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ORGANIC BYTES #45
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
12/10/2004 By Organic Consumers Association


Fasten your seatbelts, as we travel back in time to see how your donations to the OCA have fueled the Organic Movement...

In this issue:

  • 1998: NEW NONPROFIT SAYS ORGANIC STANDARDS REEK OF SEWAGE
  • 1999/2000: DAVID vs. GOLIATH: OCA TAKES ON STARBUCKS & THE GLOBAL COFFEE CARTEL
  • 2001: CONSUMER GROUP FIGHTS TESTING OF IRRADIATED FOODS ON KIDS
  • 2002: NONPROFITS AND BUSINESSES WORK TOGETHER TO LAUNCH ORGANIC COTTON INDUSTRY
  • 2003: OCA CLEANS UP ORGANIC LABELING FRAUD
  • 2004: DEFENDING AMERICA FROM ATTACKS ON HUMAN HEALTH & THE ENVIRONMENT

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1998:
NEW NONPROFIT SAYS ORGANIC STANDARDS REEK OF SEWAGE
In late-1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed National Organic Standards that would have allowed foods certified as organic to be genetically engineered, irradiated and grown with chemical-laden sewage sludge. The OCA, a new fledgling grassroots organization, helped mobilize over 280,000 consumers and hundreds of co-ops and natural food stores to fight back. The USDA responded by banning genetic engineering, irradiation, and toxic sludge from the National Organic Standards. Learn more...

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Fair Trade and Starbucks Campaign1999/2000:
DAVID vs. GOLIATH: OCA TAKES ON STARBUCKS & THE GLOBAL COFFEE CARTEL

Despite the huge profits of multinational coffee companies, 20 million coffee farmers and their families worldwide are living in desperate poverty. Basically these farmers cannot survive unless they can grow and sell certified Fair Trade or organic coffee. In 1999 OCA launched a global consumer pressure campaign against Starbucks, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, asking them to buy substantial amounts of Fair Trade or organic coffee, and to remove genetically engineered (GE) ingredients from the milk, chocolate, and baked goods served in their cafes. At the time, the issue of Fair Trade was relatively new in the U.S. The OCA mobilized its growing network of supporters to leaflet and picket Starbucks coffeehouses in over 400 cities and eight nations worldwide. Starbucks responded to OCA’s “Frankenbucks” campaign by gradually offering organic and soy milks, removing GE ingredients from some of its products, and by increasing its sales of Fair Trade and organic coffee. More significant, however, has been the dramatic increase in awareness of America’s organic consumers, who are increasingly voting with their consumer dollars for Fair Trade coffee, chocolate, bananas, tea, and other products. Fair Trade sales in the U.S. are now increasing at a record pace of 30% per year. Learn more...

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Appetite for a Change - School Food Campaign2001:
CONSUMER GROUP FIGHTS TESTING OF IRRADIATED FOODS ON KIDS

The USDA announced in 2000, after lobbying from the beef industry, that irradiated meat, banned in Europe, would be tested in school lunches on a nationwide scale, with no prior parental or student notification. OCA organized a campaign called “Safeguard our Students” (now entitled “Appetite for a Change”), and mobilized thousands of concerned parents and consumers to apply pressure to local school boards and federal authorities. Congress responded by backing off, saying that irradiated beef in schools would be completely voluntary. Since then school districts across the country have passed laws banning irradiated meat. Learn more...

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Clothes for a Change--Organic and Sweatshop Labor2002:
NONPROFITS AND BUSINESSES WORK TOGETHER TO LAUNCH ORGANIC COTTON INDUSTRY

In 2002 OCA launched a long-term campaign to increase organic cotton and clothing sales and to shift multi-billion dollar annual taxpayer subsidies away from chemical-intensive and genetically engineered cotton plantations. OCA's campaign, entitled “Clothes for a Change,” secured an agreement with American Apparel, the nation’s largest domestic clothing manufacturer, to convert to organic cotton. Since then, hundreds of thousands of America’s consumers have begun purchasing clothing products containing organic cotton. Meanwhile the World Trade Organization ruled in 2004 that current U.S. cotton subsidies, which predominantly fund high pesticide-use corporate farms, are illegal. Learn more...

