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ORGANIC BYTES #72
Health, Environment and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!


12/15/2005

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

IN THIS ISSUE

  • ALERT: U.S. PROPOSES DOUSING WILDERNESS AREAS WITH HERBICIDES
  • MAD COW JAPAN
  • GOVERNMENT STUDY SAYS SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS IS NAUGHTY
  • ALERT UPDATE: EPA PROPOSED RULE ALLOWING CHEMICAL TESTING ON HUMANS
  • BREAKING THE CHAINS: JOIN OCA IN CELEBRATING BUY LOCAL MONTH
  • PROGRESSIVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING: BOOKS & DVDS WE LIKE
  • QUICK TIDBITS
  • NEW: LETTER TO THE EDITOR - ORGANIC BYTES READERS TALK BACK

ALERT: U.S. PROPOSES DOUSING WILDERNESS AREAS WITH HERBICIDES
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed to apply massive amounts of herbicides to public lands in 17 Western states. The BLM claims these pesticides need to be applied to forests, rangelands and aquatic areas in order to reduce the risk of fire and slow the spread of invasive weeds. Under the proposal 932,000 acres would undergo chemical application in 17 western states, including National Monuments and National Conservation areas. An integral part of this proposal involves aerial spraying of toxic herbicides, which increases negative impacts on non-targeted vegetation, wildlife, and people, including recreationists, tourists, and native peoples. The pesticides that would be used include persistent and mobile chemicals, including known developmental and reproductive toxins. Public comments are being accepted until January 9, 2006. Sign the petition here to support the continued use of traditional vegetation management techniques on public lands that do not involve toxic chemicals.: http://www.organicconsumers.org/blm.htm

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MAD COW JAPAN
On Monday, the Japanese government partially lifted a ban on U.S. beef, despite a pledge by Japanese consumers to boycott American beef. Japan was one of 60 countries that banned American beef in 2003, based on the discovery of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S. and poor testing procedures for the fatal disease by the USDA. While Japan tests all of its cattle for Mad Cow Disease, the U.S. tests only a tiny fraction of its cows, and still allows high-risk feeding practices to cows that are banned in Japan. For example, U.S. factory farms are still allowed to feed cattle blood and slaughterhouse waste. The Japanese ban cost American ranchers about $3.1 billion over the last two years, prompting the Bush Administration to threaten Japan with economic reprisals. Despite a Kyodo News Agency poll last week that found that a full 75% of Japanese consumers would refuse to purchase U.S. beef if the ban was lifted, the Japanese government has agreed to allow imports from the U.S. for cattle slaughtered under the age of 21 months. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm


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GOVERNMENT STUDY SAYS SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS IS NAUGHTY
A new U.S. government report attacks Hollywood for allowing advertising companies to use popular cartoon and TV characters to sell junk food to kids. The report calls for federal regulations on junk food advertising, noting that food companies spent over $10 billion to market junk foods to American children last year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control funded the study, which was conducted by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said of the study results, "We would like to think that SpongeBob SquarePants, Shrek and the Disney princesses are likable, kid-friendly characters, but they are being used to manipulate vulnerable children to make unhealthy choices. This must stop."
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/study121005.cfm

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ALERT UPDATE: EPA PROPOSED RULE ALLOWING CHEMICAL TESTING ON HUMANS
Thanks to all of you for responding to OCA's recent alert regarding the EPA proposed rule that would allow studies of chemicals on children. Over 20,000 of OCA's supporters sent letters to the EPA on this issue. Last week, EPA's union of scientists joined our ranks and publicly protested the rule. "The main reason that most people came to EPA was because we wanted to protect public health. This rule is really undercutting what EPA is supposed to stand for," said Dave Christenson, an EPA scientist. The public comment period on the proposed rule closed on Monday, and the EPA administrative officials are now discussing what to do with the rule. We will keep you posted.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/epa6.cfm

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Donate Now!If you haven't yet sent your end of the year donation, please do so now. The OCA is a nonprofit organization, and our work is dependent on your support. Your donation is tax deductible and helps build a healthy, sustainable and organic future. Thanks! http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm

