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Organic Bytes #138: 7/7/2008

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

Breaking News of the Week

Twenty-Nine Nations Cut-Off Food Exports

Breaking NewsWhile U.S. consumers struggle to cope with steadily rising food and energy costs, a billion rural farmers and low-income families are suffering from what can only be described as a global food crisis. The New York Times reported last week that at least 29 countries have sharply curbed or completely cut-off grain exports to make sure their own populations have enough to eat. According to the article, "When it comes to rice, India, Vietnam, China and 11 other countries have limited or banned exports. Fifteen countries, including Pakistan and Bolivia, have capped or halted wheat exports. More than a dozen have limited corn exports."

Learn More Here

GNA Video Alert of the Week

GNA Survey LinkWatch this inspiring message from Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, along with an amazing song by progressive hip-hop artist Head-Roc and great images from the "real food" movement.

In the video, Ronnie talks about the Grassroots Netroots Alliance, a project the Organic Consumers Fund created to survey every local, state and federal politician on their position on organic food and farming and what they're going to do to support safe, affordable, and sustainable food systems.

As food grows less safe and more expensive, we can't continue to let candidates side-step this important issue. The current crisis requires that candidates address all of the interconnected life-and-death issues that face us from food, jobs, housing, health and energy to climate change and war.

Click Here to Watch

Alert: OCA Launches Kellogg's Boycott

Genetically Engineered Sugar to Hit Supermarket Shelves This Year

The Organic Consumers Association's (OCA) and allies are calling for a boycott of all Kellogg’s products after Kellogg’s refuses to source only GE-Free Sugar.

Eating CerealMonsanto’s RoundUp Ready Genetically Engineered Sugar is due to hit stores this year, exposing millions of consumers to untested and unlabeled “Franken Foods” that threaten human heath, the environment and farmers' rights everywhere.

Action Links:

Political Plunder of the Week

White House Lies to the World About Biofuels


A new report from the International Monetary Fund estimates that biofuels are responsible for as much as 30% of the global food shortage. Despite this fact, at the United Nation's emergency food summit in Rome, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Edward Schafer, defended the U.S. government's decision to spend billions of dollars subsidizing corn and soybean-based ethanol and biofuel, falsely claiming that biofuels contributed only 2% to 3% of the overall increase in global food prices over the past year. According to USDA spokesman, Jim Brownlee, Mr. Schafer was unaware that his statistics were off by nearly 90%. Take Action: Click to Sign OCA's Biofuel Moratorium Petition

Vandana ShivaQuote of the Week

Organic Farming Can Feed the World

"The $1.2 billion the World Bank says will solve the food crisis in Africa is a $1.2 billion subsidy to the chemical industry. Countries are made dependent on chemical fertilizers when their prices have tripled in the last year due to rising oil prices. I say to governments: spend a quarter of that on organic farming and you've solved your problems."

-Vandana Shiva, an Indian physics professor and Organic Consumers Association Advisory board Member, speaking in Italy in response to the the U.N. food summit in Rome last month, where the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion in grants to help with the food crisis, most of which is earmarked for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops.


Syngenta Confesses

Genetically Modified Crops Cannot Feed the World

SyngentaIn a revealing interview with the Guardian UK last week, Martin Taylor, the chairman of one of the world's leading sellers and promoters of seeds for GM crops, Syngenta, admitted that biotech foods cannot feed the world. Taylor told the Guardian, "GM won't solve the food crisis, at least not in the short term." This is in stark contrast to the biotech industry's ongoing propaganda that the world must embrace genetically engineered crops in order to feed the world's growing population. Although Syngenta and other biotech giants like Monsanto regularly also claim that GM crops are environmentally sustainable, Syngenta's chairman confessed the biotech industry's real focus is on lucrative crops and high-priced seeds and pesticides with "hardly any environmental benefits".

Learn more:

Related Study of the Week

Genetic Farmer"Assessment of the GM technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable."

Source: A report released earlier this year from the United Nations World Food Program. The study was funded by the biotech industry and 60 nations, including the U.S., and clearly admits that genetically modified crops are not the solution to the food crisis. Upon finding out the results, the US, UK, Australia and Canada refused to endorse the international study. The study also warns that biofuels and climate change are leading causes of the global food crisis.

