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August 28, 2009

Organic Bytes #188 Nanotech, Obama's Farmers Market and More...

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Quote of the Week: Roundup Researcher - "I will not shut my mouth"
  • Alert of the Week: Tell the USDA GE Frankenfoods & Nanotechnology Aren't Organic
  • Alert Update of the Week: Swine Flu and Vaccine Nation
  • Gardening News of the Week: Vegetable Gardens Grow Employee Morale
  • Local Food News of the Week: Obama's White House Farmers Market
  • Video of the Week: The Organic Vegetable Gardeners of Havana
  • Via Organica News of the Week: Lower Cholesterol on Mexican Eco-Tour
  • Web Forum Discussion of the Week: Do You Support Universal Health Care?
  • Headlines and Articles of the Week

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Quote of the Week

Roundup Researcher: “If I know something, I will not shut my mouth.”

Dr. Andrés Carrasco, an embryologist who works in Argentina's Ministry of Science's Conicet (National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations) responding to criticism over his research which found that Monsanto's Roundup herbicide caused brain, intestinal and heart defects in amphibian fetuses.

GRAIN: Seeds of Information, July 2009



Tell the USDA GE Frankenfoods & Nanotechnology Aren't Organic

Last week, we gave you news of a report issued by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Information Network, "The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production," that argues "Governments should change their regulations to allow producers to gain organic certification for biotech crops grown with organic methods."


In May, we alerted you that the National Organic Standards Board was considering an official ban on nanotechnology in organic, but felt stymied by their concern that "Under the current definition, most nanotechnology would not fall into the category of excluded methods."


Every day, we post new evidence at that genetic engineering and nanotechnology present dangers to human health and the environment...

Please take action to (1) oppose the USDA's cynical attempt to promote genetic engineering as potentially organic and (2) push the National Organic Standards Board to take a strong stand against the use of nanotechnology in organic. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology aren't organic!


Alert Update of the Week

Swine Flu and Vaccine Nation

Despite 30,000 emails from Organic Bytes readers, and mounting global concern, government bureaucrats and the corporate media continue to gloss over the undeniable fact that massive factory pig and poultry farms are incubating deadly viruses that could cause catastrophic mutations in the so far mild Swine Flu Epidemic (H1N1/09). At the same time, media and health officials downplay the importance of safe and proven organic and holistic precautions - strengthening our immune systems with healthy organic food, medicinal herbs, homeopathic remedies, lifestyle changes, and stress reduction - while cheerleading for the likely ineffectual and hazardous Big Pharma vaccines currently being rushed to market.


OCA Needs Your Help!

OCA needs your (tax-deductible) donations to Promote Organics and Fight Factory Farms and GMOs. For the next week, every dollar you give will be matched by a generous grant from The Sky Factory in Fairfield, Iowa, a national sponsor of the OCA.


Gardening News of the Week

The Wall Street Journal Reports Vegetable Gardens Grow Employee Morale

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a new trend in employee benefits: office gardens. According to Paul Teslak, a professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, a garden is a cheap and easy way for a business to:

  • Encourage camaraderie among co-workers
  • Help in recruiting
  • Differentiate itself from its competitors
  • Boost workers' morale
  • Relate better to customers
  • Expand a health and wellness program


Local Food News of the Week

Obama Wants to Set Up White House Farmers Market

While answering a question at a health-care forum, President Obama mentioned that he and the First Lady are looking into setting up a farmers market just outside the White House, to sell food from the White House garden or from local farmers:

"So, you know, Michelle set up that garden in the White House?

"One of the things that we're trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmers' market outside of the White House - I'm not going to have all of you all just tromping around inside - (laughter) - but right outside the White House. (laughter)"

"That is a win-win situation. It gives suddenly D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue-maker for local farmers in the area...those kinds of connections can be made all throughout the country, and has to be part of how we think about health."


Video of the Week

The Organic Vegetable Gardeners of Havana

Cuba once pursued a highly industrialized, chemical-intensive, fuel-thirsty form of agriculture - not so different from the kind of farming that supplies most of the food in the US and Europe today. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Cuba's oil, chemical fertilizer, and pesticide supply disappeared. Almost overnight, Cuba faced a major food crisis. Cuba by necessity had to go back to basics to survive - rediscovering low-input, self-reliant, organic farming.


Via Organica ("The Organic Way") News of the Week

Healthy Living and Lower Cholesterol with Indigenous Nopal

Greetings from Via Organica, an organic restaurant, store, farm and learning center in San Miguel de Allende.

One of the things OCA's Via Organica staff has learned working with organic-minded campesinos (small farmers) in Mexico are the tremendous health benefits of native organic plants and foods. Little known to most Americans (except for Latinos), for example, the nopal plant (prickly pear cactus) can lower cholesterol and prevent or treat diabetes, two of the most common health problems among Mexicans, and in fact all North Americans. Tasty and nutritious as a green vegetable ("nopalitos"), used as a type of flour in tortillas, or consumed as a nutritional supplement, the nopal cactus is an amazing plant, requiring no watering (cactus have the ability to absorb moisture from the air), no chemical fertilizers, nor pesticides. If you can't find them, ask your local coop or organic food store to carry nopal products.



Web Forum Discussion of the Week

The Health Care Debate

Last week, we updated readers on our Whole Foods campaign, adding CEO John Mackey's opposition to health care for all to our list of complaints, which already included Whole Foods' opposition to workers' rights and the fact that only about 1/3 of its sales are of certified organic products.

While most of our readers want health care for all, a couple of readers expressed their support for Mackey's libertarian ideals of freedom and self-sufficiency.

Where do you stand on the health care debate?



Headlines and Articles of the Week

1) Water Safety News of the Week:
How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass?

Syngenta's Atrazine herbicide is routinely sprayed on non-organic corn crops, golf courses, and manicured lawns, but unfortunately laboratory experiments indicate that the popular weed killer causes horrific birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems - even at so-called "safe" concentrations meeting current federal standards. Atrazine is banned as a dangerous poison in the European Union, but still perfectly legal here in the land of chemical-intensive farms and cheap corn-derived junk food.

2) Wellness News of the Week:
Healthy Foods That Help Avoid Swine Flu

Boost your immune system and ward off the swine flu by eating lots of protein, bright orange and bright green vegetables, Vitamin C-rich foods like peppers, spinach and citrus, and iron-rich foods like apples and greens, and raw garlic.

3) Science News of the Week:
Drug Resistance Scares the Hell Out of Scientists

Eighty percent of all antibiotics consumed in the United States are used as animal feed additives, to fatten animals up and to enable them to survive the daily hell of filthy, disease-ridden factory farms. There is mounting scientific evidence that factory-farming of chickens, pigs and cattle is incubating and spreading dangerous drug-resistant bacteria. The bottom line for seriously ill people who might die without antibiotics, is that these drugs no longer work as well as they used to, and may soon not work at all - largely thanks to corporate agribusiness and indentured politicians in Washington. Why is it that routinely feeding antibiotics to farm animals in Europe is banned, whereas it is still perfectly legal in the US?

4) Op-Ed of the Week:
Nicholas D. Kristof - Food for the Soul

Industrial farms are calorie factories, without any soul. They produce unhealthy food, massive environmental and greenhouse gas pollution as well as dangerous antibiotic resistance.

5) Movie Trailer of the Week:
'Tapped' Pulls Plug on Bottled Water Craze

'Tapped' traces the evolution of bottled water from its hoity-toity Perrier days to its present ubiquity, and succeeds at making the industry reps look like total jerks. 'Tapped' does a solid job of covering every aspect of this damaging industry and inspiring more outrage than despair.


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