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Coming Clean Bodycare Campaign2003:
OCA CLEANS UP ORGANIC LABELING FRAUD

Leading “natural” body care companies have increasingly taken advantage of the fact that they are not yet regulated by USDA organic standards, and have begun falsely labeling their shampoos, conditioners, and other products as “organic,” even though many of their ingredients are synthetic and sometimes even hazardous. One of the most common organic labeling scams involves counting ordinary tap water in a hydrosol as an "organic" ingredient. Avalon, Nature’s Gate, and Jason’s became the first body care companies to use this technique to sell millions of dollars worth of body care products, falsely labeled as “organic,” to unsuspecting consumers. To deal with this assault on organic integrity, OCA launched its “Coming Clean” campaign, which has included funding laboratory studies of hydrosols, filing formal complaints to the USDA, and mobilizing OCA’s growing base of organic consumers. Responding to OCA’s marketplace pressure, Avalon and a few other leading body care companies will be discontinuing fraudulently labeling ordinary tap water as an “organic” ingredient and have promised to clean up their acts. Learn more...

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2004:
DEFENDING AMERICA FROM ATTACKS ON HUMAN HEALTH & THE ENVIRONMENT

Mad Cow  USA - Stop the Madness Campaign logoMAD COW USA: In December 2003, the USDA confirmed the first case of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S. The OCA had warned authorities about a domestic outbreak of this disease for years. In 2004 OCA rallied its national consumer network to pressure the FDA and USDA to stop the spread of Mad Cow Disease by banning the feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to animals, and to test all cattle at slaughter. The USDA and FDA announced tighter regulations to stop the spread of the disease in early 2004, but have still not implemented these regulations. (The OCA will continue to demand the actual implementation of these policies in 2005). Learn more...

Safeguard Organic StandardsORGANIC STANDARDS UNDER FIRE: The USDA in April 2004 announced new directives for national organic standards that would have allowed previously prohibited pesticides, antibiotics, and tainted fish meal to be used on organic farms. USDA also tried to back off from monitoring and policing organic label claims on seafood, body care products, pet food, nutritional supplements, and fertilizers. OCA rallied its now 600,000-strong national network against these proposed policies. The USDA responded by retracting the directives. (The OCA is watching this issue closely, as the USDA prepares to release revised directives in 2005). Learn more...

Create GE Free ZonesGE-FREE ZONES SPREAD: In 2004, OCA launched a campaign to help local activists ban genetically engineered crops across the U.S. More than two dozen city, county and state “GE-Free” campaigns have been initiated. In California, farmers and consumers in the city of Arcata and the counties of Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin organized and successfully banned genetically engineered crops. In the meantime, GE-free zones have spread worldwide, with the European Union and many other nations remaining free of these controversial crops. (The OCA plans to work hard in 2005 to pass legislation at local and state levels to stop the spread of genetically engineered crops in the U.S.). Learn more...

Millions Against MonsantoSTOP TREATING KIDS LIKE GUINEA PIGS: The EPA came under fire in 2004 for taking money from chemical corporations to launch a study of toxic chemical exposure on children. The OCA blew the whistle on the EPA, stimulating massive publicity, and generated over 100,000 petition signatures in less than a week. The EPA asked the OCA to stop the deluge of phone calls and faxes, promising that the study would be delayed for further review. (The OCA will continue to watchdog the EPA as a revised proposal for the study is to be released in early 2005). Learn more...

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These are just a few of OCA's efforts and successes over the past six years. You can find many more at http://www.organicconsumers.org . Over the years, OCA's network and political clout have grown dramatically. We are not just another non-profit organization. We are a growing international family of over 600,000 organic consumers, working together to safeguard organic standards, to challenge genetic engineering and industrial farming, and to promote sustainable agriculture, global justice, and Fair Trade.

Given the political challenges that lie ahead, we need your help now, more than ever! We are a member supported organization, so our work depends on donations from people like you. Thank you for walking your talk.

Donate Now!
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Organic Consumers Association
6101 Cliff Estate Road
Little Marais, Minnesota 55614


If you don't want to make a contribution online, you can talk to us in person about a donation.
Our toll-free number is: 888-403-1007.

Wishing You Happy Holidays and an Organic New Year!

Ronnie Cummins, Craig Minowa, and the entire OCA staff in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Vermont, New York, and Washington, DC.

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ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6101 Cliff Estate Road
Little Marais, MN 55614
Phone: (218) 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652

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