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BREAKING THE CHAINS: JOIN OCA IN CELEBRATING BUY LOCAL MONTH
Buy Local Month coincides with the busiest shopping season of the year, running through December. It's a time to practice putting our consumer dollars where our values lie and to support healthy and sustainable local businesses and producers. As part of a growing international movement for Fair Trade, health, justice, and sustainability, organic consumers are saying "No" to Wal-Mart and the other big box chains, while promoting locally or regionally-based alternatives. As part of Buy Local Month, we are asking our network volunteers to "Break the Chains" by organizing rallies, house parties, educational events, and film showings. Please find an event near you or create one of your own here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc.htm

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PROGRESSIVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING: BOOKS & DVDS WE LIKE
We at the OCA want to get you started using a new service that could be a great benefit to the organic and progressive community. "Books We Like" is a new section on our website that provides a shared recommendation system for books, music, and films. It allows its users to contribute to a "collective intelligence" on the internet about what media is deserving of our recognition. Purchase OCA recommended media for holiday gifts and recommend some of your favorite progressive books, music and films for others to enjoy. It's a great way to bring attention to progressive media while helping the OCA. A portion of your purchases (7%) is donated to the OCA. Our goal is to get 10,000 people converted to starting their online purchases this way for the holiday season. Please help us make that happen. Learn more: http://organicconsumers.bookswelike.net

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QUICK TIDBITS
The FDA is considering new rules that would allow exotic animal milk in conventional ice cream. Imported milk from yaks, water buffalo, reindeer and other exotic animals can be more affordable than domestic cow milk, so ice cream producers are lobbying the FDA to modify labeling laws to allow the dairy substitution without having to prominently label the product as such. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/icecream.cfm
A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that negative health impacts from junk food costs the UK more than twice as much as smoking related illnesses. Study authors are calling on the UK government to regulate junk foods comparably to tobacco. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/badfood120705.cfm
Despite pressure from the pesticide industry, Canada's top court has upheld Toronto's pesticide ban. Toronto's council passed a bylaw in 2003 outlawing pesticide use on lawns and gardens. The pesticide industry has now exhausted all legal avenues of reversing the ban. A number of other Canadian municipalities say they will follow Toronto's lead and pass similar bylaws. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/toronto120905.cfm

Donate Now!If you haven't yet sent your end of the year donation, please do so now. The OCA is a nonprofit organization, and our work is dependent on your support. Your donation is tax deductible and helps build a healthy, sustainable and organic future. Thanks! http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm

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NEW: LETTER TO THE EDITOR - ORGANIC BYTES READERS TALK BACK

READER: I sign your organization's recent petition. But I must ask if the wording explaining your concerns was intentionally confusing. Herbicides and pesticides are not the same thing and yet seem to be used interchanedly throughout. I think this underminned the explanation.

EDITOR: An herbicide is a pesticide, but a pesticide isn't necessarily an herbicide. Pesticides include the full gamut of "cides" including herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, insecticides, etc. "Cide" literally means "to kill"... so a "pesticide" is something that kills a pest, such as a weed, rodent, insect, etc. In this case, the chemical kills vegetation, so it is, more specifically, a pesticide that is an herbicide.

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READER: Your article of 12/15 states: "For example, U.S. factory farms are still allowed to feed cattle blood and slaughterhouse waste." Please substantiate this claim as it would be an important marketing tool for organic beef if it is correct. Your reporter or editor also overplays the fact that Japan must perform 100% BSE testing on its domestic herd. Japan has one of the highest rates of BSE in their domestic herd. Far worse than the USA. I find the US testing program beyond ridiculous and support the position of R-CALF that producers should be allowed to 100% test their animals voluntarily. You should read about R-CALF as it is the organization of the cattle rancher as opposed to NCA which is the pawn of the meat packers. http://www.cattlenetwork.com/rcalf.asp

Editor: Here are just a few articles that discuss the feeding of blood to cattle in factory farms. You can find many more on our main Mad Cow page (http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm)
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/blood071505.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/consumers12704.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/cow110504.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/ban71004.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/blood031504.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/formula12904.cfm
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/blood12904.cfm

As for Japan's BSE rate, it is simply presumed higher there, because in the U.S. we only test roughly 1 out of every 90 cows, whereas they test all cattle. Therefore the rate of BSE falsely appear to be lower in the U.S., because many cows with the disease are simply not being discovered and are entering the food supply.

As for R-CALF, we completely support their work on the level of allowing the producer to test their cattle. Currently, the USDA won't allow this, as they claim it suggest federal policies are weak, which they obviously are.

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ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
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