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Organic Bytes #48
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
1/14/2005
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In this issue

  • ALERT: STOP THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FROM POLLUTING OUR FOOD & WATER
  • 21st CENTURY TIMELINE OF U.S. ROCKET FUEL POLLUTION SCANDAL
  • WARNINGS OF DISASTER FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
  • MAD COWS AND INSANE BUREAUCRATS
  • ANOTHER CALIFORNIA COUNTY MAY GO GE-FREE
  • MONSANTO FOUND GUILTY OF INTERNATIONAL BRIBERY
  • "ORGANIC" FACTORY FARMS?
  • ORGANIC MILK HAS MORE NUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS

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ALERT: STOP THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FROM POLLUTING OUR FOOD & WATER This week the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long awaited report on perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel that has contaminated water, vegetables, and dairy products across the United States. Perchlorates, recklessly discharged into streams and rivers near military bases and weapons manufacturing facilities, have contaminated drinking water in 35 states, and have been detected in measurable amounts in 93% of lettuce and milk samples as well, including organic products. The government funded NAS study has found that perchlorates are roughly ten times more toxic to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects, and lower IQs. Perchlorates are considered particularly dangerous to children. In monitoring wells across the U.S., scientists have found perchlorate levels as high as 30,000 times what the NAS report indicates would be "safe" exposure. Due to pressure exerted on Congress by military officials and defense contractors, there are currently no federal restrictions or tolerance levels regulating perchlorates. To date, only one Senator, Diane Feinstein from California, has had the backbone to propose legislation that would clean up perchlorate pollution and make the military (and other perchlorate polluters) pay for this clean-up. Please send a quick letter urging Congress to support Senator Feinstein's (CA) bill to create federal perchlorate safety regulations, and to allocate funding for its clean-up. Take action here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/perchlorate.htm

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21st CENTURY TIMELINE OF U.S. ROCKET FUEL POLLUTION SCANDAL

  • 2002: EPA releases draft report highlighting widespread water contamination of a toxic rocket fuel byproduct known as perchlorate. The report indicates that most of the pollution is coming from U.S. military sites. [Source]
  • January 2003 : Courtroom proceedings reveal that aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin was concealing documents for several years indicating the company knew about toxic levels of percholate contamination in the nation's vegetable produce. [Source]
  • March 2003: California's Senator Feinstein demands the military clean up perchlorate pollution as a matter of public safety. The Department of Defense responds by saying it should be exempt from perchlorate liability, as a matter of anti-terrorist "readiness." [Source].
  • April 2003: Bush Administration puts gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, mandating complete silence regarding military perchlorate pollution and human health impacts. [Source]
  • November 2004: FDA finds perchlorate in 93% of lettuce and milk samples across the nation. Bush Administration requests no regulatory action take place until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concludes investigation of human health implications. [Source]
  • January 2005: NAS announces perchlorates are as much as ten times as toxic as what the Department of Defense had been claiming. Senator Feinstein of California announces forthcoming bill proposal to create federal perchlorate regulations and to allocate funding for clean-up of existing contamination. [Source]

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WARNINGS OF DISASTER FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
According to National Geographic, there have been a significant number of reports documenting animals who seemed to sense the recent Asian tsunami before it hit. For example, Sri Lanka's Yala National Park suffered many human casualties, but park managers said the wildlife suffered almost no casualties. "The elephants, wild boar, deer, monkeys and others had moved inland to avoid the killer waves." In Thailand, seemingly insane elephants broke their chains and fled inland before the waves hit. Authorities in India reported that "the indigenous, stone-age tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands escaped the effects of the tsunami because they heeded warning signals from birds and animals." A number of scientists have pointed out that this remarkable behavior should alert us to pay closer attention to a wide range of warnings from the animal kingdom, not only in regards to natural disasters, but also in relation to danger signs of the impact on animal and human health of environmental pollution, such as the recent outbreak of frog mutations, species extinctions, and drops in mammalian fertility.http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/tsunami.cfm


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MAD COWS AND INSANE BUREAUCRATS

Despite repeated claims that "all is well." a third case of Mad Cow Disease has been confirmed in Canada. The discovery has prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reconsider their plan to reopen U.S. borders to Canadian cattle exports. The beef industry and the USDA have always claimed that North America was free from the fatal brain wasting disease--until the first confirmed case in 2003. Mad Cow has killed approximately 150 consumers in UK and Europe since 1996. Mad Cow disease is spread through the routine practice of feeding blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to cattle, a practice banned in Europe and prohibited on organic farms across the world. OCA Policy Board member John Stauber, co-author of the book, Mad Cow USA, points out how current U.S. and Canadian regulations are putting public health at risk http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/jokeregs011305.cfm

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ANOTHER CALIFORNIA COUNTY MAY GO GE-FREE
Activists in California's Sonoma County, have successfully placed an initiative on the ballot for a 10 year moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) crops. After 500 grassroots volunteers collected a record 45,387 petition signatures, proponents of the ballot initiative are optimistic the vote will turn out in their favor. The proposal is considered slightly more moderate than bans that passed in Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin counties last year, since it calls for a 10 year moratorium on commercial cultivation of GE crops, rather than a permanent ban.http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm

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MONSANTO FOUND GUILTY OF INTERNATIONAL BRIBERY
Monsanto, the leading global producer of genetically engineered seeds and crops, has been found guilty of bribing government officials in Indonesia. The Justice Department has fined Monsanto $1.5 million for bribing the Indonesian Ministry of Environment to allow the company to ignore required environmental impact studies before proceeding to plant genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, in the U.S., bribery seems hardly necessary for the Gene Giant, given that the Bush administration and regulatory agencies are stacked with former Monsanto employees and pro-biotech bureaucrats. Monsanto strengthened its grip on U.S. policymaking last week when one of its former lobbyists, Martha Scott, was appointed as Staff Director of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Other Monsanto boosters in the Washington power elite include former Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman (formerly head of the Monsanto subsidiary Calgene), Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (formerly CEO of a Monsanto pharmaceutical subsidiary, Searle) and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (formerly a Monsanto lawyer). http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.html

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"ORGANIC" FACTORY FARMS?
The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the USDA National Organic Program against an "organic" dairy farm in Colorado. The industrial sized feedlot, Aurora Dairy, claims its milk is organic, despite the fact the facility houses 5,600 dairy cows in a factory farm setting with no real access to pasture (which is required by the National Organic Standards). A similar factory farm in Idaho supplies Horizon Organic (now owned by dairy giant Dean Foods) with much of its "organic" milk. Mark Kastel, Cornucopia's Senior Farm Analyst, said that such factory style operations go against the spirit of organic standards and threaten the livelihood of genuine organic family farmers. Almost immediately following the complaint submission, the USDA issued an internal memo, asking the National Organic Standards Board to develop strict policies on the pasture requirements. http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/cornucopia011205.cfm

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ORGANIC MILK HAS MORE NUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS
A new study has found that organic milk has higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants than conventional milk. According to research spearheaded by the UK's Soil Association, dairy cattle raised on an organic diet produce milk with 50% more Vitamin E and 75% more beta carotene than conventionally farmed dairy. The organic milk is also two to three times higher in zeaxanthine and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants. Jill Eisberg, chief executive of The Dairy Council said the research is "an interesting new development for the dairy industry". http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/milk011005.cfm

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