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October 1, 2009

Organic Bytes #193: Protests, Victories & Ongoing Campaigns

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Quote of the Week: Organic Can Save the World
  • Victories of the Week: GMO Sugar & NOSB Appointments
  • Alert Update of the Week: OCA Takes on Organic Fraud at Expo East
  • Organic News of the Week: Online Calculator Measures Benefits of Organic Food
  • Web Forum Posting of the Week: BPA Lies
  • Little Bytes: Mandatory Vaccines, Garbage Becomes Compost, Saving the Bees
  • Planting Peace and Grassroots Netroots News

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Quote of the Week

Organic Can Save the World from Climate Chaos

"... carbon sequestration is the best way to buy time in a warming world. Cutting emissions will help, but not as immediately as production must be fundamentally restructured to simultaneously preempt and react to the devastating effects of climate change. agriculture presents an untapped solution, an underutilized carbon sink at the ready. ...if the world’s 3.5 billion tillable acres could be transitioned to organic agriculture now, land could sequester almost 40 percent of our current carbon emissions. No other proposed carbon mitigation solution comes close to that potential impact, particularly using existing and readily available technology."

Rodale Institute, February 2009


Victories of the Week and Ongoing Campaigns

Victory #1 - Stop GMO Sugar!

OCA congratulates our longtime ally, the Center for Food Safety, for gaining a federal court ruling against genetically engineered sugar beets. Despite the ruling, American Crystal, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor, is apparently still planning on using Monsanto's GE sugar beets. American Crystal President David Berg told the New York Times he thought customer acceptance of GE sugar was "a big non-event."

A big non-event? 

Tell American Crystal that you're joining the boycott. Avoid Monsanto's GE sugar by buying certified organic food (GE is banned from organic) and boycotting all non-organic brands that refuse to take a GMO-free stand.


Victory #2 - New Organic Advocates on the NOSB!

The first appointments to the National Organic Standards Board under the Obama administration are the best in recent memory. The thousands of letters sent by OCA members and our allies to the USDA, asking for the appointment of genuine organic advocates (rather than representatives of Big Food) have made a difference!

While OCA is happy with the overall quality of the appointments, we're disappointed that there is still no one on the NOSB representing the organic personal care sector. In fact, appointee Joe Dixon of Whole Foods has consistently opposed the idea of the National Organic Program regulating cosmetics that claim to be made with organic ingredients. Please click the link below to learn more about the NOSB appointments and send a letter to the NOSB and the USDA asking them to crack down on labeling fraud in the personal care and cosmetic marketplace.



Natural Products ExpoEast: OCA Goes After Body Care Fraud and Pressures Whole Foods and UNFI to Prioritize Organics and Support Fair Trade, Labor, and Health Care Rights

OCA representatives Ronnie Cummins, Alexis Baden-Mayer, and Molly Blakemore "walked the beat" at Natural Products ExpoEast in Boston this week, putting personal care and cosmetic companies on notice that OCA will soon be launching a boycott of brands that claim to be "organic" but aren't certified.


Also at ExpoEast, OCA joined the Teamsters and Jobs with Justice to pressure Whole Foods Market and its leading supplier, United Natural Foods, Inc (UNFI). OCA and the Teamsters startled and delighted the crowd at the annual Organic Spirit Awards ceremony by sending aloft a helium balloon-powered banner designating Whole Foods as the recipient of the "Mean-Spirited 365 Days a Year Award" for 2009. Leaflets distributed to the crowd criticized Whole Foods and UNFI as companies that supposedly support Fair Trade, yet oppose workers' rights and health care for all. Market leaders pay lip service to organics, when in fact two-thirds of their sales are not organic but rather conventional products green-washed and sold at premium prices as "natural." The protest was cut short, however, when the police forced OCA director Ronnie Cummins and other OCA staffers to leave the Convention Center.


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.



