ESSAY OF THE WEEK

For Whom the Bee Tolls

“It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.” – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

We know neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides, have been implicated in the mass die-off of honeybees.

But did you know who makes neonics? Syngenta, Bayer CropSciences and Dow Agrosciences.

And did you know who uses them, and for what purpose? Companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow Agrosciences . . . in the herbicides and pesticides and seeds they sell to farmers who grow genetically engineered crops. Crops that eventually end up in our food, or in the feed used to fatten up animals in factory farms—animals we slaughter for food.

We need bees in order to grow food, or at least some of it. Yet the food—GMO food—we are growing is killing the bees.

Read the essay

 
 

ACTION ALERT

GMO Labeling Hot Potato?

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its band of profiteers (28 industry groups masquerading as the Coalition for Affordable Safe Food), have drafted their Bill to Kill GMO Labeling Laws.

But the bill won’t get off the ground unless the GMA can convince a couple of Congress members to sponsor it. It’s time to let every member of Congress know that consumers won’t sit by while Congress panders to the food, biotech and drug cartels, instead of standing up for our right to know.

So far, we know this about the GMA’s proposed law. It asks the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to “reaffirm” its “role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).” Which, translated, means the GMA wants the FDA to revisit its 2001 “voluntary guidance” on GMO labeling and come up with an unenforceable poor substitute for a federal mandatory labeling law.

What’s more, the GMA’s proposed bill would preempt existing and soon-to-be passed state GMO labeling laws (which, sensibly, call for mandatory, not voluntary compliance). And, it would make it officially OK to slap the word “natural” on products containing GMOs. Which are, well, unnatural.

With your help, we’ve been petitioning the FDA to ignore the GMA’s appeal for a weak, watered-down voluntary GMO labeling law.

But now we wonder, which Congress member, in his or her right mind, would go against the will of more than 90 percent of voters to side with industry on what has become the most critical food (and environmental) safety issue of our time? Let’s be sure every member of Congress knows that consumers are dead set against the GMA’s proposed federal GMO labeling “solution.” And that we’ll be watching to see which lawmakers support consumers. And which ones don’t.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Don’t sponsor an industry-crafted federal GMO labeling bill that would preempt states’ rights to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws!

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Bees Don’t Like Agent Orange Crops, Either

There’s a long list of reasons the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shouldn’t approve Dow’s new 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy seeds. But as long as we’re talking about bees this week, here’s another.

Besides being linked to cancer and birth defects in humans, 2,4-D, one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S., is also toxic to honeybees. While the herbicide may not result in the immediate die-off of bees, scientists report that over time, it severely impairs their ability to reproduce.

If the USDA approves Dow’s new 2,4-D-resistant crops, scientists predict anywhere from a 25-fold to 50-fold increase in the use of 2,4-D herbicides.

That’s bad news for you, your health, your kids. And it’s bad news for bees.

The question is this. Whether you’re concerned about your health, or the health of the honeybee population, should a pesticide/herbicide manufacturer, one that produced the Agent Orange herbicide used widely in Vietnam (and which the U.S. government admits is responsible for a host of illnesses in people exposed to it) be in the business of making seeds that produce food for your table?

DEADLINE February 24: TAKE ACTION

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

Not for the Faint of Heart

It’s Valentine’s Day. You knew there had to be a heart in there somewhere.

But it’s also true. The work we do, with your help, is full of challenges. It’s not for everyone. It’s surely not for the faint of heart.

Even as we continue to fight for something so basic as the right to know if our food has been contaminated by GMOs (genetically modified organisms), even as we endure narrow losses in that ongoing battle, encounter politicians too weak to stand up to Monsanto and Big Food, are forced to fend off the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s endless ploys to defeat labeling laws by stripping states of the right to enact their own laws . . . we keep going.

Because you keep us going.

The USDA is on the verge of approving more, and evermore dangerous, GMO crops, including Agent Orange Corn and Soy, and GMO apples. The FDA is biding its time until it approves Frankenfish.

And that’s not the half of it. We still have a long way to go before the general public makes the connection between GMO crops and food and all their related ills. Including factory farms. Loss of biodiversity. Climate change.

There are days when the hills feel too steep, the heart too faint. But we always get that second wind.

Thanks for all your support, past present and future. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, our revolutionaries-in-arms!

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 Oregon, Vermont and other states)

 
 

GMO LEGISLATION UPDATE

Don’t GMO Me, Bro!

