Organic Bytes #136: 6/9/2008
IN THIS ISSUE
- Organic Consumers Fund Launches Grassroots Netroots Alliance
- California Files Suit Against Whole Foods, Avalon & Others
- Government Slashes Pesticide Reporting Laws
- Government Manipulating Slaughterhouses Injuries Data
- World News Tidbits
- OCA Files Suit for False Organic Certification
- A Deeper Look at the Homeopathy's Validity
- How to Read Eco-Labels
- State News & Alerts: AZ, CA, IL, NC, OR, WI
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins
Alert of the Week
The Organic Consumers Fund, the legislative and electoral advocacy group that Organic Consumers Association works with, focuses on promoting organic agriculture as a solution to the food safety problems, environmental destruction, diet-related diseases and climate imbalance that stem from industrial agriculture. We also see ourselves as part of a larger movement for health, justice, sustainability, peace and democracy.
As a contribution to this larger movement,
we've launched the Grassroots
Netroots Alliance (GNA):
Subscribe to GNA's email alerts here: www.grassrootsnetroots.org/subscribe.cfm
The first GNA project is a survey that asks politicians 40 detailed, substantive policy questions that explore concrete solutions to the current crisis, including this question:
Would you support the conversion of 20% of U.S. farmland to energy-efficient and carbon-sequestering organic farming by 2020 and 50% by 2040, with at least 5-10% of the USDA's annual $90 billion budget immediately being targeted to rebuild local food systems and help farmers make the transition to organic?
Government Slashes Pesticide Reporting Laws
Bowing to pressure from Monsanto and the agro-toxics industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced May 21 that it plans to eliminate pesticide reporting at National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The program has tracked national pesticide use and provided critical information for consumer groups, scientists, farmers and environmental groups monitoring pesticide use and hazards.. NASS' elimination of the Agricultural Chemical Use Database is a direct attack on consumers and farm workers' Right to Know about pesticide residues and food safety. Pesticide reporting has become particularly important in the last ten years with Genetically Engineered crops requiring more and more pesticides.
Please contact USDA Secretary Ed Schafer and your Congressperson today: www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_12662.cfm
California Attorney General Files Prop 65 Suit Against Whole Foods, Avalon and Others
Reacting in part to a study released by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) in March of this year, but also based on their own testing, the Attorney General of California has filed a major lawsuit against body care household-cleaning product companies whose products recently tested highest for the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. Under California’s “Proposition 65” consumer products that contain toxic levels of 1,4 Dioxane must have warning labels stating they may cause cancer.
Read full OCA press release here:www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/
Government Manipulating Data on
Workers Injuries at Slaughterhouses
For over two decades, the meat packing industry has held the undesirable position as America's most dangerous industry. The rate of injury among workers began escalating during the union-busting days of the 1980s. For example, the repetitive-motion-disorder incidence rate is 30 times higher for meat packing workers than the average for all private industries.
Disregarding worker's rights, government officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, appointed by President Bush, have dramatically altered laws that were originally designed to require industry to report worker injuries. As a result of the new law, government statistics now inaccurately indicate that worker's injuries have magically dropped by 50%, thereby taking the heat off the meat packing industry to improve working environments.
South Korea Bans US Meat
South Korean government has responded to a rally last week involving more
than 60,000 citizens protesting American beef imports. Major Asian markets
have upheld a ban on American beef since the discovery of new cases of Mad
Cow Disease in the U.S. raised consumer health concerns. Despite international
pressure on the Bush Administration, the U.S. continues to ignore food safety
concerns and violate World Health Organization guidelines by feeding slaughterhouse
waste to animals and refusing to test all animals at slaughter for Mad Cow
Switzerland Bans GMOs
The Swiss government has voted to extend its ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) until 2012. The extension will provide time to assess health implications, biological safety, and coexistence ramifications with organic crops. www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_12591.cfm
Italy United Nations Meeting
Take Action - U.S. Forces World to Eat GE Foods
Over the course of the next week, world leaders will be meeting in Rome at Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) of the United Nations to address the global hunger crisis. Top on the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer's agenda is to push Genetically Engineered Crops on the world's hungry.
