ORGANIC BYTES #31
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
4/22/2004 By Organic Consumers Association

Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on websites, print it, and post it. Knowledge is power!

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In This Issue:
ANTI-GE MOVEMENT GATHERS STEAM ACROSS THE U.S.
SUSTAINABLE AG PROTECTS WORLD'S FRESHWATER
ORGANIC LABELING IN JEOPARDY
EU REQUIRES STRICT LABELING FOR FRANKENFOODS
AMERICANS ARE SHRINKING
FOOD SAFETY IS APPARENTLY ILLEGAL
CONSUMERS FED-UP WITH ADVERTISING
THE LAW THAT NEVER BECAME A LAW
NO BUTTS ABOUT IT

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ANTI-GE MOVEMENT GATHERS STEAM ACROSS THE U.S.
In the wake of the Mendocino CA ban on
March 2, 2004, the movement to create GE Free Zones across the United States has accelerated, as have legislative efforts to strictly regulate GMOs. Recent events include:
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California: Following in the footsteps of Mendocino there are activists in at least 12 of California's 59 counties organizing to create GE-Free zones, including Humboldt, Butte, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and San Luis Obisbo. Activists from all over CA are meeting this weekend in Mendocino to plan their next moves. In other CA news, the state's top agriculture official denied a proposal that would allow the planting of rice, genetically engineered to create a drug. The proposal is likely to return for reconsideration next planting season. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/ricehold041304.cfm
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North Dakota: A petition is being circulated for a ballot measure that would give the state the authority to reject Monsanto's new genetically modified wheat. Farmers are concerned introduction of the crop will result in profit losses due to decreased export demand. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/wheat042004.cfm
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Pennsylvania: More than 50 townships have passed ordinances that regulate the expansion of local factory farms, and now the state farm bureau and big agribusiness are teaming up to implement legislation that would make it illegal for communities to have this kind of local control. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/factoryfarm042004.cfm
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Vermont: Governor Douglas has agreed to sign the "Farmer Right to Know" bill that will require labeling of genetically engineered seeds in all retail outlets. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm
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Help the OCA defend the Mendocino ban and spread GE free zones throughout the Americas!

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SUSTAINABLE AG PROTECTS WORLD'S FRESHWATER
A new United Nations report calls for sustainable food production and consumption, as conventional methods are swallowing-up the world's scarce fresh water supply. For example, producing just 3 ounces of beef requires 1,849 gallons of water, while making enough flour for a loaf of bread requires less than a tenth of that. Sustainable agriculture is particularly beneficial in developing countries, where agriculture accounts for 70-90% of fresh water use. http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/water042104.cfm

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ORGANIC LABELING IN JEOPARDY
The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) has published a new scope document that compromises efforts to establish meaningful organic standards for personal care products, dietary supplements, fertilizers, soil amendments, manure and related materials, fish and seafood, and pet foods. The new NOP Scope will make it illegal for makers of the aforementioned products to display the USDA Organic Seal in the future or make any other claims suggesting these products are made under the USDA NOP standards. The OCA is pressuring the USDA to retract its new position, which hurts organic farmers and consumers by allowing companies to make organic claims without being certified. http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/nop-scope.cfm

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EU REQUIRES STRICT LABELING FOR FRANKENFOODS
Responding to intense pressure from the Bush Administration and the biotech industry, the European Union (EU) is now, at least in principle, opening its doors to imports of some genetically engineered (GE) foods. But producers of GE seeds, like Monsanto, are still unhappy with the arrangement. In agreeing to allow the import of these GE foods, the EU is also mandating that food products containing more than .9% GE ingredients, be labeled as such. In response to consumer demands, major EU supermarket chains and food companies have announced that they will continue to ban GE foods and ingredients from their products. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/labels042004.cfm

