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Alert: FDA OKs Irradiated Spinach, EPA Sued 4 B Collapse Cover-up

by Organic Consumers Association Friday, Aug. 29, 2008 at 4:21 PM

Latest issue of OCA newsletter "Organic Bytes" alerts consumers about FDA approval of irradiated spinach, and features the lawsuit against the EPA for covering up the bee colony collapse. Other articles include victory gardens to support food independence.



* Alert of the Week: FDA OKs Irradiated Lettuce and Spinach

* Hopeful News of the Week: Obama Backs OCA & UFW

* Essay of the Week: Victory Gardens Symbolize a New Age

* Government Plunder of the Week: EPA Sued for Bee Colony Collapse Cover-Up

* Tip of the Week: How Do You Know Which Sweet Corn is Genetically Modified?

* Top Headlines of the Week

* GNA Alert and Video of the Week: Green Jobs Now

Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

Alert of the Week:

FDA OKs Irradiated Lettuce and Spinach

Rather than dealing with the problems inherent in a disease-ridden factory-farmed

food system, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in mid-September it

will allow the irradiation of lettuce and spinach. Food irradiation is the

controversial practice of bombarding food with high levels of x-rays (ionizing

radiation) in order to destroy disease causing pathogens. Unfortunately, in the

process of irradiation, other hazards arise, like the creation of toxic free

radicals, vitamin and nutrient loss, and the formation of carcinogenic chemicals.

While irradiated lettuce and spinach must be labeled in supermarkets, there are

currently no labeling requirements whatsoever for restaurants, schools, hospitals,

or nursing homes serving irradiated produce or other nuked foods such as beef. Over

the past decade, OCA and our allies in the organic community have prevented

corporate agribusiness and the nuclear industry from contaminating organic

standards. Food irradiation is prohibited on any product labeled as "organic." There

is currently a 30 day comment period for the FDA's new rule.

Tell the FDA to clean-up industrial feedlots instead of irradiating our food:


Hopeful News of the Week:

Obama Backs OCA & UFW's Call for "Natural Beef" Supplier to Recognize Workers' Rights

Following alerts and petitions circulated by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA)

and the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, Barack Obama has sent a letter urging Beef

Northwest Feeders in Oregon to engage in collective bargaining and contract

negotiations with its farm workers. Beef Northwest is refusing to acknowledge a vote

its workers took earlier this summer to form a union. Obama called on the company to

recognize the desire of the employees' rights to form a union and to negotiate with

them in good faith.

The OCA has pressured Beef Northwest to recognize the rights of its workers to form

a union, and has asked Whole Foods Market (WFM), the major purchaser of "natural

beef" that is finished at the Beef Northwest factory farm, to intervene.

Unfortunately, the head of WFM, John Mackey, has been vocal over the years in his

opposition to unions, in spite of company PR expressing support for Fair Trade.

Learn more and take action here:


There Are No Victories Without You!

Our hard-fought victories are common victories, made possible by readers, like you,

who make tax deductible donations to further our work. Without your donations,

OCA's work would not possible. In today's economic and political climate, nonprofit

organizations, like the OCA, need your support, more than ever. With your support

we'll continue, not only to write about problems and their solutions, but move

pro-actively to make positive change a reality.

Donate Now:


Essay of the Week: Victory Gardens Symbolize a New Age

"We have had enough of the old ways of thinking, and we are here to take back

control of our lives, our health, our resources, and our futures. We are resisting

the control of destructive governmental and corporate forces. We are developing an

energy and enthusiasm that characterizes new values, new ways of living, new

survival techniques, and new experiences."

"A garden that symbolizes our part in this evolution is a challenge and a source of

immense hope. If a family or group is able to achieve this, others will follow, and

the movement will grow. In a time of famine for many and threatened famine for many

others, the victory garden is an indication of a new way the earth can be made more

fruitful. We must have a vision."

Read Barbara L. Minton's full essay here:


Government Plunder of the Week:

EPA Sued for Bee Colony Collapse Cover-Up

Over the past two years, beekeepers have reported an alarming and potentially

catastrophic loss of bees from their hives ranging anywhere from 30-90 percent. This

"Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) isn't just a problem for beekeepers and farmers,

but for consumers as well, since bee pollination is essential for crop production.

