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Monday, October 28, 2013

Organic Bytes -- 10/28


Quietly into the Night? Not Monsanto.

The average American eats more than 150 pounds of genetically engineered food every year. This despite the fact that scientists – the independent ones – agree that GE foods are ruining our health and our environment.
Fortunately, after 20 years of fighting for labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we’ve reached a turning point. We, as consumers and farmers, are demanding a say in what we eat and what we plant.
In an interview with, OCA’s Ronnie Cummins explains why we must marshal every last resource to win the GMO labeling battle in Washington State on Nov. 5. And once we win, how we’ll have to continue the fight against Monsanto. With every ballot we cast. With every food purchase we make.
Because Monsanto will not go quietly into the night. At least not yet.
Watch the video



Big Rules Spell Bad News for Small Farms

Love your local farms, farmers markets, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)? They could be in trouble thanks to heavy-handed new rules proposed under the Food Safety & Modernization Act (FSMA).
Unless the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) agrees to some key changes in the FSMA, your local farmer could be forced to shell out up to $20,000 for a fancy “Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Control plan.” For a farmer on a small budget, all that extra cost and paperwork means raising prices. Higher prices could force even the most loyal consumer to reluctantly settle for inferior, industrial food, trucked in from out-of-state corporations.
And that could force your farmer out of business. While perpetuating the chemical-intensive, environmentally unfriendly corporate agribusiness model.

Under the guise of “food safety,” the FSMA would create new barriers for small and mid-scale farmers and processors who have for years been working to create local markets – restaurants, co-ops, groceries, schools – for their locally grown produce.
Who wins? The big guys, as usual. Who loses? Consumers. Farmers. Local markets. And Mother Earth.
TAKE ACTION BY NOVEMBER 15: Tell the FDA: The FSMA puts small and mid-scale farmers and processors at a competitive disadvantage against corporate farmers and producers who can more easily absorb costs, fees and fines. Please revise the FSMA to level the playing field for small growers



Too Close to Call?

With only nine weeks to go, Monsanto and Big Food are eating away at our lead in Washington State. We’re still ahead, but make no mistake. The opposition’s $17.1 million worth of misleading TV and radio ads, mailers and flyers, is hurting us.
The single most important thing we can all do right now is get on the phone. Call voters in Washington State. Urge them to get out and vote YES on I-522. And remind them that any company willing to spend $17.1 million to keep a simple label off of its products has something to hide. And that something can’t be good.

The editorial boards of two major newspapers in Washington State – the Seattle Times and the Olympian – have come out against I-522, thanks to the powerful lobbying efforts of Monsanto and Big Food.
These next two weeks are critical. Please volunteer an hour of your time to call voters. The campaign will tell you how to do it. It’s easy. And it won’t cost you anything but a little time.

Volunteer to make phone calls to Washington voters
Share this video
Share this statement
Donate to the OCF or the OCA to support GMO labeling in Washington and other states.



Outed! Big Food Spends Big Money to Keep You in the Dark

Big surprise. Big Food was hiding its big donations to the NO on I-522 campaign by funneling them through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
We knew it was true. Now we know who they are. The companies who make billions of dollars by selling you their products. But who don’t want you to know what they’re putting in those products.
Why were they so desperate to hide their donations that they were willing to break the law? Because you, consumers, boycotted them, and their natural and organic brands, after they publicly donated more than $26 million to defeat GMO labeling in California last year.

We’ll be updating our boycott list soon, based on this new list of donors. In the meantime...
  • Kudos to Ben & Jerry’s, who kept its parent company, Unilever, from donating to the NO on I-522 campaign. For this, and for making a huge in-kind contribution to the YES on I-522 campaign, we’ll take Ben & Jerry’s off the new boycott list, when we make it official.
  • Shame on Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, for telling the media that Honest Tea’s parent company, Coca-Cola, wasn’t “directly lobbying” to defeat I-522. As it turns out, Coke was the third highest food company donor, spending more than $1 million to kill I-522. If you haven’t already, please tell Mr. Goldman what you think.
  • Welcome! To two new organic and natural brands, who will be added to our new boycott list. Sweet Leaf Teas, an organic brand, and Gerber organic baby foods are both owned by international food conglomerate, NestlĂ©, which donated $1.1 million to the NO on I-522 campaign. Why not get a jump on the boycott by posting on their Facebook pages today? Sweet Leaf Tea and Gerber organic.
And, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the top food donor to the NO on I-522 campaign. PepsiCo plunked down a cool $1.6 million in Washington State. Please let the folks at Pepsi’s subsidiary, Naked Juice, know how you feel about that.
Learn more
Food companies that donated to NO on I-522
Read the Press Release



Dear Sen. Warren . . .

