ESSAY OF THE WEEK

Organic Is Better. Really.

Are organic foods healthier? Worth the extra expense?

The scientific debate has raged on for years. Now, a new report says yes—especially if you believe toxic chemicals are bad for your health.

Two years ago conventional media used a meta-analysis by Stanford University to cast doubt on the value of an organic diet. This despite the fact that the analysis—which looked at 240 studies comparing organically and conventionally grown food—found that organic foods are less contaminated with agricultural chemicals.

In an effort to further clarify the 2012 findings, a group of European scientists recently evaluated an even greater number of studies, 343 in all, published over the last several decades.

Here’s what they found. Not only do organic foods have more nutrients, including cancer-fighting antioxidants, but they also contain far fewer pesticide residues. This is a no-brainer given that monoculture chemical and GMO farmers kill the soil with toxic chemicals and climate-destabilizing nitrate fertilizer—while organic farmers feed the soil with compost, nurturing the soil food web.

But the key nutritional difference between conventional and organics? Anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants.

Read the essay

 
 

ACTION ALERT

More Mad Cow?

Question: What could be worse for food safety than a global trade agreement negotiated in secret, by the corporations that stand to benefit, and slated to be rammed through Congress using the controversial “fast track” option?

Answer: Finding out, from leaked documents, that the agreements are being written so vaguely that the public will have no idea what hit them—and corporations will have virtual free rein to skirt regulations intended to protect consumers.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) recently got its hands on some of the secret draft texts for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). According to the IATP’s analysis, the texts call for fewer inspections and less testing of meat imported to the U.S. from other countries, putting Americans at risk of diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease.”

The leaked documents also make it clear that regulations governing animal abuse will be weaker under the TTIP.

As the IATP states, trade agreements have a “profound influence” on public health. Yet the leaked documents contain “abstract” language and are not “consumer friendly.”

According to the IATP:

Instead of a public debate about appropriate protections for health and the type of agriculture we want, these negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, and heavily influenced by corporate trade advisors whose employers are the main beneficiaries of the trade agreements. This is a perverse approach to trade negotiations, forcing the public to read between the lines of leaked, partial texts. This leaked draft TTIP chapter doesn’t tell us everything about where negotiations are headed on food safety, but it tells us enough to raise serious concerns.

Perhaps those “serious concerns” are precisely why the Obama administration wants to ram the agreement through, without input or debate from Congress or the public, and with no possibility of amending them.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Don’t Fast-Track this Disastrous Trade Agreement

More on Mad Cow

More on the secret global trade deals

Photo Credit: Eduardo Amorim via Compfight cc

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Who’s a Scaredy-Cat?

The folks who run Safeway (SWY), the second-largest supermarket chain in North America (and soon to be swallowed up by Albertson’s, to become and even bigger fish in the supermarket sea), have joined the chorus of politicians, corporations and mainstream media who say they oppose GMO labeling because it might “frighten” or “confuse” consumers.

To which we say, balderdash. Or better yet, Boycott!

At their annual shareholders meeting last week (July 25, 2014), shareholders rejected a proposal that would have forced the company to label foods containing GMOs. Using words like “anti-scientific” and “fear-mongering,” and calling labeling activists “shameless,” the company parroted the industry line that GMOs are perfectly safe and labels will only unnecessarily “frighten” consumers.

We’re guessing the only ones who are frightened by the prospect of GMO labels are the junk food manufacturers who sell GMO-contaminated foods and the chemical companies that sell the toxic chemicals required to grow them.

Lest we forget, Safeway is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the multi-billion dollar lobbying group that will spend whatever it takes to defeat GMO labeling laws, and is suing the state of Vermont for passing one earlier this year. (Keep this in mind if you're tempted to go into a Safeway and purchase any of their "O" Organics brand-name products.) Albertsons is a member, too.

Time to take to the phones and facebook pages of Safeway, and let Safeway President CEO Robert Edwards know that you are a courageous consumer who isn’t afraid of a little label. And, of course, join the Safeway boycott (launched in 2013).

TAKE ACTION: Just Say ‘O No!’ to Safeway’s O Organics™ Brand!

Call Safeway +1 877-723-3929

Post on Safeway’s Facebook page

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

Spare Change

Nine. Million. Dollars. In three months.

That’s how much lobbyists spent in the first quarter of 2014 to keep you in the dark about the GMOs in your food.

It’s more than they spent during the entire year of 2013.

Do they really expect us to believe that they can’t add another little line to their labels because it will cost too much—a cost they’ll be forced to pass on to consumers whose financial welfare is of such grave concern to them? When they’ve got $9 million to blow, in just one quarter, on lobbying to prevent labels?

