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Organic Bytes #47
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
12/31/2004
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In this issue

  • EPA CUTTING BACKROOM DEAL THAT THREATENS KIDS
  • BREAKING NEWS ON THE OZONE LAYER
  • A WARM ORGANIC THANKS!
  • COCA-COLA'S MARKETING PRACTICES RIVAL BIG TOBACCO
  • YOUNG ECO-HEROES SOUGHT
  • FARM CONSERVATION PROGRAMS SLASHED
  • WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL NATION IS SICK
  • NEW CASE OF MAD COW IN CANADA

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EPA CUTTING BACKROOM DEAL THAT THREATENS KIDS
Dow Chemical company is in the process of striking a backroom deal with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal a ban on a widely used, highly toxic pesticide called Dursban. Four years ago, the EPA announced it had conclusive evidence that Dow's pesticide Dursban (chlorpyrifos) "does not provide an adequate margin of protection for children." The EPA said that Dursban, which is commonly applied to lawns, parks and playgrounds, can cause severe neurological disorders in kids, as well as birth defects. As a result, the EPA mandated that the insecticide be removed from the market by Dec. 31, 2004. However, the Washington Post reported Dec. 21 that the EPA is planning to reverse the ban on Dursban, based on pressure from Dow, who insists that the chemical is safe for kids. As a note on the trustworthiness of Dow, in 2003 the company was fined $2 million for illegally making false safety claims about its pesticides.
Sign a petition to the EPA here:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa-dow.htm

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BREAKING NEWS ON THE OZONE LAYER
In violation of an international treaty and the Clean Air Act, the EPA has approved the continued use of the banned toxic pesticide methyl bromide, which is highly dangerous to human health, and a leading cause of ozone depletion. The Montreal Protocol, a landmark international treaty signed in 1987 by every industrialized nation, including the U.S., required that methyl bromide be eliminated by the end of 2004, in order to stop the life-threatening depletion of the ozone layer. Under pressure from agribusiness and chemical lobbyists, President Bush announced in early 2004 that the U.S. would become the only industrialized nation in the world to pull out of this environmental treaty. Last week, the EPA took action on that request, and, instead of banning methyl bromide along with the rest of the world, has increased its allowed use. Learn more...

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A WARM ORGANIC THANKS!
We'd like to thank all of you who have made donations to the Organic Consumers Association in 2004. Your donations of time and money, among other things, have enabled us to double the size of our online network (we now have more than 200,000 subscribers to Organic Bytes), increase the daily traffic on our website (eight million hits per month), and turn up the heat on out-of-control corporations and government bureaucrats. We look forward to stepping up the pace with the entire OCA community in the New Year-- safeguarding organic standards, challenging genetic engineering and industrial farming, and promoting sustainable agriculture, global justice, and Fair Trade. Thank you for your support and all your efforts for a better world!

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COCA-COLA'S MARKETING PRACTICES RIVAL BIG TOBACCO
The American Postal Workers Union has passed a resolution: "that the United States Postal Service remove all Coca-Cola products from all postal facilities." The resolution was passed in response to Coca-Cola's heavy marketing to children, including schools, and the company's recent denial of negative health effects associated with consumption of sugar-laced sodas. In a recent letter to educationnews.org, the Coca-Cola company went so far as to claim that soft drinks have no connection whatsoever to obesity or diabetes. In the manner of Big Tobacco, John Alm, Coca-Cola's chief operating officer, was quoted in the Atlanta Journal as saying, "The school system is where you build brand loyalty." Coca-Cola's 2003 Management Financial Review document speaks out against "Laws that restrict our ability to distribute products in schools." Learn more...

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YOUNG ECO-HEROES SOUGHT
Action for Nature is seeking applications from kids 8 to 16 years old for its 2005 International Young Eco-Hero Awards Program. Cash prizes up to $500 will be awarded. The 2004 award winners include Janine Licare (14), who helps to save endangered animals in Costa Rica; Christina Faust (16) of Georgia, who studies the vegetation around streams to better understand how plants contribute to the stream's ecosystem; and Salaar Khan (11) of Pakistan, who influences his neighbors to use cloth bags and eliminate the toxins created when plastic bags are burned. Learn more...

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FARM CONSERVATION PROGRAMS SLASHED
On December 8, congress passed and the President signed an omnibus appropriations bill that created the following cuts in farm conservation programs:

  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program cut by $182 million.
  • The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program cut by 55% ($38 million).
  • 100,000 acres (38%) cut out of the Wetlands Reserve Program.
  • The Conservation Security Program cut by $80 million.
  • The Farm and Ranchland Protection Program cut by $12 million.

Read the full final appropriations bill here.

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WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL NATION IS SICK
The World Health Organization has announced that the U.S. now has shorter life expectancies and higher infant and child mortality rates than Canada, Japan and all of Western Europe, except Portugal. Factors contributing to this decline in public health include weaker laws on toxic chemicals, higher levels of economic disparity, junk food diets, and a lack of health care access for millions of families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, average prices for pharmaceutical drugs in the top 25 industrialized nations of the world are 35% to 55% lower than in the United States, where profits of pharmaceutical companies are on the rise. Learn more...

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NEW CASE OF MAD COW IN CANADA
Shortly after the U.S. had said it would lift the ban on Canadian cattle imports, Canada has announced that screening tests have revealed a new suspected case of mad cow disease. The U.S. banned Canadian cattle imports on May 20, 2003, after mad cow disease was first found in Alberta. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the ban will be lifted despite the discovery of a new case of the fatal disease, due to the fact that the suspect animal was born before the Canadian mad cow regulations were implemented seven years ago. Learn more...

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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
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