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Organic Bytes #34 )
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
--- by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA)
June 11
2004
In this issue
  • GE-FREE ZONE UPDATES
  • HOW TO STRETCH YOUR ORGANIC FOOD DOLLARS
  • AQUATIC TERMINATORS: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SALMON
  • JUNK FOOD WREAKING HAVOC ON KIDS
  • GETTING SCHOOLS TO SELL HEALTHIER FOOD
  • BREAST FEEDING ADS WATERED DOWN
  • ORGANICS DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR
  • LIVESTOCK FACTORIES POOP ON PUBLIC
  • Please forward this publication to family and friends, place it on websites, print it, and post it. Knowledge is power!

    -------- QUOTE OF THE WEEK "If there's a human race here in a hundred years, it won't be any big thing that will save it -- a big slogan, a big movement, a big organization of any kind. It'll be saved by literally hundreds of millions of little things going on." Pete Seeger, American folksinger and activist, 5/12/2004


    GE-FREE ZONE UPDATES

    Directly challenging the powerful biotech industry, a dozen counties in California are now working towards becoming free of genetically engineered crops and animals. Following the lead of Mendocino County, whose citizens voted on March 2, 2004 to make it a GE-free zone, counties including Marin, Sonoma, Humboldt, Butte, San Luis Obispo, and others are gathering petition signatures by the thousands in order to place "GE-Free Zone" ordinances on voter ballots for November. A parallel effort is underway in Boulder County, Colorado. Organizers of these campaigns are working on tight petition deadlines and need volunteers and donations in their area. Additional campaigns are sprouting across the nation, from Vermont to Hawaii.

    HOW TO STRETCH YOUR ORGANIC FOOD DOLLARS

    Although the price of organic foods has been steadily dropping, due to better distribution and larger economies of scale, organic foods, on average are still more expensive than conventional foods. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an article this week that offers tips for stretching your organic food dollars. Some suggested methods include buying in bulk, starting a buying club, growing and canning your own food, joining a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), and getting shopper discounts by volunteering at your local co-op.

    AQUATIC TERMINATORS: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SALMON

    A troubling new study from the National Academy of Sciences indicates that genetically engineered salmon will not only consume all the food needed by other species of salmon, but will even gobble up members of their own schools. Scientists documented inter-fish relations between genetically engineered (GE) salmon and normal coho salmon in closed tanks with varying levels of food input. Total war erupted, as the frankenfish gobbled up all the food and then started attacking each other. At study's end, there were only one or two GE fish left in tanks that originally held 50 fish. The GE mutants were engineered to grow twice as fast as normal salmon, but in the gene-splicing process, it seems their drive for food and aggressiveness have also increased. The GE fish would ostensibly be raised in enclosed nets on salmon farms on the coasts, but there is great concern for what could happen when these GE salmon escape from their pens. As a note, hundreds of thousands of factory farmed salmon have escaped into the wild in the Northwest, just in the past few years, when floating pens were torn apart by storms or sea lions.

    JUNK FOOD WREAKING HAVOC ON KIDS

    A new study out of the UK reveals that additives in foods increases hyperactivity in children. The study of a test group of 277 preschoolers found that when additives were removed from the children's diets, the rate of hyperactivity decreased substantially. According to Dr. John Warner, the lead scientist in the study, "The effect is significant but its magnitude requires further elaboration before making any sweeping recommendations about legislation on permitted food additives."

    GETTING SCHOOLS TO SELL HEALTHIER FOOD

    Congress is in the process of reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act, providing citizens with an opportunity to phase junk foods out of schools. The act governs the food schools feed to children, and Senator Tom Harkin is introducing a new amendment to the act that would require schools to adopt wellness policies. These policies would phase out soda pop and junk food machines in schools and would also ask the Institute of Medicine to recommend nutritional standards for foods sold to or eaten by children in school. Send an email of support to the Senate Today.

    BREAST FEEDING ADS WATERED DOWN

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a television advertising campaign to promote breast feeding and to highlight the risks of formula feeding. Although the program was initially designed to provide strong educational messaging for mothers across the U.S, it was ultimately "watered down" by the powerful drug and infant formula industry. ABC News uncovered documents that showed Secretary of Health, Tommy Thompson, met privately with infant formula industry officials, while sculpting the campaign. At the same time, he refused to meet with breast-feeding advocates. "The fact that they managed to get this campaign watered down is evidence that money can influence good medicine, and that large amounts of money can influence even good doctors," said Dr. Larry Gartner, of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    ORGANICS DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR

    The California-based Organic Express (BOX) is demonstrating a new way to support local family farmers while bringing fresh organic produce to the doorsteps of some 3,500 families in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. BOX serves as a middleman between organic farmers and consumers by picking-up fresh produce at its member farms and delivering it directly to customers. The produce is guaranteed to be delivered within 24 hours of being harvested. The process allows folks with hectic schedules to more conveniently join a community supported agriculture program (CSA), while allowing the farmers to focus on doing what they do best... farm. The success of this innovated business model could and should catch on in communities everywhere.

    LIVESTOCK FACTORIES POOP ON PUBLIC

    United States livestock processing plants are close to striking a cozy deal with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In an attempt to set specific pollution standards for the largest factory processing plants, the EPA is requesting these plants collect ongoing data regarding pollution output and submit it to the EPA. In return, the processing plants gain an alarming 4-10 years of immunity from key environmental legislation, like the Clean Air Act. Opponents object that this will threaten human and environmental health, given that the nation's largest processing plants spew out an estimated 575 billion pounds of manure every year.

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