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Organic Bytes #50
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
2/11/2005


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In this Issue:

  • ACTION ALERT--TERMINATE THE TERMINATOR
  • CATHOLIC LEADERS CLARIFY VATICAN'S STANCE ON GENETIC ENGINEERING
  • SHARING GOD'S PLANET
  • MAD COW TIDBITS
  • RBGH MILK IS RBGH MILK
  • TEENY-TINY NEWS TIDBITS

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ACTION ALERT--TERMINATE THE TERMINATOR
Consumer, farmer, and environmental organizations across the globe are mobilizing to stop the legalization and commercialization of the controversial Terminator Gene Technology, whereby seeds are genetically engineered to become sterile or commit suicide after one growing season. The Monsanto corporation and the biotech industry support the Terminator Technology, because it will force many of the 1.4 billion farmers around the world to stop saving their seeds and instead to purchase patented seed varieties from the Gene Giants. In addition, scientists are concerned that genetic pollution from Terminator crops will lead to killing off a wide range of crops and plants, as Terminator pollen and seeds are spread by the wind, insect pollinators, and commercial seed co-mingling and transportation. After a massive international campaign in 1998, Monsanto Corporation announced they were shelving plans to commercialize the Terminator, while the United Nations (UN) called for a global ban. But today (2/11/2005), renewed efforts to overturn the worldwide ban were launched at a UN conference in Bangkok.

Learn more and sign OCA's petition to the UN to terminate the Terminator Gene: http://organicconsumers.org/un.htm

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CATHOLIC LEADERS CLARIFY VATICAN'S STANCE ON GENETIC ENGINEERING
Catholic leaders around the world are standing up against the biotech industry's claim that the Vatican endorses genetically engineered (GE) crops. Biotech proponents have enjoyed a major public relations boost by trumpeting a portion of a report released by the Vatican last year. In one part, the report stated that it is the Catholic Church's stance that God gave humans the right to manipulate and control the natural environment on any level, including genetic engineering. The biotech industry has failed to mention that the report also states that GE crops should not be spread unless they are conclusively proven to be safe for human health and the environment. The Vatican report elaborates on that point, indicating that the Catholic Church does not believe adequate testing of GE crops has been done, saying, "available scientific data are contradictory or quantitatively scarce. It may then be appropriate to base evaluations on the precautionary principle." Learn more...

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SHARING GOD'S PLANET
The Church of England is seriously discussing making major changes in its practices, in order to exercise the type of stewardship towards the earth that they believe is commanded by God in the Bible. The changes include serving fair trade coffee, providing organic bread and wine, increasing recycling, using natural fibers in clergy robes, and pressuring the UK government to take a stronger stance on global climate change. Archbishops will meet in late February to discuss these changes as well as a new report by the Church of England entitled "Sharing God's Planet," in which Christians are urged to take much more active roles in protecting the environment, in order to "celebrate and care for God's creation." Learn more...

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MAD COW TIDBITS

The British government is investigating a report that cosmetic plastic surgery injections for fuller cheekbones and plumper lips with infected collagen could spread the human form of mad cow disease, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Due to increasing demand for such procedures, a number of rogue clinics have opened that are not adhering to the stringent guidelines dictating that collagen "fillers" should be sourced only from tissues guaranteed to be free from Mad Cow. UK Tests have already found illegal and potentially contaminated collagen in widespread use, derived from dead cows, birds, and human tissue. Learn more...

Japanese officials confirmed the human variant of mad cow disease caused a man's death. The victim is believed to have become infected with the disease in 1989 when he was on a short visit to the UK. At the time, the UK was undergoing an massive outbreak of mad cow disease. Japan has tested all of its cattle for the disease since 2001 and banned U.S. and Canadian beef imports after the disease was discovered in those countries. Learn more...

More cases of Mad Cow are being diagnosed in North America, but beef industry practices in the U.S. remain unchanged. The fatal disease can be expected to spread across the continent as the massive feeding of slaughterhouse waste, blood, and manure to animals continues unabated. OCA has a new educational DVD on Mad Cow Disease, featuring a lecture by Dr. Michael Greger, OCA's Mad Cow coordinator, for use for house parties or community showings. To learn more about how to get a copy of the Michael Greger Mad Cow DVD and a manual for how to organize a showing of this DVD, click here

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RBGH MILK IS RBGH MILK
The Center for Global Food Safety, an industry front group funded in part by the Monsanto Corporation, has launched an aggressive "Milk is Milk" campaign, claiming there is no difference between milk produced by cows injected with genetically engineered hormones (Monsanto's recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), and organic or naturally produced milk. The FDA is aiding the industry's anti-organic "Milk is Milk" campaign, saying they will crack down on organic and rBGH-free dairies that label their products as "hormone free." Monsanto's controversial hormone has been banned in every industrialized country in the world, other than the U.S., Brazil and Mexico, due to scientific evidence indicating that the milk from injected cows contains more pus, antibiotic residues, and IGF-1, a potent cancer tumor promoter. The drug also seriously damages the health of the cows. Read an analysis of the risks of rBGH and a response to the launching of the "Milk is Milk" campaign by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.(University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health) and Ronnie Cummins of the OCA. Learn more...

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TEENY-TINY NEWS TIDBITS

North Dakota legislators are proposing a bill that would keep information about factory farm feedlots confidential and inaccessible to the public. People living near a feedlot currently have the right to information regarding the facility's pollutants. Proponents of the bill say that it is necessary to begin to keep that information secret so that it doesn't fall into the hands of terrorists. Learn more...

In Arkansas and Texas, childhood obesity rates are as high as 38%, leading to the recent passage of new laws that require schools to report children's body fat index to parents along with the student's grades. Learn more...


The second annual State of Science Review has found that cancer-fighting antioxidant levels are, on average, 30% higher in organic produce vs. conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The cause for this, say scientists, is that antioxidant chemicals are created within a plant grown organically or in the wild when the plant triggers internal defense mechanisms. These beneficial mechanisms are rarely triggered in plants that are raised with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Learn more...

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