We know better, of course. We also know that the grassroots will never be able to outspend Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

We don’t need to. Because the momentum is now on our side—as evidenced by Monsanto and gang’s panicked spending.

But we do need to raise enough. To win in November in Oregon. To defend Vermont from the GMA’s lawsuit. And to lend support whenever and however we can to other states fighting for labeling, and counties fighting for GMO-free zones.

Every little bit helps. 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)

Photo Credit: greybeard39 via Compfight cc

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Fields of Waving (Bee-Killing) Grain

America’s fields of waving, genetically engineered grain may make for good song lyrics. But according to a new study, they’re also poisoning waterways.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey found neonicotinoids, linked to the die-off of honeybees, in all of the nine rivers and streams they tested in the Midwest. Rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri, which run near the vast fields of (mostly GMO) corn and soybean fields.

One systemic neonic pesticide, clothianidin, was found in 75 percent of the water samples.

According to the report:

We noticed higher levels of these insecticides after rain storms during crop planting, which is similar to the spring flushing of herbicides that has been documented in Midwestern U.S. rivers and streams. In fact, the insecticides also were detected prior to their first use during the growing season, which indicates that they can persist from applications in prior years.

Meanwhile, the bees and birds die and the rivers and streams collect poisons. And as Tom Philpott writes in a recent analysis of neonics, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dithers.

EPA Dithers While a Popular Pesticide Threatens Ecosystems

Notorious 'Neonics' Pervasive in Midwest Waters

TAKE ACTION: Tell Michelle Obama: Help Pass the Saving America’s Pollinators Act!

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

Find Bee-Friendly Resources

 
 

SAVE THE BEES

Bee Celebratory!

Love bees? Want to see them protected? Want to protest the companies that are killing them? Or just learn more about the critical role they play in sustainable gardening?

On Aug. 16, beekeepers, gardeners and activists will gather in cities fromcoast to coast—and everywhere in between—to celebrate National Honeybee Day. Urban beekeepers will lead an event in Los Angeles. Visitors to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Ga., will get to tour recently added hives—just like the ones Carter’s father used to keep.

From Portland, Ore. to Portland, Maine, there are great opportunities to take action for honeybees on August 16.

You can join in. And if you do, we’ll send you “Plight of the Honey Bee” flyers and “Give Bees a Chance: Go Organic!” bumper stickers (while supplies last). Sign up here

Complete list of National Honeybee Day beekeeper events.

Bee Against Monsanto protests against producers of chemicals responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder

Get your “Plight of the Honey Bee” flyers and “Give Bees a Chance: Go Organic!” bumper stickers while supplies last

 
 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Palm Oil. It’s Only Fair

Palm oil is found in about half of all packaged foods sold in the U.S. To keep up with demand, rainforests from Brazil to Broneo are slashed and burned, usually by multi-national corporations that exploit farmers and laborers, trample native land rights, and do nothing to improve workers’ communities or standard of living.

Unacceptable. So Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps is doing something about it. And proving that organic palm oil can be produced using fair trade practices that don’t destroy habitats and the animals that occupy them.

Watch the video

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Another FDA Sneak Attack on Natural Health

Folate. It’s the naturally occurring form of the water-soluble vitamin B9, found in black-eyed peas, chickpeas and other beans, lentils, spinach, turnip greens, asparagus, avocado and broccoli. It synthesizes and repairs your DNA, is critical during infancy and pregnancy, and is required to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia.

You can’t live without it. That’s why it’s available as a supplement. But now the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) wants to reserve the natural form of folate for monopoly drug companies, leaving only the synthetic form for supplements. According to the FDA’s new labeling guidance, the word “folate” will be banned from the Supplement Fact labels—only the term “folic acid” will be allowed.

The OCA has joined the Alliance for Natural Health and the Weston A. Price Foundation to argue that this action is illegal. And we need your help to get the message across.

More here and here

TAKE ACTION: Tell FDA Not to Put Americans at Risk for Big Pharma's Monopoly!

Photo Credit: Clean Wal-Mart via Compfight cc

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

New Science Destroys the Saturated Fat Myth

The Anti-Label Lobby Spends $9 Million So Far This Year

Entrepreneurs Will Disrupt the Future of Eating, Farming

How to Save Loads of Money While Still Eating Organic, Non-GMO Foods

Court Rules Rampant Misuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms Can Continue

Tiahrt, Pompeo in Shootout over GMO Labeling

Under Our Skin: The Hidden Reality of Lyme Disease

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Organic Bytes is a publication of Organic Consumers Association

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