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Organic Bytes #84: Pesticides, Hormones and Community Gardens

  • By Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins
    Organic Consumers Association
ORGANIC BYTES #84
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!


6/15/2006

Subscribe to this Bi-weekly Email Newsletter: http://www.organicconsumers.org/organicbytes.htm


IN THIS ISSUE

  • TAKE ACTION: USDA CLOSE TO APPROVING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PLUMS
  • L.A. RIOT POLICE INVADE NATION'S LARGEST COMMUNITY GARDEN
  • SUCCESSFUL LAWSUIT FORCES EPA TO PHASE OUT DANGEROUS PESTICIDE
  • TIP OF THE WEEK: MAINTAINING A HEALTHY ORGANIC LAWN
  • AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ASKS GOVERNMENT TO REGULATE SALT
  • NATION'S LARGEST DAIRIES TRYING TO AVOID MONSANTO'S BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE
  • SOME MAJOR U.S. DAIRIES GOING rBGH-FREE OVER THE PAST YEAR
  • COFFEE PROTECTS DRINKERS' LIVERS
  • BEER INGREDIENT REDUCES PROSTATE CANCER RISK

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TAKE ACTION: USDA CLOSE TO APPROVING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PLUMS
The United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting public comments regarding the commercial approval of a genetically engineered plum, known as "C5." The approval of C5 would be the first widely released genetically engineered (GE) tree in the United States. Approval of C5 will also pave the way for more GE tree and fruit varieties, including peaches, cherries, and apricots. GE tree pollen can drift for several miles, leading to contamination of neighboring organic crops and indigenous trees. The USDA is currently accepting public comments on this issue.
Learn more and Take Action: http://organicconsumers.org/plum_alert.htm

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http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm

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L.A. POLICE INVADE NATION'S LARGEST COMMUNITY GARDEN
Armed police stormed a community garden in South Central Los Angeles this week, arresting 25 people including actress Daryl Hannah. The 14 acre plot of land, tended by over 350 neighborhood fruit and vegetable farmers for a decade, is the largest urban community garden in the country, and a symbol of hope for the embattled South Central neighborhood. Although the highly successful garden provides affordable, mostly organic food for low-income residents in this economically depressed area, a ten-year ownership dispute over the land has led to a dramatic standoff between neighborhood residents and the powerful real estate lobby of Los Angeles. Despite massive public opposition, multi-millionaire real estate developer Ralph Horowitz obtained a court order to pave over the community garden and replace it with an industrial warehouse. After back-tracking on an offer to sell the 14 acre plot to neighborhood residents for $16 million, Horowitz called in the police and bulldozers to clear the property of inhabitants. Neighborhood farmers and residents, along with the L.A. organic community, have vowed to keep up the struggle and save the community garden.
Learn more:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_756.cfm

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SUCCESSFUL LAWSUIT FORCES EPA TO PHASE OUT DANGEROUS PESTICIDE
A lawsuit filed by the United Farmworkers of America against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has forced the agency to begin phasing out a highly toxic organophosphate pesticide that has contaminated food and poisoned farmworkers. The pesticide, azinphos-methyl ("AZM"), is used on a variety of food crops, including potatoes, cranberries, and peaches. AZM is a highly toxic neurotoxin derived from nerve agents used during World War II. In 2001, the EPA found that AZM posed unacceptable risks to farmworkers, but due to industry pressure, the agency kept it on the market. "This pesticide has put thousands of workers at risk of serious illness every year," said Erik Nicholson of the United Farmworkers of America. The EPA will phase out AZM over the next four years.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_748.cfm

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TIP OF THE WEEK: MAINTAINING A HEALTHY ORGANIC LAWN

  • There's no need to water more than an inch per week. Over-watering is unhealthy for lawns and invites lawn disease. Placing a tuna can under the sprinkler will help gauge water depth. Water early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation from midday sun.
  • Taller grass has deeper roots, causing the plants to need less watering. Set mower height to 3 inches and cut grass when it reaches 4.5 inches.
  • Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades harm grass blades, inviting disease.
  • Return grass clippings to the lawn. Grass mulching decreases weeds up to 60% and is a free natural fertilizer.
  • Avoid cheap grass seed, as it typically has weed seeds mixed in. Buy good quality perennial ryes and fescue's.
  • Each time you mow, try alternating your pattern and path. This prevents the soil from compacting.
  • Soil biota helps provide a stable healthy lawn. If your lawn has been treated chemically, it will take a couple of years for the soil microorganisms to rebuild.

