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October 15, 2009

Organic Bytes #195: GMO Vaccines, Obama's Biotech Friends, and More...

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Quote of the Week: World Food Day - Organic Is the Answer to Food Security
  • Alert of the Week: Get Genetically Engineered Vaccines Out of Organic!
  • Victory of the Week: Kucinich Secures Funding for Organic Farming Research
  • Alert Update of the Week: Obama's Biotech & Chemically Dependent Friends
  • Movie of the Week: Meet the Farmer TV
  • Book of the Week: The Raw Milk Revolution
  • Organic News of the Week: MOOMilk Is Local and Organic
  • Little Bytes: Go Locavore and Cool the World
  • Planting Peace and Grassroots Netroots News

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Quote of the Week

World Food Day - Organic Is the Answer to Food Security

"Organic agriculture puts the needs of rural people and the sustainable use of natural resources at the centre of the farming system. Locally adapted technologies create employment opportunities and income. Low external inputs minimize risk of indebtedness and intoxication of the environment. It increases harvests through practices that favor the optimization of biological processes and local resources over expensive, toxic and climate damaging agro-chemicals...in response to a frequently asked question: Yes, the world can be fed by the worldwide adoption of Organic agriculture. The slightly lower yields of Organic agriculture in favorable, temperate zones are compensated with approximately 10-20% higher yields in difficult environments such as arid areas."

-International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements World Food Day, October 12, 2009

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Alert of the Week

Get Genetically Engineered Vaccines Out of Organic!

Currently, vaccines are allowed for use in organic livestock production. However, many vaccines on the market today are genetically engineered - which means that these vaccines, according to federal law, are supposed to be excluded from organic production. Unfortunately many genetically engineered vaccines are being used in organic livestock production, without the review or approval of the organic oversight board that is supposed to control what inputs can legally be used in organic production, the National Organic Standards Board.

The National Organic Standards Board will be considering a recommendation at their November 3-5 meeting in Washington, DC to allow unrestricted use of genetically engineered vaccines in organic livestock production.

The Organic Consumers Association opposes the use of genetically engineered vaccines, and all GMOs, in organic production. Please join us in the telling the  NOSB to reject the recommendation for unlimited use of GMO vaccines and instead to adhere to the regulation that requires each GE vaccine to be individually reviewed.

Scientists are warning, "Genetically engineered vaccines possess significant unpredictability and a number of inherent harmful potential hazards."

Already, we have seen these hazards manifest themselves. To name just one example, a small biotech firm in Texas tainted half a million bushels of soybeans with a trial vaccine used to prevent upset stomachs in piglets.

Tell the NOSB that GMO vaccines have no place in organics.

LEARN MORE AND TAKE ACTION


Alert Update of the Week

Obama's Biotech & Chemically Dependent Friends

Organic Consumers Association network members sent 100,000 emails to Obama last fall opposing Tom Vilsack's appointment as USDA Secretary, because the former Iowa Governor had served as a leading advocate for Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farming. We also generated nearly 40,000 letters opposing former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor's appointment as a senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on food safety.

So far, we've been able to keep Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff (notorious for his support of Monsanto's controversial gene-altered Bovine Growth Hormone) out of the Administration, but President Obama has just nominated two high-profile biotech advocates, closely connected to Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, to key USDA and trade positions.

Obama has tapped Roger Beachy, long-time president of the Danforth Plant Science Center (Monsanto's nonprofit arm) as chief of the USDA's newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

And Islam Siddiqui, currently the VP of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America (a major front group for GMO and chemical agriculture), has been nominated for the post of Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative's office. CropLife's regional partner, the Mid America CropLife Association, was the group that infamously chided the First Lady for refusing to use pesticides on the White House garden. Siddiqui gave the maximum personal contribution to Obama's campaign and held a major fundraiser for Obama at his McLean, Virginia home early last year.

LEARN MORE AND TAKE ACTION

Victory OF THE WEEK

Kucinich Secures Funding for Organic Farming Research

 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) secured a legislative victory for organic farmers and consumers by recently ensuring that the US Department of Agriculture will collect and share economic data that is essential to the growth of the nation's $25 billion organic food and farming sector. The $500,000 allocation for the Organic Production and Market Data Initiative was secured as part of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriation Act. This allocation for organic economic research represents a mere "drop in the bucket" considering that the USDA spends $90 billion dollars of our tax money every year subsidizing GMOs, chemical agriculture, junk food commodity crops, and factory farms, but is a step forward nonetheless.

"Organic foods and products should be able to, at a minimum, compete equally with foods and products made with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetic manipulation," said Kucinich.

Reliable economic data is critical for any industry. Organic farming is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. agriculture. There are currently over 16,000 organic farms and over 11,000 conventional farms that are converting additional acres into organic.  The need and demand for this information will continue to increase, and with this funding, we will help to ensure that growth is possible.

"Organic farming makes sense for our health as well as the health of our air, water, and soil.  That is why it is one of the fastest growing businesses in the US."

In recent years, the Economic Research Service of the USDA has engaged in the collection and analysis of segregated organic data. Information collected by the USDA in the recent past has been highly valued by the organics industry.

$500,000 of the $82.5 million budget of the Economic Research Service will ensure that critical information about organics, like farm numbers and trends, marketing trends, consumer preferences and contracting practices in the organic sector, is available to meet the needs of organic farmers.

READ MORE

Help Support and Defend the OCA!

We know times are tough for everyone right now. That's why the OCA continues to work to organize its more than 500,000 supporters to fight for consumers, family farmers, our environment, and our most precious assets, our children. We want to continue fighting the good fight, as well as bringing you Organic Bytes, but we need your donations to survive these financially difficult times. If you enjoy Organic Bytes and believe the world is a better place with OCA's nonprofit work, please consider donating today. Any size donation is helpful and appreciated.

