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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Organic Bytes 6/13


Consumer Alert: Secret Trade Agreements Threaten Food Safety, Subvert Democracy

If you think the U.S. government is doing a sub-par job of keeping your food safe, brace yourself. You could soon be eating imported chicken, beef and seafood products that don’t meet even basic U.S. standards for food safety. The Obama Administration is allowing corporations like Dow AgroSciences, Cargill and DuPont, and industry trade groups like the Pork Producers Council and Tobacco Associates, Inc. – 600 of them in all – to weigh in on negotiations on two of the largest free trade agreements in world history.
Who doesn’t get a seat at the table? Consumers, farmers, even members of Congress. In fact, the President wants to “fast-track” the two agreements. That means Congress will be forced to vote on them, after they’ve already been finalized and signed, without benefit of the normal democratic checks and balances that include debate and the ability to introduce amendments.
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pose direct threats to consumer safety. They will weaken U.S. and world food safety standards, threaten domestic and international food sovereignty laws, and allow transnational corporations to sue governments for alleged future lost profits unless the corporations are allowed to freely peddle their unproven, unsafe goods with reckless regard for existing food safety laws.
Read the essay
Read the press release
TAKE ACTION: Tell President Obama and Interim U.S. Trade Rep. Miriam Sapiro: Trade Agreements Shouldn't Be Secret!



Winning! Connecticut and Maine Make History, Pass GMO Labeling Laws

It’s Monsanto’s worst nightmare come true. One by one, states are passing GMO labeling laws, despite Monsanto’s best efforts – and deep pockets – to prevent them. Will the Biotech Bully follow through on its threats to sue? We say: Bring it on!
Kudos to the hard-working, take-no-prisoners, not-takin’-no-for-an-answer activists in Connecticut for scoring the first GMO labeling law in the country. And a tip of the hat to Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has promised to sign the Connecticut bill, lawsuit threats and all. The Connecticut bill received bipartisan support, passing the Senate unanimously and winning a 134-3 vote in the House. Maine followed Connecticut’s lead, with the House passing LD 718 yesterday, June 12, also by an overwhelming majority vote 141-4.

Neither bill is perfect. Connecticut’s requires four other states, including one that borders the Constitution State, to pass GMO labeling laws before it kicks in. Maine contains a similar trigger, but requires five other states to pass GMO labeling laws, before LD 718 can take effect. But it just could turn out that the trigger clauses prompt other nearby states, including Vermont whose bill H.112 will be taken up in January, to follow suit.

Next it’s on to Washington State, where voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 5, to decide on I-522, a citizens’ ballot initiative to require mandatory GMO labeling there.
More on the Connecticut win
More on the Maine win



Usual Suspects Strike Again

We knew they’d show up, sooner or later, with their bulging wallets. Can their fake science, sleazy ads and bogus voter guides be far behind?
This week, the money started flowing in to the campaign to defeat I-522, Washington State’s ballot initiative to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If history is our guide, this is just the beginning. A mere trickle compared with the flood that’s sure to follow.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is leading the way, with its first donation, $472.5k. Monsanto has plunked down $242.2k so far, a mere pittance compared to the nearly $8 million the biotech giant forked out last year to defeat Proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling initiative. The other usual suspects include DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences – you know, the guys who make all those nasty pesticides, and don’t want you to know they’re putting them in your food.
Experts tell us that neither side in the I-522 fight will need to spend as much as they spent in California. We can reach far more voters, with far fewer ads, in Washington. The opposition could spend the same amount it spent in California, nearly $46 million, to try to defeat I-522, but you can only saturate a market so much before you put off voters. That said, we know these early donations will be followed by many more, much larger ones.
The biotech industry will pull out all the stops to defeat I-522, especially in light of the recent GMO labeling law wins in Connecticut and Maine. We don’t have any huge corporations on our side in this fight. But we have you. Hundreds of thousands of individual donors who, together, can make a huge difference. Please make a generous donation today. Thank you!

