Fighting Organic Corruption

 

#210, January 26, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins

 

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Urgent Action: Tell Obama to Stop Factory Farms from Degrading Organic Dairy Standards

Organic dairies that graze their cows on pasture produce food that is healthier, safer, and more nutritious than chemical or GMO food, while protecting the environment and removing dangerous greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The USDA is finally coming out with new rules to better enforce the longstanding requirement that organic cows must graze on pasture, rather than be confined in feedlots. Only one last hurdle remains: the President's Office of Management and Budget review.

Straus Dairy (based in California) and Aurora Dairy (based in Colorado) are making a last-ditch effort to prevent the USDA from cracking down on their feedlot operations. They're making a determined effort to sway the Obama administration, utilizing "insider influence" gained through campaign contributions to Obama and politicians like Tom Vilsack, who now heads the USDA.

In order to prevent factory dairy farms from driving ethical organic farmers out of business, and stop special interest manipulation of organic standards, thousands of us need to pick up the phone today. Call the Obama administration and tell them you're furious that the USDA has never adequately enforced the pasture requirement for organic dairy farms. Tell them that you'll never forgive the President if he lets ties to political contributors destroy the strict standards that safeguard organic integrity.

Tell the President that you won't settle for less! If a farm's dairy cows are kept in confinement or aren't on pasture, then its milk and dairy products are not organic!

Help OCA Investigate Whole Foods' "Whole Paycheck" Pricing

Whole Foods: 1/3 Organic... Whole Foods Claims Their Organic Foods Are Reasonably Priced: Is This True?

Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather conventional (mostly chemical and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as "natural."

One of the reasons, WFM and UNFI apologists will tell you, for selling billions of dollars of low-cost conventional or so-called "natural" foods is that it enables WFM and UNFI to sell genuine certified organic products at a reasonable price.

OCA finds this hard to believe.

Help us do a price survey of WFM in your local community, by comparing "Whole Paycheck's" prices on organic products with other outlets, including coops, independent natural food stores, farmers markets, CSAs, and other chains.

Click here to download the "Whole Paycheck" Organic Price Survey Worksheet which you can use to list Whole Food's organic prices in your local community!

 

 

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OCA Needs Your Help to Spread the Organic Revolution

OCA and our national, now international, network of organic consumers and farmers understand that we have a positive life-affirming solution for the global food, health, and climate crisis: organic food, farming, and ranching. But to get out our all-important message we need your support and your donations. So please send us a tax-deductible donation today.

 

Campaign Updates

The Worst Fake "Organic" Cosmetic Brands Revealed: OCA Spreadsheet Summarizes "Organic Cheater Brand" Personal Care Product Hazard

The OCA has prepared a spreadsheet summarizing "Organic Cheater brand" products and their Hazard Rankings according to the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" Cosmetic Safety Database. The tabs at the top of the spreadsheet list various brands horizontally: click each tab to view that brand's product scores from the Skin Deep" database. By far the majority of fake organic products score in the "Moderate Hazard" category. Conversely, Dr. Bronner's Skin Deep product scores show that the vast majority of true NOP certified organic personal care score in the safest "Low Hazard" category. A couple of brands, Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic" and Nature's Gate "Organics", even had some of their fake organic products score in the unsafest "High Hazard" category.

Perhaps even more disturbing, two of the "organic cheater" brands who are the subject of OCA's Complaint to USDA NOP, have reneged on their signed promise to provide product and ingredient information to Skin Deep so that their products' safety can be assessed. Those brands are Eminence "Organic" Skin Care and Head "Organics". Another two brands, while they have not reneged on any promises, have also decided to not submit product and ingredient information to Skin Deep: Ilike "Organic" Skin Care and Surya Sapien "Organic". As noted in the Complaint, all these brands utilize surfactants made in part or entirely from petrochemicals as primary cleansing ingredients, which contain no organic agricultural material whatsoever. Eminence in particular deceptively claims that Alpha Olefin Sulfonate, the primary cleanser in its "Organic Stone Crop Bodywash", is from a "plant source," when in fact this cleanser is commercially available only in pure petrochemical form.

