Organic Dairy, Sludge, and GMOs


#213, February 18, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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Victory of the Week

New Organic Rules Ban Intensive Confinement Dairy Feedlots

After years of claims that the organic dairy "access to pasture" requirement was vague and couldn't be enforced, the USDA NOP has finally come out with a rule that bans intensive confinement feedlots and requires that organic cows get at least 30% of their feed from grazing for at least four months out of the year.

Read more about the new pasture rule victory.

This rule is a great victory for organic consumers and organic dairy farmers who properly graze their animals, but what about beef? The USDA wants to know what consumers think about "finishing" or fattening up organic beef cattle for four months in factory farm-style feedlots.

Studies show that cattle confined and fed grain in feedlots are prone to E. coli 0157H contamination, whereas healthy organic cattle grazing on grass are typically free of this dangerous pathogen. The meat from grass-fed beef is also healthier and more nutritious than beef that's been "marbleized" in the feedlot.

Take Action: Tell the USDA National Organic Program that you don't want organic beef cattle to be kept in factory-farm-style feedlots for the last four months of their lives.

Deadline: April 19, 2010



OCA Needs Your Help to Spread the Organic Revolution


OCA and our international network of organic consumers and farmers understand that we have a positive life-affirming solution for the global food, health, and climate crisis: organic food, farming, and ranching. But to get out our all-important message we need your support. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today.



Take Action Against Monsanto's GE Alfalfa

Obama USDA Poised to Approve Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Don't believe Monsanto's green-washing. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), aren't meant to feed the world or survive the evermore frequent droughts and floods brought on by global warming. GMOs are designed to sell Monsanto's herbicide Roundup and the patented "Roundup Ready" genes now spliced into millions of acres of corn, cotton, soy, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa. A 2009 study showed that, in 13 years, Roundup Ready crops increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds.

During the Bush administration, the movement to stop GMOs was making progress. Reflecting public concern over GMOs, in 2007, a Federal court ruled that the Bush USDA's approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa violated the law because it failed to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa and the development of "super-weeds." The court banned the planting of GM alfalfa until USDA completed a rigorous analysis of these impacts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa planting, but Monsanto is appealing. They're taking organic alfalfa farmers all the way to the Supreme Court!

Now the Obama Administration's USDA is trying to get the court-ordered ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa lifted. They've issued a new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that denies and downplays the obvious environmental and human health hazards of GM alfalfa.

Widespread GMO-contamination of organic alfalfa is inevitable if the Obama Administration successfully distorts science and ignores public opinion and allows Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready alfalfa to be planted across the U.S.

We must stop the Obama administration from taking away our right to grow and consume organic and GMO-free food. The "change we believe in" is a healthy and sustainable future based upon organic food and farming and a green economy.

So far, 16,099 Organic Consumers Association activists have sent letters, if you haven't...

If you happen to be in San Diego, Monsanto's coming to town! Join the demonstration here:

Say No to GMO! A Peaceful Eat-In (Facebook event)




Take Action Against Toxic Sludge

Tell San Francisco City Officials to Stop Endangering Public Health and Degrading the Word "Organic" by Distributing Toxic Sewage Sludge Under the Guise of "Organic Compost"

The city of San Francisco, along with other municipalities across the U.S., are trying to trick Bay Area gardeners and farmers into spreading toxic sewage sludge on their fields and gardens. We need to stop San Francisco from promoting and distributing toxic sludge, and then we need to stop your city from doing the same thing.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission pays Synagro, the corporate giant of the toxic sludge industry, to take its toxic sewage sludge, mix it with the waste of a half-dozen other California counties, and then claim that it's been magically transformed into "high-quality, nutrient-rich, organic biosolids compost." But of course sewage sludge is hazardous waste, not "organic fertilizer." Sewage sludge is banned in organic agriculture and it should be banned for all land applications, period.

Municipal sludge is the toxic residue that is left over after household, industrial, hospital, and storm-water sewage has passed through a waste-water treatment plant.

Municipal sludge routinely contains hundreds of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals.

Cities such as San Francisco and the toxic sewage sludge industry shouldn't be allowed to continue to lie to us and poison us!

San Francisco and other cities' toxic sewage sludge giveaways must stop.

Over 4,000 OCA activists have emailed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in protest and hundreds have called, but his office still claims not to understand the problem.

Please help us get their attention by sending a free fax to Mayor Newsom!



Vignette of the Week

Eating Like Our Parents Left for the Weekend by Will Allen


"If these kids can't afford to go to Biggest Losers to change their lives, they are probably reduced to eating bad burgers, on bad bread, with fries and a coke. Seeing their beauty, and their diminished hopes, and viewing the fat swollen cage they find themselves in it makes me feel desperate. They are young folks stuck with nearly useless bodies, chronically sore knees and hips, aching feet, a puzzling future, a dicey surgical hope, and always-hungry stomachs filled with shit food."

"The plight of the young couple reminds me of a Roseanne segment from the TV show. Her husband had just returned from the market and they were unloading the bags. After a few minutes of pulling cookies, potato chips, cokes, candy, ice cream, more cookies, and a cake out of the bags, she ranted, as only Roseanne could: "You know, at some point we need to grow up and stop eating like our parents just left for the weekend." That segment really struck me. We are a nation that eats like its parents just left for the weekend!"



Video of the Week

Vandana Shiva on Monsanto Indian Farmer Suicide

"Every seed that is in the market in cotton today, linked to one company or others, is licensed and controlled by Monsanto."



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Message from our Sponsors

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