Organic Bytes
Health, Justice and Sustainability News 
January 7, 2008 -  Issue #157
In This Issue
Organic Newsflash
Alert Update of the Week:Stop Vilsack
Studies of the Week: Studies Confirm Genetically Modified Crops Damage Human Health and the Environment
Consumer Tip of the Week: How to Avoid Genetically Modified Ingredients
Top Web Videos of 2008
Top OCA Web Forum Topic of 2008
Top Organic & Green Tips of 2008
Headlines and Articles of the Week
Join Our Mailing List!
Organic Consumers Association

Support the OCA in its efforts to put longtime champion of organic/sustainable farmers and strong standards, Jim Riddle, in the USDA seat overseeing the National Organic Program:
Sign the Petition to Support Jim Riddle for Agricultural Marketing Services Division of the USDA

Alert Update of the Week:
Stop Vilsack

Vilsack Over the past month, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has been alerting our nationwide network about Obama's proposed appointment of Monsanto ally and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to the position of Secretary of Agriculture. Far from representing the "Change" which Obama has promised, Vilsack has a disappointing record of promoting controversial genetically engineered foods, biopharm crops, and animal cloning, as well as cheerleading for unsustainable biofuels derived from corn and soybeans. In addition Vilsack has come under fire for aiding and abetting chemical and energy-intensive industrial agriculture, including Iowa's infamous Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

VilsackThanks to all of you who have taken part in OCA's "Stop Vilsack" campaign. So far, we have collected over 60,000 online petition signatures, generating coverage from major media outlets and websites including the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, Air America, Democracy Now, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Nation, and Huffington Post, as well as a number of major daily newspapers. Similar petitions circulated on the internet by OCA's allies, including, Pesticide Action Network, and the Center for Food Safety have generated an additional 60,000+ supporters, making Vilsack perhaps the most controversial and unpopular Obama cabinet appointment. OCA's petition is being delivered to Obama's Transition Team, as well as Congress.
If you haven't yet signed the petition, please do so now.
If you've already signed the petition, here's another way to make positive change: The Obama Transition Team has set up a website soliciting input from citizens about various hot-button issues. One area of the website invites people to post questions and concerns and vote on them. Supposedly, those questions with the most votes will be directly responded to by President-Elect Obama. Please follow this link and vote for questions asking Obama to support policies promoting health, justice, peace, and sustainability.
Studies of the Week:
Multiple 2008 Studies Confirm Genetically Modified Crops Damage Human Health and the Environment

GMO Although genetically modified (GM) corn is banned in most of the world, it has been approved as "safe" for human consumption in the U.S. for 12 years and is now likely unknowingly consumed, in one form or another, by more than 90% of Americans on a regular basis. But a recent series of peer-reviewed studies were published in 2008 confirming previous studies indicating potentially severe health and environmental problems associated with the biotech crops. Recent alarming scientific research includes:

1) A new long term study by the Austrian government confirms previous findings that consumption of GM corn, for as little as 20 weeks, can damage the reproductive system, lower fertility rates and increase illness and death rates in offspring.
Learn more

2) Researchers in Mexico reported in December that some popular varieties of GM corn negatively affect the learning response of bees. Scientists say this may be an indicator of the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, a recent catastrophic and mysterious die-off of as much as 30% of the world's honey bee population in the past couple of years.
Learn more

3) In Italy, scientists published a study that put the biotech industry in a public relations tailspin. In the study, laboratory tests showed a direct connection between consumption of GM corn and a damaged immune system.
Learn more

Consumer Tip of the Week:
How to Avoid Genetically Modified Ingredients
Avoid GE Food
In the U.S., food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) do not have to be labeled as such. This is a big problem, considering more than 90% of surveyed consumers say they would avoid products with these ingredients and since most packaged foods on grocery store shelves already contain hidden GMOs. Although Obama stated publicly in his campaign that he supports mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods, OCA believes we will have to keep the pressure on if he is to fulfill this promise. In the meantime, here are some quick tips to help you avoid GMO ingredients and "Frankenfoods."

