Organic View #8 v.1 n.8

Organic View - An e-mail publication of the Organic Consumers Association
The Organic Consumers Association is affiliated with the Campaign for Food Safety

1. Organic Will Calm GE Controversy, US Says
2. GE Contaminates Baby Food, Greenpeace Finds
3. Canada Sets Organic Rules
4. New Video On GE
5. Organic Competitive with Conventional, New Study

1. Organic Will Calm GE Controversy, US Says

The US Special Trade Coordinator told the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch last week that the US will try a new strategy
in negotiating with the European Union (EU) on genetically
engineered foods. The US will tout the soon-to-be completed
US national organic rules in an effort to provide an
alternative to labeling genetically engineered food. US
Department of Agriculture head, Dan Glickman, will argue
that there is no need to label genetically engineered food,
because consumers can guarantee GE-free foods by buying
organic food produced in the US.

Glickman and his trade team traveled to France this week in
an attempt to quell the European furor over genetically
engineered food. The French have called for an immediate
moratorium in the EU for genetically engineered foods until
further research is done to confirm the new technology's
safety for humans and the environment. Glickman is hoping to
ease the conflict for the next round of world trade talks
that will begin in November.

As the Post-Dispatch's Bill Lambrecht reports, the US
strategy of touting national organic food rules also serves
to undercut the growing call for labeling genetically
engineered food in the US. The irony is that the USDA has
consistently been hostile to organic food production,
bungling the national organic rule in 1997, and allocating
less than one percent of its research budget toward organic
food production. In addition, the USDA continues to do
nothing to protect organic farms from the pollen transfer of
genetically engineered material from neighboring farms -
which has already contaminated a Texas organic farm.

Glickman and US trade representatives are growing
increasingly desperate and confused as they try to address
Europe's concerns over GE foods. The European Community is a
prosperous market of 400 million people, and US corn
producers have lost approximately $400 million because of
European fears over engineered food. Many other countries
are waiting for Europe's approval before they accept
genetically engineered food in their country.

2. GE Contaminates Baby Food, Greenpeace Finds

A recent analysis by Greenpeace has found that the country's
leading baby food maker, Gerber, as well as two other
producers of medical foods are selling products that contain
genetically engineered ingredients.

The Greenpeace report, FDA Approved: Genetically Engineered
Soy and Corn in Baby Food and Nutritional Supplements, found
that Gerber Mixed Cereal for Baby, a dry three-grain cereal
mix for infants, tested positive for DNA from transgenic
insect resistant "Bt" corn and herbicide tolerant "Roundup
Ready" (RR) soybeans.

In addition, two nutritional supplements, Novartis'
IsoSource and Ross Products' Osmolite both
contained transgenic DNA from RR soy. These supplements are
used as formulas for tube feeding in hospitals and nursing

Greenpeace contacted nine baby and medical food companies
requesting their policies on using GE ingredients. None of
the three companies whose products tested positive

Gerber is owned by Novartis, one of the world's leaders in
developing genetically engineered foods, which bought the
baby food company in 1994. Last August, Novartis reacted
differently when another one of its companies - the Swiss
based Wander, found transgenic DNA from soy in its organic
baby food. The company immediately withdrew the baby food
from the market.

Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not
require any pre-market safety testing of GE foods, there are
concerns among some within the medical community that
transgenic genes should not be fed to babies or those who
are sick.

Dr. Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts
General Hospital in Boston said about the Greenpeace
findings, "I am deeply concerned that there will be
long-term harm if we continue to feed children and the
elderly soybeans with foreign proteins or corn with novel
toxins. Medical science is clearly not served when FDA
relies on the companies who profit from these foods to
declare them safe."

Last month, the British Medical Association (BMA), which
represents over 115,000 doctors, released a report last
month calling for a moratorium on the introduction of GE
crops into the environment and food chain. Among other
concerns, the BMA noted the potential for altered plants to
add to the spread of antibiotic resistance, to lead to new
and untraceable allergies, and to contain toxic by-products.
The report suggests that precautionary action should be
taken "for the foreseeable future...until the health and
environmental impact of genetically modified organisms are
fully assessed...."

