January 20, 2022

Green Column: Attitudes on Crops Are Modifying

But recently, a few fissures have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic.

In pockets of the United States, momentum is building behind the concept of labeling genetically modified foods (crops whose genetic makeup is altered to increase yields and to more effectively resist problems like pests and drought). Such labels are already required in the European Union and Australia.

In Europe, concern about genetically modified foods remains entrenched, but the British government has recently signaled a new openness. In a forceful speech last month, Owen Paterson, the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, said that the government was prepared to “roll out the red carpet” for research and development of new agricultural technologies, including genetically modified crops, so that Britain could contribute to bolstering of global food supplies.

“When it comes to developing and benefiting from G.M. technology, I want the U.K. to be at the forefront of the global race, not watching from the sidelines,” said Mr. Paterson, whose speech indeed incited a vigorous debate in Britain. (Another member of Parliament told The Independent newspaper that Mr. Paterson had “swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view.”)

Whether these developments will be followed by a narrowing of trans- Atlantic policy differences relating to genetically modified products remains to be seen. This week, U.S. and E.U. officials have been meeting in Washington to begin work on a far-reaching trade agreement. Genetically modified crops are one of the most complicated issues under discussion, according to William A. Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a U.S. group that advocates for lower trade barriers.

“Because it will be such a deeply felt issue on both sides, it will probably be one of the last things to be resolved,” Mr. Reinsch said.

More substantive discussion of issues involving genetically modified foods will probably be deferred until the next round of trade talks, in the autumn, he said.

American farmers, a politically powerful group, want more access to European markets for genetically modified crops. But Europe, where genetic modification is common in animal feeds but not in supermarket foods, is certain to resist. The E.U. has approved only one genetically modified crop for cultivation over the past 14 years, according to Mr. Paterson, the British official.

The E.U.’s strict labeling requirements, enacted in 1997, are among the frustrations for American farmers, who say labels discourage consumers from buying a product that is safe and has been in the U.S. food system for decades. Partly for that reason, according to Richard Wilkins, the treasurer of the American Soybean Association, soybean exports from the United States to E.U. member states fell by 82 percent between 1998 and 2012.

“The G.M.O. labeling requirements in the E.U. are egregious,” Mr. Wilkins said — a statement that would elicit sharp disagreements from opponents of genetically modified organisms, who are concerned about matters like allergens, potential cross-contamination of other species and overuse of pesticides and weed-killing herbicides.

Yet even as the labeling debate resurfaces in the trade talks, the practice is starting to take root within the United States.

Whole Foods, a national supermarket chain based in Austin, plans to begin requiring labels for foodstuffs containing genetically modified organisms by 2018. Connecticut recently became the first state to approve a provisional labeling law, though it will take effect only if four other states do the same. The Legislature in Maine passed a similar bill (it awaits the governor’s signature), and a number of other states, including Massachusetts and Illinois, are also considering labeling requirements.

“Activists have been working on this labeling issue for a long time because they see it as a way to influence industry behavior,” said Rachel A. Schurman, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota. “And they haven’t had a lot of success in the United States otherwise.”

The labeling initiatives, Ms. Schurman said, have grown out of a rising general interest in food and dietary issues in the United States, thanks to a number of movies on the topic, as well as popular writers like Michael Pollan, who focuses on responsible eating.

“Now food is really on the agenda in the U.S. in the way it wasn’t before, so I think there’s a lot more momentum around labeling,” Ms. Schurman said.

The labeling initiatives will increase Americans’ awareness of genetically modified foods, said Brian Wynne, a professor of sociology at Lancaster University in Britain.

“It is going to be interesting to see where this leads,” Mr. Wynne wrote in an e-mail. “I think that U.S. attitudes are typically less cleanly positive than they are assumed to be from surveys, and the same goes for E.U. ones, in the other direction.”

Still, others said Europe’s longstanding hostility to genetically modified foods would prove tough to overcome.

“Europe is extremely cautious — even irrationally cautious,” said Louise Fresco, a professor at the University of Amsterdam and a former assistant director general for agriculture at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

It will be interesting to see, she said, whether the new moves by officials in Britain will result in “breaking through the deadlock, perhaps, in Europe.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/business/energy-environment/11iht-green11.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

An Emerging Hispanic Voice Defends Her ‘Maids’

Instead, the spotlight fell on one of the executive producers, Eva Longoria, better known for her own role as the wealthy Gabrielle Solis on “Desperate Housewives.” She worked the room like a politician, making grand introductions punctuated by a bright smile and a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and holding barely audible conversations.

