A Vermont organic dairy farmer recently wrote an op-ed in which he defended conventional (non-organic) dairy farmers.
Vermonter Jacques Couture wrote that he was “a little perplexed” by the “current demand by some vocal Vermonters” that all dairy farmers convert to organic. There’s room for both organic and non-organic, he said.
Couture didn’t specifically mention the consumer campaign asking Ben & Jerry’s to source 100% organic dairy. Nor did he name the nonprofits—Regeneration Vermont and the Organic Consumers Association—behind the campaign.
Did Ben & Jerry’s put Couture up to writing the op-ed? Is the Unilever-owned ice cream maker paving the way for a future announcement that its conventional dairy suppliers will soon start using better farming practices (but not go organic)?
We can only speculate.
But we don’t have to speculate about this: Couture’s opinion piece was missing more than just the details behind the story. It missed the point. Which is this: Conventional dairy, which relies on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO crops, is poisoning Vermont’s water, degrading Vermont’s soil and contributing to global warming.
And yes, the glyphosate we found in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is a health problem.
Read 'Farming with Pesticides Is Not the Path Toward ‘One Sweet World’'
In November 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally took steps to ban chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide known to be especially harmful to farmworkers and children. Then along came the Trump Administration. Intent on prioritizing corporate profits over public health, Trump’s EPA reversed the ban on chlorpyrifos—just 20 days after EPA Chief Scott Pruitt met with the CEO of Dow Chemical.In August 2017, 60 members of Congress, led by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), sent a letter to Pruitt asking how the EPA plans to protect Americans from harmful pesticides.The letter noted how EPA scientists had previously concluded that the agency should ban chlorpyrifos, due to “significant evidence of the harmful effects it has on farmworkers and young children.”From the letter:
Research shows that prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos are associated with reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders and delayed motor development.
Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide, is classified as a neurotoxin. In addition to potentially causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders and delayed motor development, chlorpyrifos has been linked to autism, dyslexia and other brain-related injuries in millions of children.TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA: Don’t Let Dow Chemical Poison our Kids!
Next week, the folks who write the rules for organic standards will gather in Jacksonville, Fla., for the bi-annual National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting.
The folks who think food raised without soil shouldn’t be certified organic will be there, too. And they intend to kick up a little dirt.
At issue is this: Corporate agribusiness is pushing the NOSB and the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to allow hydroponically grown produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers and berries, to be labeled certified organic.
Since July, rallies have been held in 15 cities, from California to Maine, in support of keeping the soil, the foundation of organic, in organic farming. On October 31, supporters will rally one last time, in Jacksonville, during the NOSB meeting.
If you can, please join the Jacksonville rally on October 31. If not, please sign our petition to the NOSB.
Soil is the soul of organic—don’t let corporate agribusiness rewrite organic standards!
Join the October 31 ‘Keep the Soil in Organic’ rally in Jacksonville, Fla.
TAKE ACTION! Keep the Soil in Organic!
Another report sounding the alarm about climate change.
Another missed opportunity to talk about the most promising solution: regenerative agriculture.
Earlier this week New York Times cited a new report by the notoriously conservative Government Accountability Office (GAO), which said “climate change is costing taxpayers billions.”
CNN also reported on the GAO study, which calls on Trump to “craft appropriate responses.”
The CNN coverage noted several initiatives to combat climate change undertaken under the Obama administration—the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to lower carbon emissions on a state-by-state basis, and the Paris climate agreement, which saw almost every country agree to voluntary limits on future carbon emissions.
The current climate-denying Trump administration wants to scrap those and other climate initiatives, in favor of prioritizing corporate profits.
But that’s not why I’m writing today. I’m writing because once again, a major report on the costs—financial, social, environmental, political—of doing nothing to slow runaway global warming focuses exclusively on reducing carbon emissions. The new report fails to mention that even if we achieved zero emissions tomorrow, we’re still in big trouble—unless we draw down and sequester into the soil and forests the 200 billion tons of excess carbon already lodged in the atmosphere.
