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Organic Bytes #136: 6/9/2008

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

Organic Consumers Fund Launches Grassroots Netroots Alliance

LibertyThe 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:

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?

Send the GNA SurveyPlease use these links to:
Environmental News and Alert of the Week

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:
Breaking NewsBreaking News

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
Social Justice News of the Week

meatpackingGovernment 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.

Learn more:

World News Tidbits

American MeatSouth Korea Bans US Meat

The 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 Disease.

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.

Italy United Nations Meeting

Wheat PhotoTake 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:

Bread on wheelsSweden 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.

OCA Campaign Update

Coming Clean Campaign OCA Files Suit for False and Misleading
"Organic" Certification of Personal Care Products

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:
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:

Donate Here!

Donate Now!Help OCA Fight for Health, Justice, and the Environment
Support OCA with your stimulus check. During a recession, nonprofits need private donor help more than ever.
Organic News of the Week

USDA OrganicOCA 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:
Natural Health News of the Week

A Deeper Look at the Validity of Homeopathy

homeopathyIn 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:
Website and Consumer Tip of the Week

Virtual KitchenHow to Read Eco-Labels

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

podcastListen to Podcast With Organic Bytes

According to, 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.


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Special State News and Alerts

Support Our Supporters

Eden Foods Offers OCA Customers 15% Discount

Eden FoodsEden Foods is one of the few national organic food producers who goes beyond the USDA Organic Standards. Although Eden Foods is USDA certified, their products do not bear the USDA seal, because they say the USDA standard really represents a "minimum standard" that Eden Foods goes far beyond.
As a subscriber to Organic Bytes, you can enjoy a discount rate on any Eden Foods products by clicking here

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