Her biggest priority was to check in on each of “the girls” — as she called the five actresses — to see how they had fared on the red carpet. Nine years ago Ms. Longoria was a young, relatively unknown actress in the cast of “Desperate Housewives.” But then she changed the script, positioning herself as a Hollywood power player on Latino issues and a highly regarded political advocate.

Now she finds herself in a position of having to defend her latest project against critics who say the show relies too much on the cliché of the Hispanic maid.

“When people talk about stereotypical maids, these maids are anything but,” Ms. Longoria, 38, said over a long lunch at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood two days before the premiere party. She said future plot points would reveal more developed people.

She was eager to counter the negative reactions to the show. “I think it’s important for us to have a dialogue of identity in our culture, and even though this show may not be your experience, it is a lot of people’s experience,” she said. Latinos, she added, “over-index in domestic workers: that is a fact, that’s not an opinion.”

The ratings for the premiere of “Devious Maids,” at 10 on Sunday night, were modest. Going up against the season finale of AMC’s “Mad Men,” the show attracted 2 million viewers, slightly below the Lifetime show that preceded it at 9, “Drop Dead Diva” (2.2 million).

Ms. Longoria’s rise as a media force has been paralleled by her political ascent. She stumped for President Obama in 2012, helping round up critical Hispanic voters, and she was a founder of the Futuro Fund, which raised $32 million for the campaign. She recently spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago; left a few days later for Colombia to film a documentary for the Half the Sky Movement, an international women’s advocacy group; and signed on to a fund-raising drive for the political group Battleground Texas, whose goal is to raise money to “put Democrats back on the map” in the state, in the words of her message on the group’s home page.

And in May she completed a master’s degree in Chicano studies from California State University, Northridge.

“I’m a little in awe in terms of how she’s transformed herself,” said Marc Cherry, an executive producer of both “Devious Maids” and “Desperate Housewives,” who cast Ms. Longoria in 2004. “She was just an actress that had done a couple of prime-time shows and had done some daytime.”

Before its debut, the criticism of “Devious Maids” included an open letter in The Huffington Post from Michelle Herrera Mulligan, the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan for Latinas, who called the show a “wasted opportunity.” (Ms. Longoria had been on the magazine’s spring cover months before Ms. Mulligan’s letter was published online.)

Alisa Lynn Valdes, a former journalist and author of the novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” wrote a critical online opinion piece on NBCLatino.com about the show. “It is not wrong to be a maid, or even a Latina maid,” she wrote, “but there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be.”

Most maids, however, don’t sleep with their bosses. The show’s first episode begins with a whopping, albeit campy, dose of classism, with an employer threatening to deport her maid for having sex with the employer’s husband.

“They are five strong, female, Latina characters, so it’s like the three hurdles we had to overcome to get this on the air in Hollywood,” said Ms. Longoria, who added that the show also has two Latina writers out of five. “You’re never the lead, then if you are the lead, you are usually a lead that services the main character, which is a white male actor.”

Ms. Longoria grew up far from Beverly Hills, in Corpus Christi, Tex., a daughter of Mexican-American parents. Her mother was a special-education teacher, and her father was a tool engineer in the Army. “I took out loans to pay for school,” Ms. Longoria told the Democratic National Convention in 2012 during a speech that made much of her working-class roots. “Then I changed oil in a mechanic shop, flipped burgers at Wendy’s, taught aerobics and worked on campus to pay them back.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/business/media/an-emerging-hispanic-voice-defends-her-maids.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Scene Stealers : The Hollywood Reporter Dusts Off Its Party Clothes

But Ms. Min, above, sparkling in a yellow jeweled shift dress by Miu Miu, had also just pulled off a coup. A swarm of A-list stars, that most finicky of Tinseltown species, had descended to walk the red carpet — her red carpet.

Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Sally Field and a bevy of other Oscar nominees had all shown up for the party, the latest in a string of Reporter-hosted events here.

“I think this turnout says it all,” Ms. Min said, flashing a smile in the direction of Jim Gianopulos, the big boss at 20th Century Fox, and Donna Langley, co-chairman of Universal Pictures. “The whole town is here.”

But where was Snoop Dogg, who had been hired to be the D.J.? “Going on any minute,” Ms. Min said brightly.

As recently as 2010, The Reporter would have had a hard time persuading its own etiolated staff to gather for a party, much less marquee stars. The trade newspaper, founded in 1930, was bleeding from layoffs, vanishing advertisers and ferociously competitive entertainment industry blogs. It had become what moviedom dreads most: a has-been.

