IN THIS ISSUE:
* 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: http://www.organicconsumers.org/irrad/irradiationcomment.htm
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: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1364
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: http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm
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: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14315.cfm
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: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14192.cfm
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: http://organicconsumers.org/forum/
Top Headlines of the Week:
1. Transition Culture: Beyond the Gloom & Doom of Peak Oil, Permanent War, and
Climate Chaos http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14250.cfm
2. Food, Fuel and Water Crises Converging http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14309.cfm
3. How Cities Across the World Are Promoting Urban Agriculture http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14312.cfm
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 http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14370.cfm
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, OrganicConsumers.org 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: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14368.cfm
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! (http://www.YourMilkonDrugs.com
Learn more here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14391.cfm
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: http://www.grassrootsnetroots.org/states/CA.cfm#responses
*Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in CA here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/state/CA.cfm
*Join CA discussion groups in our forum: http://organicconsumers.org/forum/index.php?showforum=52
*Post events in CA on our community calendar: http://organicconsumers.org/forum/index.php?act=calendar
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