Worth Fighting For

OCA was launched 16 years ago for the specific purpose of safeguarding organic standards. We wanted strong, meaningful standards. So consumers would always be able to trust the USDA Organic seal.

Unfortunately, some businesses still get away with violating organic standards. And the National Organic Program (NOP), which is supposed to protect the standards, sometimes caves in to industry pressure to weaken those standards.

Consumers buy USDA Organic products for many reasons. Good reasons. Buying organic is the best way to provide superior nutrition. The best way to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones and GMOs. The best way to protect the environment by supporting farmers who use sustainable, non-polluting, climate-friendly practices.

In an age of rampant fraudulent marketing practices, where food companies boldly proclaim their GMO-tainted foods to be “natural,” it’s more important than ever for consumers to understand what USDA Organic means. And how—and why—we need to protect the integrity of organic standards.

Read Ronnie’s essay

TAKE ACTION: Save Organic Standards! Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to Reverse Rule that Weakens Organics



One Down, One to Go

Thanks in part to the 32,619 comments submitted by OCA supporters last year, to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB),
growers of organic apples and pears will have to stop spraying their fruit with tetracycline, an antibiotic, after Oct. 21, 2014. Instead, they’ll have to find another way (and those ways do exist) to protect their fruit trees from a disease called fire blight.

Now we have to convince the NOSB to enforce that same deadline—Oct. 21, 2014—for ending the use of another antibiotic, streptomycin, on organic apples and pears.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. And at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Antibiotics don’t belong on our food. And they certainly don’t belong on organic apples and pears.

TAKE ACTON: Tell the NOSB: Honor the Oct. 21, 2014, deadline for ending the use of streptomycin on organic apples and pears

Photo Credit:
Axiraa via Compfight cc



Before It’s Too Late

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama finished planting her sixth-annual White House Kitchen Garden. But this year, she did something different. She planted a pollinator garden to attract and support 70,000 bees already gracing the presidential lawn, as well as monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

It’s great that the First Lady is doing her part to create a habitat for bees at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But what we really need, before it’s too late, is a ban on the toxic pesticides and herbicides that are responsible for killing off huge populations of honeybees all over the world.

Mrs. Obama is in a great position to help us achieve that, by using her “Gardener-in-Chief” status to influence her husband and Congress to pass a law to protect pollinators. But will she step up?

TAKE ACTION: Tell First Lady Michelle Obama: Help Pass H.R. 2692, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act!

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Representative: Please Support H.R. 2692, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act



“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food. The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill. I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law.”

- Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, on the passage of H 112, the first trigger-free mandatory GMO labeling law in the U.S.





Rattling the Pitchforks

“Americans are in a populist temper. But they won’t find much help until they are mobilized in large numbers—and the powers-that-be begin to worry about the pitchforks.” - Robert L. Borosage, founder and president, Institute for America’s Future and co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.

Are Monsanto and Big Food worrying yet about the pitchforks?

You bet they are.

This week Vermont passed a GMO labeling bill that has Monsanto shaking in its pesticide-covered boots. And Vermont’s governor has promised to sign it.

In Oregon, Jackson County residents will vote next month on a citizens’ ballot initiative to ban GMO crops. Meanwhile a judge in Oregon’s Benton County just cleared the way for citizens there to start collecting signatures for a similar initiative.

And in November, voters in Oregon will get the chance to say “yes” to an initiative that will mandate the labeling of GMOs in foods sold in grocery stores anywhere in the state.

Lawmakers in other states, including Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, just to name a few, are weighing GMO labeling laws similar to Vermont’s.

Heck, they’re even fixin’ to push a GMO labeling law through the California state legislature, despite having (ever-so-narrowly) lost a ballot initiative there in 2012.

This movement—your movement—to rise up against Monsanto and anyone else who tries to get between you and the truth about what’s in your food, has reached a critical mass. Now, more than ever, we need your support to take this fight to the next level. Please grab your pitchfork and dig in. Thank you!

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in Oregon, Vermont and other states)



‘Extremely’ Disturbing

In 1999, Monsanto defined an “extreme level” of its Roundup herbicide as 5.6 milligrams per kilogram of plant weight.

So imagine how alarmed scientists were to find, on average, nine milligrams of Roundup per kilogram on 70 percent of the genetically engineered soy plants they recently tested. (At least 85 percent of all soy grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered).

The scientists studied 31 different soybean plants on Iowa farms. They compared the accumulation of pesticides and herbicides on plants in three categories: genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" soy, conventionally produced (non-GMO) soy, and soy cultivated using organic practices.

And the results were extremely disturbing.

The study will be published in June, in Food Chemistry, but it’s available now online.

Learn more

Read the study

Photo Credit: Wesley Chan via Compfight cc



Inside Out

One year ago today, the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed. More than 1,100 people died, thousands others were injured, leaving hundreds of children orphaned. Those victims have yet to receive justice. But the Rana Plaza tragedy has at least drawn attention to the dangerous and difficult conditions low-wage garment industry workers face, and spawned a growing movement of people asking questions about how their clothes are made, and realizing that cheaper doesn't always mean better.

In honor of the Rana Plaza victims, and the growing momentum for improved pay and working conditions for garment-makers, today has been declared Fashion Revolution Day. To mark the event, people around the world will wear clothing inside out to start a conversation about where their clothes come from.

Want to show support for Fashion Revolution Day? Here are some things you can do.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Walmart and Children’s Place to be fair. The victims of Rana Plaza have waited long enough!

Find an event near you

Learn more

To hear from survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy, watch the video



Blazing the GMO-Free Trail

Transparency is part of our culture and our business model. We value pure food and ethical behavior, and our product selection and business practices reflect that.” - Stephen Trinkaus, owner and manager, Bellingham, Wash.-based Terra Organica

As the first retailer in North America to label products likely to contain genetically engineered ingredients, Bellingham, Wash.-based Terra Organica is clearly the “right to know” industry leader.

When Terra Organica launched its GMO education campaign in 2006, customer interest was minimal. But that changed in 2012, during California’s high-profile Proposition 37 ballot initiative to label GMOs. As consumers became more aware, and more educated, about GMOs in the food supply, Terra Organic surveyed its customers to find out if they preferred that products containing GMOs be discontinued over time, or labeled. Ninety percent of the respondents said they wanted the store to label GMO products.

Once the decision to label was made, customers embraced it. “To say that our customers love our GMO policies would be an understatement,” said Stephen Trinkaus, owner and general manager (pictured). “They are proud to shop at a store that labels GMOs. Many go out of their way to shop here just because of that.”

Terra Organic was named one of OCA’s “Diligent Dozen” top Right to Know Grocers last year.

More about Terra Organica

Help your grocer go GMO-free

More about the Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance



Essential Reading for the Week

Juicing: How Healthy Is It for Your Health?

Buying Respectability: Coca-Cola and the Co-Opting of the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement

Frances Moore Lappé Interview with Jane Goodall

As Pesticide Worries Grow, 'Bee Safe' Plants Generate a Buzz

Why Say No to an Unnecessary Root Canal Procedure

Food Chain CEOs Want Subsidies for Their Salaries, but Are against Raising Workers' Wages

Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on web sites,
print it, duplicate it and post it freely. Knowledge is power!

Organic Bytes is a publication of Organic Consumers Association

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