Organic News of the Week

Organic Counts: Organic Valley Launches Online Calculator to Measure the Toxic Burden of Non-Organic Foods

Organic Valley, America's largest organic farmers' co-op, has launched an online calculator called "Organic Counts!" which shows how Organic Valley farmers and consumers collectively kept 89.5 million pounds of synthetic fertilizer and 1.25 million pounds of synthetic pesticides from America's soil and water from 1988 to 2008.

To create the Organic Counts! online calculator, Organic Valley entered its production data from the past 20 years, as well as parallel data from the USDA to show the average amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used in industrial agriculture per acre each year. 

Public health costs directly associated with pesticide poisoning amount to billions of dollars per year. Exposure to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers have been linked to infertility, Parkinson's, cancer, birth defects, obesity, and learning and behavioral disabilities. 

More than one million children in America age five and under ingest at least 15 pesticides daily. Early childhood exposures to pesticides are a leading cause of autism, obesity, asthma, brain cancer and other childhood diseases.


Web Forum Posting of the Week

Sigg Told OCA They Contain No BPA, Now We Learn They Lied

Sigg, the maker of a hip and supposedly non-BPA metal water bottle, recently confessed that the liners of their bottles made before August 2008 actually do contain the dangerous chemical 'bisphenol A' (BPA)!

Back in early 2007 when the dangers of BPA began getting a lot of media coverage, OCA put some info in Organic Bytes about BPA and what water bottle brands we recommended and which to avoid. Sigg was one of the ones we recommended avoiding. Almost immediately we got jumped on by Sigg, saying that they had changed the liner of their bottles to be free of BPA. So we issued a retraction in our next newsletter, saying, in effect, "Oops, sorry, Sigg bottles are safe." Now, come to find out, that wasn't exactly true.


And in breaking news released yesterday, Gaiam is suddenly behaving very strangely about their water bottles as well.


Did you purchase a Sigg or Gaiam water bottle in recent memory? If so, it's quite possible that the liner of that water bottle contained BPA. (for Sigg, it's the ones made before August of 2008) And if you feel defrauded by this news, we want to hear from you on our forum!



1) Mandatory Swine Flu Vaccines for NY Health Care Workers
A few hundred health-care workers are protesting at the NY state Capitol against mandatory swine flu vaccinations. Nurses said they don't think they should be forced to get a vaccine that has been fast-tracked and that they don't believe has been tested appropriately as a condition of keeping their jobs.

2) Mexican Peasants Pay the Price for U.S. Energy Consumption
Mexico exports 40 percent of the energy that it produces. A proposed energy project, the La Parota dam, would drown rural communities to supply energy to Mexico's insatiable northern neighbor.

3) Organic Advocates Slam Food Safety Plan at USDA Hearings
The National Organic Coalition says the creation of a national version of California's "Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement" would be "crippling to small- and medium-scale farmers, confusing to consumers, and a highly inefficient and ineffective way to address food safety concerns."

4) Cape Town Turns Its Garbage Into Organic Compost
Cape Town, South Africa, is creating carbon credits under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by transforming its urban green waste into high-quality organic compost for farmers.

5) Imidacloprid: What You Must Know Now to Save the Bees
Many beekeepers, environmentalists and scientists are pointing to imidacloprid is the root cause of colony collapse disorder.

Planting Peace and Grassroots Netroots News

Mad As Hell Doctors for Universal Health Care say, "Remove Profits, Control Costs, Insure Everyone!" - Watch the video

New Study Says the Use of Torture Is "Motivated by a Folk Psychology That Is Demonstrably Incorrect." - Read the study

Is the Global Oil Tank Half-Full, Is It Half-Empty... Or Are We Running on Fumes? - Read more

Family Converts Military Radar and Missile Site to Organic Farm - Read more

Demonstrations Protest Eight Years of U.S. War and Occupation in Afghanistan - Read more


[[State]]--Get Involved Locally

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