Then Ms. Min, 43, arrived from New York, where she successfully ran Us Weekly, and set about transforming The Reporter from a dull daily trade publication into a glossy large-format magazine. With money from new private-equity owners, the Reporter went on a hiring spree and started to break news again. Ad sales rose by more than 50 percent, while Web traffic increased by more than 800 percent.

Some people here now refer to the revamped Reporter, with its social-scene pages and power-lunch tidbits mixed with exposés and frothy celebrity features, as the “new” Vanity Fair. That’s certainly a stretch when it comes to making money. But certain similarities between the two magazines are starting to be striking and not just because they tread similar editorial and advertising turf.

Ms. Min and The Reporter’s fiery publisher, Lynne Segall, also seem to be taking a page out of Vanity Fair’s party playbook. Hosting Hollywood parties, particularly around the Oscars, has long been a way for Vanity Fair to woo advertisers and polish its brand while simultaneously creating content for its pages. Its annual Oscar party will be held at the Sunset Tower next Sunday after the Academy Awards.

The Reporter has been aggressively raising its profile with a similar strategy. On Saturday, for instance, it will replace Variety as the longtime media sponsor of the Night Before Party, a fund-raiser that can draw more powerful Hollywood figures than the Oscar ceremony itself.

“There is also a whole social side to the entertainment industry that is not well reported on, or it at least it wasn’t until we started,” Ms. Min, sitting at her orchid-laden desk, said last week. She added that parties also help her newly hired editors, 10 of whom have relocated from New York, to cultivate entertainment industry sources. “The best publications create an atmosphere you want to inhabit,” she said.

Before Ms. Min arrived, The Hollywood Reporter held two events a year: one tied to its “next generation” issue — studio executives, writers, directors and agents on the rise — and a dull breakfast marking the publication of its list of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment. It also sponsored the Key Art Awards, given for achievement in movie marketing.

Last year, The Reporter sponsored or staged 13 events.

Various parties in Los Angeles have been tailored to stylists, managers and lawyers. Ms. Min teamed with Google on an event in Washington the night before the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The Reporter also was the host of an event in New York, attracting people like Katie Couric and Barbara Walters.

“We want to be looked at as The Hollywood Reporter setting the agenda for entertainment,” Ms. Segall said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/fashion/the-hollywood-reporter-dusts-off-its-party-clothes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Leverage Limited in Greek Debt Talks at G-20

But while the president hustled from meeting to meeting with world leaders, he was in many ways thrust into the rare position of bystander, as the unfolding drama over whether the Greek government would fall (it did not) and whether Greece would back the comprehensive accord to protect the euro reached last week (it will, at least for now) dominated conversations in the hallways and conference rooms here in this iconic seaside town.

The grand Espace Riviera is more accustomed to red-carpet arrivals by movie stars and hangers-on for the Cannes Film Festival; on Thursday it was transformed instead into ground zero for blue-suited bureaucrats grappling with a financial crisis and the global contagion that it threatened.

Instead of Angelina Jolie posing before the paparazzi, it was Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany holding a frozen smile as she greeted Mr. Obama in front of the cameras. There was little preening before the hundreds of reporters gathered from all over the world; President Nicolas Sarkozy of France quickly swept Mr. Obama into a meeting to discuss how to try to stop the unfolding Greek drama from turning into a tragedy, for global markets at least.

Mr. Obama arrived early Thursday morning and, during an initial meeting with Mr. Sarkozy, he called the European financial crisis the most important task for world leaders gathered at the Group of 20 economic summit meeting.

For Mr. Obama, the stakes are high. He has called the European financial crisis the largest headwind facing the American economic recovery, and he knows that his own re-election prospects are tied to how well the American economy does. But at the same time, his leverage is limited.

In public, Mr. Obama largely stuck to his administration’s official message that Europe’s leaders must “flesh out details” about the plan they agreed to last week in Brussels to deal with the debt crisis in the 17 European Union countries that use the euro. But American officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, were huddled in private with their European counterparts trying to hash out an agreement that, at the very least, would stop the disintegration under way in Greece from spreading to Italy and Spain, a contagion that could further stymie America’s own anemic economic recovery.

American officials exhorted their European counterparts to use Europe’s own resources to try to solve the crisis, instead of seeking bailout help from China. Obama administration officials point to the steps that the United States took to try to address its own financial crisis over the past three years.

“Look, we went through this ourselves,” an Obama administration official said on Thursday, speaking on grounds of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “They have the capacity to handle this within Europe.”

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said that the 2008 Wall Street crisis could provide insight on steps Europe should take. He maintained that the United States remains influential in advising its allies on how to deal with the problem, even if the United States is in no position to provide financial support.

