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ORGANIC BYTES #74
Health, Environment and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!


1/26/2006

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

Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

In this Issue:

  • ALERT UPDATE: EPA IGNORING PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO TESTING CHEMICALS ON KIDS
  • UNCHAIN YOUR HEART THIS VALENTINES DAY
  • MAD COW NORTH AMERICA: STOP THE MADNESS
  • ALERT: HELP NEW MEXICO BAN ASPARTAME
  • GOVERNMENT ASKS GENERAL MILLS FOR ADVICE ON ORGANIC STANDARDS
  • WATER FIGHT: BOLIVIA vs. BECHTEL
  • PESTICIDE INDUSTRY ROCKED BY THREE RECENT ALARMING STUDIES
  • QUICK TIDBITS

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ALERT UPDATE:
EPA IGNORING PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO TESTING CHEMICALS ON KIDS
Several months ago, the Organic Consumers Association alerted its readers to an EPA proposed rule that would allow pesticide and other chemical testing on children. Thanks to all of you, over 50,000 comments were generated to the EPA condemning this proposal. Despite overwhelming input from citizens, congress, and EPA's own scientists opposing the proposed rule, the agency's administrators have announced they are days away from approving the proposal and allowing chemical testing on children. "The fact that EPA allows pesticide testing of any kind on the most vulnerable, including abused and neglected children, is simply astonishing," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Even EPA's own scientists are speaking out against the agency's proposed rule. "I am somewhat dismayed that this rule was presented in such a complex -- and I would have to say, tricky -- way," said Suzanne Wuerthele, a regional toxicologist for the EPA. Earlier in 2005, Congress mandated that the EPA must ban all chemical testing on humans without exception, in order for the agency to be allocated its full budget. EPA has clearly failed to do this with this proposed rule. Tell Congress to advise the EPA against publishing this rule:
Take action here:
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/epa6.cfm

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UNCHAIN YOUR HEART THIS VALENTINES DAY
Seeking expert advice on how to woo your loved one this Valentines Day? Look no further. The Organic Consumers Association has assembled some handy-dandy materials to help you evade one of the biggest romance-making "no-no's"... giving a bad gift. The sweets you were thinking about buying your sweetie may not be so sweet after all. Over 40 percent of the world's chocolate comes from Côte d'Ivoire, where the International Labor Organization and US State Department have reported widespread instances of child slavery. Before your sweetheart takes a deep whiff of those roses you bought at the chain store down the street, you should know that the majority of cut flowers in the U.S. are imported from Colombia and Ecuador and have been sprayed with up to two dozen different toxic pesticides. This Valentine's Day show your loved one that you truly care.

To help stoke the flames of passion, and to support Fair Trade & organics, check out OCA's "Unchain Your Heart" Valentines campaign center: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/valentines/

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photo parody

MAD COW NORTH AMERICA: STOP THE MADNESS
Another case of Mad Cow disease has been detected in Canada. The discovery increases the pressure on the USDA to commit to more stringent testing of cattle in the U.S, and to stop feeding slaughterhouse waste, blood, and manure to cattle. A new study out of the UK shows that even miniscule parts of an infected animal can lead to widespread contamination. "Based on this new research, if just one infected cow entered the U.S. feed supply and the brain and spinal cord of that animal were maximally dispersed in feed, it could potentially infect 45,000 other cows," says Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union (Consumer Reports). While countries like Japan now test all of their cattle for the fatal disease before they enter the food supply, only about 1 in 90 animals is tested in the U.S.

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

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ALERT: HELP NEW MEXICO BAN ASPARTAME
Aspartame, also known as NutraSweet, is currently in 6000 food products and in over 500 pharmaceutical preparations, despite over three dozen peer-reviewed scientific studies outlining its toxicity. Most recently, a study was published in the November, 2005 issue of the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," demonstrating that rats consuming aspartame had a higher incidence of tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, and other cancers. In light of this evidence, legislation has been introduced in New Mexico that would ban aspartame. Introduced in the state Senate by Albuquerque Democratic Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino as Senate Bill 250, and in the state House by Gallup Navajo Democratic Representative Irvin Harrison as House Bill 202, the measure draws upon statutes that allow the state to regulate poisonous and deleterious food additives in the interest of public health. A successful bill of this type could set a powerful precedent for the whole country. In order for this bill to take the next step, an Executive Message must be given by Governor Bill Richardson. Take Action: Support legislation banning aspartame: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/aspartame1.cfm