The USDA claims that one out of every three mouthfuls of food is dependant on bee

pollination. Experts have been researching CCD and have linked the die-off to a

number of likely culprits.

One of the likely killers is a new pesticide, clothianidin, approved by the EPA in

2003. Germany and France have banned this type of pesticide to protect their bee

population. In the U.S., clothianidin was approved after Bayer CropScience, the

chemical's maker, submitted required studies to the EPA regarding the chemical's

impact on bees and the environment. Now the EPA is suspiciously and illegally

refusing to release these public documents. To expose this cover-up and hopefully to

save the bees, last week the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit

against the agency.

Learn more:


Tip of the Week:

How Do You Know Which Sweet Corn is Genetically Modified?

An Organic Bytes reader sent us the following question: "It's harvest time, and corn

is everywhere, including my local farm stand. I asked the farmer's wife if their

corn was non-GMO, and she didn't seem to know. Could you shed some light on this in

the next newsletter--whether most sweet corn for human consumption is GMO or not? "

OCA's Response: More than 70% of the corn grown in the U.S. is now genetically

modified, but the overwhelming majority of this corn is grown for animal feed and

ethanol. Among the marketing problems for the biotech companies is the fact that GMO

"sweet corn" doesn't taste very good. The bottom line is that there is very little

genetically engineered sweet corn being grown in the U.S. at the present time, so it

is highly unlikely you will be running into this "Frankencorn" at your local

farmer's market or natural food store.

Most farmers who grow GMO crops that re-seed, like corn, are aware that they are

growing genetically engineered varieties, because Monsanto and the other GMO seed

giants require a legal contract to be signed which prohibits the farmer from saving

their seeds. And of course we can all be thankful (and vigilant) that genetic

engineering is prohibited under national organic standards. In short, support your

local and organic farmers and enjoy this year's sweet corn harvest!

Post your comments and questions about Organic Bytes in the OCA web forum:


Top Headlines of the Week:

1. Transition Culture: Beyond the Gloom & Doom of Peak Oil, Permanent War, and

Climate Chaos

2. Food, Fuel and Water Crises Converging

3. How Cities Across the World Are Promoting Urban Agriculture

4. Exposure to Certain Pesticides During Pregnancy Increases the Risk of Overweight


5. Monsanto's Roundup & GE Cotton Spawn Pigweed Epidemic in America's Cotton Fields

Let OCA sift through the media smog and bring you the top new and analysis of the

day. The OCA website has 20 or more news articles posted each day, covering issues

including health, justice, food and farming, politics, and the environment. With

over thirty thousand visitors per day, is a valuable resource

for consumers, activists, and journalists.


GNA Alert and Video of the Week: Green Jobs Now

On September 27, 2008, the Organic Consumers Association is taking part in Green

Jobs Now: A Day to Build the New Economy. We'll be doing Green Jobs Now actions at

organic farms, farmers markets, community gardens, food co-ops, and community

supported agriculture projects to show elected officials and 2008 candidates that

we're ready for green jobs in organic food and farming now!

Check out the Organic Consumers Association's Polar Bears for Green Jobs video and

take action:


U.S. Film Debut

The World According to Monsanto

This must-see film exposes why Monsanto-who races to genetically engineer (and

patent) the world's food supply-has become the world's poster child for malignant

corporate influence in government and technology. This landmark documentary plays

Friday through Monday, August 29-Sept 1, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco

( Screening hosted by Jeffrey M. Smith, international bestselling

author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, who will also premiere his short

film about Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, Your Milk on

Drugs-Just Say No! (

Learn more here:


Mobilizing Organic Consumers In CA

Through the Organic Consumers Fund's Grassroots Netroots Alliance project, voters

are pressing the politicians to support strict organic standards, mandatory labels

for genetically engineered food, and the conversion of U.S. farmland to organic.

Find out who's answering the call in CA by clicking here:

*Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in CA here:

*Join CA discussion groups in our forum:

*Post events in CA on our community calendar:



OCA has two email publications. You are currently reading Organic Bytes.

You can subscribe to Organic Bytes here:

You can also subscribe to OCA's Emergency Action Alerts here:


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 great tool for keeping your staff and customers up to date on the

latest issues. Feel free to forward this email to your staff and print for posting

on bulletin boards and staff break tables. You are also welcome to use this material

for your newsletters. There's an attractive print-friendly PDF version of this

available for free download at;


ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:


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