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June 24, 2009

Organic Bytes #179: Hershey's Child Labor, Monsanto's Wheat, Mad Fish & More...

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Alert of the Week: Tell Hershey's to Stop Abusive Child Labor in Cocoa Production
  • Consumer Tip of the Week: Rainforest Alliance vs. Fairtrade Labeling
  • Alert Update of the Week: A Critique of Some Recent Articles on Genetically Engineered Wheat
  • Food Safety Tip of the Week: New Web Search Tool Shows What Pesticides are on Your Food
  • Mad Cow News of the Week: Scientist Warns that Farmed Fish Could be a Source of Mad Cow Disease
  • Other Headlines and Articles of the Week

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Alert of the Week

Tell Hershey's to Stop Abusive Child Labor in Cocoa Production

For years, the Organic Consumers Association has been taking action, along with the International Labor Rights Fund, to stop abusive child labor in the cocoa industry in West Africa. As a result of the constant pressure, major chocolate companies like M&M/Mars and Cadbury have recently agreed to stronger labor and environmental standards in the production of the cocoa they use. But one iconic US brand is lagging behind - and they need to hear from YOU! Ask Hershey's to switch to Fair Trade & Organic certified cocoa and sugar -- for all of their products.

Learn more and take action

Consumer Tip of the Week

Rainforest Alliance vs. Fairtrade Labeling

McDonald's, Chiquita, Mars, Wal-Mart, and Kraft apparently now all have products certified "sustainable," sharing, among other things, the little green frog label of the Rainforest Alliance. On the other side of the labeling world, we have Fair Trade, the original product certification initiative aimed at building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty. What's the difference? See a comparison here.

Learn more

Alert Update of the Week

A Critique of Some Recent Articles on Genetically Engineered Wheat

As reported in Organic Bytes #176, Monsanto and the biotech industry are mobilizing their propaganda machine to force-feed genetically engineered (GE) wheat to consumers. A recent poll reveals, however, that 69 percent of Canadian wheat farmers are opposed to "franken-wheat", given the fact that it's banned in Europe, and most U.S. consumers don't want it. As a result, the biotech industry is attempting to shift public perception by inundating the press with genetically engineered misinformation. The OCA's Honor Schauland takes a look at some recent quotes spewing out of the GE-wheat spin machine, most of which are more humorous than factual.

Learn More

Food Safety of the Week

New Web Search Tool Shows What Pesticides are on Your Food

The Pesticide Action Network has launched a new online searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable. Whether you want to find out what's in your apple juice, milk, peanut butter, or bottled water, this innovative tool links pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time.

Learn More

Related Facts of the Week

  • The average child gets 5+ servings of pesticides in their food and water each day.
  • The pesticide Atrazine is so toxic it is banned in Europe, but it is used so widely in the U.S., that it is found in 71% of the U.S. drinking water.
  • Currently, over 400 pesticides can be legally used in the U.S. For example, apples can be sprayed up to 16 times with 36 different pesticides. None of these chemicals are present in organic foods.
  • According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, organophosphate pesticides (OP) are now found in the blood of 95% of Americans tested, and the levels are twice as high in blood samples taken from children. Exposure to OPs is linked to hyperactivity, behavior disorders, learning disabilities, developmental delays and motor dysfunction.

Learn More

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Better World

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Headlines and Articles of the Week

1) Mad Cow News of the Week:
Scientist Warns that Farmed Fish Could be a Source of Mad Cow Disease

"In a paper that shows just how strange our modern world has become, Robert P. Friedland, neurologist from the University of Louisville, warns that farmed fish could be at risk of developing transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, a form of mad cow disease. Currently, farmed fish are fed cow slaughterhouse waste. Friedland and co-authors raise the issue in the Journal of Alzhemier's Disease and call on food regulators to ban feeding cow bone or meat to farmed fish..."
Learn more

2) Organic News of the Week:
U.S. and Canada Agree on Organic Equivalency

The US and Canada have come to an agreement on organic equivalency standards, expanding organic trade opportunities. The new rules mean that both the USDA Organic seal and the Canada Organic Biologique logo - which is due to be introduced on June 30 - may be used on certified products in either country.
Learn more

3) Web Forum Posting of the Week:
HR 2749 Food Safety Enhancement Act -Debate and Discussion

"The bill proposes a substantial increase in power and resources for the FDA and would significantly diminish existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. Although the bill includes some provisions that could improve the mainstream food system, many of these are vaguely worded and do not clearly define the scope of the agency's power, creating the potential for inappropriate application and enforcement..."
Learn more and discuss

4) Sustainability News of the Week:
'Humanure' Victory: Green Toilet Wins Austin City Approval

"It took more than four years of negotiations and construction, but this month an Austin Water Utility inspector gave final clearance to a glorified outhouse that is on the vanguard of down-and-dirty environmentalism. Instead of flushing the feces, it's safely composted into useful fertilizer. .."
Learn more

5) Health News of the Week:
American Medical Association Passes Resolution Supporting Organic and Sustainable Food

The American Medical Association has approved a new policy resolution in support of practices and policies within health care systems that promote and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system.
Learn more

Take Action and Demand the American Dietetic Association Support Organic Foods


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Message from our Sponsors


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Living Tree Community Foods