Obama's Monsanto Man, GMO Alfalfa, & Toxic Sludge


#214, February 25, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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Quote of the Week

"Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity.

'Patriotism' is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say that by 'patriotism’, I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one's own nation, which is the concern with the nation's spiritual as much as with its material welfare - never with its power over other nations.

Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship."

-Erich Fromm (1900-1980), U.S. psychologist. Posted on Information Clearing House Newsletter Feb. 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: OCA and National Coalition Oppose Obama's Monsanto Man

Oppose Islam Siddiqui for US Agricultural Trade Negotiator!

Organic Consumers Association is part of a 98-organization coalition formed by the Pesticide Action Network and the National Family Farm Coalition to block the Senate confirmation of President Obama's nominee for US Agricultural Trade Negotiator, CropLife pesticide lobbyist Islam Siddiqui.

We're sending a letter signed by all 98 groups to the Senate. The letter outlines our opposition to Siddiqui based on his support for pesticides and genetically modified foods and his opposition to organic practices.

Siddiqui was instrumental in drafting the first proposed organic standards in 1997-98 that would have allowed toxic sewage sludge, Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs), and irradiated food to be labeled "Organic."

As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at President Clinton's USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the Obama White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and recommended the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. After a nationwide coalition including the OCA and the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture Organic Committee deluged the USDA with 275,000 irate letters and emails, Siddiqui, Monsanto, and the USDA backed off. This Organic Consumers Rebellion remains one of the most passionate outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in modern U.S. history.



March 3 Deadline: Genetic Pollution from Monsanto's GMO Alfalfa Threatens Our Right to Organic and GMO-Free Food

Organic and genetically modified "Frankencrops" cannot coexist. Any open-pollinated crop that is genetically modified will inevitably contaminate non-GMO and organic varieties.

President Obama's USDA, like all administrations since GMOs were first patented in the 1990s, wants to help agribusiness force-feed new genetically modified crops on consumers. Currently, the USDA is working on getting Monsanto's Roundup Ready (pesticide-resistant) alfalfa to market.

Alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop in the US and it is the first perennial crop to be genetically engineered. GMO-contamination of organic alfalfa fields and organic alfalfa seed production would happen very quickly. Once Monsanto's GMO alfalfa is widely cultivated, it will inevitably contaminate organic alfalfa sprouts and alfalfa hay grown for organic dairy cows.

Genetically modified DNA sequences have been found in the milk of dairy cows fed GMO corn and soybeans. If Monsanto gets its way, conventional milk and dairy products will be similarly contaminated.

Organic consumers have fought hard to keep GMOs out of national and international organic standards, but if we allow Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa to be widely grown in the US, organic integrity will be jeopardized.



Support OCA and San Francisco Garden Activists Giving Toxic Sludge Back to the City that Has Been Distributing It as "Organic Compost"


If you think human waste is the worst thing that enters the sewage system, think again. All across the country, factories using toxic chemicals, meat-packing plants slaughtering animals from factory farms, hospitals treating sick people with heavy duty antibiotics, anti-microbials, pharmaceuticals and radiation therapy, nuclear power plants using cool water to stave off melt-downs, and farms spreading dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, all have access to the sewer systems.

The sewage system is supposed to take all this tainted waste water, separate out the solids and toxins and produce water clean enough to return to the environment. Well, you may have heard that our oceans, lakes and rivers aren't as clean as they should be, but what about all the toxic stuff that's been removed from the water? Where does that go?

Ever heard of toxic sludge? That's the product of wastewater treatment and, up until the 1990s, it was dumped in the oceans. Now, it's spread on farmland.

A lot of it is even sold at garden stores as "organic compost." Please, if you ever see something called "organic compost" make sure it's certified organic by OMRI or an accredited organic certifier.

San Francisco, home to Gavin Newsom, who some have called the World's Greenest Mayor, is actually giving the stuff away to unsuspecting organic gardeners, calling it "organic biosolids compost."

On March 4th at 12 noon, OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins will join garden activists at San Francisco City Hall to give this toxic sludge back to the city. If you're in the Bay Area, please join us! (Link directs to a Facebook event)



Action Update: A Special Thank You to the Organic Consumers Association and Its Members

The organic community has something to be proud of - the recent victory in Washington with the publication of new regulations that will crack down on factory farms scofflaws producing "organic" milk.

As an organic farming watchdog, on behalf of our farmer-members, we want to sincerely thank Ronnie Cummins and the rest of the staff at OCA for their decade of hard work that has helped lead to this victory.

For years OCA has been an invaluable partner in the efforts to rein-in abuses by Dean Foods' Horizon brand and Aurora Dairy (producer of private-label milk labeled organic for the likes of Wal-Mart, Costco and many grocery chains).

For years, during the Bush administration, the USDA looked the other way while giant corporations overtly cheated.  But the potent partnership between organic farmers and consumers has proven that people power still can still trump corporate money and clout.

Less than 2% of our citizens farm today, both conventional and organic. Farmers have no clout in Washington or the marketplace.  But when the leading organic farming group partners with the most powerful representative of organic consumers, OCA, we are all potent force to be reckoned with.

To all of you who have, over the years, contacted your elected officials, written the USDA and, most importantly, carefully continued to buy organic dairy products - but only from the true heroes in this industry - we want to sincerely thank you.

-Mark A. Kastel, Co-director
The Cornucopia Institute



Little Bytes


Say 'No!' to Corporate Control of Agriculture and Food!
April 17th 2010 is the International Day of Peasant Struggle. La Via Campesina is calling for a day of action against transnational corporations which seek complete control over food and agriculture systems around the world. READ MORE

Bayer Pesticide Banned Over Threat to Honeybees
A U.S. District Judge from Manhattan has banned the sale of spirotetramat, a pesticide produced by Bayer CropScience that is toxic and is killing off the nation's honeybee population. READ MORE

World Wildlife Fund: Loyal Ally of Corporate Agribusiness and Monsanto
WWF is engaged in a mega-greenwashing operation to cover up the environmental and social destruction caused by soy production in South America; impacts include deforestation, environmental pollution and poisoning of people. READ MORE

Natural Food Industry Giant, UNFI, Refuses to Sign Sustainability Pledge
The Coalition for a Sustainable Food Supply Chain has been trying to get UNFI to sign pledge to cease marketing conventional food as "natural," to increase the sales of certified organic foods, to adopt fair trade standards that honor the right of workers to freely choose representation and collective bargaining and to promote a sustainable environment that includes the elimination of business practices that accelerate climate change. READ MORE

Authors Attempt 'Death By Rubber Duck'
Inspired by Morgan Spurlock's fast-food gluttony in the movie Super Size Me, two environmental activists from Canada devised their own experiment. Instead of fast food, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie absorbed themselves in everyday products like shampoos, soaps and cleaners to find out what kind of damage might be done to their health. READ MORE



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