ESSAY OF THE WEEK

Resisting the Truth

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known for more than 12 years (36 years, by some accounts) that the routine use of antibiotics in livestock is harmful to human health. What has it done to protect you?

Nada.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report,” published in September 2013, two million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year. At least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.

Unless you eat organically raised meats, every piece of meat you eat will give you a small dose of antibiotics. That small dose isn’t enough to kill bacteria. And that’s the problem. The bacteria that aren’t killed, become stronger. So strong, that they no longer respond to higher doses of antibiotics when you need them.

In December, the FDA finally made a move (only after being forced to by the courts) it said is intended to curb the reckless use of antibiotics in livestock. Sadly, it falls far short of what we need.

Read the essay

 
 

ACTION ALERT

When a Plan Is Not Really a Plan

On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finally announced a plan to curb the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to treat and fatten up livestock on factory farms.

But the mostly voluntary, loophole-riddled “plan” falls far short of what scientists say is needed to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now pose a real and widespread danger to public health.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y. 25th District), the only microbiologist in Congress and author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), had  this to say about the FDA’s long-awaited plan: “The FDA’s voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”

Part of the FDA’s so-called plan includes something called the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The FDA says the new VFD rule will help curb the routine use of antibiotics in livestock. But in fact, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the new rule may actually weaken veterinary oversight of antibiotic use on factory farms, unless changes are made to strengthen the rule.

The FDA is accepting comments on the VFD rule. It needs to hear from you that the VFD rule needs three changes before it’s approved. It needs to:

  1. Maintain the federal valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship definition, which says the veterinarian has recently seen the animals to be treated or visited the farm where they are kept.
  2. Continue to require that two years of data on antibiotic use in feed are retained, rather than just one. This practice is necessary to determine whether these new policies are actually reducing antibiotic use for livestock year over year.
  3. Ensure that the expiration date of the VFD does not extend past the life of the targeted animals, six months after it is written, or the label directions—whichever is shortest. This provision will decrease the chances that antibiotics are reordered without a legitimate, identified need.

TAKE ACTION: Comment on the VFD Rule here

TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA:  We need a mandatory ban on sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock—not weak, voluntary guidance

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Will It Take an Act of Congress?

On February 7, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered yet another pesticide known to be toxic to honeybees—over the objections of citizens and environmentalists, and despite research suggesting it was a bad idea.

Will it take an Act of Congress to protect the pollinators that are critical to our food supply? Fortunately, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) has been introduced. Unfortunately, it’s still languishing in committee, where it was sent in August 2013.

The latest bee-killing pesticide to be registered by the EPA is cyantraniliprole, used on a variety of foods including leafy vegetables, milk, almonds, berries and onions.

It’s clear that the EPA, which last year approved the pesticide sulfoxaflor, another known killer of bees, is more intent on protecting Dupont, Syngenta and other pesticide-makers than it is on protecting your environment.

Oregon and California have introduced state bills to restrict the use of bee-killing pesticides. But we need Congress to step up and support a national plan to protect the bees.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Representative: Please Support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692)

More on why we need to save the bees

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

What Have You Planted Today?

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

The work we do requires patience. The future we envision, the goals we aim for, are at odds with a society focused on instant gratification.

Ridding our grocery shelves of GMO-contaminated, pesticide-drenched foods will take time.

Awakening society to the fact that our chemical- and energy-intensive industrial agribusiness system is making us, and our planet, sick, is a process. Not a one-time act.

We all look forward to the harvest. But we still have a lot of seeds to plant before we reap.

And we’re going to need an army of planters.

Please consider a generous donation today. So we can all someday reap the harvest of health and sustainability. If not for us, for future generations. Thank you!

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)

 
 

FACTORY FARM BOYCOTT

How to Boycott Eggs from Factory Farms

The incredible, edible egg. It’s been described as one of the most complete, and most versatile, foods ever.

But did you know that if you choose wisely, you can up the versatility quotient of that one, simple food so that it includes lowering your risk of food poisoning, relieving the suffering of intelligent animals, reducing air and water pollution and mitigating climate change?

How? By buying eggs that come from hens raised on pasture, not on factory farms.

When we think of factory farms, it’s meat that first comes to mind. But eggs—between 98 percent – 99 percent of them—come from factory farms, too. And how they’re “produced” is enough to turn your stomach.

Here’s why you should boycott eggs from factory farms, and how to find alternatives.

Learn more

 
 

GMO LABELING LAW UPDATES

And the Beat Goes On

From a turncoat lawmaker in Arizona, to a convicted felon in Maryland, the cast of pro-GMO, anti-labeling characters is anything but dull.

But are they a match for determined anti-GMO, pro-Right-to-Know activists?

Three states—Arizona, Hawaii and Maryland—continue to move the GMO labeling ball forward. If you live in one of these states and want to get involved, we’ve provided contacts. If you live outside these states, you’ll be encouraged—and maybe inspired—by how activists are refusing to back down from industry bullies.

Learn more

 
 

CAMPAIGN UPDATE

Like a Bee to the Clover

Last week’s “Show Bees Some Love” actions in seven metropolitan areas attracted local and national media, drawing much-needed attention to the critical role pesticides play in decimating the world’s honeybee population.

Home Depot responded to the campaign, telling a CNBC reporter that the retail chain has been “working on” an alternative to neonicotinoids (the class of pesticides scientists now believe play a key role in Colony Collapse Disorder) for “some time,” and that several of its suppliers are already using replacements. We plan to hold their feet to the fire until they follow through.
 
Meanwhile, Lowe’s is still giving us the silent treatment.
 
We, along with our allies Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs.org, Pesticide Action Network and other groups, plan to keep the pressure on Home Depot and Lowe’s. Through petitions, letters, talks with the companies’ CEOs. Whatever it takes.
 
And what about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? It’s been busy approving more bee-killing pesticides. All the more reason for consumers to pressure retailers, and for Congress to act.
 
For more videos, photos, press coverage and how to send your photos and videos, click here

 
 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Birds and the Bees

Last week (February 12, 2014), bee-friendly activists swarmed a Home Depot store in the Chicago area. They wore costumes, brought valentines and cupcakes. And then they proceeded to die. Which is exactly what bees will continue to do, unless we convince stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling garden plants that attract bees—only to kill them.

Watch the video

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

Last Call for Monarchs

How Pesticide Companies Silence Scientific Dissent

6 Superpower Foods for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Report: Half of All Cancers Are Preventable

Oregon Seeds Sow Worries as GMO, Organic Crops Coexist

Promises of Prosperity, Fracking Delivers Devastating Toxic Emissions

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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