Please answer two questions:
  1. If, as you say, you support mandatory GMO labeling laws, why haven’t you signed on as a co-sponsor to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill, S.809, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act for mandatory GMO labels?
  2. If you support mandatory labeling of GMOs, why did you ask the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize its voluntary guidance? Knowing that Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers support voluntary guidance, precisely because they know it could nullify any state or federal mandatory labeling laws?
Many of you took us up on our plea last week to call Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office to urge her to support mandatory GMO labeling laws. And many of you reported back that you were confused. Because Sen. Warren’s office told you that she is backing Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill, and that her letter to the FDA was actually about mandatory labeling. (Which it wasn’t. The letter specifically refers to the FDA’s 00D-1598 guidance for voluntary, not mandatory, labeling).
We want to believe that Sen. Warren is on our side. But we can’t. Until she answers our questions.
Meanwhile, please sign this petition to keep the pressure on.
Take Action: Tell Senators Warren and Udall: FDA’s Voluntary GMO Labels Are Good for Monsanto, Bad for Consumers!



93 Experts: ‘GMOs Are Not Safe’

To hear Monsanto and its hired guns and faux scientists tell it, everyone’s on the same page. Their page. Which is to say that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), along with all their pesticides and herbicides, are perfectly safe. Case closed.
But this week, a group of international scientists (the real kind, not the ones paid by the biotech industry), physicians and academics signed a statement to set the record straight. No, they wrote. Despite the many claims to the contrary, there is no consensus that GMOs are safe.

Said Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairwoman of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and one of the signers:
“The statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive findings of studies on GMO safety. These include toxic effects on laboratory animals fed GM foods, increased pesticide use from GM crop cultivation and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on beneficial and non-target organisms.”
Learn more
Read the statement
Read the list of scientists, physicians and academics



The Marin Carbon Project: Saving the Climate with Soil

“On a windswept ranch above the tiny West Marin town of Nicasio, a man in a worn Carhartt jacket holds up a blade of grass with a triumphant smile. This is rancher and philanthropist John Wick, and he’s explaining how he hopes to help save the world using an unexpected tool: dirt.” – from The Grass Really Is Greener, by Jacoba Charles
Industrial farming is responsible for up to 51 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire global transportation industry.
It didn’t used to be that way. Before we allowed corporations to take over our food supply, with their chemicals, factory farms and genetically engineered crops, the earth’s soil was able to sequester twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as it does now.
Recognizing that we’ll never reverse global warming just by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, John Wick and his partners at the Marin Carbon Project, in Marin County, Calif., are looking at how we can remove massive amounts of CO2 from our polluted atmosphere, and store it in the soil. Just by making a few changes to how ranchers manage their lands.

Learn more

More on the Marin Carbon Project



The Healing Power of Plants

From now until October 30, you can sign up to watch Numen: The Nature of Plants for free. Numen  is for herbalists, gardeners, medical practitioners, plant lovers and everyone concerned about human and environmental health. The feature-length documentary contains interviews with doctors, herbalists and writers, and documents the stories of people who have improved their health and well-being through the healing power of plants.
Watch the trailer
Watch the documentary



Essential Reading for the Week

Join the GMO Mini-Summit, Online, with Jeffrey Smith and John Robbins
Yes, Organic Can Cost More. Here Are 10 Reasons Why It's Worth It
A New Method Against Genetically Modified Salmon: Get Retailers to Refuse to Sell It
Wendell Berry on Hope, Direct Action, and the 'Resettling' of the American Countryside
Reduced Taxes for Urban Gardens: New Law Breaks Ground for Urban Ag


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