 

 

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Video of the Week

Farmers Arrested Planting Hemp at DEA

On October 13, 2009, North Dakota farmer Wayne Hauge, Vermont organic farmer and Organic Consumers Association advisory board member Will Allen, and fed up American entrepreneurs who have been developing and marketing healthy, environmentally-friendly hemp products, turned to civil disobedience with the planting of industrial hemp seed at DEA headquarters to protest the ban on hemp farming in the United States. Even though the U.S. is the largest market for hemp products in the world, and industrial hemp is farmed throughout Europe, Asia and Canada, not a single American farmer has the right to grow the versatile crop which is used for food, clothing, body care, paper, building materials, auto paneling and more.

WATCH

Book of the Week

The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David E. Gumpert, with a foreword by Joel Salatin

Here's an excerpt:

This is a full assault against us. It's a war against raw milk...they've done hundreds of tests and found zero pathogens. If the authorities didn't back off and allow him to reopen, we're going to sue them for $100 million.

As I would come to know over the ensuing months, Mark McAfee didn't mince his words, nor did he shirk from standing up to government regulators.

He described for me a situation in which a dozen or more guys in white coveralls and plastic gloves from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the FDA were combing every crevice and corner of his dairy, taking milk and manure samples from cows, inspecting is bulk tanks, tearing apart packaging, and digging up soil samples...

LEARN MORE

Organic News of the Week

Maine Organic Farmers Dropped by Hood Launch MOOMilk (Maine's Own Organic Milk) With Help From Stonyfield Farms

Last February, a group of Maine organic dairies were facing economic disaster. Citing a soft organic market, a depressed economy, and the great distances to serve organic milk producers, 10 organic dairy farms were given the "pink slip" by by northeast milk bottler H.P. Hood Inc.

The farmers were flabbergasted. Each had a contract, and all said they had made substantial investments in their farms to convert to organic.

But this is rural Maine, and with true Yankee ingenuity, the 10 farmers banded together to find a solution. Through a cooperative agreement among the farmers, private investors, Smiling Hill Farm, Oakhurst Dairy, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine Department of Agriculture, a new company has been launched: MOOMilk Co., short for Maine's Own Organic Milk Co.

"In the farmer's minds, converting to conventional was a death sentence. Going out of business was a death sentence. This was the only and best answer," said Bill Eldridge, MOOMilk's general manager said.

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LITTLE BYTES

1) Small Organic Farmers Can Cool the World
Transitioning the world's farmlands, pasture, and rangelands to organic production and restoring soil fertility will make a huge contribution to resolving the rapidly escalating climate crisis.
READ MORE

2) California's Food Banks Go Locavore
Since 2005, the California Association of Food Banks has struck deals with farms and packers across the state to collect truckloads of fruits and vegetables that are too small, ripe or misshapen for supermarkets to sell.
READ MORE

3) Why Ethanol Production Boosts E.Coli in Cattle
Cattle fed a diet of distillers grain -- the residue left over after the starch has been removed from corn for ethanol production -- have significantly higher levels of the deadly pathogen e-coli O157:H7 in their feces than cows fed regular grains.
READ MORE

4) Justice Department Probe Could Expose Monsanto Seed Monopoly
There are four seed companies that control 75 percent of the marketplace and four packers on the livestock side of things. The US Department of Justice will be investigating concerns about concentration and the resulting lack of competition in the industry. Will they crack the Monsanto seed monopoly?
READ MORE

5) Where They Grow Our Junk Food
A bushel of corn produces some 440 two-ounce bags of 99-cent chips. Farmer grosses $3.70 for the bushel of corn, Doritos more than $440.
READ MORE

Planting Peace and Grassroots Netroots News


1) HEALTH:
Garrison Keillor: Health Care for All... READ MORE

2) JUSTICE:
The Tarnac Nine planted carrots without bosses or leaders, and with the idea that life, intelligence and decisions are more joyous when they are collective. The French government accuses them of terrorism. READ MORE

3) SUSTAINABILITY:
UK Energy Research Council predicts oil will begin running out before 2030 and there is a "significant risk" peak oil will be reached before 2020. READ MORE

4) PLANTING PEACE:
Afghanistan: Will Obama Listen to the Women? READ MORE

5) DEMOCRACY:
Democrats are increasingly disgruntled as Obama fails to deliver on campaign promises, including health care, peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and closing the Guantanamo prison. READ MORE

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

At Living Tree Community we make tahini sesame butter from organically grown raw sesame seeds that have been mechanically hulled.We do not grind, rather we slice the sesame seeds, let them rest overnight and then slice again the next day. We invite you to compare the texture. Compare the taste! Tahini lends itself to so many creations:

Put a tablespoon in a blender, add water, a dash of honey and lemon juice and you have a delightful salad dressing.

Mix with chopped vegetables, celery, onion, garlic, herbs and spices for a savory pate'.

Mix tahini with honey and you have the makings of halvah, a Middle Eastern delight!

I just received my order of organic raw almond butter, organic raw tahini (THE BEST TAHINI EVER!! - so worth trying to “budget”!), organic raw black sesame tahini (cannot wait to try it!), and Coconut Carob Goji Berry Chocolate Ecstasy. Well, my boys (ages 8, 7, 5, and almost 3) and I tried the Ecstasy and YUM! We call it “Candy Bar in a Jar”. What a blessing that it arrived after lunch! After 2 mini portobello mushroom “pizzas” there was only enough room for a spoonful (whew)!
Thanks again for everything. I hope to place another order soon!

Jenna Kulcsar
Baltimore,MD

May we invite you to visit our website
Living Tree Community Foods
1-800-260-5534