Read Ronnie’s blog
Most days, the news is full of discouraging headlines. But this week, there were a few headlines that gave us hope—and provided motivation to keep up the good fight.
Headline #1: Monsanto’s bid to get its glyphosate license renewed for another 10 years in the EU is faltering. On Wednesday, EU member states failed to reach a majority on granting the renewal. The vote took place one day after European Parliament Members voted to ban the use of glyphosate in Europe glyphosate completely by 2022.
You might think what’s happening in the EU has nothing to do with the work you support in the U.S. But keep in mind, thanks to you, OCA played a big role in the International Monsanto Tribunal last year. And a few weeks ago, we helped organize a press conference with the EU Parliament in Brussels, to announce that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in France, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK is contaminated with glyphosate.
Headline #2: Big Food purveyor Nestlé announced that it will drop out of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the multi-billion-dollar lobbying group that defeated your right to know about GMOs.
Nestlé, along with other GMA members, went on our boycott list early on in the GMO labeling fight. Nestlé didn’t comment publicly on why it dropped out of the GMA, Politico reported that it was “known in food policy circles that Nestlé officials weren't in full support of GMA's overt opposition to mandatory GMO labeling.” Maybe because you let the transnational corporation know you disapproved?
Nestlé is the second company to side with consumers against the GMA. In June, Campbell’s also dropped out, stating that it had “made a values-based decision after GMA had lobbied furiously against mandatory GMO labeling at the state, local and federal level.” Campbell’s CEO told investors the move was "driven by purpose and principles."
Headline #3: Organic sales are growing. According to the latest USDA figures, U.S. farms and ranches sold $7.6 billion in certified organic commodities in 2016, up 23 percent from 2015. Between 2015 - 2016, the number of certified organic farms increased 11 percent to 14,217, and the number of certified acres increased 15 percent to 5 million.
These recent developments are consumer- and activist-driven. So take a minute to congratulate yourself on the important work you’re doing.
And if you can, please make a donation today to help keep this work going. 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 Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
This is a video about why hydroponically grown vegetables shouldn’t be certified organic.
But it’s about so much more.
Vermont farmer David Chapman and Maine farmer and author Eliot Coleman discuss the history of organics, and why the integrity of the USDA organic seal is at risk.
The only way to stop this assault? Stand up, and speak up.
Watch ‘Keep the Soil in Organic’
Speaking of organic standards . . . recently, one of our readers wrote to let us know how shocked she was to discover that anyone can buy official looking USDA Certified Organic adhesive labels online, at Amazon.com no less.
We couldn’t believe it. Surely, we’d have to show proof that our product is certified organic before we could buy these stick-on labels?
So we ordered them. And the order was filled—1,000 stickers for $12.99. No questions asked.
Farms pay anywhere from $700 - $1200 to obtain organic certification. The USDA organic seal ought not to be easily purchased online, by anyone looking to pass off their non-organic produce on unsuspecting customers.
The best way for consumers to reduce their exposure to pesticides is to buy from a trusted local producer and/or look for the USDA organic seal. Sure, there are a few bad actors in the organic industry who game the system—but it’s a system, and a set of standards, worth protecting.
The organic labels sold on Amazon are made by LabelValue.com, which also sells them online.
What do you say we give these companies a call, or drop them a note, to ask them to either implement a verification process for buying organic labels—or stop selling them?
Call LabelValue.com 1-800 750-7764
Call Amazon customer service 1-866-216-1072
Contact Amazon using their guided customer service process:
1. Sign into your Amazon account and click Help on the right menu.
2. Click Contact Us.
3. Enter the details of your problem.
4. Choose from Email, Phone, or Chat as a method of resolving your issue.
5. Based on your choice, click Send Email, Call Me Now, or Start Chat to deal with a customer service representative.
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