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AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ASKS GOVERNMENT TO REGULATE SALT
In an unprecedented move, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted on June 13 to call on the U.S. government to require salt warning labels on food products and to cut salt content in manufactured foods by 50% within a decade. The AMA, the largest group of physicians in the U.S., is also asking the Food and Drug Administration to revoke salt's status as a food that is "generally recognized as safe," noting there is overwhelming medical evidence that high salt intake dramatically increases risk of heart disease, hypertension and stroke. Heart disease is the nation's leading cause of death. Foods that would require warning labels would include everything from conventional hot dogs to some canned soups. The Food Products Association, a trade group for the food and beverage manufacturing industry, and one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington D.C. said the new policy is "misguided," claiming there is not enough scientific evidence tying salt to negative health effects.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_753.cfm


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NATION'S LARGEST DAIRIES TRYING TO AVOID MONSANTO'S BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE
The largest retailers and distributors of milk and dairy products in the U.S. are considering going rBGH-free. According to the trade journal Dairy Food and Market Analyst, Wal-Mart and Dean Foods have begun pressing suppliers for a larger supply of rBGH-free milk, in response to increasing consumer demand. The synthetic hormone rBGH is a genetically engineered drug designed to make dairy cows produce more milk. The controversial hormone has been banned in Europe and Canada due to its links to increased risks for breast and colon cancer and antibiotic resistance. Despite these bans, 18% of U.S. dairy cows, especially those on factory-style farms, continue to be injected with the drug. Over the past few years, millions of consumers have switched to milk and dairy products from organic farms, which ban the use of rBGH and antibiotics. Starbucks, by the way, is still serving up coffee drinks across the country that are laced with rBGH--another good reason to patronize local independently owned coffee shops that offer organic and Fair Trade alternatives.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_747.cfm

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SOME MAJOR U.S. DAIRIES GOING rBGH-FREE OVER THE PAST YEAR

  • April, 2005 - Tillamook, the second largest producer of block cheese in the U.S., goes rBGH-free for their cheeses.
  • June, 2005 - Eberhard Dairy, Central Oregon's largest dairy processing plant, goes rBGH-free for all their products.
  • Nov., 2005 - Alpenrose Dairy in Portland goes rBGH-free for all their products.
  • Feb. 2006 - Darigold, a large western U.S. dairy, announces that all of its yogurt will be completely rBGH-free.
  • June 2006 - Garelick, a large East Coast dairy processor, producing 45 million lbs. of milk per month, declares itself rBGH-free.
  • June 2006 - Meadow Gold and Darigold Farms, Montana's largest milk producers, go rBGH-free

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QUICK TIDBITS


COFFEE PROTECTS DRINKERS' LIVERS: A study published in the journal "Archives of Internal Medicine" indicates that coffee may greatly reduce the risk of liver damage in those who consume alcohol regularly. Every daily cup of coffee reduced the incidence of cirrhosis, a condition that destroys liver tissue, by 22 percent, according to researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program. However, Dr. Arthur Klatsky, the leader of the study, said the results "should not be interpreted as giving a license to drink without worry, because of all the other problems connected with drinking." adding, "the only proper advice is to drink less."
Learn more:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_751.cfm
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BEER INGREDIENT REDUCES PROSTATE CANCER RISK: A new study from researchers at Oregon State University reveals that a natural ingredient found in beer may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The ingredient, found in the hops used to brew beer, is xanthohumol, and belongs to a group of plant compounds called flavonoids that can trigger the death of cancer cells along the surface of the prostate gland. Researchers are quick to point out the amount of xanthohumol in beer is far too low to be of any benefit, estimating it would require consuming a case of beer per day to activate the positive effects. German brewers have already responded by creating a beer with ten times the amount of xanthohumol, marketing it as a "healthy beer."
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_761.cfm

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http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm


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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6771 South Silver Hill Drive
Finland, MN 55603
Phone: (218)- 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652
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