Organic Bytes #114: 7/26/2007
IN THIS ISSUE
- Grassroots Victory: Country of Origin Labeling and NAIS
- Alert: Congress Votes On Farm Bill Today!
- Study of the Week:
More Proof That Organics Have Higher Nutritional Value
- Consumer Tip #1:
Who Owns Your Favorite Organic Brands?
- Consumer Tip #2: Study Says PVC Packaging Violates Consumer Safety Laws In 19 States
- Organic Bytes Readers Talk Back: Organic Landscaping and Organic Lawns
- Corporate Bully of the Week: Scotts Miracle-grow Company Sues Small Organic Fertilizer Business
- Health Tip: Finding a Sunscreen That is Safe and Effective
- Social Justice News: Chemical Companies Sued by Thousands of Sterile Farmworkers
- Sustainability Tip: Listen to Barbara Kingsolver on "The Ethics of Eating"
- Your Online Organic Community is Here
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins
Country of Origin Labeling and NAIS
Responding to escalating public concerns over the safety of imported foods, reflected in tens of thousands of constituent calls and emails from the OCA and our allies all over the country, the House Agriculture Committee has finally agreed to require mandatory Country of Origin labels on beef and some other foods. Thanks to all of you who participated in this campaign, the committee also agred to remove the National Animal Identification System from the draft legislation text as the OCA and its allies have been requesting.
The final version of the Farm Bill is still up for grabs, and now heads from committee to the House floor, so please contact your Congressional Representative and let them know you support COOL labels for all foods: www.organicconsumers.org/rd/cool.htm
Congress Votes on Farm Bill Today!
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a new Farm Bill, legislation that will determine agriculture policy for the next five years.
The current version of the bill is mostly more corporate welfare for polluting industrial agriculture with few incentives to make healthy food more widely available or protect labor rights or the environment.
Please contact your Member of Congress today to urge them to vote for important amendments for sustainable agriculture, including amendments to protect farmers and consumers from Mad Cow Disease and GMO contamination, and an amendment that would transfer money earmarked for the richest agribusinesses to conservation and nutrition programs.
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More Proof that Organics Have Higher Nutritional Value
A new study in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that organic tomatoes are twice as high in flavanoids as conventional tomatoes. Flavanoids protect against heart disease and other chronic ailments. Researchers analyzed and compared organic to conventional tomatoes over a ten year period.
The organic tomatoes not only scored better, but their flavanoid levels actually increased over time. Prior similar studies have found organic foods to have higher levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals. Scientists attribute the higher quality of organic foods to the healthier soil on organic farms.
Read full study here: www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_6181.cfm
Another related study, published this month in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that organic dairy and meat products in a mother's diet positively affect the nutritional quality of her breast milk by increasing beneficial fatty acids. "These findings provide scientific support for common sense, by showing that organic foods are healthier," says Dr. Lukas Rist, who is the lead author of the study and the head of research at the Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland. The study involved 312 breastfeeding women with 1-month old infants from the Netherlands.
Read the full study here: www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_6245.cfm
Who Owns Your Favorite Organic Brands?
As the $20 billion organic marketplace continues to expand, major corporations continue to take over many of the most familiar organic brands. Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State, has provided a new update on his popular chart "Who Owns Organic." Are you supporting corporations like Kraft, M&M, or Pepsi with what you thought was a purchase of your old familiar brand?
- View this chart to see acquisitions of the top selling organic brands: www.organicconsumers.org/organic/OrganicTop25Jul07.pdf
- View this chart to see the top selling INDEPENDENT organic brands here: www.organicconsumers.org/organic/OrganicIndJul07.pdf
Study Says PVC Packaging Violates
Consumer Safety Laws in 19 States
A new study from a network of nine state environmental agencies reveals that over 60% of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging tested contains toxic heavy metals that violate laws in 19 states.
"This new study underscores the need for a global phase out of PVC packaging," said Michael Schade, of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Due to compounding evidence of PVC's toxicity, particularly its release of dioxin (the most potent carcinogen on the planet), a growing list of manufacturers and retailers have publicly committed to phase out this toxic plastic in their packaging.
Unfortunately, PVC is as equally ubiquitous in the products themselves. Consumers can avoid PVC products by looking for the number "3", "PVC" or the letter "V" inside the recycling symbol. Not all PVC products are labeled as such, but soft flexible PVC products (common in baby toys) often have an odor similar to vinyl shower curtains.
Organic Landscaping And Organic Lawns
Question from Organic Bytes Reader: (reference: Organic Bytes #113 "How to Have the Best Looking Organic Lawn on the Block") -- You make good points about how to have healthy organic grass, but you should provide your readers with more information on how to rid of conventional grass lawns altogether. Are there more options?
Response from the OCA: This is definitely true. As noted in our article, more than a third of urban water use is soaked up by grass lawns, and 67 million pounds of pesticides are used each year on these lawns. While converting your conventional lawn to an organic lawn is a HUGE positive step in reducing chemical and water use, even greater conservation can be achieved by transitioning your grass lawn into a low maintenance and diverse landscape of native plants - called "naturescaping. For those interested in taking their lawn beyond organic grass, www.plantnative.org is an excellent website about naturescaping, including an excellent how-to section and directory of native plant nurseries.
Note to readers: If you have questions or comments about issues covered in Organic
like the reader above, please post them in our Organic
Bytes forum here: www.organicconsumers.org/forum/index.php
Scotts Miracle-grow Company Sues
Small Organic Fertilizer Business
Terracycle, an eco-friendly business established by college students to sell worm poop (a highly effective organic fertilizer) has been sued by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a $2.2 billion assets giant. Scotts claims Terracycle's product labeling looks too much like Miracle Gro.
Scotts is also suing Terracycle for claiming its plant food is as good or better than "a leading synthetic plant food". TerraCycle manufactures all-natural garden products by feeding organic waste to worms and bottling the resulting worm compost tea as ready-to use plant food in soda bottles collected by schools and other charities across North America.
Finding a Sunscreen That is Safe and Effective
After reviewing over 400 peer-reviewed studies and analyzing over 700 products, the Environmental Working Group has released a tool for consumers to help find sunscreen that is safe and effective. The analysis resulted in some rather disturbing results:
- 83% of 785 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.
- More than half of all sunscreen products have misleading labeling claims.
- Fully 12% of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 30) protect only from sunburn (UVB radiation), and do not contain ingredients known to protect from UVA radiation, the sun rays linked to skin damage and aging, immune system problems, and potentially skin cancer. FDA does not require that sunscreens guard against UVA radiation.
Chemical Companies Sued by Thousands of Sterile Farmworkers
Over 5,000 Latin American banana plantation workers are suing U.S. companies for poisoning them with pesticides that caused them to go sterile. The complainants, all of whom worked on banana farms, accuse Dole, Dow and Amvac of negligence and fraudulent concealment while forcing workers to use the pesticide DBCP.
According to the lawsuit, the transnational companies "actively suppressed information about DBCP's reproductive toxicity." This is the first time any case for a banana worker has come before a U.S. court.
Listen to Barbara Kingsolver on
"The Ethics Of Eating" Online Now
Barbara Kingsolver describes her family's adventure to spend one year eating primarily what they could grow or purchase from local farmers.
As a food consumer and a mother as well as a keen critic of modern culture, Kingsolver and her family have produced a remarkable and uplifting narrative.
Food, according to Kingsolver, is a "rare moral arena" in which the ethical choice is often the pleasurable choice.
Listen now (Real Audio: 53 minutes): www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_6208.cfm
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