“The United States, obviously, has a great deal of influence, because of who we are and the role we play in the global economy, and globally in general,” Mr. Carney said in a news briefing on Wednesday. “I would not discount the significance of the experience that we have in terms of its usefulness to the Europeans.”

The Obama administration is not eager to see an increase in the resources sent by the International Monetary Fund to Europe; that might further mute American influence as the additional resources would likely not come from the United States, but rather from Asia — and most likely China.

“The I.M.F. has a substantial amount of resources to deal with a range of challenges in Europe and around the world,” said Benjamin Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the turmoil in Greece and uncertainty over how exactly Europe plans to carry out its accord to cut Greece’s debt and shore up its finances “underscores the need to move rapidly toward the full elaboration and implementation of the plan.”

Specifically, Mr. Froman said that the United States wants to make sure that Europe has “a firewall that is sufficiently robust and effective ensuring the crisis does not spread from one country to another.”

Mr. Froman said the United States was also trying to make sure that attention was also paid to stimulating economic growth, both in Greece and throughout the euro zone. Part of the anger among Greek citizens has stemmed from a belief that the euro agreement focuses more on Greek austerity and repaying the banks than on growth, a balance that many people fear could lead to higher unemployment rates as the Greek government cuts public sector jobs to pay its creditors and stabilize its finances.

“I think right now the highest priority in Greece is stabilizing the situation,” Mr. Froman said. “But the program that Greece has is also about reforming its system and engaging in structural reforms, so that it could become more competitive and therefore grow as part of the euro area.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/world/europe/obama-urges-european-solution-to-debt-crisis.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: A Network and a Retailer Seek Synergy

They both have a lot of product to promote in the fall: new shows on the network, new skirts and shoes in the stores.

So the two are working together this month and next, encouraging both tune-in and walk-ins. In a marketing partnership that will be formally announced on Wednesday, Bloomingdale’s catalogs will feature actors from new NBC shows; shoppers will be invited to try out a virtual reality app that inserts them onto the red carpet of an NBC premiere; and the network’s “Primetime Preview Show” will be set partly in a Bloomingdale’s store.

“This is about the qualities of the two brands coming together,” said Tim Farish, the senior vice president of marketing for NBC Entertainment.

Frank Berman, the senior vice president for marketing at Bloomingdale’s, which has long thought about retailing as theater, said the overarching message was that shoppers and viewers could “look the part and be the part.”

“It’s not to experience NBC as advertising; it’s to be a part of their fall lineup,” Mr. Berman said.

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Every fall, NBC and the other networks seek novel ways to stand out from the crowd of new shows. Perhaps complicating future fall marketing plans for NBC, last week the network’s entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, installed Len Fogge as the new president for marketing, replacing Adam Stotsky, who had been in charge for three years and had overseen the Bloomingdale’s deal. Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Fogge previously worked together at Showtime.

In September, NBC is introducing two dramas, “The Playboy Club” and “Prime Suspect,” and three sitcoms, “Free Agents,” “Up All Night” and “Whitney.” It plans a premiere of a third drama, “Grimm,” in October. Each of the September premieres will be highlighted by the Bloomingdale’s partnership, particularly “The Playboy Club” and “Whitney.”

The retailer’s annual Best of Men’s catalog has Eddie Cibrian, one of the stars of “The Playboy Club,” on the cover, and Amber Heard, one of the club’s bunnies, as a centerfold. A section of the catalog is set at an actual Playboy Club in Las Vegas.

The Hot Book catalog, for women, has a section set at Rockefeller Center in New York City that imagines a day in the life of a network executive — “a very glamorized version,” Mr. Farish joked. That catalog — as well as the separate Home catalog — has photos of Maria Bello of “Prime Suspect,” Hank Azaria of “Free Agents,” Christina Applegate of “Up All Night” and Whitney Cummings of “Whitney,” but the actors are not acting as models, he said.

The network will also have a presence in Bloomingdale’s store windows in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. During the annual Fashion’s Night Out event in New York on Sept. 8, the NBC-themed windows will be interactive, Mr. Berman said.

In separate interviews, Mr. Farish and Mr. Berman sounded most enthusiastic about a virtual reality experience that will be offered at Bloomingdale’s 39 stores from Sept. 8 to Sept. 25. Using an iPhone app called Goldrun, shoppers who stand in a certain spot in the store can snap photos of themselves and appear, through augmented reality, to be standing on a red carpet with stars like Ms. Applegate or Mr. Azaria. Mr. Berman called it a “virtual reality photography session” and said employees would be on hand at the stores to help passers-by.