According to the Greenpeace report, problems with company
testing have already been exposed. The RR soybeans, found in
the Novartis IsoSource and the Ross Products Osmolite, as
well as the Gerber baby food, are grown with direct
application of Monsanto's flagship product, a toxic weed
killer called Roundup. Yet the FDA approved the engineered
soy based on Monsanto's tests of RR soybeans grown without
any application of the chemical. This lack of proper testing
prompted two Australian scientists to write to the FDA,
saying, "Without [such] basic studies, the FDA is in no
position to vouch for the safety of this controversial
product now pervading the diet of millions of unwitting

An additional concern regards toxins that may result from
genetic engineering. Dr. Rebecca Goldberg has noted that the
Bt toxin in plants differs from the already challenging
problem of pesticide residues in food in that "they [are]
integral components of plants, pesticides wary consumers
cannot wash off." Other scientists have raised the concern
that RR soybeans may have altered levels of phytoestrogens,
a change that could be particularly harmful to children,
according to the Greenpeace report.

Read more about Greenpeace's report at:

3. Canada Sets Organic Rules

This fall, Canadian organic farmers will be able to label
their food as "Canada Organic, Biologique Canada." The
Canadian Standard for Organic Agriculture went through five
drafts and was finally approved in April. The standard
includes specific wording prohibiting the use of genetically
modified organisms, sewage sludge and irradiation. The
standards are ISO-compatible, which means they will be
recognized internationally as well as domestically.

According to the Canadian Organic Advisory Board, the
Canadian organic industry is worth nearly $1 billion
annually and is expanding by 20 per cent a year. About 1,500
farmers across Canada are registered organic producers.
Hundreds more are unregistered.

The 26-page standard follows six general principles for
organic production:
Protect the environment
Replenish and maintain soil fertility
Promote biological diversity
Recycle materials
Promote health and needs of livestock
Maintain integrity of food handling.

Currently, to be classified as organic, Canadian organic
producers contact one of the 42 certification agencies
throughout the country. An agency committee reviews
information submitted by the producer on his production
methods. An inspector examines the farm and submits a
recommendation to the agency. If accepted, the producer is
allowed to use an organic label. This system will likely
remain in place, except that under the new rules the label
will be recognized across Canada, allowing goods to move

For more information on the Canadian organic rules, go to:

4. New Video On GE

FOOD FOR THOUGHT, a 30-minute video by award-winning
director Ed Schehl describes the ethical concerns, the
threats to organic farming, and the potential health hazards
of genetically engineered foods. Featuring Monica Moore of
Pesticide Action Network, California Certified
Organic farmers Thomas Wittman and Jim Cochran, and organic
food processors and distributors, the video examines how
large chemical companies such as Monsanto are profiting from
genetic manipulation of our food supply. The video is an
excellent educational tool and call to action.

The price to individuals and non-profit organizations:
$29.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling for the 1st copy
($3.50 each for additional copies). Price to libraries,
institutions and for-profit organizations: $69.95 plus same
shipping and handling cost.

To order your copy of FOOD FOR THOUGHT, or for more
information, contact: The Video Project at (800) 4-planet;

If you are interested in viewing other videos on organic
agriculture and genetic engineering, the OCA has started a
lending video library and will send these videos out for
free with a request for a donation to cover
shipping/handling($3.00) - more if outside of the US.

These videos are available on a first come basis, you can
keep them for 30 days before returning.
We encourage coops/stores/organizations/individuals to use
these as an organizing tool, membership development, fund
raising tool, and to stimulate food safety discussions
within your communities. Some coops and buying clubs have
monthly video showings (great idea) as a way to educate
consumers/members and the community.

For more information on OCA's video lending service, e-mail
Debbie Ortman:

5. Organic Competitive with Conventional, New Report

A new report by the Henry Wallace Institute has found that
organic food production systems are competitive with
conventional food production systems in the Midwest. In
fact, organic production generally delivers higher profits
than non-organic grain and soybean production.

The report, by Wallace Institute policy analyst Rick Welsh,
found that although consumers often pay premium prices for
organic food, those premiums are not always necessary for
organic systems to outperform conventional systems. Organic
farms were more profitable than conventional farms, when
they had: 1) lower production costs; 2) higher net returns
for crops; 3) drought hardiness, allowing higher performance
in drier areas during drier periods.

The report found that the costs of growing and delivering
organic food are falling as the industry expands. If organic
agriculture growth is similar to other food industry
segments, we should expect to see costs associated with
production, processing, delivery, and retail costs per
bushel, gallon, crate, and box to decrease over time,
according to the report.

The study can be found at the Henry Wallace Institute's web