Consumer and Environment News Tidbits with an Edge!
ATTEMPT TO BURY MAD COW FAILS
Another case of Mad Cow disease (BSE) in the United States has been
confirmed. The cow, apparently from Texas, was originally slaughtered
and pronounced free of BSE by the USDA in November 2004, under rather
suspicious circumstances. Facing mounting criticism by public interest
groups, including the OCA, Consumers Union, and the Center for Media
and Democracy, the USDA finally allowed a UK lab to retest the brain,
revealing that the animal did, indeed, have the fatal brain wasting
disease. Despite warnings by scientists and bans on U.S. beef exports,
the USDA still refuses to test more than a tiny fraction of U.S. cattle,
and continues to allow the routine feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse
waste to farm animals. Consumers, responding to the fact that these
risky practices are prohibited on organic farms, are turning in droves
to organic and grass-fed beef. In 2004 organic beef sales increased
by over 120% in the U.S.
INDUSTRY LET OFF HOOK
The tobacco industry was given a major break last week by the U.S. Justice
Department. During the closing statements of a six-year-old lawsuit
that was on the verge of fining the tobacco industry $130 billion, Justice
Department lawyer Stephen D. Brody unexpectedly announced the U.S. Government
wanted to reduce the fines by 90%. Sources close to the case, including
government officials, say trial lawyers reduced their demands due to
pressure from the Bush Administration's Attorney General's office, which
has recently held several closed door meetings with the tobacco industry.
WANTED: HUMAN LAB ANIMALS
The EPA is now allowing chemical companies to conduct toxic chemical
studies on low-income Americans. An analysis of 24 such studies found
that 22 involved ethically questionable practices. A new related congressional
report states that "nearly one-third of the studies reviewed were
specifically designed to cause harm to the human test subjects or to
put them at risk of harm." The report said scientists conducting
the experiments "failed to obtain informed consent (and) dismissed
adverse outcomes," adding that the tests "lacked scientific
validity." One study involved paying college students $15 an hour
to sit in enclosed chambers while having insecticide vapors sprayed
at them. The Bush Administration recently announced the EPA's new policy,
which allows these types of human studies for the first time in decades.
Chemical companies have welcomed this announcement with the goal of
generating studies that would allow their products to be considered
"safer" than originally thought. Congress is currently discussing
whether or not this process should be alowed to continue. Take
FARMING IS THE SOLUTION TO AFRICA'S FAMINE
Despite intense pressure from the biotech industry, African nations
are increasingly turning to organic farming practices rather than genetically
engineered crops. Tewolde Berhan, head of the Environmental Protection
Authority of Ethiopia, believes that organic farming is the solution
to Africa's famine. "Organic farming disturbs nature as little
as possible and reduces risks. Intensive farming has led to the exacerbation
of pests and diseases," says Berhan. While the biotech industry
pushes expensive synthetic fertilizers on impoverished Third World farmers
with claims of high yields, those farmers implementing simple organic
soil amending techniques are witnessing higher yields without the chemicals
or the cost. According to Berhan, "When well managed, and as fertility
builds over years, organic agriculture isn't inferior in yield. Now,
farmers don't want chemical fertilisers. They say, 'Why should we pay
for something we can get for free?'"
MILLIONS STARVE, U.S. WASTES BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FOOD
New statistics show that $100 billion of food in the U.S. is wasted
annually. As a result, the USDA is being asked to consider a proposal
from the University of Arizona to create a "Food Loss Center"
that would analyze methods of reducing food waste in the shipping, retail
and home sectors. At present, the USDA is claiming it does not have
the budget to create such a program. According to Dr. Timothy Jones,
an anthropologist at the University of Arizona's Bureau for Applied
Research in Anthropology, "Huge amounts of food are being wasted
throughout the industry. A proportion of this waste is inevitable, but
a large part of it can be eliminated and lead to increased profit, not
only through cutting losses but also through increasing efficiency."
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigators have obtained
video footage of inhumane treatment of chickens in a Tyson Foods plant
in Alabama, which supplies KFC. The footage shows chickens' heads being
routinely ripped off by hand, and large numbers of birds being scalded
alive. Tyson has responded by accusing the undercover PETA investigator
of violating the company's privacy policies.http://www.organicconsumers.org/OFGU/tyson060605.cfm
studies in Richland, Washington have revealed that the local Hanford
Nuclear site has contaminated the area far more than previously thought.
For the first time, plutonium has been found in clams and fish in the
Columbia River. In addition, radiation levels of area mulberries are
so high, eating less than a teaspoon full of the berries would cause
a person to exceed EPA maximum allowable risk levels for an entire year.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced that farmed salmon contains
roughly 6-7 times as many PCBs as wild salmon. A total of 29 tests were
conducted on salmon in the British Columbia area, and the results support
previous studies revealing higher levels of toxins in farmed salmon,
due to the compact manner in which they are raised. http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/pcbs060805.cfm
recently held its annual meeting, during which CEO F. Lee Scott announced
that the mega-retail chain will take a leading role in the exploding
organic market by sharply increasing the selection of organic foods
at its supercenters. At present, Wal-mart operates 1,700 supercenters
across the U.S. with short term plans to more than double that number.
ATTACK: CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE MAY PASS "MONSANTO LAW"
Just as we are going to press, OCA has been informed that California
state legislators may try to pass a law shortly that would take away
counties' rights to ban genetically engineered crops. So far three of
California's 59 counties have passed GE crop bans, with Sonoma County
slated to vote on a ban in November. Across the U.S. 11 states have
already passed these "Monsanto Laws." Stay tuned to OCA's
website and the next issue of Organic Bytes, for further information.
The apparent ringleader of this nefarious scheme to suppress Biodemocracy
and spread Frankencrops across California is State Assemblyman Simon
Salinas of District 29 (representing Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito
and Santa Cruz Counties). You may want to call or fax Salinas' office
and tell him to back off. Simon Salinas' office can be reached at Phone:
(916) 319-2028 or Fax: (916) 319-2128.