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September 3, 2009

Organic Bytes #189: Organic-Biotech, Farm Workers, Money-Driven Medicine...

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Quotes of the Week: Obama and USDA Finally Speak Out for Local Food
  • Victory of the Week: USDA Disowns "Organic-Biotech" Report
  • Alert of the Week: Farm Workers' Rights Now!
  • Alert Update of the Week: Forced Vaccinations Bill Passes MA Senate
  • Web Video of the Week: Money-Driven Medicine
  • Planting Peace News of the Week: Monsanto Profits in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Little Bytes: Vermicomposting, Your Garden and More

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Obama and USDA Finally Speak Out for Local Food

"What we've got to do is change how we think about, for example, getting local farmers connected to school districts because that would benefit the farmers delivering fresh produce."

-President Obama, Health Care Forum, August 20, 2009

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"There are so many new producers cropping up in America. Their best opportunity to expand is a local market. It's enhanced if they can be joined together with other local producers so sufficient quality and quantity can be established for schools, hospitals, jails and other purchasers."

-Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, The Washington Post, August 26, 2009

LEARN MORE

"Imagine an NGO receiving USDA grant money to construct a community kitchen where farmers drop off produce and families join cooking classes that teach about healthy eating while everyone prepares fresh nutritious meals to bring home... Imagine a community using USDA money to construct an open-sided structure to house a farmers market... Imagine a school using USDA loan money to set up cold storage as part of a larger effort to retrofit the school cafeteria to buy produce directly from farmers and return cooking capacity for school lunch... Imagine..."

-Deputy Secretary Merrigan, "Harnessing USDA rural development programs to support local and regional food systems," August 26, 2009

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VICTORY OF THE WEEK

USDA Disowns "Organic-Biotech" Report After OCA and Allies Protest

Last week, we asked you to take action to oppose a cynical attempt on the part of the USDA to promote genetic engineering as potentially allowed in organic production. The target of our ire was a report issued by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Information Network, "The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production," that argued, "Governments should change their regulations to allow producers to gain organic certification for biotech crops grown with organic methods."

Thanks to thousands of letters of protest, the report was removed from the USDA Web site and replaced with a disclaimer announcing that "the report does not represent the policy of the United States Government."

LEARN MORE

ALERT OF THE WEEK

Farm Workers' Rights Now!

Farm workers should have the same labor rights that other workers are guaranteed, including:

  • Overtime pay
  • A minimum wage
  • Restrictions on child labor
  • The right to join labor unions and bargain collectively

Unfortunately, farm workers are denied most of the basic protections that our state and federal labor laws guarantee other workers.

This could change in California where farm workers are literally dying in the fields because they often have no water to drink nor shade to rest under and where agribusiness as usual routinely involves lack of enforcement of laws on pesticide poisonings and sexual harassment. SB789 "CA Employee Free Choice Act for Farm Workers" has reached the Governor’s desk. This bill will make it easier for farm workers to organize a union and protect themselves. No deaths from heat or thirst have ever occurred on any farm where farm workers have a union contract.

CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS TAKE ACTION

NATIONAL - GIVE THE SAME RIGHTS TO FARMERS THAT OTHER WORKERS ARE GUARANTEED

OCA Needs Your Help!

OCA needs your (tax-deductible) donations to Promote Organics and Fight Factory Farms and GMOs. For the next week, every dollar you give will be matched by a generous grant from The Sky Factory in Fairfield, Iowa, a national sponsor of the OCA.

PLEASE DONATE

ALERT UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Forced Vaccinations Bill Passes MA Senate

A new bill, the "Pandemic Response Bill," S. 2028, has passed the Massachusetts state Senate and is now awaiting approval in the House. This bill suspends virtually all Constitutional rights of Massachusetts citizens and sets fines up to $1,000 per day for anyone "suspected" of being infected with swine flu who refuses to submit to "decontaminations," vaccines or quarantines, or who won't follow other orders by state-licensed law enforcement or medical personnel.

 


IF YOU LIVE IN MA, PLEASE TAKE ACTION TO STOP THIS BILL FROM BECOMING LAW

IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE MA, TAKE ACTION HERE

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Money-Driven Medicine, "Medical-Industrial Complex"

“Money-Driven Medicine is one of the strongest documentaries I have seen in years and could not be more timely. The more people who see and talk about it, the more likely we are to get serious and true health care reform.”