GE crops are untested and unwanted by the majority of the planet's population. GE crops will only deepen the global food crisis. Use OCA’s handy online tool to send an instant letter to the editor of your local newspaper here: www.salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/letter/?letter_KEY=986
Sweden to Market "Greener" Biofuels
Following a recent announcement from the United Nations advising a moratorium on biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, the Swedish biofuel company SEKAB has announced, within two months, it will become the first company in the world to sell ethanol certified to be environmentally and socially sustainable.
Although the degree of environmental friendliness is debatable, depending
on who you ask, it's a step in the right direction regarding the first certification
of its kind for more ethically produced fuels.
The plot has definitely thickened in OCA's Coming Clean Campaign. As revealed in previous issues of Organic Bytes, a number of well known body care product companies were recently sued by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps for misleadingly labeling or certifying their products as "Organic," even though many of their main ingredients are composed of conventional agricultural and petrochemical material, with no certified organic material.
The French certifier Ecocert has been particularly outrageous in certifying
such products as "Organic" and last month filed a pre-emptive lawsuit
against the OCA, in a fruitless attempt to silence concerned organic consumers
and farmers. OCA has filed a counter-suit against Ecocert and the brief can
be read on-line at: organicconsumers.org/bodycare/ecocert-crosscomplaint.pdf
OCA is a party with Dr. Bronner's in the consolidated litigation going forward with all defendants.
We appreciate any and all donations to help us win this crucial fight to preserve organic integrity in personal care.
Learn more and take action: www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/
Support OCA with your stimulus check. During a recession, nonprofits need private donor help more than ever.
OCA Presents Testimony to Government Panel
The advisory panel established to oversee U.S. federal organic standards (National Organic Standards Board) met in Washington D.C. last week to discuss various issues related to the organic market.
OCA's Alexis Baden-Mayer was there to present testimony on behalf of organic consumers everywhere. Alexis covered a wide variety of topics of concern, including organic mislabeling, fish farming, synthetic ingredients in organic products, dairy pasture guidelines, and community grower groups.
Read her full testimony here: www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_12488.cfm
A Deeper Look at the Validity of Homeopathy
In the last issue of Organic Bytes, we notified our readers about a recent article in Consumer Reports wherein their journalist, Doug Podolsky, recommended consumers avoid homeopathic medicines, an alternative medical practice that has been used for more than two-hundred years.
Our readers sent over 4,000 letters to Consumer Reports, hoping the publication would take a second look at the validity of homeopathics. Consumers Union, a nonprofit overseeing the Consumer Reports publication, is a longtime close ally of the OCA, and they have indicated they will be investigating further scientific studies on the matter. The OCA strongly agrees with the portion of Podolsky's article highlighting the need for clear labeling of these products, so consumers can distinguish between homeopathic medicines and their counterparts.
Learn more: www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/
Having a hard time deciphering the lingo on all of these new eco-labels? The Consumers Union has put together a great website to help you wade through the gobbledy-gook.
Did you know?
- The "free-range" label doesn't necessarily mean the animals have been raised outdoors.
- "Fair Trade Certified" means more than paying producers a fair wage.
- Meat labeled as "natural" can contain artificial ingredients.
Learn more at www.eco-labels.org
According to NaturalNews.com, the #1 health/wellness podcast on the internet is "Real Health" with Dr. Steve. This podcast will now be highlighting each issue of Organic Bytes with in-depth interviews of OCA staff. Tune-in to the podcast today to hear OCA experts talk about the news stories we're covering in this issue of Organic Bytes.
your daily source of news, analysis and inspiration.
Arizona: Voice your opposition to the Black Mesa Project!
Big Mountain, Black Mesa Elder, faces threat of her ceremonial lodge/home being dismantled while Peabody Coal Company is pushing their massive coal-mining expansion plans on the sacred ancestral homelands of the Dine' (Navajo) & Hopi peoples of Black Mesa, AZ. Your voices are urgently needed before these two very important deadlines close!
California: Support Green Jobs in California
North Carolina: Oppose Coal From Mountaintop Removal