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ORGANIC BYTES #75
Health, Environment and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!


2/10/2006

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Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

IN THIS ISSUE

  • UNCHAIN YOUR HEART: TAKE ACTION ON VALENTINE'S DAY
  • WTO TO EUROPEANS: EAT YOUR FRANKENFOODS
  • BIG BROTHER WANTS TO TRACK ANIMALS AND THEIR OWNERS
  • QUICK FACTS ON BOTTLED WATER VERSUS CLEANING UP THE DRINKING WATER SUPPLY
  • A MENTALLY UNSTABLE DIET: DON'T PANIC GO ORGANIC
  • DEMAND INCREASING FOR CAGE-FREE EGGS
  • THE JOYS OF PENALTY FREE POLLUTION
  • QUICK TIDBITS

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UNCHAIN YOUR HEART: TAKE ACTION ON VALENTINE'S DAY
Just in time for Valentine's Day, the Organic Consumers Association has produced a one-minute satirical flash animation called: "SLAMMED," designed to get us all to think twice before we buy conventional chocolates or flowers for our Valentine's gifts. Show your Valentine you really care, not only about her or him, but also about organics and Fair Trade. Behind the feel-good advertising façade of Valentine's Day, the global chocolate and cut-flower giants are poisoning the Earth with toxic pesticides and exploiting farm workers. Over 40 percent of the world's chocolate comes from Africa's Côte d'Ivoire, where the International Labor Organization has reported widespread instances of child slavery. Meanwhile dozens of toxic pesticides, including DDT, are sprayed on flowers in major exporting countries such as Colombia and Ecuador, making cut-flowers the most toxic crop in the world. To learn more, to send a message to the chocolate and flower giants that you will be boycotting their products, and to find out where you can find Fair Trade & organic Valentine's gifts, check out OCA's "Unchain Your Heart" page on our website: http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/valentines/

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WTO TO EUROPEANS: EAT YOUR FRANKENFOODS
The World Trade Organization (WTO), responding to intense pressure from the Bush Administration and the biotech industry, has ruled that the European Union's (EU) moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from 1998-2004 was illegal. The moratorium was put in place because of EU concerns on human safety, environmental pollution, and inadequate testing, and has subsequently been officially lifted. Canada and Argentina backed the U.S. in filing a complaint with the WTO in 2003, alleging that the moratorium was a violation of international trade laws. The Bush Administration has claimed that the EU ban has hurt U.S. farmers who grow genetically engineered crops, and that the EU should pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties to the U.S. But market analysts point out that the WTO ruling will not benefit the biotech industry, because EU food manufacturers and supermarket chains, fearing a consumer backlash, will continue to refuse to sell food products containing GMOs, no matter what the WTO says. U.S. Trade officials have admitted that the main impact of the WTO ruling will be to intimidate smaller nations from banning GMOs.
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/ge/ruling060208.cfm

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image parody
by Michael Gibbs

BIG BROTHER WANTS TO TRACK ANIMALS AND THEIR OWNERS
Plans for a system that would require tagging or implanting all farm animals with radio frequency devices and registering those animals with a federal government tracking system have been delayed until after 2009, the USDA announced last week. The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) has been gaining support in the corporate agribusiness world, supposedly as a method for sourcing the origins of Mad Cow disease or possible terrorist biological attacks on the nation's livestock. Opponents point out the plan was drawn up by corporate behemoths like Monsanto and would require every owner of even a single animal to register their home with a national tracking system, including Global Positing Coordinates (for satellite tracking) and implant or tag every animal with a radio frequency device (RFID). Large-scale livestock producers say NAIS would help them control an outbreak of disease by allowing individual animals to be tracked to their origins. Small-scale farmers say the registration fees, RFID expenses and administrative bureaucracy of the system would drive them out of business. The USDA announced a delay in the launch of the program last week, based on disputes in the cattle industry over who gets control of the overall database. The OCA is in the process of building an online NAIS information and action center to help citizens educate themselves and offer feedback to the USDA on the NAIS issue.
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/ofgu/ID060202.cfm

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QUICK FACTS ON BOTTLED WATER VERSUS CLEANING UP THE DRINKING WATER SUPPLY

  • Members of the United Nations estimate that if the world took half of what it currently spends on bottled water ($100 billion annually) and invested it in water infrastructure and treatment, everyone in the world could have access to clean drinking water.
  • But bottled water is cleaner, right? Actually, the U.S. EPA sets more stringent quality standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled beverages, and roughly 40% of bottled water is actually just tap water.
  • 1.5 billion barrels of oil are consumed each year to produce the plastic for water bottles, enough to fuel 100,000 cars.
  • According to the Container Recycling Institute, only 14 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled.
  • A water bottle in a landfill or lying around as litter will take over 1,000 years to biodegrade.

