Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Spy

We were honored to have Senator Paul Muegge (center) speak at the Sustainable Enterprise class at OSU yesterday. Mr. Muegge was in the Oklahoma State Legislature for 12 years and won the JFK Award for Profiles in Courage in 2004 for his stand against the hog CAFO industry in Oklahoma. He also appeared in the documentary "Shall we Gather at the River" which is about the environmental consequences of the poultry CAFOs in Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.

It was a public lecture and the turn out was an interesting mix of people: a few retired professors who have followed Paul Muegge's career, a few curious Ag Econ professors, community members, and 14 lucky OSU students enrolled in the class who get to be on the front lines.

Mr. Muegge is a straight shooter. The talk was very candid. The strange part was that there were someone from Tyson in the audience. He is a paid expert witness who testifies in the court cases on behalf of Tyson. The newspaper in Stillwater did run a front page story that Mr. Muegge's lecture was open to the public so anyone was welcomed. It just seemed this person came to spy but not to dialogue or offer other opinions to explore. We try to hear all sides in a classroom and help students develop discernment. Someone mentioned the state of Oklahoma had spent $25 million in legal fees against the poultry producers (Tyson included).

A central tenant of Sustainability is TRANSPARENCY. Hidden agendas are not necessary, not appreciated, and not part of authentic sustainable business. In the lecture it was mentioned that Tyson controls 85% of our beef, chicken, and pork eaten in America and our role as a consumer is to keep American corporations honest by watching them, demanding safety and quality, and supporting the enterprises that uphold Sustainability principles. I, for one, will rethink my next chicken purchase at the grocery story.

Photo: Jane Talkington, Senator Paul Muegge, Bill Holmes during an Oklahoma Sustainability Network state board meeting.

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