorites:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; broccoli</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; cauliflower</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; corn</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; green beans</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; green peas</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; spinach</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; blueberries</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; strawberries</p> <p> To judge how fresh each product was, the scientists measured levels of key nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. In many cases, there was little difference between the fresh, fresh-stored and frozen varieties. But, where the researchers noted vast differences, <strong>they found the frozen produce outshone the fresh counterparts</strong>. They said: &ldquo;The findings of this study do not support the common belief that fresh food has significantly greater nutritional value than its frozen counterpart.</p> </blockquote> <p> Read more <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/04/21/are-frozen-veggies-healthy-study-suggests-surprising-finding.html">here</a>.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2803474/Julie GunlockMon, 24 Apr 2017 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum