TOP NEWS OF THE WEEK

Texas Showdown!

“When a government agency, the National Organic Program, that pretends to represent the organic community instead represents USDA bureaucrats and corporate profiteers, it’s time for organic consumers and our allies to rise up and take back control over organic standards and practices.” – Ronnie Cummins, national director, Organic Consumers Association

On Tuesday (April 29) this week, OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer was hauled off in handcuffs when she refused to end the Organic Consumers Association’s protest of illegally made changes to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) policy for approving and removing non-organic materials from organics.

End of story? Not on your life.

The battle to recapture control of the organic and natural food and products system, which has fallen under the control of corporate and government self-interests, is a long-term one. And we intend to see it through
.

In the coming weeks, OCA will formally announce the formation of the Organic and Natural Health Trade Association. The new association will be open only to those companies and organizations that adhere to strict, ethical organic and natural health standards.

Greenwashers need not apply.

In the meantime, the battle to overturn the NOP’s recent decision is far from over. And we have some heavy hitters on our side.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), both of whom were principal authors of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, have written to USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to voice their disapproval of the NOP’s latest power grab.

Ditto former NOSB chairs Jim Riddle, Jeff Moyer and Barry Flamm, who wrote that the recent changes “unilaterally enacted by the USDA's National Organic Program . . . significantly erode the authority, independence and input of the NOSB.”

The NOP may have to arrest a lot more people before this showdown is over. Is that really how the USDA wants to run its organic program?

Video of arrest

Video summary of protest

More on the protest

Why Organic Standards Are Worth Fighting For

Leahy-DeFazio letter to USDA

Letter to USDA from past NOSB chairs

Photo Credit: James Ovalle

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Stop the Power Grab!

“Mr. McEvoy, this is a country of laws. The power grab is a betrayal. This is a turning point. We are heading to court.” – Mark Kastel, Cornucopia Institute

According to a recent survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, seven out of 10 Americans want as few as possible synthetic and non-organic ingredients in certified organic foods.

So what is the USDA’s NOP program doing, under the direction of Miles McEvoy? Catering to the big players in the organic and natural foods industry by changing the rules in order to allow more non-organic materials in organics.

And it seems USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is standing behind McEvoy (pictured), the NOP and industry. Not consumers.

It’s a clear power grab to promote the interests of industry over the rights of consumers. And it’s wrong. That’s why we organized a protest this week—a protest that led to the arrest of our political director.

Are we going to let an arrest stop us? No way. But we need your help to keep this fight alive.

OCA Statement on Arrest at NOSB meeting

TAKE ACTION: Write your own letter to Vilsack:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

TAKE ACTION: Call Vilsack’s office: (202) 720-3252

TAKE ACTION: Post on the USDA Dept. of Agriculture Facebook page

TAKE ACTION: Save Organic Standards! Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to Reverse Rule that Weakens Organics

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Follow the Honey


You would think what with Monsanto’s Honeybee Advisory Council, and Bayer’s Bee Care Centers, the world’s largest pesticide-makers would be too busy caring about bees to manufacture or use the pesticides that kill them.

Not true, of course. Here’s what is true. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto have launched a massive public relations campaign to convince consumers that, despite the science,
their pesticides aren’t to blame for Colony Collapse Disorder. And it looks like the U.S. Department of Agriculture is following their lead, by trying to
shift the blame for bee deaths to mites, not poisons.

According to a new Friends of the Earth report, the pesticide industry’s “distraction” campaign looks a lot like what the tobacco industry did to convince consumers that cigarettes weren’t giving them lung cancer. (Coincidentally, neonicotinoids are synthetic derivatives of nicotine, a toxin produced by the tobacco plant).

How can industry afford such a big PR campaign? By selling billions of dollars’ worth of pesticides every year. Bayer alone sold $10 billion of “Crop Protection” products (including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and seed growth) in 2012.

It’s bad enough these companies sell bee-killing pesticides, and seeds coated in bee-killing pesticides, to farmers. But they also sell them to consumers. And even if you’re a savvy consumer who wouldn’t buy Syngenta’s Maxide (fungicides and herbicides) or Bayer’s “Bayer Advanced” or “Bayer Garden” products, you may be unknowingly buying garden plants that have been treated with these companies’ neonicotinoid poisons.

Learn more

Read the report

TAKE ACTION: Home Depot and Lowe’s: Stop Selling Bee-Killing Garden Plants!

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

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

Out on a Limb

"These are critical decisions. If consumers walk away, we're left with nothing." - Jay Feldman, NOSB board member and executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

You count on us to fight the government and industry takeover of your food supply.

And because sometimes petitions and letters and phone calls just aren’t enough, this week we went out on a limb to protest what we, and others, believe is a power grab by the USDA to promote the interests of big companies, at the expense of you, the consumer.

Our peaceful protest led to the arrest of political director, Alexis Baden-Mayer. (She’s out on bond, ready to get back in battle).

This week, we took a stand. Against industry. On your behalf. For the preservation of organic standards.

Because if we didn’t, if we had just walked away, consumers—you—would be left with nothing but a meaningless, watered-down set of organic standards.

We don’t think you want that. So with your continued support, we will keep hounding the USDA until it does its job.

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 LABELING LAWS UPDATE

A Matter of Time

Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin is set to sign the nation’s first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill one week from today, May 8, 2014.

Vermonters are thrilled. But so are the rest of us, from coast to coast. Why? For one, the passage of Vermont H.112 paves the way for other states, especially those where GMO labeling bills are in play, to follow suit.

But that’s not the only reason Vermont is a win for all of us. Once food manufacturers have to label GMO-contaminated foods in Vermont, they’ll likely reformulate their products to be GMO-free (just as they’ve done in other countries), knowing that Vermonters don’t want products that say “Contains genetically modified organisms.”

We expect industry will get behind the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act—a bill they’re pushing in Congress that would preempt Vermont’s new law. And they’ll probably sue the state of Vermont, though they know they can’t win.

But the momentum is clearly on our—your—side. Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws, but with trigger clauses requiring multiple other states to pass labeling requirements before their own go into effect. Meanwhile Arizona, Colorado and Oregon have ballot initiatives in play, and New York, Massachusetts, California and others are advancing bills.

It’s only a matter of time.

Update on state GMO labeling laws

 
 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Organic Rising

“ . . . the Food Industry in America is a $1.2 trillion*** a year business and the food companies and biotech firms, like Wall Street, are controlling and influencing government policies.” – Anthony Suau

Anthony Suau, a Pulitzer Prize recipient and Emmy award winner, lived in Europe for 20 years. When he moved back to the U.S., he wondered why the meat here was such poor quality, compared with what he was used to in Europe.

Suau decided to find out. He researched the reasons behind the poor quality of meat in the U.S. And that led him to look at the bigger picture—why is poor-quality food the norm in this country? And what can be done to change that?

Suau is producing a documentary, Organic Rising, that focuses on solutions. But he needs help raising $50,000 to finish the project. If you’d like to help, go here.

More about the film

Watch the trailer

Support the film

Enter the Organic Rising photo contest

Organic Rising on Facebook

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

Two Federal Raw Milk Freedom Bills Introduced

How Vermont Plans to Defend the Nation's First GMO Law

Key Dietary Strategies to Protect Yourself from Alzheimer's

Big Food: Michael Pollan Thinks Wall Street Has Way Too Much Influence Over What We Eat

Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change

Carbon Monoxide on Your Plate? 5 Dangerous Substances Big Ag Pumps into Your Meat

Science Media Centre Spins Pro-GMO Line

 
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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