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ORGANIC BYTES #73
Health, Environment and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!


1/12/2006

Subscribe to this Bi-weekly Email Newsletter: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/organicbytes.htm

In this Issue:

  • U.S. INSPECTOR GENERAL SLAMS USDA ON GENE-ALTERED CROPS
  • McMad Cow
  • ITALIAN SLOW FOOD COMMUNITY DRIVES RONALD MCDONALD OUT OF TOWN
  • STUDY: JUNK FOOD ADDITIVES STOP NERVE CELL GROWTH
  • QUOTE OF THE WEEK
  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR - ORGANIC BYTES READERS TALK BACK

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photo parody

U.S. INSPECTOR GENERAL SLAMS USDA ON GENE-ALTERED CROPS
The USDA is getting some heat for inadequately enforcing regulations on genetically engineered (GE) crops. But this time the heat's not from environmental groups, it's from the agency's own auditor. According to a two year long safety audit by the United States Office of Inspector General, the USDA "lacks basic information about the field test sites it approves and is responsible for monitoring, including where and how the crops are being grown, and what becomes of them at the end of the field test." The government report goes on to say "Current (USDA) regulations, policies and procedures do not go far enough to ensure the safe introduction of agricultural biotechnology." After 10 years, GE crops now account for 114 million acres in the U.S., one-seventh of all crop acreage. Despite the USDA's negligence in enforcing GE crops regulations, Congress continues to refuse to require mandatory safety-testing and labeling of these experimental food products.
Learn more: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/ge/oversight010406.cfm

Take action and sign the Food Agenda 2010 petition to Congress: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/petition1.html

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McMad Cow
When one of the world's biggest purveyors of unhealthy foods complains about how poorly the FDA is monitoring U.S. beef safety, you bet the situation must be pretty dire. The McDonald's fast food chain has submitted comments to the FDA, along with a panel of researchers, saying the government's efforts to protect consumers from Mad Cow disease "fall woefully short." Since the first discovery of the brain-wasting disease in the U.S. in 2003, the government has tested less than one percent of all cattle. "It is our opinion that the government can take further action to reduce this risk," wrote Dick Crawford, McDonald's vice president. The Organic Consumers Association is urging McDonald's and other beef suppliers to protect their customers from the fatal disease by shifting to free range and organic meats raised without feeding the animals blood, slaughterhouse waste, manure, antibiotics, or hormones.
Learn more: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/madcow/mcd.cfm

Learn more and sign the Mad Cow USA petition: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/madcow.htm

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photo parody
ITALIAN SLOW FOOD COMMUNITY DRIVES RONALD MCDONALD OUT OF TOWN
The Southern Italian town of Altamura, Apulia is "breaking the chains" by supporting local businesses. Five years ago, McDonald's revealed plans to open a fast food restaurant in the town. Area citizens, supported by Italy's Slow Food movement, campaigned against the development by establishing their own group "Friends of Cardoncello" (named after an Italian mushroom). Despite community opposition, McDonald's built a fast food store in town, but struggled over the next few years, as townspeople's shunned the "golden arches" and supported local baker Luigi Digesù and other community restaurants. Last month, McDonald's closed its doors and left town."There was no marketing strategy, no advertising promotion, no discounts," Il Giornale, an area resident commented. "It was just that people decided the baker's products were better. David has beaten Goliath."
Learn more: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/btc/slowfood010906.cfm

Get involved with OCA's Breaking the Chains campaign: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/btc.htm

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STUDY: JUNK FOOD ADDITIVES STOP NERVE CELL GROWTH
Mixing common additives, such as aspartame an artificial sweetener, Brilliant Blue, Quinoline Yellow or monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes nerve cell damage, say researchers at the University of Liverpool. The results from a two-year study were recently published in the journal Toxicological Sciences. The researchers found the additives were much more potent in combination with each other than on their own. Mice were exposed to concentrations of additive combinations relative to what a child would receive in an average snack and drink. Researchers were surprised to see the additives interfered with nerve signaling systems and actually stopped the nerve cells from growing. Aspartame is commonly found in diet drinks, candies and flavored medicines, while MSG is frequently found in chips, processed cheese and many processed foods.
Learn more: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/toxic/msg010306.cfm
Get involved with OCA's Appetite for a Change campaign: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/sos.htm

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Consumer Reports (Feb. 2006): "A growing body of research shows that pesticides and other contaminants are more prevalent in the foods we eat, in our bodies, and in the environment than we thought. And studies show that by eating organic foods, you can reduce your exposure to the potential health risks associated with those chemicals."