Two states, Vermont and Maryland, made progress this week toward passing mandatory GMO labeling laws.

In Vermont, H.112, which was passed by the House last year, survived the Senate’s agriculture committee by a vote of 4 to 1. The vote took place following a lively public hearing in which voters shouted “Don’t GMO Me, Bro!” and demanded the lawmakers pass the bill, without a trigger clause that would delay implementation.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell is planting seeds of doubt about the bill, claiming industry will follow through with threats to sue the state, which could result in a long and costly legal battle. But the bill’s supporters say H.112 will stand up in court. And if industry really thought they could win a suit, they wouldn’t be working so hard to pass a law that would preempt state laws like Vermont’s.

Next stop for H.112? The Senate Judiciary Committee, where activists hope H.112 will sail through. Without a trigger clause.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, 19 lawmakers introduced H.B. 1191 last week (February 7). The bill, which would take effect in July 2015, is similar to other state bills in that it would require foods containing GMOs to bear a label that reads: "genetically engineered"; "produced with genetic engineering"; or "partially produced with genetic engineering."

Vermont GMO labeling bill H.112

Maryland GMO labeling bill H.B. 1191

 
 

ORGANIC RETAIL AND CONSUMER ALLIANCE

No GMOs. No Nonsense. No Kidding.

When it comes to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Sundance Natural Foods couldn’t be more clear about its policy. No new product known to contain GMOs will ever make it onto the store’s shelves. And any product suspected of containing GMOs will be removed, unless the manufacturer can verify the product’s non-GMO status.

The Eugene, Ore.-based store’s no-nonsense approach to non-GMOs stems from a phrase that Sundance’s grocery manager and GMO expert James Mattravers says is the store’s source of inspiration and guidance: “Individuals nourishing community nourishing individuals.”

GMOs? They don’t nourish people or community. So they’re out.

Sundance Natural Foods is located at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, home to what Mattravers describes as “some of the best certified organic farms and farmers in the country.” Sundance does all it can to support the region’s local farms and farmers. And in turn, consumers reward the store with their loyalty.

For its hard-and-fast stance against GMOs, and its commitment to local farms and consumer education, Sundance earned a spot on OCA’s list of Top Right to Know “Diligent Dozen."

Read the spotlight on Sundance Natural Foods

 
 

CAMPAIGN UPDATE

Just the Beeginning

They showed up in bee costumes. Carrying Valentine’s Day cards and cookies. Singing give bees a chance. To add a little theater to the mix, some of them staged bee die-ins.

Activists in Boston, Chicago, Eugene, Ore., Minneapolis, Washington D.C. and San Francisco converged on their local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores this week with this message: Show bees some love. Stop selling garden plants coated in bee-killing pesticides.

The demonstrations were part of a national Bee Week of Action
which included deliveries of valentines to managers of Home Depot and Lowe’s stores, coast to coast.

The actions, organized by Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association and 10 other groups, included collecting more than a half million signatures on petitions to Home Depot and Lowe’s, and sending letters to the CEOs of both companies.

Home Depot responded this week, to say the company is working on a policy to address neonics. We’re hopeful Lowe’s will reach out soon.

This week was just the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign to educate consumers and press retailers to replace bee-killing plants with organic, pesticide-free alternatives. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here are some highlights from actions in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Chicago video

Minneapolis press coverage

Washington D.C. videos here and here
 
Read the press release

 
 

NEW STUDY

Worse Than We Thought

Another study surfaced this week sounding the alarm once again about the world’s reckless use of pesticides and herbicides.

According to a team of French scientists, most testing focuses on the pesticide’s active ingredient. But pesticides contain multiple ingredients and additives. And these “inert” substances may make pesticides more dangerous current testing methods reveal.

The study, published in the journal BioMed Research International, also found that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, whose key active ingredient is glyphosate, is by far the most toxic of herbicides and insecticides tested.

It’s also one of the most widely used in the world, liberally sprayed on lawns, gardens, grain fed to animals and yes, your food.

Learn more here

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

Seeds of Evil: Monsanto and Genetic Engineering

Cut Flowers: A Major Source of Toxic Pesticides

6 Nasty Drugs Your Meat Is On

Government Labels Those Who Grow Their Own Food 'Extremists'

War on Integrative Medicine, Part One: Eliminate the Integrative Doctors

Chick-Fil-a to Use Chicken without Antibiotics

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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