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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Organic Bytes April 12, 2012

Urgent National Action Alert!

OCA has learned, as we reported last week, that Vermont may not pass the GMO Labeling law now languishing in the state legislature, because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if they pass the bill. According to informed sources, Vermont Governor Peter Schumlin is probably the only one who can save the bill from dying in this legislature session, which ends May 1. Please get on the phone right now to Governor Schumlin and tell him not to buckle under Monsanto's biotech bullying. We need a GMO labeling bill and we need one right now. Vermont can and should lead the way! Other states will follow.
Please pick up the phone now and call Governor Schumlin's office:

Phone: 802 828-3333
TTY: 800 649-6825
Fax: 802 828-3339

Essay of the Week

Millions Against Monsanto: The Food Fight of Our Lives By Ronnie Cummins

"For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture, aided and abetted by indentured politicians and regulatory agencies, supermarket chains, giant food processors, and the so-called "natural" products industry. Finally, public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. This November, in a food fight that will largely determine the future of what we eat and what we grow, Monsanto will face its greatest challenge to date: a statewide citizens' ballot initiative that will give Californians the opportunity to vote for their right to know whether the food they buy is contaminated with GMOs."
Read More

EPA Rejects Ban on Dioxin-Tainted "Agent Orange" Herbicide

New 2,4-D-Resistant GMO Corn Will Increase Use 50 Times Over
It is well known that the toxic herbicide 2,4-D causes cancer, hormone disruption, genetic mutations, neurotoxicity, Parkinson's Disease, and birth defects. But, instead of relying on independent research on the dangers of 2,4-D, the EPA looked at contradictory evidence submitted by the herbicide's manufacturer, Dow Chemical. This bias caused the EPA to reject a ban on the dioxin-tainted Agent Orange herbicide. The EPA's failure to ban or limit the use of 2,4-D paves the way for the USDA to approve Dow Chemical's new genetically engineered 2,4-D resistant corn. If this Agent Orange corn is approved, it will increase the use of 2,4-D 50 times over. The manufacture and use of 2,4-D is the 7th largest source of dioxin pollution. Dioxin is the most toxic compound synthesized by man.
Dioxin pollution never goes away, and instead accumulates in the environment, in the meat, fish, eggs and dairy we eat, and, ultimately, in our bodies. Recent Environmental Working Group studies have found that nursing infants are exposed to a daily dose of dioxin that can be 15 to 17 times higher than the level EPA considers safe to protect the endocrine and immune systems.
Take Action:
Call EPA's Fail! Tell the EPA You Won't Accept a Decision on 2,4-D Based on Dow Chemical's Biased Studies!
Tell USDA to Stop Agent Orange Corn!

Just One of Monsanto's Crimes, Or Why We Can't Trust the EPA

2,4-D and the dioxin pollution it creates are too dangerous to allow, period. What is the Environmental Protection Agency doing? Helping cover up the chemical companies' crimes! In February, Monsanto agreed to pay up to $93 million in a class-action lawsuit brought by the residents of Nitro, West Virginia, for dioxin exposure from accidents and pollution at an herbicide plant in their town from 1929 to 2004. That may seem like justice, but it is actually the result of Monsanto's extraordinary efforts to hide the truth, evade criminal prosecution and avoid legal responsibility. A brief criminal fraud investigation conducted (and quickly aborted) by the EPA revealed that Monsanto used a disaster at their Nitro, WV, plant to manufacture "evidence" that dioxin exposure produced a skin condition called chloracne, but was not responsible for neurological health effects or cancers such as Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
These conclusions were repeatedly utilized by EPA and the Veterans Administration to deny help to citizens exposed to dioxin. The EPA knew the truth about Monsanto's dioxin crimes, but it decided to hide it. Why? It would have affected us all. EPA's brief criminal investigation of Monsanto included evidence that Monsanto knowingly contaminated Lysol with dioxin, even as the product was being marketed for cleaning babies' toys.
Click the link to learn more about Monsanto's criminality and EPA collusion...
Read More & Watch the Video


Support BioDemocracy Not Biotechnology!

OCA and our lobbying ally, the Organic Consumers Fund, put our money where our mouth is. With the 2012 California Ballot Initiative, and GMO labeling legislation gaining momentum in Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii and other states, we have a real chance to hit Monsanto, corporate agribusiness, and the supermarket chains with the skull and crossbones they fear so much: mandatory labels on genetically engineered food. At the same time we are continuing our struggle to strengthen organic standards and significantly expand the market for organic food and products, especially those produced locally and regionally; while warning consumers about the dangers of junk food and chemical agriculture.
Please Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible)
Please Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in California and other states)

Local Food Under Attack! Defend Community Self-Governance!

