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Organic Bytes #41
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
10/14/2004

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IN THIS ISSUE:

  • QUOTE OF THE WEEK
  • VOTING ORGANIC ON AND AFTER NOVEMBER 2
  • THE OTHER BIG ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER
  • CITIES CONCEAL HAZARDOUS LEAD LEVELS IN MUNICIPAL WATER
  • BANANA GIANTS ON TRIAL
  • CHINESE ORGANICS
  • BIOPIRATES SELLING GENETIC MATERIAL OF INDIGENOUS BRAZILIANS
  • SENATE BILL WOULD BAN JUNK FOOD IN SCHOOLS
  • ORGANIC FOODS SLOW GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
  • AFRICAN KIDS GOING ORGANIC

Friendly Reminder: Organic Bytes is still really hungry. Many of our donors tell us they can't give us any money right now, because they've put it all into the crucial November elections. But as we point out below, we're your advocate and voice for the long haul, both before and after November 2. Please make a contribution now, as we are very low on funds:
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Biotechnology and patenting of life forms is now the new frontier for conquest, and Africa ought to be wary because a history of colonialism and exploitation is repeating itself." Wangari Mathai, Kenya Environmental & Justice Activist (Just Selected as 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner)

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VOTING ORGANIC ON AND AFTER NOVEMBER 2
The slogan of the OCA for this fall is "Vote Organic--Today & Everyday." And of course by this we mean that you, along with America's 30 million other organic consumers, should "vote," both with your pocket book or consumer purchases, and your political voice. Political change is obviously in the air this fall, whether we're talking about the elections or about public policies on farming, food, and Fair Trade (or should we say Unfair Trade). For a comparison of the significantly different positions of the Presidential candidates on food, farming, and Frankenfoods click here...

Kerry and Bush have major differences on health, food, and other issues, but no matter who wins the election, it will still depend on consumers to create the pressure in the marketplace for dismantling America's dominant regime of factory farms, chemical intensive agriculture, and genetic engineering. John Stauber, OCA Policy Board Member, gives us his personal perspective on the Presidential contest here...

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THE OTHER BIG ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER
Just weeks away from critical votes on ballot initiatives that would ban genetically engineered (GE) crops in Marin, Butte, San Luis Obispo, and Humboldt counties (California), biotech supporters and the Farm Bureau have pumped several hundred thousand dollars into a frenzied disinformation campaign to defeat the bans. In contrast, organic consumers, progressive businesses, and family farmers supporting a ban in these counties are, once again, operating with very little funding. Mendocino County (CA) took the lead on banning genetically engineered crops in March, followed in August by Trinity County. Organic consumers and anti-GE activists all over the world are closely watching these ballot initiatives. Help OCA in our efforts to spread these bans throughout North America.

Donate Now!

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CITIES CONCEAL HAZARDOUS LEAD LEVELS IN MUNICIPAL WATER
The Washington Post reports that cities across the U.S. have been allowed to hide water test results that show dangerous levels of lead due to old city plumbing. Cities including New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit have thrown out evidence of high levels of lead to avoid the costs associated with fixing the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency has facilitated this deception to the public by overlooking more than 90% of the individual municipality reports of dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water. Lead exposure can cause serious brain and kidney damage. Many middle- and upper-income households now filter their drinking water, but lead is also heavily absorbed through the skin while bathing. Learn more...

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QUICK TIDBITS


BANANA GIANTS ON TRIAL
Chiquita, Dole, and Del Monte are being sued by thousands of banana workers in Costa Rica for poisoning them and their families with a deadly pesticide that was banned in 1979. Dibromochloropropane (DBCP)is known to cause cancer, birth defects, sterility and liver damage. The class action lawsuit is demanding payment for damages described as "wanton and reckless acts...and outrageous and malicious conduct." The banana giants have reportedly offered to settle out of court. Learn more...

CHINESE ORGANICS
In China, the expansion of the organic industry is now keeping pace with the explosive growth found in much of the rest of the world. Last year domestic sales of organic goods in China hit $8.8 billion and the industry is expanding at 30% per year. Learn more...

 

BIOPIRATES SELLING GENETIC MATERIAL OF INDIGENOUS BRAZILIANS
A biotech company is illegally selling the genetic material of Brazilian tribal peoples. Coriel Cell extracted blood from as many as 200 indigenous people in Brazil and is selling the blood online for $85 per sample to other companies interested in identifying and ultimately patenting positive characteristics within those genes. The Brazilian government has asked the U.S. government to take action, as the company was caught doing the same thing back in 1996. Learn more...

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SENATE BILL WOULD BAN JUNK FOOD IN SCHOOLS
The U.S. Senate has introduced a bill that would ban soda pop and junk food vending machines in schools receiving federal funding. The bill, known as the Childhood Obesity Prevention Act, would also prohibit the advertising of junk food in schools, and provide more foods low in fat, calories and added sugars (eg. fruits, vegetables and whole grains). Get involved by visiting the OCA's "Appetite for a Change Campaign" website.
Please contact your U.S. Senators to support the Prevention of Childhood Obesity Act (S. 2894). The congressional switchboard phone is (202)225-3121.

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ORGANIC FOODS SLOW GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
The Rodale Institute has found that supporting organic agriculture reduces negative impacts on global climate change. Conventional farming uses large amounts of synthetic fertilizers made from fossil fuels. The manufacture and use of these petroleum-based products make up as much as 30% of the agriculture industry's output of carbon dioxide. Organic farmers rely on manure and other organic matter for fertilization, which the Rodale Institute reports actually allows carbon to be stored safely in the soil. Buying locally grown foods also protects against unneeded greenhouse gas emissions. On average, food travels 1,500 miles in the U.S. before landing on the dinner table. Learn more...

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AFRICAN KIDS GOING ORGANIC
Organic gardening and lessons on permaculture have recently been introduced to over 12,000 schools in South Africa. According to South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor, "Learners have become familiar with permaculture, an organic system of farming and gardening that combines people and plants in a way that produces more energy than it uses. In addition, many schools now use their projects to implement active learning. They grow their own food, harvest, conserve and manage water, recycle waste, generate income for the school, run outreach projects and much more." Learn more...

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