The companies hope that shoppers will share their photos on social networking sites; to encourage such behavior, the shoppers will be eligible to win a walk-on role on “The Playboy Club,” an NBC set visit, and $100 gift cards to Bloomingdale’s. Online, people can enter the sweepstakes by watching videos that NBC will produce about the fashion of the characters on the new fall shows. “It all links back to our Web sites as well as our Facebook pages and Twitter pages,” Mr. Berman said.

Bloomingdale’s is also a co-star in the “NBC Primetime Preview Show” that is broadcast by NBC’s local stations, cable channels and Web sites before the fall premieres. Hosted by Ms. Cummings — whose mother was once a publicist for Bloomingdale’s — the end of the half-hour show involves a shopping spree at the Los Angeles store. At one point Ms. Cummings buys makeup for the men on “Grimm.”

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Mr. Farish said that NBC had specifically sought out a fashion retailer for a fall season partnership. Bloomingdale’s was a great fit, he said, because the company attracts an upscale consumer and “has a sheen of quality.”

Mr. Berman declined to comment on the financial terms of the partnership, but said Bloomingdale’s was not selling NBC ad pages in its catalogs. Both companies were “investing in this partnership equally,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e5c646b30888ff57f4af76aa9d01005f

Obstacles Seen in Poor Areas for New Farmers’ Markets

For years, the Bloomberg administration has labored to improve the eating habits of New Yorkers, banning trans fats from restaurants, urging food purveyors to use less salt and creating special zoning to encourage fresh-food supermarkets to open in produce-poor neighborhoods.

But the city still puts roadblocks in the way of community groups seeking to open farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods, says a report to be released on Tuesday by the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer. Those efforts face excessive fees, confusing rules and a lack of coordination among agencies, the report says.

“Instead of all the red tape, we should roll out the red carpet, because every time one of these farmers’ markets succeeds, you end up serving a community that has no access to this produce,” said Mr. Stringer, considered a likely mayoral candidate in 2013. “I think sometimes the job of the city government is to get out of the way and let things happen organically, no pun intended.”

The city has its own Greenmarket program run by GrowNYC, a nonprofit group that works out of the mayor’s office and operates seasonal and year-round markets throughout the city, partly through a contract with the parks department. While those markets have cropped up in poorer areas in recent years, they have tended to flourish in more affluent neighborhoods in or close to Manhattan.

By contrast, most of the community-based markets are clustered in low-income neighborhoods where officials and even farmers were not convinced they could succeed. GrowNYC markets generally charge higher vendor fees and require that growers be present at the stand, a condition the community markets, operating in less tested areas, cannot always meet.

“When we asked to have a farmers’ market, we were told that farmers don’t want to come to the Bronx because it’s dangerous, or poor people can’t afford organic products,” said Karen Washington of La Familia Verde, a community garden organization active in Crotona, East Tremont and West Farms in the Bronx that started its markets with the help of Just Food, which promotes local and urban agriculture and coordinates 17 markets in the city. “But instead of listening to the naysayers, we figured: since we grow it, we know our community; let’s form our own farmers’ market.”

According to the report, the demand is clear: the city’s 60 community markets took in almost $500,000 in government nutrition coupons in 2009 and 2010.

But organizers must follow different permitting processes depending on where they seek to operate — in, say, a community garden or a park or on a street corner — and the income level of the area. Fees, which must be paid in advance of the selling season, can exceed $1,600 annually, a level that can strain the resources of a small organization. And even after the permits are obtained, vendors can have parking problems, since their permits are not always recognized by city ticket agents.

Mr. Stringer’s report recommends creating a single entity to oversee the markets, a uniform application process, a guide to operations and standard procedures for parking. It also suggests eliminating some fees.

Responding to the issues raised by the report, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office did not acknowledge a problem and had little to say about whether change could be on the way. Asked why the process was so complicated and if the city could do anything to make it easier, a spokeswoman said in an e-mail, “New Yorkers who apply for a street permit to hold a farmers’ market receive a detailed outline of all the necessary steps to make the process as clear as possible.” A follow-up question about those applying for permits for other locations — like parks or community gardens — went unanswered.

The executive director of GrowNYC, Marcel Van Ooyen, acknowledged that the system was complex. “It’s just complicated to work through New York City in anything you do; you have multiple agencies” involved in the regulations, he said, adding that his group had routinely tried to help others negotiate the bureaucracy. He said he was considering creating an online tutorial for anyone thinking about starting a market, to provide all the information in one place.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=018742f87e30a683d843d47fbe41f858