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Special Alert: October Is Non-GMO Month!
#296, September 29, 2011
In this issue:
Quote of the Week
Vandana Shiva: The Biggest Threat Is Monsanto
"We are in a food emergency. Speculation and diversion of food to biofuel has contributed to an uncontrolled price rise, adding more to the billion already denied their right to food. Industrial agriculture is pushing species to extinction through the use of toxic chemicals that kill our bees and butterflies, our earthworms and soil organisms that create soil fertility. Plant and animal varieties are disappearing as monocultures displace biodiversity. Industrial, globalized agriculture is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gases, which then destabilize agriculture by causing climate chaos, creating new threats to food security.
"But the biggest threat we face is the control of seed and food moving out of the hands of farmers and communities and into a few corporate hands. Monopoly control of cottonseed and the introduction of genetically engineered Bt cotton has already given rise to an epidemic of farmers' suicides in India. A quarter-million farmers have taken their lives because of debt induced by the high costs of nonrenewable seed, which spins billions of dollars of royalty for firms like Monsanto."
- "Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds," by Vandana Shiva, The Nation, September 14, 2011
Support the OCA
Stop Monsanto and Move the Organic Revolution Forward
Since the first battle over organic standards in 1998, OCA has been "growing the revolution" - fighting against genetically engineered foods, preserving strict organic standards, expanding the organic market, and spreading the good news that organic agriculture can sustainably feed the world while reversing global warming. The time is right to step up our efforts and move the Organic Revolution forward, but OCA needs your financial support to do so.
October Is Non-GMO Month!
- The year Monsanto added sweetcorn, sugar beets and alfalfa to the list of GMO crops that already included field corn, cotton, canola, soy, and papaya - without regulations to protect organic farmers from contamination and no labels to respect consumers' right to know.
- The year Monsanto couldn't hide its failure any longer, as its GMO crops toppled over and were strangled in the fields, attacked by the very insects and weeds they were genetically engineered to resist.
- When the non-GMO movement in the US got reenergized, reorganized and started a new strategy to win!
October 2011 is Non-GMO Month, and we can make it the biggest month of action this issue has ever seen in this country. What can you do to make that happen?
Would you collect a thousand signatures? Would you walk from New York City to the White House? Would you join a Millions Against Monsanto Rally for the Right to Know on World Food Day?
What would you do to win our right to know about genetically engineered food?
California - Ongoing - LabelGMOs.org
NYC to DC - Oct 1-16 - The Right2Know March
Austin, TX - Oct 2 - Rally for Real Food
Nationwide - Oct 15 & 16 - Millions Against Monsanto World Food Day Events
Organic Trade Association Board Gets More Organic
The Organic Trade Association has a new board president: Matt McLean, CEO and founder of Uncle Matt's Organic Inc., an all-organic citrus juice and produce brand.
McLean succeeds Julia Sabin of Smuckers, who served as president for the past three years. Sabin's OTA presidency was highlighted in an Organic Spies video. Organic Spies argued that, as VP of the "natural" division of a primarily conventional company, Sabin would support Food Inc.'s efforts to co-opt and water-down organic while protecting industrial agriculture's GMOs and factory farms.
Sabin continues to serve as an OTA board member, but another OTA leader profiled by Organic Spies, Chuck Marcy of Marcy and Partners, has retired from the Board after serving three full terms, nine years, including eight years as board treasurer.
Marcy was President and CEO of Horizon Organic from 1999 until 2004, when he sold Horizon to Dean Foods for $246 million. Organic Spies argued that the largest conventional milk company controlling the largest organic milk company benefitted Dean Foods and conventional agriculture more than Horizon and organic agriculture. Organic Spies made the case that the Dean-Horizon merger is the reason Horizon fought enforcement of the rule that organic cows must graze on pasture and why the OTA adopted the failed strategy of advocating for "coexistence" between organic and genetically engineered alfalfa, rather than trying to stop GMO alfalfa and the threat that this perennial crop would contaminate and destroy organic alfalfa. (Horizon finally submitted to the organic pasture rule after an OCA boycott, but the USDA ultimately rejected coexistence and approved GMO alfalfa without regulations to protect organic.)