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QUICK TIDBITS
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a current ban of 36 pesticides in areas where the chemicals may negatively impact salmon. The original ban was initiated by a Seattle District Court in response to a two-year ongoing failure by the EPA to regulate pesticides that were killing off salmon in the region. "We're very happy," said Patti Goldman, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice. "There have been many attempts by the chemical industry and the growers to get rid of the buffers; we now know they will remain in place." http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/politics/salmon011106.cfm
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School districts across the U.S. are responding to government funding cutbacks by beginning the sale of ad space on school buses. For participating districts, banners on the outsides and insides of buses carry ads for everything from soda to pizza to banks. The debate over the issue has become quite contentious among parents and school administrators. "I'm sending my child to school to learn, not to be sold junk food," says Denver parent Melissa Hart. Although only a handful of school districts have begun the practice, they're each reporting an average of half a million dollars per year in ad revenues. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/school/billboards122905.cfm
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The United Nations World Food Programme has developed a video game that has, surprisingly, become the second most frequently downloaded game on the internet (the U.S. Army's recruiting tool holds the #1 position). The game, entitled "Food Force," is designed to teach kids how to use food to rebuild community. Players of the video game air drop emergency food to people ravaged by drought and civil war; coordinate shipping and prices for rice, beans and oil on the world market; and design a nutritionally balanced food package for the hungry. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/ofgu/ff.cfm
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The Future of Food, a film by Deborah Koons Garcia, is back in stock at the OCA headquarters! Thanks to your overwhleming demand for the film, we were temporarily out of supply. The Future of Food provides an in-depth investigation and critique of genetically engineered foods and crops, including interviews with farmer activists such as Percy Schmeiser. According to the Telluride Daily Planet, "This stylish film is not just for food faddists and nutritionists. It is a look at something we might not want to see: Monsanto, Roundup and Roundup-resistant seeds, collectively wreaking havoc on American farmers and our agricultural neighbors around the world. In the end, this documentary is a eloquent call to action." Get it here: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/houseparty.htm#ff
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR - ORGANIC BYTES READERS TALK BACK
Write a letter to the Editor (editor@organicconsumers.org) . A few submissions will be chosen for posting here in Organic Bytes, and others will be resolved over email.

IS BLM USING PESTICIDES OR HERBICIDES?
Reader Writes: I signed your organization's recent petition to the BLM to stop their proposal to vastly increase spraying of chemicals on public lands. But I'm confused, herbicides and pesticides are not the same thing and yet the term seems to be used interchangeably throughout your alert.

Editor's Response: An herbicide is a pesticide. "Cide" is Latin for "killer"... so a "pesticide" literally means it's designed to kill anything considered a pest, such as a weed, rodent, insect, etc. "Pesticide" is an umbrella term that encompasses the full gamut of "cides," including herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, insecticides, etc. A pesticide that kills bugs is an insecticide. A pesticide that kills weeds is an herbicide, etc. In the case of this alert, the proposed chemicals include herbicides and possible other types of pesticides, so we use both terms.
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MMM... TASTES LIKE CHICKEN
Reader Writes: I am grateful for your work, but a Japanese friend pointed out that the photo in the article of Mad Cow Japan (Organic Bytes #72) is actually a photo of a teriyaki chicken burger.

Editor's Response: Thanks for the heads up. We have a lot of fun with our photos, in order to add levity to news stories that could, otherwise, be a bit depressing. In this case, we found this interesting photo of a Japanese burger and thought it would fit well with the story on Japanese beef. Unfortunately, the heavily disguised meat in this sandwich tricked us.
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MAD COW JAPAN
Reader Writes: Your reporter overplays the fact that Japan must perform 100% BSE testing on its domestic herd (Organic Bytes #72). Japan has one of the highest rates of BSE in their domestic herd. Far worse than the USA.

Editor's Response: Japan's BSE rate is falsely presumed higher than the U.S., because in the U.S. we test less than one-percent of all cows, whereas the Japanese test all cattle before slaughter. Therefore, the rate of BSE falsely appears to be lower in the U.S., because many cows with the disease are simply not being discovered and are likely entering the food supply.
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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6771 South Silver Hill Drive
Finland, MN 55603
Phone: (218)- 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652

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