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AMERICANS ARE SHRINKING
At the time of the American Revolution, the average
U.S. male was two inches taller than his British counterpart. Today he is almost half an inch shorter. According to new research out of Munich University, the average American is getting shorter, while the average European is getting taller. To explain this peculiar physiological transformation, scientists are pointing to the increasing gap in social classes in the U.S. Despite a physically robust upper class in the U.S., there are eight million unemployed people, 40 million individuals with no health insurance, 35 million living below the poverty line, and a population that relies on junk food. In contrast, Europe's social welfare programs provide good health care and food for most citizens. http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/shrinking041404.cfm

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FOOD SAFETY IS APPARENTLY ILLEGAL
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC recently announced it would voluntarily test all of its cattle for Mad Cow Disease as a courtesy to its customers and to re-open foreign markets, especially Japan. But the USDA responded last week, saying it won't allow Creekstone to test all of its cattle. Bill Hawks, the USDA secretary for marketing, said the tests aren't necessary and "would have implied a consumer safety aspect that is not scientifically warranted." Creektone's chief executive officer, Jon Stewart, disagrees and is ready to take legal action against the USDA, saying the company has every right to test their cattle if that's what their domestic and foreign customers are demanding. http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/fight041404.cfm

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CONSUMERS FED-UP WITH ADVERTISING
The New York Times recently reported that a recent Yankelovich Partners poll has found that consumers are fed up with the constant deluge of advertising. In fact, 69% of respondents said they "are interested in products and services that would help them skip or block marketing;" and a full 45% said the amount of advertising they were exposed to "detracts from the experience of everyday life." Ron Berger, Chairman of the American Association of Advertising expressed his concern over the poll results, by suggesting that perhaps advertisers could respond to the problem of over-advertising by doing some advertising about how important advertising is: "Our industry must do a better job of talking about the tremendous value we create for clients and the economy." http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/ads041504.cfm

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THE LAW THAT NEVER BECAME A LAW
With the discovery of the first case of Mad Cow Disease in the
U.S., nations all over the world stopped importing American beef, consumers feared for their safety, and the U.S. government fell under intense scrutiny for its lack of related regulatory oversight. By mid-January the USDA attempted to appease consumers and the press by announcing new rules that would reduce the potential spread of the fatal disease. Interestingly enough, those rules have still not been implemented. In order for the rules to become enforced, they must be published in the Federal Register, a daily governmental publication. Stephen Sundlof of the FDA spoke of the delay in enforcement, saying the fact that it's taking so long "shows that we do consider it important." http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/Mishra041404.cfm

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NO BUTTS ABOUT IT
One benefit of the delay in implementing new Mad Cow regulations is that it provides an extended period of public comment. The USDA will be excepting comments on the new regulations until May 7. This input is critical, given the heavy lobbying forces of the meat industry, who are complaining that keeping cow brains out of the
U.S. burger supply will cost them $150 million per year. One of the USDA's proposals would also keep cow rectum, colon and anus from entering the human food supply. Take Action! Tell the USDA you're tired of eating rectums and anuses: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/usdapubcom0304.cfm

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WE NEED TO TALK
Interested in sharing your thoughts and ideas with thousands of other like-minded folks locally and around the world? Register free for OCA's new online web forum and chat center. The OCA website has been getting 4-6 million hits every month, so we decided it's time to open up the communication channels and let everyone share their ideas, post articles, comment on related issues, and come together with others who share your concerns. Start talking with others in the organic consumers community right now! http://www.organicconsumers.org/chat/index.php If you are interested in being a moderator of one of these forums, please contact Craig@OrganicConsumers.org

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  About the OCA The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) promotes food safety, organic farming and sustainable agriculture practices in the U.S. and internationally. We provide consumers with factual information they can use to make informed food choices. Genetic engineering, irradiation, toxic sludge fertilizer, mad cow disease, and rBGH are some of the issues we address. The OCA gives interviews and supplies background material for journalists, news organizations, and public interest activists worldwide. Our campaign strategies include public education, activist networking, boycotts and protests, grassroots lobbying, media and public relations, and litigation. We publish one print newsletter (Organic View) and two electronic newsletters (BioDemocracy News and Organic Bytes). The OCA's National Director is Ronnie Cummins.  
     
 
 
 
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