Other officers of the new OTA board are:
- Sarah Bird (Annie's Homegrown, Division of Annie's Inc.) as Vice President-United States - NATURAL/ORGANIC
- Gunta Vitins (Vitins Consulting) as Vice President-Canada - N/A
- Kristen Holt (Quality Assurance International) as Treasurer - ORGANIC CERTIFIER
- Todd Linsky (Cal-Organic/Grimmway Farms) as Secretary - ALL ORGANIC
Other members of the current board are:
- Tony Bedard (CEO of Frontier Natural Products Cooperative) - ALL ORGANIC
- Melody Meyer (VP of Global Initiatives, UNFI) - MOSTLY NATURAL
- Scott Nash (CEO of Mom's Organic Market) - MOSTLY ORGANIC
- Tom Cowell (Growers International Organic Sales Incorporated) - ALL ORGANIC
- Nicole Dawes (Late July Organic Snacks) - ALL ORGANIC
- Chris Ely (Applegate Farms) - NATURAL/ORGANIC
- Kelly Shea (WhiteWave Foods) - CONVENTIONAL/NON-GMO/ORGANIC
- Craig Weakley (Craig Weakley Consulting) - N/A
- Leslie Zuck (Pennsylvania Certified Organic) - ORGANIC CERTIFIER
Barbarians at Whole Foods Market's Gate?
Shares of Whole Foods Market jumped to more to $68 amid intense speculation, as reported by the Daily Mail, that cash-rich private equity firms, including the daddy of them all, KKR and Bain Capital, could be lining up a cash offer at a substantial premium to the prevailing price, around $90 a share.
Whole Foods Market is the world's number one organic food seller and is valued at around $11.8 billion.
The Daily Mail noted, "The fact it carries no debt has attracted considerable private equity interest and it's more than likely that should it come under corporate attack from that area."
KKR was the subject of the best selling book and HBO movie "Barbarians at the Gate," which tells the story of Henry Kravis, the master of leveraged buyouts at Wall Street's Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and his $31-billion-dollar leveraged buy-out of RJR Nabisco in 1988.
What would it mean to have a private equity firm running Whole Foods?
Private equity firms aren't grocers running a supermarket, they are short-term investors who manage "bundles of assets." Their goal is to suck cash out of the enterprise, not invest in production services, or employees.
As Business Week put it (10/30/2006), "Private equity firms are using slick new tricks to gorge on corporate assets, helping themselves to fat fees while leaving the companies they sell dazed and depleted."
If this were to happen to Whole Foods, the result would probably be an intensification of the trend towards more green-washed, so-called "natural" junk foods and less healthy, farm-fresh, certified organic whole foods.
And, certainly the likes of KKR would have no incentive to allow Whole Foods to do anything like committing to go non-GMO, as it has with its store-brand products.
Quality, service, employee health care, wages and benefits, cause marketing, community investment - everything Whole Foods did outside making a profit would be at stake if KKR took over. And, with the debt a leveraged buyout dumps on its victim, there would be no way for Whole Foods Market to ever recover.
Learn more: A Workers' Guide to Private Equity (PDF)
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Are Americans aware of GMOs in their food? Do they want them labeled? Label GMOs has some answers.
Label GMOs, Committee for the Right to Know, is a political action group that strives to bring awareness to the public regarding genetically modified (GMO) foods. Label GMOs is spearheading an upcoming ballot initiative in California to require companies to label foods that contain GMO products.
Check out Label GMOs' YouTube channel to watch their new videos
Monsanto and Food Inc. Mobilize against Organics: In Debate About Food, a Monied New Player
Children of the Corn
War of the Papayas
The Revolution Begins at Home: A Clarion Call to Join the Wall Street Protests
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap Company: Leading the Charge on Organics and Fair Trade
Join the OCA-Endorsed National Buying Club for Organic and Non-GMO Foods: The Green Polka Dot Box
OCA is happy to announce the formation of a new national distribution service for home delivery of organic and non-GMO foods, at 30-50% below the cost of retail, with free shipping on orders of $150 or more. The new national distribution club is called the Green Polka Dot Box (GPDB).
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