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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Organic Bytes 5/2/2013


End Climate Chaos: Boycott GMOs and Factory-Farmed Food

Farmers are sounding an alarm. As global warming heats up and crops are ravaged by droughts, flooding, disease and superweeds, the farm economy is taking a huge hit.

Scientists are clear: America’s chemical-, energy- and GMO-intensive industrial agricultural practices and factory farms have destroyed billions of acres of perennial grasslands, topsoil and wetlands. The result? Soil that has been robbed of its ability to naturally sequester billions of tons of CO2 every year. Until America’s farmers and ranchers turn away from the industrial and factory farm model that has severely damaged public health and the environment, and supersaturated the atmosphere with 395 ppm (parts-per-million) of CO2 greenhouse gas pollution, climate and farming conditions will deteriorate.

Read the essay



Stinging: EPA Wants to Approve Yet Another Bee-Killing Pesticide

TAKE ACTION: Don't Let the EPA Approve New Toxic Insecticide

Europe has come to its senses on the matter of protecting honeybees. Here in the U.S.? Not so much. At least, not yet.

This week, the European Commission decided to ban certain pesticides, including those classified as neonicotinoids, known to destroy honeybee populations. The decision was backed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). But here at home, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is weighing approval of a new pesticide, sulfoxaflor, brought to us by Dow Chemical Co. This despite the EPA’s own admission that sulfoxaflor, referred to by some as a “next-generation neonicotinoid,” is “very highly toxic” to honeybees. If the EPA approves sulfoxaflor, beekeepers say commercial beekeeping will be extinct by 2018.

Will the EPA protect honeybees and our food supply? Or will our taxpayer-funded officials protect Dow’s bottom line?

TAKE ACTION: Don't Let the EPA Approve New Toxic Insecticide

We Came, We Swarmed . . . Will We Conquer?

Bee-decked in black and yellow and armed with 130,000 petition signatures, a swarm of activists, led by the OCA, Occupy Monsanto and GMO Free DC, buzzed the Washington D.C. headquarters of the EPA on Earth Day to demand a ban on Bayer, Dow and Syngenta's bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides.

Neonicotinoid pesticides are blamed for Colony Collapse Disorder, which has already destroyed alarming numbers of honeybee colonies. Bees are exposed to these deadly insecticides primarily through Monsanto's genetically engineered "Bt" seeds. The seeds are coated in the pesticides to kill pests that the GMO Bt toxin can’t destroy on its own. In countries where neonicotinoids have been banned, bee populations are beginning to recover. Did the EPA hear us? Time will tell. Thanks to everyone who swarmed!



Long Overdue: Let’s Close Monsanto’s Revolving Door

TAKE ACTION: Demand Congress Investigate Monsanto’s Takeover of the USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has never denied a single application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops. No wonder. Monsanto's board members have worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they’ve advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and they’ve served on President Obama's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. Just recently, Congress gave Monsanto immunity from the federal courts under a law now commonly referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”

Monsanto is responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and for international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has ruined. The Biotech Behemoth has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the USDA. Our friends at Roots Action Network think it’s way past time Congress investigates the revolving door policy between the world’s most destructive chemical company, and the folks in Washington D.C. who are supposed to be representing us and looking out for our health and safety. If you agree, please sign their petition to Congress demanding an investigation.

TAKE ACTION: Demand Congress Investigate Monsanto’s Takeover of the USDA




We Are All Pirates. In a Good Way.

The Spanish Armada was once considered invincible, too big to fail. Until it did fail. After being outmaneuvered by Queen Elizabeth’s hodgepodge of crafty pirates.
Is today’s criminal food system facing the same fate? Will we, the hodgepodge of creative, determined pirates bring down the greedy armada of well-armed corporations that are poisoning our food, our soil and our democracy?
We just might, says Richard McCarthy, executive director of Slow Food USA. Speaking in Boulder, Colo., this week, McCarthy couldn’t resist the analogy. Or the sense of hope emanating from a room full of farmers and food activists hell bent on outmaneuvering a system we can’t possibly outgun.
We are all pirates. And though none of us alone can match the seeming invincibility of the armada-like corporate food system, together, in our own quick-thinking and hodgepodge-like fashion, we have the power to build a meaningful alternative. If we anchor together. Your donation today will do more than just keep us afloat. It will help us sail!

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in Washington, Vermont and other states)
If you need your donation to be tax-deductible, you can donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)



What Do You Love About Your Food Store?

Native Sun Natural Foods Market, Jacksonville, Fla.: "We believe that GMOs have no place in natural food stores and we now have five people dedicated to our research. We meet together if there is a new ingredient in products that call for review. We discuss inert ingredients and their sources, and make a final call that is added to a handbook of what is allowed and banned. This list goes far beyond GMOs and includes chemically processed starches, titanium dioxide, grades of carrageenan, and caramel color, just to name a few."

In a day and age of slick marketing, toxic food ingredients and junk food manufacturers who will spend millions to keep you in the dark about what’s really in your food, it’s good to know there are decent, honest people out there who care as much about providing quality, healthful food as they do about running a business. We hope to shine a spotlight on some of those stores with our Top Ten ‘Right to Know’ Retailers contest.

So far, more than 225 of you have nominated more than 140 stores – so many, that we may have to rethink the whole “Top Ten” idea! If you haven’t yet nominated your favorite ‘Right to Know’ retailer, there’s still time. We’ll accept nominations until midnight, May 15, and announce the winners on May 30.

See who’s been nominated, and nominate your grocer



“We’re made in the image of our soil.” – Jerry Cunningham, Founder, Coyote Creek Mill, speaking at the Slow Money Conference on April 29, in Boulder, Colo.



OCA Upsets the GMO Apple Cart

Inside, the biotech industry was handing out an award to a biotech company salivating at the thought of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approving its patented genetically engineered apple. Outside, anti-GMO activists were marching, speaking, handing out organic apples and ceremoniously dumping apples in the street.

The protest took place outside the 2013 BIO International Convention, on April 23, where BIOTECanada was presenting its “Gold Leaf Award for Early Stage Agriculture” to Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (OSF), purveyor of the Arctic® Apple. The GE apple is engineered using an almost entirely untested genetic modification technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA). Scientists warn that this genetic manipulation poses health risks, as the manipulated RNA gets into our digestive systems and bloodstreams. Why should we take this risk? So we can have apples that never turn brown, say the bio-wizards behind the apple.

The Arctic Apple is slated for approval in the U.S. this year, despite warnings by scientists who say the bioengineering technology behind the apple is inherently risky at best, dangerous at worst. The FDA is expected to soon launch a second comment period on the apple’s approval. We’ll let you know when that happens, in case you’d like to give them an earful.

Watch the video

More on GMO Apples here and here



Essential Reading for the Week

First ‘Ag-Gag’ Prosecution: This Utah Woman Filmed a Slaughterhouse from the Public Street

Top 12 Health Tips for a Better You

Are People Living Near Fracking Sites Getting Sick?

Michael Pollan: Americans Cook Less Than Ever, But Love Watching It on TV

Why Genetically Engineer Trees?

Study: Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson's

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