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September 24, 2009

Organic Bytes #192 Nanotech, OCA Boycott, and More...

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Quote of the Week: Fiddling as the Earth Burns
  • Alert Update of the Week: OCA Prepares for Boycott of Personal Care Products Mislabeled as Organic
  • Products Mislabeled as "Organic"
  • Whole Foods and UNFI Update: Protest at Expo East in Boston
  • Video of the Week: Got a Farming Fantasy?
  • Little Bytes: Noteworthy News of the Week
  • Grassroots Netroots News: Health, Sustainability, Justice, Peace, Democracy

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Quote of the Week

Fiddling as the Earth Burns

"Regulating by carbon trading is like fiddling as Rome burns. Governments and the UN should impose a carbon tax on corporations, both for production - wherever their facilities are located - and for transport, which the Kyoto Protocol does not account for directly. Incentives for renewable energy are also essential. We face a stark choice: we can destroy the conditions for human life on the planet by clinging to 'free-market' fundamentalism, or we can secure our future by bringing commerce within the laws of ecological sustainability and social justice ."

Vandana Shiva, leading author and activist in India, member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Organic Consumers Association


Alert of the Week

Keep Nanotechnology Out of Organic!

A major reason why consumers shop for products that are certified organic is to avoid hazardous and unlabeled Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), toxic chemicals, and now the most recent, and likely most dangerous hi-tech poison of them all - nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is now a multi-billion dollar Frankenstein monster industry churning out a vast menu of untested and unlabeled products containing tiny nanoparticles including non-organic vitamin supplements, food packaging, processed food, cosmetics, and sunscreens.

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been debating an official ban on nanotechnology in organic. When it meets November 3-5, 2009 in Washington, D.C., the NOSB will consider a recommendation supported by the the OCA and the organic community that would "prohibit nanotechnology in organic production, processing, and packaging."

Nanotechnology is inherently dangerous. Mounting scientific evidence indicates that nanomaterials produce dangerous "free radicals" which can destroy or mutate DNA and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Nanotech particles not only injure and kill lab animals - they can kill you as well.

Every day, new evidence of the dangers of nanotechnology emerges:

  • Workplace nanoparticle exposure was linked to seven cases of serious and progressive lung disease in China including two patient deaths.
  • Nanoparticles present in a chemical found in sunscreens - titanium dioxide - are being examined as possibly causing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Tell the USDA that you want the National Organic Standards Board to take a strong stand against the use of nanotechnology in organic. Please act before the October 19 deadline.



OCA Prepares for Organic Personal Care Products Boycott

Last week we asked you to support the USDA National Organic Standards Board's committee recommendation, "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care," that would make sure that any use of the word "organic" on a personal care product is backed up by third-party certification to USDA organic standards.

Many thanks to the thousands of you who pitched in to help us support truth-in-advertising for organic personal care products with your letters, words of encouragement and donations!


If the USDA delays enforcement of organic standards in personal care, the OCA will be forced to back up its grassroots lobbying with market pressure in the form of a boycott of "cheater brands" and a "buycott" or promotion of brands that are genuinely organic. Before OCA launches a boycott of brands that are falsely marketing themselves as organic, it will give producers an opportunity to change their labels or marketing claims. Beginning this week at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston, OCA will meet with personal care products companies engaged in organic fraud to urge them to make a pledge to consumers that they will either meet USDA organic standards or stop making false organic claims.


Which organic personal care products do you use? Join the discussion in the OCA forum

Help Support and Defend the OCA!

Whether we're in federal court pressuring the USDA, litigating or boycotting against companies mislabeling conventional products as "organic," or defending ourselves against legal threats from multi-billion dollar corporations such as Whole Foods Market, OCA needs your help to safeguard our organization and get our message out. If you can afford it, please send us a (tax-deductible) donation today.


And the Winners Are...

In last weeks issue of Organic Bytes we announced that every web donation would be entered into a drawing to win some organic goodies from the OCA. We randomly drew 2 winners on Tues. Sept 22 and the lucky winners are: Elaine Claudio and Lori Emerson! Thanks to everyone for your support!

Stay tuned in to Organic Bytes for another chance to win organic goodies soon!

Whole Foods and UNFI Update

Keep up the Pressure for an Organic & Fair Trade Supply Chain that Promotes Health, Sustainability, & Labor Rights

Join OCA's campaign to get Whole Foods and UNFI to significantly increase their sales of organic products (as opposed to conventional foods and products greenwashed as "natural"), to implement Fair Trade practices, and to respect workers rights, including the right to form unions and enjoy the benefits of universal health care.


If you're in the Boston area this week, please join OCA and our labor and Fair Trade allies for a picket line and rally at the opening day of the giant Natural Products Expo East trade show. The rally will be held outside the Boston Exhibition & Convention Center Convention Center (Main Entrance - 415 Summer Street) at 9:30-11:15 AM on September 24.

Organic News of the Week

Got a Farming Fantasy? Learn About the Business From Richard Wiswall

Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What's required is farming smarter, not harder. Farmer Richard Wiswall is here to tell the world it's possible to start an organic farm, enjoy it, and make a profit. Like any other business, organic farming has ups and downs. But Wiswall (who's been farming in Vermont for 27 years) offers a hopeful and useful model to ensure a sustainable business that puts some money in the bank.

"My goal is to see more happy, prosperous farmers. I see too many farmers work too hard for little money and burn out because of it. I would love it that farmland shouldn't compete for developments because developments pay more. I want it that farms remain in farmland because it's economically viable to do so. And I think that's the way it should be."

Chelsea Green recently produced an original video to introduce readers to this organic farmer and author.

Wiswell's forthcoming book, The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff-and Making a Profit, is now available for pre-order.


Web Forum Posting of the Week

Bytes Readers Stand Up for Meat-Eating and Against Soy

Last month, we reported on a Washington Post article summarizing a number of recent reports indicating that one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas pollution is to reduce your meat consumption.

Several Bytes readers wrote us to stand up for meat-eating and against soy. We've included their comments and our response in our Web forum where OCA members are engaged in a vibrant debate on the pros and cons of vegetarian and vegan diets.


1) Court Rejects Genetically Modified Sugar Beets
Breaking News! A federal judge has ruled that GM sugar beets were illegally approved. Expect to hear more about this anti-GMO victory in next weeks Organic Bytes!

2) A Farm Vacation
Poor farmers in Mexico are experimenting with a sustainable way of growing food crops that their ancestors used. It could provide them with better protection against the extremes of climate change, reduce deforestation, improve food security and even promise a better diet.

3) Holy Cow, This Cleaning Product Is Not Organic
The circular logo looks like the USDA Organic Seal, but upon closer
inspection, the author find it's just organic fraud.

4) Paris Rooftops Abuzz with Beekeeping
In Paris, each beehive produces 110 to 130 pounds of honey per harvest, and the death rate of the colonies is 3 to 5 percent. But in the countryside, one beehive only gives you 20 to 40 pounds of honey, and the death rate is 30 to 40 percent.

5) Video: How to Can and Preserve Food
Farm-fresh fruits and veggies make the summer scrumptious. So keep the summer flavors coming all winter with these delicious canning videos.

Planting Peace and Grassroots Netroots News

Health Experts Renew Call to Ban Aspartame - READ MORE

So Much Food. So Much Hunger. - READ MORE

Slow Money Alliance Holds First National Conference - READ MORE

Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad - READ MORE

The Filmmakers vs. the Capitalists - READ MORE


[[State]]--Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in [[State]] here.
  • Join [[State]] discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in [[State]] on our community calendar.

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