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OTA "Modified" By GMO Interests
#280, June 9, 2011
In this issue:
Quote of the Week
Organic Farmers v. Monsanto
Organic Farmers Turn the Tables on Monsanto: Lawsuit Asserts Legal Protections Against Genetic Contamination
"Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed. History has already shown this, as soon after transgenic seed for canola was introduced, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of transgenic seed contamination. Organic corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa now face the same fate, as transgenic seed has been released for each of those crops, too. And transgenic seed is being developed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake."
- Organic Seed Growers v. Monsanto, filed in federal court on June 1, 2011
Alert OF THE WEEK
Organic Spies Find Ties: Organic Trade Association "Modified" By GMO Interests
A short documentary by Organic Spies details the corrupting influence of large multinational food companies at the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Please watch the movie and take action here
Organic Spies made news by releasing information on the financial interests and campaign contributions of the companies that are represented on the OTA board, but the underlying story of Food Inc.'s efforts to co-opt and water down organic while protecting their interest in industrial agriculture's GMOs and factory farms, goes back to very start of the National Organic Program.
A case in point is Oregon's Measure 27 (2002), the first ballot initiative effort to require food companies to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients. The Organic Trade Association ostensibly supported the measure, but didn't chip in financially.
The food and crop-biotechnology industries raised a war chest to fight the ballot measure. Ironically, some of these companies already had stakes in organic and some had subsidiaries that were members of OTA.
General Mills (currently represented on the OTA board by Craig Weakly of Small Planet Foods), H.J. Heinz Co. (invested in the Hain-Celestial Group), PepsiCo (Tropicana and Quaker produce a few organic products), and Kellogg's (owns Kashi), joined a coalition of corporate giants - the "Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law" - including chemical makers Monsanto and DuPont, agribusiness ConAgra, food processor Sara Lee, the pesticide lobbying group CropLife and the junk food lobbying group the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in spending some $5.5 million to defeat mandatory GMO labels.
By contrast, the pro-label group, Oregon Concerned Citizens for Safe Foods, raised only about $100,000 in cash, loans and in-kind contributions and had already spent about $72,000 to collect signatures, when Food Inc. rolled in with $5.5 million to spend on advertising. The Safe Foods group's largest contributor was Mel Bankoff, founder of Emerald Valley Kitchen Inc., a Eugene, OR organic food company, who gave $47,500, most of it in loans, state records show. The second largest donor was the Organic Consumers Association.
By 2005, the same companies that defeated the Oregon GMO Truth-In-Labeling ballot measure worked through the OTA to execute a sneak attack on organic standards. As Melanie Warner of the New York Times reported at the time,
"Senate and House Republicans on the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee inserted a last-minute provision into the department's fiscal 2006 budget specifying that certain artificial ingredients could be used in organic food.
"The Organic Trade Association, an industry lobbying group that proposed the amendment and spent several months pushing for its adoption, says that the measure will encourage the continued growth of organic food.
"Some advocacy groups, however, say the amendment will weaken federal organic food standards, first established under a 1990 law. Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, calls the initiative a "sneak attack engineered by the likes of Kraft, Dean Foods and Smucker's."
"Dean Foods' subsidiary Horizon Organic and the J.M. Smucker Company, the owner of Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organic juices, said they supported the work by the Organic Trade Association, which represents both large and small companies in the business, but did no lobbying on their own."
It has only gotten worse in the last 6 years, and as the Organic Spies documentary reveals, OTA's board has been "modified" by the GMO interests of Food Inc.
Learn More & Take Action
Millions Against Monsanto Fundraising Appeal
Three hundred thousand have already signed up as participants and supporters in our Millions Against Monsanto Truth-in-Labeling Campaign. But we need money to print leaflets, to buy educational videos, to print up T-shirts and bumper stickers, and to pay our campaign staff. As you know, GMOs, Factory Farms, and deceptively labeled consumer products pose a mortal threat to public health, climate stability, and all living things. As we speak, organic crops are being contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs. We need your financial contributions to educate and mobilize consumers, to protect and maintain strict organic standards, and to pressure the entire food industry, including natural food stores and co-ops, to adopt Truth-in-Labeling practices.
Millions Against Monsanto
GMO Food Dumps! Join Ronnie Cummins in Chicago & Boulder!
Don't miss these two opportunities to meet OCA director Ronnie Cummins and replicate the dramatic "GMO Food Dump" actions in Chicago & Seattle that made the cause for GMO labels national news, as covered in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, the Baltimore Sun, and the Atlantic.
Chicago: Discussion on Millions Against Monsanto Campaign with Ronnie Cummins, Saturday June 11 at 2 PM. RSVP here!
Boulder: Picket Line 12 Noon June 28 Tell the Natural Foods Industry: Stop Selling Unlabeled GMO-Tainted Foods--Millennium Harvest House (Hotel). RSVP Here!
California: 2012 GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative
Just because we aren't yet gathering signatures for registered voters in California, it doesn't mean there's nothing to do - quite the opposite. In fact, we are beginning the most important part of this campaign: building the statewide network that will put mandatory labeling for GMOs on the ballot. Our #1 resource is our numbers: the strength of our OCA and Millions Against Monsanto network. The network we build now to carry out public education and gather signatures in the fall will continue to grow and bring victory in November 2012. We don't have Monsanto and Food Inc.'s money. But we will win because we have the overwhelming majority of consumers and voters on our side.
Illustration of the Week
What the White House Garden Would Look Like If They Followed Their Own Ag Policy
Thanks to Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International, a Maine-based nonprofit, for putting together these great visual aids. He writes:
In a nutshell, I was really inspired by the diversity and nutritiousness of the crops planted in the White House kitchen garden this spring and thought it would be eye-opening - not to mention jaw-dropping - to see what the White House garden would look like if it were planted to reflect the relative importance of the crops that our tax dollars are actually supporting.
You'll see that there's very little resemblance between America's Kitchen Garden and our "Subsidy Garden"
Food Supply Under Strain on a Warming Planet
Energy and Climate Crisis: Three Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life
Open Letter to Whole Foods Market
German Officials: Organic Sprouts Not Cause of E. coli Outbreak
Natural and Organic Products Industry Sales Hit $81 Billion
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Book of the Week
Help Us Build a Sustainable Future!
Our friends at Chelsea Green offer the latest books on sustainability, democracy, new science, and pathways to peace. Thanks to our new Affiliate Program, your online purchase supports the OCA!
This weeks featured book is: Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Some of the biggest problems facing the world - war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation - are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.
While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
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