At the federal level, all seems lost. With former Monsanto lawyer-lobbyist Michael Taylor ruling as Food Safety Czar, it's little wonder that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) - granted vast new powers under the Food Safety Modernization Act - continues to criminalize family farmers who keep a few cows, pigs or chickens and sell to their neighbors, while ignoring poultry laced with arsenic and illegal antibiotics, MRSA-tainted pork and pink slime.
At the local level, people are finding ways to defend local farmers from federal attack. In March 2011, the town of Sedgwick, Maine, population 1,012, became the first town in the United States to declare its "food sovereignty" by passing a Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance. To date, six towns in Hancock County, Maine, have passed the ordinance, as have localities in Vermont, Massachusetts, and California. Food sovereignty laws have been introduced at the state level in Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.
Blue Hill is one of the five Maine towns with a Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance. Last November, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine for selling food and milk without State licenses, a direct challenge to the local law.
Local food sovereignty supporters are mobilizing to protect Farmer Brown and defend the ordinance. On April 17, the We Are All Farmer Brown Campaign will deliver a petition signed by over 2,300 people to Gov. Paul LePage asking him to drop the lawsuit against Dan Brown and Gravelwood Farm.
Act Now to Defend Local Food Sovereignty!
Sign the Petition
Go to Augusta, Maine on April 17th
If you can't go to Augusta, bring Farmer Brown to your community by showing the film about him, and his brave stand to defend food sovereignty, called, You Wanted to Be a Farmer. This could inspire your community to pass a Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.
Show the Film
Watch the Film

Another Crazy State Law Is One More Reason to Support Local Food Sovereignty

Stuart Kunkle has ten pigs at his small farm south of Traverse City, Michigan. Some are mulefoots and others are mangalitsas. These are heritage pigs, hairy and black with ears that stand up. Kunkle's pigs might soon be illegal under a new Michigan Department of Natural Resources Regulation that purports to enforce a ban on keeping wild pigs - the intent was to shut down ranches that sell wild boar hunts - based on what they look like. The trouble is, there's only one species of pig, but heritage varieties have diverse physical characteristics while those bred for factory farms all look the same.
The Michigan Pork Producers Association and other large agribusiness interests, support the new rule. For the factory pork breeders, this is a convenient means of eliminating the competition.
Learn More & Take Action

BioDemocracy: Using Local Sovereignty to Protect Ourselves From Corporations and Corporate-Controlled State and Federal Governments

This is the subject of a workshop OCA Political Director Alexis Baden-Mayer is giving at the National Occupation of Washington, D.C. Social Forum tomorrow.
The workshop is inspired and informed by the excellent work the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has done to help localities defend their right to self-determination, participatory democracy, community-control over shared resources, and protection from corporations that want to raid resources or pollute.
In their Democracy School (available online and in your town), CELDF teaches that, since the late 19th century, corporate lawyers have used the 14th Amendment (meant to protect African American after the Civil War) to obtain constitutional rights for corporations and the Commerce Clause (for free trade among the several states) to strip localities and individuals of their sovereignty.
CELDF lays out a road-map for how to turn this around through the passage of local ordinances and home rule charters (local constitutions) that assert that:
– corporations are not people & they don't have special rights
– the rights of the people, their local government and their environment are superior to corporate interests,
– corporations, and the people behind them, can be held accountable for the harms they cause to people and the environment, and
– corporations cannot use their money to lobby the local government or influence elections

Learn More

If the Author of Food Politics Has Ties to Monsanto, Shouldn't Readers Know?

Frances Moore Lappé is taking on the Oxford University Press, publisher of Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, after learning that not only is the book full of unsubstantiated claims - no citations whatsoever - but its author, Robert Paarlberg, was an advisor to the CEO of Monsanto. Lappé is asking people to tell the esteemed academic publisher that conflicts of interests such as Paarlberg's relationship to Monsanto should be revealed to readers, as should the fact that the Gates Foundation, which supported Paarlberg's work, is a Monsanto shareholder.
On April 25, Lappé will deliver a petition to Oxford University Press in Oxford, England. The petition asks that the University's Press uphold three basic standards (none of which were met by Food Politics): citations for evidence-based claims, full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest (whether financial or other associations), and accurate promotion of publications.
In an article published this week, Lappé says: "We believe our appeal goes to the very heart of democracy itself; for, absent transparency and commitment to evidence-based argument (impossible if authors provide no sources for claims!) democracy's lifeblood - open, fair dialogue - drains away."
Read the Entire Article Here
Sign the Petition Here

Little Bytes: Top Stories of the Week

Straight from Monsanto's Mouth: What's the Problem with Labeling Genetically-Modified Foods?
New Science Reveals Agriculture's True Climate Impact
The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins Environment 360
Forget the Farm Bill: Where We Should Set Our Sights This Year For Real Change
Group Mobilizing Big Anti-Fracking 'Earthquake'

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