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ORGANIC BYTES #77
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!


3/14/2006

Subscribe to this Bi-weekly Email Newsletter: http://www.organicconsumers.org/organicbytes.htm

Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

IN THIS ISSUE

  • CONGRESS BLINDFOLDS CONSUMERS- REMOVING RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN YOUR FOOD
  • FACT OF THE WEEK
  • U.S. VOTES AGAINST 132 NATIONS ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD
  • QUICK BIODEMOCRACY TIDBITS
  • READER POLL: SHOULD WE BOYCOTT? PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE
  • CANCER CAUSING CHEMICAL FOUND IN SOME SOFT DRINKS
  • QUICK TIDBITS

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CONGRESS BLINDFOLDS CONSUMERS- REMOVING RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN YOUR FOOD
On March 8, despite massive public opposition, including 50,000 calls and letters from supporters of the Organic Consumers Association, the House of Representatives passed the controversial "national food uniformity" labeling law, which would eliminate over 200 state food safety labeling laws. The law basically takes away local government and states' power to require food safety labels such as those required in California and other states on foods or beverages that are likely to cause cancer, birth defects, allergic reactions, or mercury poisoning. The bill would also prevent local municipalities and states from passing laws requiring that genetically engineered foods and ingredients be labeled. Under the bill, hundreds of state laws and regulations would be eliminated, including those relating to the safety of milk, fish, and shellfish. In order to become law, the bill will now have to go to the Senate for a vote. Because of the enormous public backlash against the bill, Washington analysts believe the bill will have great difficulty passing in the Senate. OCA and other public interest organizations have vowed to go "all out" to stop this anti-democratic, anti-consumer bill in the Senate. Take action here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/rd/labeling.cfm

FACT OF THE WEEK
In the 2006 election cycle, big agribusiness has already given $14,562,681 in campaign contributions to members of Congress.

Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=A

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U.S. VOTES AGAINST 132 NATIONS ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD
Biotech corporations are facing off against developing nations and most of the world this week in Brazil in a debate over the United Nation's Biosafety Protocol. The precedent-setting treaty is an international agreement signed in January 2000 by 132 of the world's nations. But the three main countries that grow genetically modified crops (the United States, Argentina and Canada) refuse to sign it, because the international law would require that countries be notified if the grains they are importing are genetically modified. Biotech companies want that language removed from the treaty, saying that developing nations and anti-GMO consumers in industrialized nations are not entitled to know whether their food is genetically engineered or not.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/goliath060313.cfm

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QUICK BIODEMOCRACY TIDBITS

  • OCA is gearing up its BioDemocracy Alliance campaign this Spring. Congressman Dennis Kucinich is expected to soon reintroduce the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, which would require mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered (GE) foods. Please send a letter to Congress and let them know you want GE foods labeled.
  • OCA is also happy to be organizing a new round of educational and motivational house parties utilizing The GMO Trilogy, a new DVD and CD set produced by bestselling author and biotech critic Jeffrey Smith. Get involved here: http://organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm
  • Don't forget, April 6th is National GE Labeling Call-In Day, make sure you call your Congressperson! Tell them you want safety testing and labels on all genetically engineered foods and ingredients, similar to laws already in place in Europe and many other countries. Learn more: http://organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm

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READER POLL: SHOULD WE BOYCOTT? PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE
How should the Organic Consumers Association deal with the escalating problem of large corporations weakening regulations and taking advantage of loopholes in the organic standards? You decide... As one of more than 850,000 members and supporters of the Organic Consumers Association, your input is needed. Should the Organic Consumers Association call for a boycott of organic brands that are lobbying to weaken organic laws and taking advantage of loopholes in the organic standards (example: producing so-called "organic" dairy products on factory farms, where the animals are imported from conventional dairy farms, and then kept in intensive confinement, with no access to pasture)? Please vote on the strategic direction of OCA's "Safeguard Organic Standards" campaign here:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/chat/viewtopic.php?t=587


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CANCER CAUSING CHEMICAL FOUND IN SOME SOFT DRINKS
The U.S., U.K. and China have launched investigations into benzene in soft drinks. Results of independent laboratory tests in New York, show a couple of soft drinks in the U.S. contain as much as four times above the legal benzene limit for drinking water. Benzene, a known carcinogen, is formed when two ingredients in the beverage react with each other: sodium benzoate (a preservative) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The FDA will not released the names of the beverages with high benzene levels but says the companies are being asked to change their ingredients. http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/benzene060303.cfm


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BUY LOCAL & ORGANIC TO HELP PREVENT CLIMATE CHAOS
Global climate change has become the planet's most important environmental threat. Citizen efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) have typically involved calls for conversion to renewable energy and increased automobile fuel efficiency. But did you know that 20-25% of GHGs are created by the production and long-distance transportation of our food? The Mayor of London recognizes this important fact and is taking strategic measures to boost locally grown and organic foods in the region. Plans include placing high taxes on long-haul transport trucks and providing incentives to hospitals and schools to purchase local and organic foods. "I want London to set a standard for other cities around the world to follow in reducing its own contribution to climate change. How we deal with food will play an important role in this," says Mayor Ken Livingstone.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/london022706.cfm


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QUICK TIDBITS

Concerned about your kids and future generations? Go organic... A new study published by the National Academy of Sciences confirms previous studies, showing that organic farming reduces nitrogen leaching into waterways as well as greenhouse gas pollution. "This study is an important contribution to the debate surrounding the sustainability of organic agriculture, one of the most contentious topics in agricultural science worldwide," says Professor John Reganold, co-author of the study. http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/nitrogen060309.cfm
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USDA Secretary Mike Johanns met with Japanese leaders on Friday to convince them the U.S. beef supply is safe from Mad Cow Disease. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the day after the meeting, the USDA announced the discovery of another new case of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S. Japan, the top importer of U.S. beef, has recently banned U.S. beef imports, due to concerns over safety of the meat. Despite objections from Japanese and American consumers, the USDA still allows the feeding of blood, slaughterhouse waste, and manure to animals--practices banned in Europe and Japan in order to prevent the spread of the disease. http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm
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A new study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals kids who drink just one sweetened beverage per day can pile on an average of 15 lbs. of additional fat per year, in comparison to children who drink nonsweetened beverages. http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/study2.cfm
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GAIA NOT GUNS: What's the relationship between sustainable agriculture, the environment and massive military spending? Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association addresses this issue in this week's blog. According to Cummins, U.S. taxpayers are currently supporting a military budget of over $500 billion a year, enough to pay for the cost of eliminating global hunger and stabilizing the global climate. The annual costs of waging the war in Iraq and maintaining military bases in the Middle East alone are sufficient to launch a crash program to reduce greenhouse gases by 75%, feed the world's hungry, and convert the U.S. economy to renewable energy and organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Learn more and post your thoughts in OCA's blog here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/rd/ronnie1.cfm
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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6771 South Silver Hill Drive
Finland, MN 55603
Phone: (218)- 226-4164 Fax: (218) 353-7652

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