Both Nature's Gate and Eminence do produce a few true USDA NOP certified organic products under their respective brands. However, the vast majority of their product lines are not certified under the USDA's National Organic Program, because their main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are generally based on conventional or petrochemical, rather than organic agricultural, material. As a general rule when shopping for organic personal care, check for the USDA seal to be sure you're buying true organic personal care rather than fake organic products.

Teamsters Urge United Natural Foods, Inc. to Uphold Workers' Rights

On January 13, 2010, one of OCA's closest labor and fair trade labor allies, the Teamsters Union, delivered a letter to the Board of Directors of United Natural Foods, Inc., the largest natural and organic foods distributor in the U.S., urging the Board to work with stakeholders to produce an enforceable and transparent code of conduct that upholds workers' fundamental rights at the company and throughout its supply chain - from small farmers and farmworkers all the way to warehouse workers, truck drivers, and retail staff.

Noting United Natural Foods, Inc.'s 2009 announcement with Walden Asset Management that it will develop a code of conduct, the Teamsters asked the board to adopt a code that is based on the International Labor Organization standards and that applies to both internal operations and suppliers.

The Union also asked the Board to enter into an agreement guaranteeing workers' right to form a union and bargain collectively without influence or interference from United Natural Foods, Inc.'s management.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Stepping Down As Chairman of the Board

The chief executive of natural supermarket chain Whole Foods Market Inc. is giving up his title of chairman of the board, following several years of petitioning by activist shareholders to kick him off the board. OCA has called for the Board to fire Mackey for his arrogance, anti-labor stance, and most recently his claim that global warming and climate change are a myth.

Co-founder and CEO John Mackey is voluntarily giving up his chairmanship, a position he's held since the Austin, Texas, company's inception in 1978, according to a Thursday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mackey will remain on the board.

 

 

Who's Trying to Kill Organic? A Revolutionary Movement Under Attack

The 40 year-old organic movement to promote and expand the market for organic, fair trade, union made and locally produced food and products may not seem to be much of a threat to the powers that be. After all, what possible threat can the creation of new healthy products and market opportunities be to the capitalist system?

However, make no mistake, the organic movement IS a revolutionary movement. It is a revolutionary movement, because it is working to undermine and eventually replace a rich, powerful, and politically connected industry based upon life-threatening chemicals and GMOs and exploitation of farm and food workers. America's chemical-industrial Food Inc. poses major threats to workers' rights, public health, the environment, and the climate.

If everyone opted to buy - or produce themselves - only organic, fair trade, union made and locally produced agricultural products, Food Inc. would soon be out of business. The organic means of food and fiber production and consumption would be in our hands.

The organic revolution is the ultimate consumer boycott. Once we move past the tipping point, U.S. agricultural production and household nutrition will be radically transformed. Monsanto and Corporate Agribusiness will no longer be able to poison the water and the air and pollute the atmosphere.  Organic production methods will clean the water, air, soil, and our bodies and sequester billions of tons of climate-destabilizing CO2 from the atmosphere. Safe, healthy, nutritious organic foods will become the norm while junk foods will gradually disappear.  Millions of farm and food production workers, routinely exploited in our profit-at-any-cost food and farming system, will be empowered and liberated.

When the organic revolution is complete worldwide, we'll have a stable climate, a clean, healthy environment, economic self-sufficiency, food security and good-health for all. And of course following the Via Organica, the organic way, we will conserve precious resources including fossil fuels, water, and land, and thereby eliminate the root cause of resource wars, finally giving "peace a chance" in the world. That's what the organic revolution is all about.

One of the biggest threats to the success of the organic revolution are our supposed allies; greenwashed businesses in the food industry that garnered the public's trust by being the first to support organic, but are now abusing that trust by backsliding on their commitment to the revolution.

Companies like Monsanto and Wal-Mart are the worst enemies of the organic movement. But, our movement also has plenty of Janus-like "friend/enemies," companies like Whole Foods, Horizon, and UNFI that on one hand have given the organic community the market clout to reach the mainstream, but on the other hand have begun to put profits before principle, gradually selling mostly conventional food, disguised and premium-priced as natural.

Friend/enemies of the organic revolution that are particularly troublesome are:

Feedlot "Organic" Dairies

Whole Foods

 

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