Read study here:

Sustainability News of the Week

Positive Solutions - from Panic to Organic

Ronnie CumminsWhile consumers struggle to fuel their cars and put food on the table, oil companies (like Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips) and seed companies (like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM) are raking in record profits. In a fiery essay posted on the Common Dreams website and circulated widely on the internet, The Organic Consumers Association's National Director, Ronnie Cummins, shows how the food, climate and energy crisis are connected and how the time for positive change is now:

"Fortunately, there are hopeful signs that we can move beyond crisis to positive solutions. Connecting the dots in our food-climate-energy crisis, millions of green consumers are voting with their dollars for foods and products that are healthy, locally produced, energy efficient, and eco-friendly. A growing number of politicians, mainly at local and state levels, are also waking up. Organic food and farmers markets are booming. Chemical-free lawns and gardens, green buildings, solar panels, wind generators, "buy local" networks, and bike paths are sprouting.  A critical mass of organic-minded Americans are waking up to the fact that we must green the economy, drastically reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas pollution, re-stabilize the climate, and heal ourselves, before it's too late."

Read the full essay here:

Donate Here!

Donate Now!Help OCA Fight for Health, Justice, and the Environment - Support OCA with your stimulus check - During a recession, non-profits need private donor help more than ever.

supermarketTip of the Week

How to Afford Organic Food on a Tight Budget

With increasing food costs and the worst economy in 40 years, many shoppers are questioning whether they can afford to purchase organic foods. One of the quickest ways to reduce your organic grocery costs by as much as 15-20% is to buy in bulk. This doesn't only mean being limited to buying food from bulk bins at your natural food store (although that is an equally effective way to reduce packaging and costs on foods like cereals).

Many people don't realize that most grocery and natural food stores welcome customers to special order cases of food in bulk. It's the same premise as buying a 12-pack of soda or juice instead of just buying an individual can. When you think about it, most of the time you grocery shop, you are buying the same foods, so why not make a list of those foods, buy them by the case, save money and reduce your visits to the store? For example, a case of 12 cans of your family's favorite soup typically costs 20% less than what it would cost you to buy those cans individually. Make a list of your favorite foods and go to the information desk next time you are at your grocery store to find out which ones you can buy in bulk.

Learn more organic money saving tips here:

VideoWeb Video of the Week

The End of Suburbia

A fascinating 52 minute documentary on the rise and fall of suburbia.  In order to successfully transition through the global food crisis, climate change and peak oil, the new suburbia must reinvent the "mom and pop" localized economy.

Watch Here

Reading at the BeachTop OCA News Headlines of the Week

Tired of drowning in endless news headlines? Let the OCA wade through the media quagmire for you and sift out the most important stories. The OCA website has 20 or more news articles posted each day, which are related to health, justice, food and farming, politics, and the environment.

With over thirty thousand visitors per day, is a valuable resource for consumers, activists, and journalists. Please Bookmark as your daily source of news, analysis and inspiration.  Below are 5 of the top stories posted to the OCA website this last week:

  1. U.S. Finally Issues Health Warning over Mercury Fillings
  2. How 'Mad Cow' Prions Pose a Threat to All Non-Organic Food Consumers Including Vegetarians
  3. Policymakers Cave Into Lobbyists Over Massive Bee Deaths
  4. Whole Towns Going Fair Trade
  5. Industrial Farm Animals Consume 17 Percent of Wild-Caught Fish

Sign-Up for OCA's Action Alerts

OCA Action CenterAs you know, Organic Bytes is sent to its subscribers twice per month.  But oftentimes, there are alerts that need to have immediate response and simply can't wait for the next issue of Organic Bytes. The OCA is inviting you to sign up for our action alert email list. If you subscribe, these alerts will be sent to you on an "as needed" basis. Some weeks you may get none at all, and some weeks you may receive 2 or 3, depending on the urgency of the alert. 

Sign up for OCA's action alerts here

Special State News and Alerts

Support Our Supporters

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

Dr, Bronner'sMarking the 60th Anniversary of the company, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is pleased to announce that all classic liquid & bar soaps are now not only certified under the USDA National Organic Program, but also certified Fair Trade! In addition, we are pleased to introduce a revolutionary new range of high-quality organic products, from hair rinses to shaving gels – all certified under the same USDA program that certifies organic foods.

Dr. Bronner's is supporting the Organic Consumers Association's "Coming Clean" campaign for strong organic body care standards.
For more info, please see:

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