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Monsanto Nation: Exposing Monsanto's Minions
#262, February 4, 2011
In this issue:
Essay of the Week
"Monsanto Nation: Exposing Monsanto's Minions" by Ronnie Cummins
My exposé last week, "The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?" has ignited a long-overdue debate on how to stop Monsanto's earth killing, market-monopolizing, climate-destabilizing rampage. Should we basically resign ourselves to the fact that the Biotech Bully of St. Louis controls the dynamics of the marketplace and public policy? Should we seek some kind of practical compromise or "coexistence" between organics and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) such as genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, even though scientists point out there is no such thing as containing the genetic pollution from a perennial crop like alfalfa that produces large amounts of pollen and is a favorite food for bee pollinators? Should we focus our efforts on crop pollution compensation and "controlled deregulation" of GE crops, rather than an outright ban, or mandatory labeling and safety-testing? Should we prepare ourselves for a future farm landscape where the U.S.'s 23 million acres of alfalfa (93% of which are currently not sprayed with toxic herbicides), including organic alfalfa, are sprayed with Roundup and/or genetically polluted with Monsanto's mutant Frankenforage?
Or should we stand up and say "Hell No" to Monsanto and its Minions?
Monsanto's GE Alfalfa: Obama's Organic Betrayal
In last week's Bytes, we made the case that the Organic Elite had betrayed the organic community when they naively sat down to cut a deal for "coexistence" with the USDA, essentially giving up on confronting Monsanto where it matters: in the market (including Whole Foods Market), where unlabeled GMO and factory-farmed foods are routinely purchased by unwitting consumers. OCA chided Organic Inc. for abandoning grassroots "activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions" and internalizing the defeatist notion "that the battle against GMOs has been lost."
At nearly the very moment Bytes was broadcast to our members, news came that President Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack had betrayed the organic industry. As OCA expected, Vilsack, apparently on direct orders from the White House, abandoned the idea of "controlled deregulation" for something much more Monsanto-friendly. Monsanto's controversial RoundUp Ready alfalfa will likely be planted this spring and - like all of the biotech industry's GMOs - it remains untested, unregulated, unrestricted, and unlabeled. It seems that Obama has elected to joins the ranks of Monsanto Minions, just like Bush Jr., Clinton, and Bush Sr. before him.
The good news is that the organic industry is finally showing some anger and passion! In the wake of this betrayal foretold, the Organic Trade Association published an open letter condemning Vilsack's decision, signed by United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, as well as a host of organic advocacy groups and individuals, including Michael Pollan. Here's the letter:
We Stand in Opposition to GE Alfalfa!
The Organic Trade Association also finally criticized Obama directly:
"The hope ignited by electing a president that would represent the people, against special interests and business as usual in Washington, was sadly extinguished when your office chose sides. As quoted by Maureen Dowd in Sunday's New York Times, your chief advisor David Axelrod offered a parting pun to "plow forward" on genetically engineered alfalfa, before heading off to get you re-elected. The cynicism of biotech lobbyists has penetrated the inner most sanctum of your White House and I am deeply disappointed. ... Since GE it is not currently labeled or tracked in our food supply, it is impossible to conduct long-term studies on the link between GE and human health problems.
"I want to be able to choose whether the foods I eat contain genetically engineered ingredients. When it comes to GE crops in America, I will vote for choice both at the grocery store and at the polls in 2012."
February Fundraising Appeal
Donate and Help OCA Mobilize Millions Against Monsanto and Factory Farms
The powerful antidote to corporate crime and villainy is mass grassroots awareness and grassroots action. GMOs, Factory Farms, and deceptively labeled consumer products pose a mortal threat to public health, the environment, climate stability, farm animals, and all living things. GMOs and organic crops, GMOs and biodiversity, cannot "coexist." As we speak, organic crops are being contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs. We need your financial support to educate and mobilize consumers, to protect and maintain strict organic and Fair Trade standards, and to pressure the entire food industry to adopt Truth-in-Labeling practices.