-Bill Moyers

WATCH VIDEO EXCERPTS

PLANTING PEACE NEWS OF THE WEEK

Monsanto's Profits in Iraq and Afghanistan

From the start of George Bush's (and now Obama's) wars for oil and Empire in Iraq and Afghanistan, OCA has been tracking the machinations of Monsanto, a well-known war profiteer (Agent Orange in Vietnam and currently massive Roundup spraying in Colombia), to take advantage of the current occupations. Monsanto's moves include pushing the toxic herbicide, glyphosate (Monsanto's Roundup herbicide), for poppy eradication in Afghanistan, promoting GMO seeds, and forcing Iraq to allow the monopoly patenting of plants and seeds--essentially preventing farmers from saving and exchanging traditional heirloom seed varieties.

Monsanto's latest business opportunity in the US's occupied territories has been created by the National Guard's "Agri-Business Development Teams." The Missouri National Guard, which has maintained Agri-Business Development Teams in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan since fall 2007, hosted Safi Mohammed Hussein, agriculture director of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, on a recent visit to Missouri. While in St. Louis, Safi toured the headquarters of biotech giant Monsanto.

LEARN MORE

LITTLE BYTES


1) Organic Gardening Tip of the Week:
Vermicomposting Is More Than Wiggle to a Worm

Jane Tunks, a novice gardener, is using her office's rooftop garden as her classroom, with Fred Bové and Kevin Bayuk from the San Francisco Permaculture Guild as her teachers. Here is another of her lessons.
LEARN MORE

2) Forum Topic of the Week:
How Does Your Garden Grow?

Share stories and post pictures in the Organic Consumers Association's online discussion forum.
LEARN MORE

3) Organic Consumer News of the Week:
Aurora, Supplier of So-Called "Organic Milk" to Wal-Mart, Continues Violating Organic Standards

The Cornucopia Institute, filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA in Washington alleging that one of the five industrial-scale dairies operated by Aurora, its High Plains dairy near Kersey, Colorado, is failing to graze their dairy cattle as required by the federal organic standards. OCA has called for a boycott of Aurora's cheap feedlot milk, marketed under private labels as "organic" by Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Safeway, and others.
LEARN MORE

4) GMO News of the Week:
ArborGen to Plant 260,000 Frankentrees Across the U.S.

International Paper's ArborGen joint venture with MeadWestvaco Corp. and New Zealand's Rubicon Ltd. is seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell the first genetically engineered forest trees outside China.
LEARN MORE

5) Health News of the Week:
Pollution Causing Cancer in Animals, New Report Warns

Dumping of toxic wastes is contributing to cancer among wildlife, a new report says. Scientists say that tumors on beluga whales, sea lions and other animals are a warning signal.
LEARN MORE

Internship Opportunity with the OCA!

Right now, for a limited time, we are offering an internship working in our national office in Finland MN, beginning October 1st, 2009 for 4 months with option to stay on for 8 months. This is an unpaid internship but you will be provided with a place to stay and a small stipend for food and living expenses. The internship will consist of basic office tasks such as answering phones, interacting with members, work on our website, as well as specific projects that we will work with you to develop. Opportunities will also be provided for local community involvement, including visits to a CSA, dairy farm, and other sustainable agriculture and community venues in the region.

This is an excellent opportunity to help the OCA while gaining experience in the workings of a national nonprofit campaigning for health, justice and sustainability.

For more information, and to see OCA's other internship offerings, please visit our internship page

LOCAL [[State]] NEWS OF THE WEEK

[[State]]--Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in [[State]] here.
  • Join [[State]] discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in [[State]] on our community calendar.

Message from our Sponsors

A Message from The League of Conservation Voters

This month Senators will debate global warming legislation that will determine the fate of our planet. But Big Oil and Dirty Coal, along with allies like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Newt Gingrich, are ramping up their efforts to kill this critical legislation. In fact, these big polluters and their friends are using all of their resources to sabotage our country’s transition to a clean energy future.

The League of Conservation Voters urgently needs your help to put our country on the path to a clean energy economy.

Send a message to your Senators today asking them to support strong global warming legislation!