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Organic Bytes #122: 11/15/2007

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

Alert: Milk from Clones to Hit US Market Soon

Cloned Cow ImageThe Senate is still wrangling over the 2007-2012 Farm Bill. One new consumer-friendly amendment, vehemently opposed by the biotech industry, would force the FDA to reverse its current controversial regulations on milk from cloned animals.

Despite widespread opposition from the OCA and other consumer groups, the FDA has approved the commercialization of milk from cloned animals as "safe" and will not require labels. The newly proposed Mikulski amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill would require the FDA to place a temporary moratorium on cloned milk and examine its potential health hazards for animals and humans. We have updated our Farm Bill alert to address this issue.

Contact your Senators here:

Alert Update: Congressman Slammed for Calling Organic Consumers "Dumb"

Collin PetersonThousands of readers responded to the Organic Consumers Association alert last week regarding an outrageous statement made by Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson.

Speaking to the UK's Financial Times, Peterson uttered the following: "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."

The Congressman's low regard for local and organic food is especially unfortunate, given that he is the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, formulating farm policies, programs and funding for agriculture across the nation.

After a deluge of irate letters from OCA readers, Congressman Peterson seems to have undergone a miraculous change of heart, stating in a press release: "I will continue to seek solutions and identify opportunities to improve public policies that support organic, locally grown and sustainable agriculture."

With respect for anonymity, we have removed all identity and contact information and have posted copies of many of your letters to our website. Read what other organic consumers had to say to Mr. Peterson:

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

Factory Farm MapWeb Tool of the Week

Interactive Map of US Factory Farms

Are their any CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) factory farms near you? Find out with this new interactive online map:

Sustainability Tip of the Week:

Have a Green Thanksgiving - Buy Local, Organic, & Fair Trade

Thanksgiving Parody
photo parody

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of all food in the U.S. goes to waste. Next week, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that most often nowadays revolves around a massive meal, followed the next day by the heaviest shopping day of the year. Of course Thanksgiving was not originally conceived as an orgy of over consumption and shopping, but rather as a holiday to celebrate family, community, and the local harvest. So why don't we go back to the original spirit of Thanksgiving this year by buying healthy organic and locally grown foods from our community co-op, farmers market or independent grocer, boycotting sweatshop products, and staying out of the Big Box chains?

Vitamin and Hand ImageSynthetic Multivitamin Sales Go Through the Roof In 2007 But Do We Really Need Them?

The year's sales figures are in: According to Nutrition Business Journal, the dietary supplement market went from a $14 billion industry in 1999 to a $22.4 billion industry in 2007.

But many nutrition experts are advising people to focus more on their diet than on purchasing synthetic supplements. "With some medical exceptions, there¹s no reason to take vitamins if you have a decent diet,² says Pete Anderson, a lecturer in nutritional sciences at UW-Madison.

According to Dr. Chad Oler, N.D., the only supplements worth taking are non-synthetic supplements made from whole foods, since the purpose of a supplement is to fill in gaps where the nutrition is not acquired through food. "Ninety-five to 98 percent of the stuff over the counter is crap - they use cheap, raw materials that are not bio-available, meaning that the body, even if it can absorb it, cannot utilize the nutrients very well", he said.

The general rule of thumb in distinguishing a truly natural vitamin from a synthetic is that most synthetics advertise highly inflated daily values of a given nutrient, which can actually damage the body. Stick to a naturally occurring, organic if possible, multivitamin that has 100 percent of the recommended daily intake or less.

Learn more about this issue in OCA's "Nutri-con" campaign headquarters:

Health Tip of the Week

Vaccine LabelMost Flu Vaccines Contain Mercury

Flu season is right around the corner. Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that almost everyone, including pregnant women, get flu vaccinations, few of the 130 million people receiving this vaccination each year realize that most flu shots contain harmful dosages of mercury.

About 80% of all flu shots distributed in the United States contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. According to health officials, people getting flu-shots need to request a thimerosal-free vaccination. These vaccines cost roughly $4 more to manufacture and distribute.

Learn more:

Quick Related Quote & Facts:

Hypodermic needleQuote: "There's no conclusive scientific evidence that the amount of mercury one might get from a flu shot is linked with any neurological development outcome that's negative." - Jeanne Santoli, deputy director of immunization services division for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fact: A typical flu shot contains 50,000 parts per billion of mercury.

Fact: The EPA classifies a liquid with 200 parts per billion of mercury as hazardous waste.

Fact: The legal "safe" limit for mercury in drinking water is 2 parts per billion

Fact: For each flu-shot, a 22-pound baby gets more than 25 times the amount of mercury considered safe. And doctors are recommending that many babies and children get two flu shots this season.

Fact: A material safety data sheet from Eli Lilly and Co., a former producer of flu vaccines, says exposure to thimerosal may include "fetal changes, decreased offspring survival and lung tissue changes. Exposure in utero and in children may cause mild to severe mental retardation and mild to severe motor coordination impairment."

OCA Web ForumThis Week's Hot Topics In OCA's Web Forum

OCA's new web forum now has over a thousand members! Have you joined the action yet? If not, here is a ranking of the hottest topics in the forum this week.

1) Do You Have Chemical Sensitivity? Share your stories.
2) Poll: Is It Okay To Eat Meat? New Study Says Yes. What Do You Think?
3) What is the National Animal Identification System?
4) Electromagnetic Radiation (emr)
5) Help For Psoriasis

Click here to read more and join in the discussions:

Maine Event Alert

Public Hearing on Genetically Engineered Corn 11/16

The new study on Bt corn's effects on aquatic insects shows that there is much scientific work still to be done on Bt corn's impacts on farmers, environment and human health. While this work is being done, we should be as cautious as possible in letting Bt corn loose in Maine.

Please come to the public hearing and tell the BPC: "With Rights Come Responsibilities." If you are unable to attend Friday's hearing, click here to send written comments to the BPC The BPC will be accepting public comments until Nov. 30. If you are coming, please come prepared to comment on the draft rules. You are welcome to mention in your testimony your opposition to the authorization for Bt corn, but please keep your comments focused on the draft rules.

For more information, please contact Logan Perkins at 207-692-2571 or

US Capitol BuildingWashington DC Event Alert

State Repression in the Era of the War on Terrorism

Details: Join journalists, attorneys, and former political prisoners at a forum discussing the links between past and present instances of state repression of social justice movements. From the targeting of animal and environmental activists being dubbed by many as the "Green Scare" to the 37-year-old charges being brought against former Black Panthers in San Francisco, hear how history is repeating itself as state repression intensifies in the era of the "War on Terrorism" -- and what we can do to fight it.

$5-10 sliding scale donation to benefit: Eco-Prisoner, Eric McDavid ( and the Jericho Movement ( No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds.

For further information and updates call 202.986.0681

California Alert

CaliforniaCalifornia to Eradicate Raw Milk

On October 8, Assembly Bill #1735 (AB 1735) was signed by the Governor and becomes law on January 1st 2008. Contained in this law are new standards for raw milk that will ultimately deny access to raw milk. The new standards require 10 coliform bacteria per ml or less, which , according to raw milk producers is next to impossible. Interestingly, coliforms are not pathogenic and actually protect raw milk against pathogens like E.coli. Coliforms alos make vitamin K, B-1, B-2, B-6 and B-12.

Contact Nicole Parra, Chair of the Agriculture Committee in the Assembly:

Find Out What's Happening in Your State

Organic Consumers Association LogoWe 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

Please 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.

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