ESSAY OF THE WEEK

A Treacherous Road Ahead for Food Labeling?

For consumers and the anti-GMO movement, 2014 could be a year of treacherous twists and turns.

Will the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) convince the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to make a legal ruling, allowing food companies to officially call products that contain genetically engineered ingredients “natural”?

Will the FDA finalize its guidance on voluntary GMO labeling and effectively wipe out states’ rights to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws? Alternatively, will the FDA—the agency charged with protecting consumers—pass a watered-down, industry-friendly mandatory GMO labeling law that exempts a huge percentage of genetically engineered ingredients?

Or will consumers and food activists rev up new campaigns to pass not only GMO labeling laws, but more countywide bans on GMO crops? And laws requiring labels on animal products from factory farms, where the animals are fed a steady diet of GMO crops, growth hormones and antibiotic-laced feed?

Read Ronnie’s essay

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Tell the FDA: GMOs Aren’t ‘Natural’!

In its latest underhanded (desperate?) move to thwart the anti-GMO movement, Big Food’s lobbying arm has petitioned the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to rule that food companies can officially label their GMO-contaminated products as “natural” or even “all natural.”

To be clear, food companies are already doing this. Even though the FDA says the word “natural” means “nothing artificial or synthetic . . . has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.” But now the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), representing more than 300 food manufacturers and trade groups, wants the FDA to guarantee food companies the right to continue misleading consumers with its fraudulent labeling schemes.

So far the FDA has dodged the question of whether or not food companies are lying to customers when they say their products are “natural” even when they contain genetically engineered ingredients. But in July, facing a barrage of lawsuits from consumers furious that food companies have been allowed to hide GMOs in popular “natural” brands, the courts asked the FDA to weigh in. Big Food wants to be sure the FDA rules in favor of the junk food industry.

More than 43,000 concerned consumers have already signed our petition to the FDA, launched earlier this year. If you haven’t already, please sign today!

TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA that GMOs Aren’t “Natural”!

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

Over the Top

You did it again.

Thanks to your outpouring of support, OCA surpassed its year-end fundraising goal of $200,000. And will receive a matching $200,000 from natural health leader, and OCA ally, Mercola.com.

Thank you.

Powerful corporations and corrupt governments hope that if they can fool enough people, if they throw enough money at spinning their lies and manipulating the media, if they crack down on enough protests and pass enough one-sided laws, movements like ours will fizzle out. They hope people like us, like you, will grow discouraged. Run out of money. Burn out. Lose hope. Give up.

You have proven, over and over, that you are in this for the long haul. And we remind ourselves, every day, that without you, there is no movement.

Thank you for your faith in our work, and your over-the-top support. Let’s make 2014 another year of showing Monsanto and Congress that this movement to take back our food and farms is here to stay.

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in Washington, Vermont and other states)

 
 

CAMPAIGN UPDATE

Good News for Local Food & Farms!

Local farms, farmers markets and food hubs can breathe a sigh of relief—for now, at least.

On December 19, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will take a second look at proposed new laws that would have put many local farms, farmers markets and food processors out of business. The new rules, proposed under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), came under fire from consumers, farmers and anyone interested in, or invested in, local food and farming. That includes the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition which published this list of Top 10 Reasons to let the FDA know that the rules needed to be rewritten.

In a statement the FDA said its “thinking has evolved” and:

“. . . significant changes will be needed in key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers. These provisions include water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms.”

Thanks to the nearly 60,000 of you who signed OCA’s petition asking the FDA to promote, not stifle, local sustainable food and farms. Let’s keep after the FDA in 2014 to protect local, sustainable agriculture. Thank you!

 
 

FACTORY FARM BOYCOTT

Got (Organic) Milk?

There are plenty of reasons to boycott milk from factory farms. Beginning with your own health.

Dairy cows raised on grass pastures produce milk that is higher in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene than milk from cows raised on grain. Milk from grassfed cows also contains five times as much conjugated linoleic acid, an unsaturated fat which protects against heart disease, aids in weight loss and may prevent cancer and diabetes, than milk from grain-fed cows.

Milk from factory farms, or CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations)? That comes from cows raised on genetically engineered grains and pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones—not exactly a recipe for healthy milk.

But it’s not just your health that benefits when you boycott milk from factory farms. Industrial dairy farms, with their endless streams of waste, are a public health risk. As for the health and well-being of the dairy cows that produce your milk, despite the pretty pictures of happy, grazing dairy cows on milk cartons and company websites, cows raised on factory farms endure intense, sustained cruelty. And most are eventually slaughtered for meat.

For tips on how to boycott milk from factory farms, here’s our second in a series of “How to Boycott Factory Farms” articles.

Read the article

 
 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Soy Story

About 99 percent of all genetically modified soy is fed to animals, and most of those animals are housed in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), or factory farms. For Argentina, the “birthplace of soy production,” the practice of shipping soy all over the world, to fatten up animals for slaughter, has led to the destruction of forests, soil and lives.

Watch the video

 
 

ORGANIC TRAVEL

Cuba, Back by Popular Demand!

“Life changing! I gained a perspective of the social, economic and political conditions in Cuba so valuable for understanding sovereignty and justice in a globalized world.”  – Member of the November travel group

The OCA, Vía Orgánica and the Center for Global Justice are offering another chance to leave winter behind and explore the history, culture and agricultural beauty of Cuba. Space is limited, and the deadline for signing up for the 10-day trip (February 14-24) is January 15.

This trip is open to all who have a professional interest. Estimated cost of $1500 plus airfare  (from either Miami or Mexico City) includes dormitory-style accommodations and all meals (at the MLK Center), plus translation, guide, transportation and a full program of activities. Cost does not include flights, visa, health and travel insurance, tips, airport exit tax ($30 USD), or souvenirs and other personal items.

Application and $100 deposit due by January 15. Limited scholarships are available.

For applications and further information, contact cuba@globaljusticecenter.org

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

7 Worst Ingredients in Food

Natural Ear Infection Alternatives to Antibiotics Proven Safer and More Effective

Monsanto's Scary New Scheme: Why Does It Really Want All This Data?

5 Surprising Things We Feed Cows

John Stauber on Democracy and Radical Politics

2014: Populism Rising?

 
 

MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS

Have You Tested Your Vitamin D Level Lately?

Research shows that Vitamin D is critical for your health. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t get enough. Want to know for sure? During the month of February, Mercola.com is offering a Vitamin D testing kit for $65. The Vitamin D home test kit is an easy-to-use prick test. You return it by regular mail, and your results are mailed back to you.

All proceeds from sales of the test kit will go to the GrassrootsHealth D Action Study. The D*Action project has been initiated by GrassrootsHealth, a public health promotion organization, along with 42 leading vitamin D researchers. The project aims to demonstrate how health can be achieved right now with what’s known about vitamin D, through a combination of vitamin D measurement and health outcome tracking.

Learn more about Vitamin D

Learn more about the study

Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on web sites,
print it, duplicate it and post it freely. Knowledge is power!

Organic Bytes is a publication of Organic Consumers Association

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