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Organic Bytes #121: 11/1/2007

Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

Alert of the Week:

Senate Prepares to Rubber Stamp Business-as-Usual Farm Bill

industrial farm

The 2007 Farm Bill will continue to spend billions of dollars of taxpayer money funding "farms" like this.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its draft of the $300 billion 2007-2012 Farm Bill last week.

The 1300-page bill, now headed to the main Senate floor, includes, as usual, billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies for chemical and energy­intensive crops, factory farms, and junk food purveyors, while "nickel and dime-ing" organic agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and alternative energy programs.

Let your Senators know you want to eliminate all taxpayer subsidies, other than those designed to make our food and farming system healthier and more sustainable, and specifically you want a "Fair Share" for organics commensurate with our current 3% market share.

Besides billions in corporate subsidies, this version of the Farm Bill includes implementation of the controversial National Animal Identification System (NAIS). NAIS would require that all farmers, even those with just one cow, horse, or chicken, to implant their animals with an electronic tracking device and permanently report their movements to the USDA. This expensive Big Brother procedure, which lobbyists crafted so as to exempt factory farms, could put many small family farms out of business.

Please contact your Senators to cut corporate subsidies, eliminate NAIS, and support increases in funding in the Farm Bill for for conservation, organic agriculture, healthy food and beginning farmer programs.

Take Action:
Rep. Collin PetersonRelated Dumb Quote of the Week:

Congress Ag Chair Collin Peterson:
"Paying More for Organic or Local Food is Dumb"

-From an Financial Times Oct. 17, 2007

Collin Peterson, chairman of the House of Representatives agricultural committee, says the farm sector that raises organic produce and grass-fed beef for local consumers needs little federal help. "It is growing, and it has nothing to do with the government, and that is good," he told the FT. "For whatever reason, people are willing to pay two or three times as much for something that says 'organic' or 'local'. Far be it from me to understand what that's about, but that's reality. And if people are dumb enough to pay that much then hallelujah."

To send a message to Collin Peterson (Democrat, MN) congratulating him for getting the Organic Consumers Association award for the dumbest quote of the week:

Donate Now!We need your support today to protect the rights of organic consumers and family farmers.

fliesLord of the Flies: "Organic" Dairy Feedlot
Draws Heat over Bumper Crop of Insects

Reminder: Aurora's "organic" milk is sold under the following private labels:
  • Costco's
    Kirkland Signature
  • Safeway's
    O organics brand
  • Publix's
    High Meadows
  • Giant's
    Natures Promise
  • UNFI's
    Woodstock Farms

The recent class action lawsuit launched by organic consumers in 27 states against Aurora "Organic" Dairy isn't all the controversial dairy giant has to contend with.

Last week, one of Aurora's 4,500-head "organic" dairy feedlots came under scrutiny by the Weld County, Colorado board of commissioners. It seems that Aurora's malodorous operation has generated a literal bumper crop of cow manure along with millions of flies. "I would like this dairy to disappear," said Wendy Rogers, who owns a farm next to the dairy. "The dairy is too big to manage naturally." In a four-hour hearing, County Commissioners threatened to revoke Aurora's permit or limit the number of cattle allowed on the feedlot..

According to Aurora's CEO, Marc Peperzak, reducing the thousands of cows on the factory farm would be "impossible," costing Aurora "millions."County Commissioners cast a split vote offering the factory farm a second chance. If the fly problem is not mitigated by August 2008, Aurora will lose its organic dairy farm permit.

Learn more:
Health News of the Week:

Sunlight Cuts Risk of Many Cancers, Especially Breast Cancer

sunsetTwo new studies indicate exposure to the sun may actually be beneficial in regards to fighting cancer. Researchers from Stanford University reported their findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology last week indicating that women who had higher sun exposure had their risk of advanced breast cancer reduced by almost half.

According to a second research team who studied more than four million people in 11 countries, the risk of internal cancers except for skin cancers was lower among people living in sunny countries. According to the researchers, "Vitamin D production in the skin seems to decrease the risk of several solid cancers, especially stomach, colorectal, liver and gall- bladder, pancreas, lung, female breast, prostate, bladder and kidney cancers."

Although food provides some vitamin D, nearly 90 per cent comes from exposure to sunlight.

Learn more:
Quick Tidbits

Carnivorous or Not?

