Saturday, May 15, 2010

Organic Bytes

Reposted from "Organic Bytes" with permission

Organics, Cancer, Vaccines, Body Care, Raw Milk

#224, May 14, 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

The President's Cancer Panel says that the "risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," that "nearly 80,000 chemicals [are] on the market in the United States, many of which are ... understudied and largely unregulated," and that "the public remains unaware ... that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults."

The panel says "evidence suggests that some environmental agents may initiate or promote cancer by disrupting normal immune and endocrine system functions. The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health, even though we may lack irrefutable proof of harm."

Check out these examples selected from the recommendations:

  • Parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children's exposure to toxins. Ideally, both mothers and fathers should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
  • It is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.
  • Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing ... food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers [translation: organics] and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.
  • Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feedlots can be minimized by eating free-range meat [translation: don't eat feedlot meat].

-Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, and the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, reporting in the Atlantic, May 12, 2010, on a new report from the President's Cancer Panel.

Alert of the Week: Safeguard Organic Standards!

The National Organic Standards Board...

... Votes for Factory-Farmed "Organic" Poultry

As we reported in the last issue of Organic Bytes, the USDA National Organic Program is only loosely enforcing animal welfare rules that require organic poultry farms to allow their birds to have access to the outdoors and "exhibit their natural behaviors." This has resulted in a wide range of farms being certified organic; everything from lush green pastures where hens roam free, scratching in the compost and nibbling greens, to giant sheds with tens of thousands of grain-fed birds that never see the light of day.

At its April 2010 meeting, the National Organic Standards Board had an opportunity to reform organic chicken and egg production by outlawing a synthetic feed supplement called methionine that confinement poultry producers have used as a crutch to help them scale up and keep costs down.

Unfortunately, despite thousands of letters from organic consumers who understand the nutritional and environmental benefits of pasture-based organic systems and are concerned about animal welfare and synthetics in organic, the NOSB voted to keep methionine on the list of allowed synthetics.

Tell the USDA: Stop Factory-Farmed "Organic" Poultry!

... Delays Action on Nanotechnology

For the third meeting in a row, the NOSB postponed a vote on a recommendation to exclude nanotechnology from organic.

Tell the USDA: Keep Nanotechnology Out of Organic!

... and Approves List of Non-Organic Ingredients for Use in Organic Foods

What? The hops in my organic beer wasn't grown organically? The casings of my organic sausage didn't come from organic beef or pork? That's right, the National Organic Program keeps a list of a few non-organic ingredients that can be used in foods labeled "USDA Organic" if they aren't "commercially available."

Currently, hops and sausage casings are on the list. Why? Well, Peak Organic and Organic Valley apparently don't want to go to the trouble of sourcing these ingredients organically.

Despite pleas from the American Hop Growers Association and organic beef and pork producers who insist that organic hops and organic sausage casings are commercially available, the NOSB voted to keep them on the list of conventional ingredients allowed in organic.

Organic Valley (along with Whole Foods, Earthbound Farms, Campbell Soup and General Mills) has a representative on the National Organic Standards Board, who voted in favor of keeping non-organic casings on the list.

Tell the USDA: Organic Means Organic! No More Conventional Hops or Sausage Casings!


Please Donate, And We'll Send You a "Millions Against Monsanto" Bumpersticker

OCA Needs Your Help to Fight Monsanto and 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. All donations this week will receive a Millions Against Monsanto bumpersticker! Please donate and write "Monsanto Sticker" in the comments field to receive your sticker.

The USDA National Organic Program...

... Refuses to Curb Organic Fraud in the Health & Beauty Aisle

Miles McEvoy, National Organic Program director, announced that the USDA would not act on a November 2009 NOSB recommendation to "Solve the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care Products."

Nevertheless, because of action by informed consumers like you, OCA's Coming Clean Campaign to pressure the fakers to remove false organic claims from their products (or get certified organic), is continuing to have an impact. This week, Sapien joined JASON and Kiss My Face in agreeing to remove front-label organic claims from products that aren't certified organic.

Tell the USDA to Stop Organic Fraud in the Health & Beauty Aisle!

Almost Up to 35,000 Facebook Fans!

Wow, you all are really great! You've been super OCA Facebook Fans! Last week, you put us over 32,000 "Likes." You even write sweet things on our wall like, "VERY interesting website...please read!! Go GREEN!"

Please help us reach our goal of 35,000 Facebook fans. If you're on Facebook, become a fan, recommend us to your friends on Facebook, and join the discussion! Our fans are smart and witty! The best example of that this week was Rod's post: "Chemo-agriculture today, chemo-therapy tomorrow."

More Good News: GMO Vaccines Aren't Allowed in Organic - Yet

In November 2009, over the objection of thousands of organic consumers, the NOSB voted to recommend to the USDA that the National Organic Program allow all genetically modified vaccines to be used in organic without any review. Currently, genetically modified vaccines are the one exception to the exclusion of GMOs from organic, but each GMO vaccine must be petitioned for use individually and be reviewed by the NOSB, which may grant or deny the petition. At the Spring 2009 NOSB meeting, National Organic Program staff admitted that GMO vaccines were being widely used on organic animals, although none had been specifically allowed as required by law, and encouraged the NOSB to change the rule to reflect the status quo. The NOSB did so, but the National Organic Program is hesitant to implement the recommendation. NOP director Miles McEvoy said that he would seek a legal review of the proposal before proceeding.

There is still a chance to keep GMO out of organic! Take action now!

Video of the Week: The Boston Teat Party, a Raw Milk Drink-In - Complete With Cow - on Boston Common

On Monday, the Organic Consumers Association helped host a celebration of the right to drink healthy raw milk. (Putting our much-loved veganic members aside, if you're going to drink milk, it should be organic and better yet pastured not pasteurized!) We joined Suzanne the cow and about two-hundred raw milk enthusiasts on Boston Common to raise our glasses of raw milk in a toast to liberty, justice, the right of dairy farmers to earn a good living, and the right of consumers to drink super-nutritious, pasture-raised raw milk.

There was tons of media coverage of the event, including pictures, video and radio.

May 17 - 23, 2010 is Hemp History Week

Between now and the end of May, a group of OCA allies including Vote Hemp and Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps will be celebrating the history of hemp farming at local events across the country in a show of support for American farmers who want the right to grow industrial hemp. Hemp History Week will feature educational events exposing our rich American history of hemp farming and hemp products. A selection of modern hemp products will be available and supporters can sign and send postcards urging President Obama and Attorney General Holder to change our federal policy to allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.

Little Bytes

Genetically Modified Foods: More Reason to Avoid Them; Why They Threaten Organic Agriculture

Dmitry Orlov on Why the US is Headed Toward Soviet-Style Collapse

Organic Practices can Feed the World

Obama's State Department Pledges to Step Up Its Cheerleading for Monsanto and GMOs

Root Cause of the Oil Spill: Out-of-Control Corporations and Public Officials

Women are Quietly Leading the Food and Farming Revolution in America


GA - Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in GA here.
  • Join GA discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in GA on our community calendar.

Message from our Sponsors

Eden Foods Offers OCA Customers 15% Discount

Eden Foods is one of the few national organic food producers who goes beyond the USDA Organic Standards. Although Eden Foods is USDA certified, their products do not bear the USDA seal, because they say the USDA standard really represents a "minimum standard" that Eden Foods goes far beyond.

As a subscriber to Organic Bytes, you can enjoy a 15% discount rate on any Eden Foods products by going here.

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