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Organic Bytes #140: 8/6/2008

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

Usda OrganicBreaking News and Alert

USDA Report Indicates that Organic Labeling Fraud is Increasing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP) announced this week that 15 of the 30 accredited organic certifiers they recently inspected failed the USDA audit and will have 12 months to make corrections or lose their accreditation with the NOP. Although the USDA euphemistically calls their enforcement actions "renewal pending subsequent audit," it is clear that there are numerous violations of organic standards taking place in the U.S. and across the world. A number of the violations noted in the several hundred page audit related to Chinese imports certified by the French-based organic certifier Ecocert and other certifiers.

Strangely enough, Quality Assurance International (QAI), the largest organic certifier in the world, is not cited by the USDA, even though the OCA has recently reviewed documents that indicate that QAI is indeed under investigation by the NOP. QAI has recently been in the news for sourcing ginger, contaminated with a dangerous and banned pesticide, Aldicarb, from its Chinese certification sub-contractors and then labeling it as "USDA Organic." QAI is also under public fire, along with other certifiers, for certifying factory farm feedlot dairies supplying milk to Horizon and Aurora Organic Dairy, who in turn supply Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, and other organic private label organic milk.

Learn more and take action:

Pepsi JoggersAlert of the Week

Senator Says Stop Brainwashing Children
to Eat Junk Food

A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report has revealed that food and beverage corporations spent $1.6 billion dollars in food advertising in 2006. As parents and public health officials understand, the nation's alarming surge in childhood obesity and diabetes are directly related to increased consumption of junk food. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has urged industry and government regulators to redirect the massive funds spent every year in junk food advertising toward education and programs focused on healthy eating.

Take Action:

Quote of the Week

Dr. Vandana Shiva"Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate. Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient."

Dr. Vandana Shiva, scientist, world-renowned author, and grassroots leader in India. Member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Organic Consumers Association.

togetherness illustrationStanding Together for Positive Change

Help OCA Fight for Health, Justice,
and the Environment

In hard times, non-profits like the OCA need you help more than ever. Support the OCA today with a tax-deductible donation.

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videoVideo of the Week

Anthrax Attacks May Be 'Inside Job'

National TV commentator, Keith Olbermann says anthrax attacks in 2001 were likely an "inside job" by the Bush/Cheney Administration.

Watch this MSNBC video and read the related Associated Press article here:
Take action here:

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Plunder of the Week

Six Times More Fish Fed to Livestock Than to Humans

Livestock in pensAccording to the UBS Fisheries Centre in Vancouver, B.C., despite rampant over-fishing and depletion of world fish populations, globally, we are now feeding 14 million tons of edible wild-caught fish to factory farm animals, like pigs and chickens, each year. That amounts to over six times the amount of fish the entire U.S. population eats annually.

Wild fish fed to animals on a massive scale include perfectly edible anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring, which are ground into a cheap fishmeal and sold for animal feed. In other words a protein source is being fed to animals on corporate farms with a 90% energy loss. Given the global food crisis and the over-harvesting of many of the ocean's commercial fish varieties, careful analysis of resource use by the global industrial food complex is becoming a life or death imperative.


Sustainability Tips of the Week

Micro-Generation and Micro-Farming

Wind EnergyAs energy and food prices continue to rise, global experts predict that micro-generation and micro-farming will boom over the next few years. New trends in urban farming, like vertical gardening and backyard chickens, can help feed households in an economical and earth friendly way.

New technologies in micro-generation, powering your home with a wind turbine or solar paneling, for example, are making off-the-grid living more financially feasible than ever. In fact, priorities in Silicon Valley are already shifting from developing better microchips towards focusing on thin-film solar cells. Meanwhile, programs like 'Solar City' are offering 20% savings in solar paneling installations for neighborhoods who buy in bulk.

Learn more:

dog with newspaperTop Articles of the Week Posted from
Newsletters and Websites We Like

Let OCA sift through the media smog and bring you the top new and analysis of the day. The OCA website has 20 or more news articles posted each day, covering issues including 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. 

  1. Interview with OCA Director Ronnie Cummins:
    We Need a New Green Deal (Lavida Locavore)

  2. Solar Power Breakthrough Stores Energy for Later Use
    -Environmental News Service

  3. Urge Congress to Immediately Halt Any Further Advancement of NAIS (R-CALF)
  4. Monsanto & ADM Set Up New Front Group to Deflect Ethanol Criticism
    and to Promote GMOs

  5. Twelve Natural Tips for Safe Travel -Natural News

man with sunscreened faceHealth Tip of the Week

What Are the Safest Sunscreens?

Quick Tidbits of the Week

typing on a computerWebsite Helps Consumers Understand Eco-Labels

There are literally hundreds of different types of eco-labels on consumer products ranging from organic, to sustainably-made, to "Green". But what does it all mean? provides an online searchable database of over 300 eco-labels. Don't get scammed into paying extra for a product that may not be as earth-friendly as the label suggests.

Find out what the label means here:

Web Video Newsflash:
Illegal Pesticide Toxin Found in 'Organic' Ginger

How to Stop Fast Food from Taking over Your City

arresting ronald mcdonalcThe Los Angeles City Council has agreed to ban the building of new fast food restaurants in poor areas of the city. Three-quarters of the restaurants in South L.A. are fast food, and the City Council hopes the decision will attract healthier alternatives.

The decision was made after area residents complained that junk food was destroying public health. The resolution is likely to be used as a model by other cities where similar citizen campaigns are launched.

Learn more:

OCA LogoOrganic Consumers in Your State

Through the Organic Consumers Fund's Grassroots Netroots Alliance project, voters are pressing the politicians to support strict organic standards, mandatory labels for genetically engineered food, and the conversion of U.S. farmland to organic.

State News and Alerts:

We do not have space to put all state news and alerts, so please find your state here:

Support Our Supporters

Organic Valley: 1,266 Family Farms Strong

Organic Valley FarmersWe think it's a simple truth. The earth's most delicious, most healthful foods are made when farmers work in harmony with nature. That's how this farmer-owned co-op produces organic milk, organic cheese, organic butter, organic eggs, organic juice, organic soy beverages, organic produce, and organic meats. Working with nature is what inspired our original seven farmers to form an organic farming cooperative in 1988. Today our membership has grown to over 1200 family farms, and our high standards shine through in our delicious, award-winning, certified organic foods.

Explore our website and join Farm Friends to become part of the organic movement!

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

Dr. Bronners LogoMarking 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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