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GOVERNMENT ASKS GENERAL MILLS FOR ADVICE ON ORGANIC STANDARDS
Consumers are frequently being ignored when it comes to maintaining strict National Organic Standards, while industry is being offered an ever-increasing voice. The Organic Consumers Association and the Consumers Union have filed a complaint with the USDA regarding recent appointments of industry representatives as "consumer representatives" to the organic community's watchdog panel over organic standards. Congressional legislation on organic standards, passed in 1990, created a special organic advisory board to help oversee and develop organic standards. This panel of experts is known as the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Federal law indicates that the NOSB must be a balanced Board representing the broad interests of the organic community, and include four farmers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer advocates, three environmentalists, and one certifying agent. Recently, the USDA broke traditional consensus by appointing five new members to the NOSB without any public comment. The consumer representative seats were handed over to industry by the USDA, ignoring qualified candidates from the consumer sector. New so-called "consumer representatives" included Katrina Heinze, a manager at General Mills, and Daniel Giacomini, a consultant to the dairy industry. Just as we're going to press we have learned that General Mills, responding to OCA and public pressure, has asked that Heinze's appointment as "consumer representative' be cancelled. By loading the NOSB with industry representatives, the USDA threatens to undermine consumer trust in the organic label. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/SOS/critics011906.cfm
Get involved with OCA's Safeguard Organic Standards campaign: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/sos.cfm

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photo parody
WATER FIGHT: BOLIVIA vs. BECHTEL
Last week brought an end to one of the greatest water battles in history. The people of Bolivia have successfully reclaimed ownership of their water from the Bechtel Corporation. In 1999, Bechtel made an arrangement with the Bolivian government to take ownership of the water supply and charge citizens for its use. Within weeks of the takeover, Bechtel raised water rates by 50% and made it illegal to gather rainwater without a permit. The ensuing citizen revolt forced Bechtel out of the country. Bechtel then sued Bolivia for $50 million for "profit losses." But last week, after four years of legal disputes and public pressure, the case was dropped. "This is the first time that a major corporation like Bechtel has had to back down from a major trade case as the result of global citizen pressure," said Jim Shultz, executive director of The Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Bechtel's surrender coincides with the election of indigenous populist farm leader, Evo Morales, who has long been a sharp critic of Bechtel and other transnational corporations operating in Bolivia. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/Politics/bechtel012006.cfm

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PESTICIDE INDUSTRY ROCKED BY THREE RECENT ALARMING STUDIES

This month's issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports a new study showing pregnant women and children exposed to pesticides and insect sprays run double the risk of developing childhood leukemia. Researchers carried out detailed interviews with 280 mothers of children with acute leukemia and found disturbing connections between fungicides/insecticides and leukemia. Describing the results as "significant", the authors said that preventive action should be considered to reduce health risks to children.
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/school/leukaemia012006.cfm

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A new study in the January 2006 issue of the journal Epidemiology. has found that a that a pesticide byproduct found in the blood of 90% of U.S. men could be causing male sterility or other adverse effects in men. Researchers with the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took urine samples from 268 males undergoing treatment for low sperm counts. Researchers measured by-products of a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, and found that men with the lowest testosterone levels also had the most pesticide by-product in their systems. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/toxic/testosterone011706.cfm
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Scientists at UC Berkeley conducted a study published in this week's issue of the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives wherein they found extremely low levels of pesticides kill frogs. The bulk of safety research is typically done on individual pesticides, but this study created a low level mix of pesticides comparable to what frogs would experience near an average farm in the Midwest and found that it killed 35% of the frogs in the study. "Given these adverse effects and the continued increase and use of pesticides in agriculture over the past 50 years, it is likely that pesticides have played and will continue to play a role in amphibian declines," wrote the study's authors. And of course humans are ingesting these same toxic pesticides in non-organic food and in their drinking water. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/toxic/062501.cfm

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QUICK TIDBITS

Humans have been raising and domesticating cattle and other animals for over 1,300 generations, and raising food crops for 10,000 years. For most of that time, farming has been carried out organically, most often with good results in terms of producing high-quality natural food and preserving the environment and biodiversity.. But everything changed 60 years ago when corporations like Monsanto and Dupont started pushing a "Fatal Harvest" of synthetic chemicals to the world's farmers. This week, Ronnie Cummins, the Organic Consumer Association's National Director, discusses the past, present and future of organic agriculture in OCA's blog with his new daily posting of "Biodemocracy Bytes."
Read and post your thoughts and questions here:
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/chat/viewforum.php?f=19

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A well known national columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, Michael Fumento, has been canned after the press outlet discovered he had been taking money from corporations as incentive to bias his articles. The pro-biotech "journalist" has regularly released columns praising Monsanto as a savior of global agriculture. Two weeks ago, Scripps Howard News Service fired Fumento when they found out he had received a $60,000 "donation" from Monsanto. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/ge/columnist011606.cfm
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Turmeric with some types of vegetables can actually help prevent and treat prostate cancer, says a new Rutgers study in the January 15 issue of the journal "Cancer Research." Study authors say turmeric demonstrates "significant cancer-preventive qualities in laboratory mice." When the seasoning is combined with phenethyl isothiocyanate, a naturally occurring substance in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi turnips, and watercress, the combination of the two "could be effective in treating established prostate cancers," say researchers. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/school/tumeric011706.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 numerous requests for the film, we were temporarily out of stock. 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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