1) Look for products that voluntarily label themselves as GMO or GE-free.
2) Buy Organic:  Products certified as "Organic" are not allowed to contain genetically modified ingredients.
3) Avoid non-organic products that contain the most common genetically engineered ingredients: corn (corn syrup, corn meal, corn oil, etc.), fructose, dextrose, glucose, modified food starch, ingredients including the word "soy" (soy flour, soy lecithin, etc.), vegetable oil, vegetable protein, canola oil (also called rapeseed oil), cottonseed oil.

Learn more

Top "Web Videos of the Week" of 2008
Web Videos Each week in Organic Bytes, we like to give our readers entertaining and educational links to web videos pertaining to health, justice and sustainability. Here are some of our favorites we sent you in Organic Bytes in 2008:
1)The World According to Monsanto: Get the inside scoop on how the one of the largest corporations in the world has made a fortune bringing us Agent Orange, PCBs, DDT, rBGH, and a genetically engineered food supply. Watch 

2) Zeitgeist: The Federal Reserve: We have posted the section of the Zeitgeist movie focused on the Federal Reserve. It'll make you think differently about everything you are hearing in the news about the struggling economy. Watch
3) The End of Suburbia: A fascinating 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

Top OCA Web Forum Topic of 2008:
Poll: Is It Okay To Be An Omnivore? New Study Says Yes. What Do You Think?
VegetarianWith nearly a quarter million readers of Organic Bytes, we were excited to roll out some great features on our new web forum in 2008. We enter into 2009 with nearly 4,000 green-minded folks, like yourself, already sharing thoughts, questions, and common stories in the forum. Each week, in Organic Bytes, we like to highlight some area of the forum that has unusually high amounts of traffic or particularly insightful discussion. If you have something to say, knowledge to share, or even if you just like to read conversations other people are having about health, justice, sustainability, peace and democracy, the OCA web forum is your place to do it. We checked out some of the statistics in the forum and found the discussion about the ethics behind meat-eating to be the hottest topic of the year, with nearly 350,000 views. 

Read people's thoughts and/or join the discussion

Top 2008 Organic & Green "Tips of the Week"
TipsSome of our favorite tidbits to research and write about in Organic Bytes are our "Tips of the Week" which can range from green consumer tips to gardening to sustainability. These are our favorite picks from Organic Bytes issues in 2008:
1) Organic Transitions Tip: Intro to Backyard Chickens
2) Health Tip: Precautionary Advice for Cell Phone Use
3) Sustainability Tips: Micro-Generation and Micro-Farming
4) Consumer Tip: How to Afford Organic Food on a Tight Budget
5) Gardening Tip: How to Grow Organic Food in Your Home


We'd like to send a special thanks to all of you who took part in OCA's end-of-year donation drive. We still need to raise $50,000 in January to guarantee our financial stability for the coming year. We look forward to continuing to fight for health, justice and sustainability in 2009!

Donate Here

Headlines of the Week:
Headlines1) 10 Reasons To Be Hopeful About 2009 & 3 Reasons To Be Terrified

2) Rule Intended to Curb Mad Cow May Have Unexpected Consequences
3) NASA Study Illustrates How Peak Oil Impacts Climate Crisis
4) The Transition Town Movement: Embracing Reality and Resilience
5) The Growing War Between Modern Big Pharma Medicine & the Public

Let OCA sift through the media smog and bring you the top new and analysis of the day. The OCA website has 10 or more news articles posted each day, and a library of over 40,000 articles covering issues including health, justice, food and farming, politics, and the environment. Bookmark

Message From OCA Sponsor:
Sign Petition to Repower, Refuel and Rebuild America
Take Action After eight years of failed energy policy, we finally have the opportunity to make a clean break with dirty energy. But to make it happen, president-elect Obama must take the lead in his first 100 days. That's why the League of Conservation Voters is partnering with other environmental groups to send him the strong message that now is the time to move to 100% clean electricity, create 5 million new clean energy jobs, cut our oil dependence in half, and cut global warming pollution. America has a fresh start. This is our chance to turn things around. Sign the petition and help Repower, Refuel, and Rebuild America.

Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on web sites, print it, duplicate it and post it freely. Knowledge is power!

ORGANIC BYTES is written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins
and is a publication of:
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Fax: (218) 353-7652