Alert of the Week
Tell Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Supermarket Chains to Adopt Truth-in-Labeling Practices for GMOs and Factory-Farmed Foods
Whole Foods admits in an internal company document that it sells GMO foods, while they claim to support mandatory GMO labels. So, why don't they start Truth-in-Labeling with their own stores, and voluntarily label conventional and "natural" containing GMOs or coming from Factory Farms (CAFOs)?:
Tell Whole Foods...
Tell Trader Joe's...
And Tell the Top 6 Chains!
Fair World Project
In the last 2 weeks over 9000 justice-minded consumers have sent letters to TransFair, urging them to not change their name to "Fair Trade USA." An additional 26 Fair Trade roaster, companies and NGOs have endorsed the campaign. If you haven't yet, take action today!
For an in depth and enlightening article on the history of the Fair Trade movement in the United States, please read Equal Exchange's article on TransFair's name change, entitled To Tell the Truth: Who Owns Fair Trade?
On January 10, the OCA and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps filed a Complaint to the Federal TradeCommission (FTC) Against TransFair and Fair Trade Cheater Brands Avon and Hain Celestial. The FTC is requesting consumer input regarding OCA and Dr. Bronner's complaint. Please send a letter of support here.
You can read the full complaint to the FTC here.
Millions Against Monsanto
So far, 1,444 organic activists have signed up to volunteer to launch Millions Against Monsanto campaign chapters. We have volunteers in 304 of the 435 congressional districts!
If you are interested in getting involved in your district, sign up here!
Alerts of the Week
Don't Forget to Take Action...
Ban Triclosan! Take action by Feb.7, 2011
New York: Label Milk From Cows Given rBGH (Genetically Engineered Bovine Growth Hormone)!
California: Label GMO Salmon!
Nationwide: Get a GMO Labeling Bill Introduced in Your State
Internship Opportunities with the OCA!
We are offering an internship working in our national office in Finland MN, beginning in Late February, 2011 for 4 months, with the option to stay on longer. This is an unpaid internship but you will be provided with a place to stay and a small stipend for food and living expenses. The internship will consist of basic office tasks such as answering phones, interacting with members, data entry, work on our website, as well as specific projects that we will work with you to develop. Opportunities will also be provided for local community involvement, including visits to a local CSA, dairy farm, and other sustainable agriculture and community venues in the region.
Online Research Internships to help OCA's Fair World Project
FWP seeks online interns to conduct internet research to support our Fair Trade Procurement Campaign and our Database Research Project. Interns will locate and post news stories, campaigns, and events, and reach out to like-minded organizations and green businesses or collect contact information on natural food stores, CSAs, etc. Although these are unpaid internships, FWP is willing to work with students to arrange college credit for your work.
These are excellent opportunities to help the OCA while gaining experience in the workings of a international nonprofit campaigning for health, justice and sustainability.
For more information, to apply, and to see OCA's other internship offerings, please visit our internship page.
Blog of the Week
20ate.org - Let's Celebrate Real Food this February!
One day after the US government issued its clearest and strongest statement on the need for Americans to eat less and better foods, the snack food lobby launched "National Snack Food Month" whose goal is to get us to eat more and worse. #20ate is a crowdsourced, open-source campaign to encourage people to opt out of unhealthy, processed snack and junk foods for the #20ate days of February and opt in for real ones instead.
This Could Threaten the Future of Food – Destroying the Entire Food Chain…
The Right to a Future
In It Together - How Banding into Groups Can Help Us Face the Next Catastrophe
How Food Prices Can Fuel Revolutions Like Egypt's
'Bio-based': Organic's Sketchy New Cousin
LOCAL [[State]] NEWS OF THE WEEK
[[State]] - Get Involved Locally
- Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in [[State]] here.
Dr. Bronner's is Celebrating Our 60th Anniversary!
Marking the 60th Anniversary of the company, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is pleased to announce that all classic liquid & bar soaps are now not only certified under the USDA National Organic Program, but also certified Fair Trade! In addition, we are pleased to introduce a revolutionary new range of high-quality organic products, from hair rinses to shaving gels – all certified under the same USDA program that certifies organic foods.
Please visit us on the web at DrBronner.com
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