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)



Dear Traitor Brands: We’re Waiting

It’s been more than six months since consumers began boycotting the “Traitor” brands: the organic and natural brands of the parent companies that spent millions to defeat Proposition 37, the California Right to Know GMO labeling initiative. When we launched the boycott, we explained that we’d be happy to start buying brands like R.W. Knudsen, Naked Juice, Odwalla and others again - just as soon as the decision-makers at those brands guaranteed us that their parent companies wouldn’t pour money into defeating future state labeling campaigns, but would instead pitch in to support those campaigns.
We’re still waiting. So far, there’s been no sign of donations from companies like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, ConAgra, etc. to the NO campaign for I-522, a citizens’ initiative to label GMOs in Washington State. That’s encouraging. But there haven't been any donations from those companies to the YES campaign, either. Even though we know a lot of these Big Food companies have signaled that they now support GMO labeling laws, at least at the federal level.
If you’re missing your Honest Tea or Boca Burgers or Hunts Organic, now would be a good time to visit the facebook pages of all the Traitor Brands and post a little reminder: You’ll become a loyal fan again, as soon as their parent companies promise to support I-522. Until then, you’ll make do with their competitors’ brands.

Download your wallet-sized boycott guide
Download a poster-sized boycott guide
Sign the boycott pledge
Order printed copies of the boycott guide or poster



Senator Promises Monsanto Protection Act Won’t Be Renewed without a Vote

It pays to complain. Thanks to your calls and letters to your U.S. Senators, the movement to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act has scored a preliminary victory: The much-maligned rider, slipped into the Farm Bill without debate, will not be renewed without a vote. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich., pictured), chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, pledged to oppose the extension beyond its September 30 expiration date. Sen. Stabenow made the promise to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who had pushed unsuccessfully for a vote on his own amendment to repeal the Monsanto rider. Sen. Stabenow’s promise represented a compromise.
Great news, but we have to keep up the pressure to make sure Sen. Stabenow honors her pledge. Please call and email your Senators and ask them to pledge to vote against the Monsanto Protection Act if Sen. Blunt proposes it again.
What’s next for the Farm Bill? The Senate completed its work on June 10, passing the legislation without voting on many of the other amendments we asked consumers to support. The bill now moves to the House, where floor debates and votes on amendments are scheduled for the week of June 17. The House version of Farm Bill contains an amendment proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would rob states of the right to regulate factory farms. That's bad enough, but the King Amendment is so broadly written that it could also overturn hundreds of state laws regulating agricultural products, including laws like the one Connecticut just passed, and many other states are considering, that would require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
There’s still time to make your voice heard on the King Amendment, and other key amendments that will have an impact on food, environment and climate change policies. Let Congress know where you stand!
Learn the fate of the Senate Farm Bill amendments and find out what amendments will come up for a vote in the House
TAKE ACTION: Don’t Let Congress Stomp Out States’ Rights. Stop the King Amendment!



Love a Parade? March with Moms Across America on July 4!

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Just as we kicked off our plan to “out” the Senators who voted against states’ rights to label GMOs, Moms Across America has organized hundreds of marches in July 4 parades, to draw attention to kids’ health and GMOs. What better way to protest your Senators’ votes, than by marching in a parade with thousands of moms fighting for their kids’ health?
The California State Grange and have teamed up with moms who have seen their kids' health improve by going GMO free. Together they've launched the first Moms Across America campaign. Moms Across America is urging everyone who supports "the freedom to choose our food" to march in the hundreds of July 4 parades scheduled for the summer’s biggest holiday. So far, activists in 147 towns have heeded the call.
Fourth of July parades draw politicians and decision-makers of all stripes, and the 71 U.S. Senators who recently voted against states' rights to label GMOs are certain to be at an Independence Day event somewhere in the their home state. Let's make them and their voting public aware that the nine out of 10 citizens who support GMO labels aren't happy with their votes against our right to know.

Find out if your Senators voted against your right to know
Join Moms Across America on July 4



Cookin’ up Opposition to GMOs

“Its’ not about taste. For me, it’s not even about the science. It’s about freedom.” Craft Restaurants founder Tom Colicchio, known also for his work as the head judge on Bravo’s hit competition show Top Chef, discusses what it means to be a food activist.
Watch the video



Essential Reading for the Week

McDonald's Cruelty: Creating Mentally Broken & Physically Destroyed Animals

Why Are Children's Foods Packed with Toxic Chemicals?

Modern Fruits and Vegetables Are Less Nutritious

Evidence of GMO Harm in Pig Study

If Dr. Offit Had His Way, Vitamins Would Be Treated as Drugs

Hey, Non-GMO Activist: Monsanto's CEO Thinks You're an Elitist

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