http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/foodsafety/Bottled020606.cfm


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image parody
A MENTALLY UNSTABLE DIET: DON'T PANIC GO ORGANIC
A new report from the Mental Health Foundation indicates that dietary changes over the last fifty years have played a negative role in human mental health. Industrial agriculture has introduced pesticides and altered the body fat composition of animals due to the diets they are now fed. As a result, the population's intake of omega-3 fatty acids has decreased, and the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids has increased. According to the study, this unequal intake, combined with a lack of vitamins and minerals, is associated with depression, concentration and memory problems. Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said, "We are well aware of the effect of diet upon our physical health. But we are only just beginning to understand how the brain as an organ is influenced by the nutrients it derives from the foods we eat and how diets have an impact on our mental health." http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/school/diet060202.cfm

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photo parody
DEMAND INCREASING FOR CAGE-FREE EGGS
A national food service distributor to more than 200 college and corporate cafeterias across the U.S. has announced it will begin to provide only cage-free eggs. Responding to a petition by students at the American University in Washington, D.C., Bon Appetit will discontinue purchasing conventional eggs. According to the Humane Society, laying hens are the most abused animals in agribusiness. Up to eight birds are squeezed into a single cage, forcing each bird to live out its life in a space about half the size of a sheet of computer paper. Birds' beaks are clipped off to keep them from attacking each other in these cramped quarters, and cages are stacked so that birds living below other cages are literally rained on with defecation from their upstairs neighbors. Bon Appetit's decision is particularly significant, given that the company purchases eight million eggs per year, and cage-free eggs are more expensive. The company hopes prices will drop with increased demand. Bon Appetit already buys rBGH-free milk and antibiotic-free meat. http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/school/eggs060201.cfm

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photo parody
THE JOYS OF PENALTY FREE POLLUTION
Owners of corporate factory farms are celebrating after being let off the hook for polluting the environment. The EPA, ignoring massive public opposition, has approved a Bush Administration proposal that allows factory farms to freely violate clean air standards for the next four years. The deal will also forgive these same polluters from paying millions of dollars in fines for past air pollution violations. In exchange for the freedom to pollute, the deal requires that factory farms agree to allow the EPA to monitor their air pollution. The regulation will exonerate more than 6,700 factory farms from having to pay fines of up to $27,500 per day for violating clean air standards in the past and over the next four years. The EPA claims this arrangement is needed in order to gather data necessary to further refine air emissions regulations for egg, chicken, turkey, dairy and hog industries. According to the EPA's rule, the main goal of this regulation is to "reduce air pollution."
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/epa4.htm

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QUICK TIDBITS

ALERT: Public comments are currently being taken on whether the EPA should register the carcinogen methyl iodide as a legal pesticide (Feb. 21 deadline). EPA has indicated it would allow farmers to apply up to 400 lbs. of the carcinogenic chemical to each acre. Unlike many other pesticides, methyl iodide vaporizes quickly, causing it to drift far distances. Although the state of California has categorized it as cancer causing, and the EPA admits it causes thyroid tumors, the chemical is on the verge of being given the green light by the EPA for widespread use on tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, tobacco, melons, potatoes and other root crops. Send a quick message to the EPA here, advising them to start promoting safe methods of food production. Take action:
http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=2488
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A new study by John Hopkins University has found a chemical pollutant from the production of grease-proof food wrapping and Teflon (PFOA) in the umbilical cords of nearly every baby tested. The test found that 298 out of 300 blood samples from umbilical chords tested positive for PFOA, which has been categorized as a likely carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board. The EPA has also accused DuPont of covering up a 1981 study that found PFOA passed from DuPont's pregnant employees to fetuses. Late last year, DuPont agreed to pay a record $10.25 million fine for failing to tell the EPA about its studies that found PFOA to be "extremely toxic".
http://rose1dev.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/old_articles/toxic/teflon2.cfm
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Over the past 60 years, the U.S. has increasingly relied on agricultural methods that focus on increasing levels of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically engineered crops. The new paradigm in agriculture leaves little or no space for family farmers, while offering control of the world's food production to large corporations. As the U.S. model of agriculture is gradually applied on a global scale, the world's two billion family farmers are feeling the squeeze. Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association, takes a good look at the issue in his weekly blog.
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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The Future of Food, a film by Deborah Koons Garcia, is back in stock at the OCA headquarters! Because of 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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