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ORGANIC BYTES #35
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
6/23/2004 By Organic Consumers Association

Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on websites, print it, and post it. Knowledge is power!

In this issue:

  • ROCKET FUEL FOUND IN MILK
  • FRENCH FRIES CATEGORIZED AS "FRESH VEGETABLE"
  • GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CIGARETTES
  • LONG DISTANCE NOMINATION
  • USDA AGAIN UNDERMINING ORGANIC INTEGRITY
  • GROWING CORN WITH E.COLI
  • GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS BEING FLUSHED OUT OF CALIFORNIA
  • COKE MADE BY EIGHT YEAR OLDS
  • STARBUCKS EXPANSION CONTINUES
  • MONSANTO FAKES REPORT

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ROCKET FUEL FOUND IN MILK
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has discovered perchlorates in the state's milk. Perchlorates are a toxin that leaches into the groundwater from military sites and rocket fuel manufacturing plants. CDFA found perchlorates in 31 of 32 milk samples taken.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/rocketfuel062304.cfm

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FRENCH FIES CATEGORIZED AS "FRESH VEGETABLE"
A USDA rule change last week offered yet another example of how the current federal government decision making process is no longer "for the people by the people," but rather is "for industry by industry". After intense corporate lobbying, the USDA officially determined that French fries should be classified as a "fresh vegetable". http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/frenchfries061604.cfm

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GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CIGARETTES
Philip Morris/Kraft recently gave North Carolina State University $17.6 million for research into genetically engineering tobacco. The company would have sole rights to the results of these studies but has not yet announced what "benefits" it is seeking in a genetically engineered cigarette.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/quest062204.cfm

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LONG DISTANCE NOMINATION
Each year, Working Assets Long Distance Company donates a portion of its revenue to national non-profits doing exceptional work to improve the environment. If you are a current Working Assets customer, you can help the Organic Consumers Association receive a portion of these funds by sending a quick online fax, nominating the OCA for donations. Thanks! http://www.organicconsumers.org/wald.cfm

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USDA AGAIN UNDERMINING ORGANIC INTEGRITY
Although the USDA, under tremendous pressure from the organic community, announced on May 26 they were reversing four recent directives that would have significantly degraded national organic standards, on June 10 they partially reversed themselves, telling the National Organic Standards Board that one of the controversial directives, the "scope" directive, would still remain in effect. Basically this means that the USDA National Organic Program is refusing to monitor or police organic label claims on what they have narrowly and erroneously defined as non-food or non-agricultural products (i.e. body care products, vitamins, nutritional supplements, fertilizers, and even seafood), giving the green light to unscrupulous companies to call their products "organic" even if they are not.

In the case of abdicating responsibility over body care products, vitamins, and nutritional supplements, the USDA bureaucrats used the excuse that the Food and Drug Administration, notorious for its cozy relationship with cosmetic companies and drug giants, has legal jurisdiction in this sector. But of course, since the FDA has neither the desire nor the expertise to administer an organic program for supplements and body care products, this potential multi-billion dollar industry will be allowed to operate in a regulatory void, opening up the door for rampant consumer fraud in the marketplace. As the OCA has repeatedly pointed out, the natural products marketplace is already flooded with body care products fraudulently labeled as organic. Stay tuned to OCA's "Safeguard Organic Standards" campaign. http://www.organicconsumers.org/sos.cfm

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GROWING CORN WITH E.COLI
A variety of corn genetically engineered to contain an E.coli gene has been approved for test plots in several undisclosed locations in Colorado. Proponents say the new "biopharmaceutical" mutants could eventually help create inexpensive E.coli vaccines. Consumers, farmers, and public health specialists are concerned the crop could spread far and wide, as pollen "injected" with an E.coli gene drifts in the wind towards neighboring farms and natural ecosystems. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/colorado061504.cfm

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GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS BEING FLUSHED OUT OF CALIFORNIA
Citizens and farmers in Butte County California have successfully gathered enough petition signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would ban genetically engineered (GE) crops in the county. Mendocino County (CA) passed a similar measure earlier this year and Humboldt, Marin, San Luis Obisbo, Sonoma, and others will likely place this issue on their November ballots as well. Join OCA's "GE Free Zones" campaign to help support these efforts. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm

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COKE MADE BY EIGHT YEAR OLDS
Human Rights Watch has revealed that Coca-Cola is knowingly purchasing sugar grown on plantations in El Salvador where child labor laws are blatantly being violated. As many as 30,000 children, some as young as eight years old, are wielding machetes on sugar cane plantations. Salvadoran law dictates that workers must be at least 18 years old in such "dangerous work environments". Consumers are being advised not to purchase Coca-Cola products until the company ends these business practices. http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/coke061304.cfm

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STARBUCKS EXPANSION CONTINUES
Starbucks is set to invade Southeast Asia by opening coffee shops in Singapore. "Singapore represents a strategic gateway into Southeast Asia for Starbucks," said Pedro Man, president of Starbucks Coffee Asia Pacific. Although Starbucks claims to support its coffee farmers with fair pay, less than one half of 1% of Starbucks coffee sales are Fair Trade. Starbucks is now the largest coffee retailer in the world.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/starbucks/asia062204.cfm

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MONSANTO FAKES REPORT
A new report on the success of Monsanto Corporation's genetically engineered (GE) cotton is spreading quickly through India, fueling a black market for the seeds. The report claims farmers who grew the GE cotton experienced better yields, lower pesticide use, and increased profits. This report comes as a surprise to the farmers who witnessed the complete failure of this crop the first year it was released in India (2002-2003). At the end of that disastrous growing season, dozens of financially ruined cotton farmers committed suicide. According to Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defense of Diversity, the GE cotton didn't do much better this year. In reality, what explains the positive slant of the new report is the fact that it was paid for by Monsanto, who supplied partial and misleading data. http://www.organicconsumers.org/clothes/india061004.cfm

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WE NEED TO TALK
Interested in sharing your thoughts and ideas with thousands of other like-minded folks locally and around the world? Check out OCA's online web forum. http://www.organicconsumers.org/chat/index.php

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NOTE TO CO-OP AND NATURAL FOOD STORE SUBSCRIBERS:
Organic Bytes is a great tool for keeping your staff and customers up to date on the latest issues. Feel free to forward this email to your staff and print for posting on bulletin boards and staff break tables. You are also welcome to use this material for your newsletters. There's an attractive print-friendly PDF version of this available for free download at http://www.organicconsumers.org/organicbytes.htm

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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6101 Cliff Estate Road
Little Marais, MN 55614
Phone: (218) 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652

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For additional daily environmental and political news, visit: http://www.ens-newswire.com
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http://www.organicconsumers.org

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