Vegies on the Brain CartoonIn the last issue of Organic Bytes, we invited readers to take part in an online poll to find out where our readers stand on the issue of meat-eating. Thousands of you have read the poll, dozens have posted comments, and many have taken the quick poll. The current results indicate that 25% of you are vegan, 12% are vegetarian, 57% endorse eating humanely raised meats, while the rest apparently eat any and all meats. If you haven't already done so, post your thoughts and take the poll (you will need to register for the OCA forum if you haven't already done so):

France Bans Frankencrops

France has announced a ban on the planting of genetically engineered crops until the safety of the crops can be further assessed. French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicted that the decision was based on the desire to err on the side of safety. "I don't want to be in contradiction with EU laws, but I have to make a choice. In line of the precautionary principle, I wish that the commercial cultivation of genetically modified pesticide GMOs be suspended," he said.

Learn more:

Monsanto Tries Once Again to Force-Feed Consumers rBGH

False Labelling
Illegal Labeling?

The good news is that a critical mass of dairies and supermarket chains are banning Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone, bowing to to consumer pressure. The genetically engineered cow hormone is banned in most industrialized nations, due to its negative health impacts on cows and cancer risks to humans, but Monsanto Corporation, the manufacturer of the drug, is apparently still determined to force-feed rBGH to U.S. consumers.

Under pressure from Monsanto, the notoriously pro-agribusiness Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has recently announced new regulations outlawing the labeling of dairy products as rBGH-free.

The twisted rationale for the ruling is that truthfully labeling dairy products as rBGH-free is "making it hard for consumers to make informed decisions." In other words allowing consumers freedom of choice is bad for Monsanto's profits, and the profits of Pennsylvania's factory style dairy feedlots who continue to inject their animals with the drug.

PDA listed 16 companies that will be required to remove rBGH-free labels by December 31, 2007. In the meantime, Monsanto is working to pass similar anti-consumer laws in other states. The OCA plans to join our allies and stop this latest episode of biotech bullying.

Learn more:

How Did We Get Here: A Brief History
of Monsanto and the US Government

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is
a merger of state and corporate power."

-Benito Mussolini

Learn more:

Web Video of the Week:

Naomi WolfFascism - It Could Happen Here

Award-winning author, Naomi Wolf, delivers a riveting and alarming lecture at the University of Washington on October 11. Wolf reviews the tell-tale signs of fascism in modern history. Wolf analyzes ten fundamental manifestations of Fascism institutionalized in Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Stalinist Russia, that are unfortunately rearing their ugly head again today­ in the USA. Watch the video and share your comments here:

Organic Consumers Association LogoFind out What's Happening in Your State

We have recently begun revamping our state pages to make them more accessible so that people can learn and share information about events, news, groups, and campaigns in their state. We want your help in keeping the state pages as relevant and up to date as possible. We are striving to get up a new campaign each month, but we can't do that without your help.

You can help by becoming a writer for OCA. Please email us campaign updates. You can also send us ideas for campaigns if you are not sure how to write them up for the site, and we will work with you to develop a campaign update. Email your ideas to OCA by clicking here

Please also help us make your state page dynamic and lively! Take a moment to add an event, news story or green business by going to any OCA webpage, choosing your state in the dropdown menu in the left-hand navigation bar and clicking on the “Become a news scout” link on your state page.

Answer the "OCA Challenge" from the Backbone Campaign

Backbone CampaignThe Backbone Campaign is inviting you to help them make the "Procession for the Future" a reality. Since the Organic Consumer's Association is a leader in ecological stewardship and fair trade, we hope that you'll pitch-in to commission those images from one of our nation's leading Puppetistas - Chris Lutter, of the Minneapolis Puppet Farm.

Please help them hire Chris to build the Giant Polar bear and a pair of Bigger-than-Life Organic Farmers making a fair trade of their organic harvest. The cost to build both is approximately $5,000. There's a lot of us, and only a few of them, please lend a helping hand today.

Contribute now to set the Procession for the Future into motion, animating the future we all want to hand our children. And don't forget to check out their plans for the Procession for the Future. Consider hosting it in your town!

Support Our Supporters

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Helps Lead Way in Organic Body Care

NEW! Available in health food stores everywhere in November:
To take action and for more info, please see: Soaps Made w/Organic Oils!

If You’re Eating Pure Foods, Shouldn’t Your Vitamins and Supplements Be Completely Plant or Food-Based, and Free of Synthetic Chemicals?

BOTANI Multi Vitamins is a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that is derived directly from NATURALLY OCCURRING, full-spectrum fruit, botanical, and grain sources.

Try Botani Vitamins & Supplements!

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Knowledge is power!

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