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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Organic Bytes 5/24/2012


Safeguarding Organic Standards (SOS)

The  Organic Foods Production Act and the regulations that implement it are great. They just need to be fully enforced.
Unfortunately, in many instances when large companies violate national organic standards, the response from Congress, the National Organic Program (NOP) and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been to  change the law and regulations to match non-compliance rather than to  strengthen enforcement.
Here are some examples:
• In 2005, a court ruled  that the NOP was illegally allowing synthetic ingredients in products labeled "USDA  Organic." Rather than tightening up enforcement, the Organic Trade Association got Congress to change the law.
• In 2006, the NOP  illegally approved synthetic DHA and ARA for use in "USDA Organic" and these nutraceuticals soon laced nearly every organic baby formula. Last  year, the NOP admitted the approval was illegal. Instead of enforcing  the law, which would have meant changing the labeling of these  products from “USDA Organic” to "Made With Organic," the NOP asked the manufacturer, biotech multinational DSM, to petition the products for placement on the National List of Allowed Substances. The NOSB approved them at the last meeting, even though  it was clear that the NOP had not properly vetted DHA or ARA to  determine whether they were produced using excluded methods of genetic  engineering.
• In 2009, the NOP announced that it wasn't following the organic law's restrictions on the use of genetically engineered vaccines. Instead of the NOP enforcing the law against this violation, it asked the NOSB to recommend a change in the law and that's what the NOSB  did. Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy wisely rejected that recommendation, but he still hasn't made any attempt to enforce current law.
• A 2010 report by the Cornucopia Institute revealed that many organic poultry and egg producers ignore regulations that require animals to have access to the outdoors and direct sunlight and prohibit  any animal's continuous total confinement. The NOSB and NOP continue to recommend and issue non-binding guidance documents on animal welfare,  without taking any action to enforce current regulations.
Learn More & Take Action

Obama and Rich Nations Leave Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

At the Group of Eight (G8) meetings this past weekend at Camp David, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world's richest nations abandoned their governments'  previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa and instead left the problem in the hands of the so-called New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years - Monsanto has committed $50 million - beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia.
Leaving the  problem of hunger in the hand of multinationals like Monsanto and Cargill will only exacerbate the conditions already driving poverty in Africa - rich  countries' protectionism, land-grabbing, commodity speculation, food  waste, and diversion of crops to livestock feed and biofuels - and  ratchet up the costs of farming for small farmers by encouraging the use  of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
Read what food policy experts have to say about ending hunger in Africa.
Learn More & Take Action

Moneybomb Monsanto: We’re Closing in on Our Goal! Your Donation Could Put Us Over the Top!

Our ‘Drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto’ campaign continues to make history, as more individuals and more groups pitch in to help guarantee a $1 million matching gift – and the nation’s first victory in GMO labeling.
Please help us raise $1 million by May 26 for the California Right to Know GMO Labeling Campaign so we don't miss out on this $1 million matching gift!
People and groups from every state in the US have been pitching in for this campaign. Why? Because we all know how much is riding on this victory in California. We’ve already seen GMO labeling laws make their way through legislatures in states like Washington, Vermont, and Connecticut, only to falter before they could be put to a vote. But the work pro-labelers have done in those states, and the publicity generated around their campaigns, have helped rally consumers in every state around the California campaign.
The California labeling law is our best shot at eventually guaranteeing consumers’ right to know on a national scale. This time, legislators can’t cave into Big Biotech – because this is a citizens’ initiative. And polls show that 90% of California voters support GMO labeling.
Big Food, Monsanto and the rest of the Biotech Bullies are revving up for a massive ad campaign to try to kill this initiative – and they’ve got a $60 million war chest to play with. We don’t need $60 million, because voters already support labeling 9 to 1. But we do need to run an effective campaign to counter the lies and propaganda that will soon hit the California airwaves.
We can do this – with your help. With just two days left, we need about $150,000. We’re counting on small donations of $5, $10, $20 to get us there. Your donation could be the one that puts us over the top!
Every dollar counts! Please donate today and tell Monsanto: We have the right to know if our food contains GMOs. Thank you!

Occupy Monsanto Week Begins September 17

In an effort to expose Monsanto's greed and hold the company accountable for their crimes, we are making Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU) Action Kits available for free to the first 50 groups who commit to Occupy Monsanto during the week of September 17th, 2012. Fill out the online form with your mailing address, email address, size, and basic info (date, time, and location) about your Occupy Monsanto plans for the week of September 17th and get your free kit!
Sign up here!
Over the last 10 years Monsanto has spent over $52 million dollars making sure they get the most favorable legislation possible. Of that $52 million, nearly $11 million was paid to outside lobbying firms to lobby on behalf of Monsanto, while the rest of the total was spent on Monsanto's staff lobbyists.
When you’ve got billions of dollars in your coffers, you can afford to pay off political candidates & members of Congress. Follow this link to learn whether your Senator or Representative received donations from Monsanto’s Political Action Committee known as Monsanto Citizenship Fund between 2002 and the first quarter of 2012. If so, please contact them to say that you don’t support Monsanto’s efforts to genetically contaminate the world’s food supply.
In order to convince America's hardworking farmers that Monsanto's patented genes & toxic chemicals are safe, Monsanto has created a mobile advertising "unit" that will be spreading lies & pro-GMO propaganda around the United States this year. If your Genetic Crime Unit needs a good location to protect against further genetic contamination, go here for more information.

Action Alert: Tell Starbucks and Green Mountain to Support Small Fair Trade Farmers

Fair  Trade USA  (formerly TransFair  USA) and its new initiative, Fair Trade For All, aims to expand fair trade certification to include coffee plantations.
“Fair Trade for All”  has been a major point of contention  in Fair Trade USA’s split from  Fairtrade International (FLO). For more on the Fair Trade USA/FLO  split, see Fair World Project’s (FWP) statement.
Small  producers and democratic cooperatives are core to the founding   principles of the fair trade  movement and market. By definition, small producers are vulnerable,  excluded and under-resourced in the global market. In the coffee sector, small farmers produce approximately 70% of the global coffee supply. Despite the current high prices in the  coffee  market, many fair trade coops are still unable to sell the majority of their  coffee  under fair trade terms. Expanding fair trade certification and market  access to  large-scale plantations will assure that fair trade cooperatives continue to remain vulnerable  to  volatile international markets and undermine 25 years of fair trade  development. Importantly, consumers will be unable to distinguish  between small farmer and cooperative coffee from plantation coffee. Learn more about fair trade  and plantations by reading "Fair World Project Statement Regarding Coffee Plantations and Hired Labor." Fair Trade activists have sent thousands of letters  to FTUSA, Fairtrade International and IMO in support of small farmers.
Take Action and Tell Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Green Mountain CEO Larry Blanford to Support Small Fair Trade Farmers

Little Bytes: Top Stories of the Week

Evidence Continues to Mount for Ticking 'Methane Time Bomb'
The Organic Watergate: Synthetics Found in Organic Foods
A Victory for All of Us
The Rise of the New Economy Movement
The Mindboggling Sum We Actually Spend on National Security: One Trillion Dollars a Year

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