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Organic Bytes #44
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!
12/1/2004

In this issue:

  • UPDATE: EPA TOXIC CHEMICAL STUDY ON LOW INCOME CHILDREN
  • EPA'S BACKROOM DEAL WITH CHEMICAL COMPANIES INCREASES RAT POISONING RATE IN KIDS
  • QUOTES OF THE WEEK
  • MAD COW USA: MIRACULOUS LUCK OR GOVERNMENT COVERUP?
  • 70% OF WAL-MART PRODUCTS NOW MADE IN CHINA
  • STUDENTS CHOOSING SALAD BAR OVER PIZZA
  • THANKSGIVING DINNER AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE
  • U.S. WILL OFFICIALLY LEGALIZE GE CROP CONTAMINATION
  • BANNING OF GE CROPS SPREADS

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Two weeks ago Organic Bytes blew the whistle on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a proposed toxic chemical "monitoring study" on low-income children. The extreme toxicity of these chemicals is already known and many of them are already banned in Europe. Such a large number of people signed the OCA petition (50,000+) and forwarded it to their friends in the first 48 hours, that our website server temporarily crashed and the EPA asked the Organic Consumers Association to stop the petition. We will not stop until the chemical corporations are disinvited in having a hand in this biased study, low income families are no longer targeted, and consumers learn the truth about these dangerous chemicals. If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition here...
http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa-alert.htm

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EPA'S BACKROOM DEAL WITH CHEMICAL COMPANIES INCREASES RAT POISONING RATE IN KIDS
In 2001, the Bush led EPA struck a deal with chemical companies to remove two important rat poison regulations designed to protect the safety of children. Specifically, the safety measures had required rat poisons contain an ingredient that makes the candy-like pellets taste bitter to kids and a dye to make it more obvious to adults when a child has ingested the poison. As a result of no longer requiring those safety additives, the nation is now seeing a record number of children poisoned by the toxic pellets. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the EPA met five times behind closed doors with representatives of the chemical industry, which ultimately resulted in the removal of the safety regulations.
Read more and sign petition...
http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa.htm

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
"EPA's acquiescence to the demands of the rat poison industry is a disturbing example of the Bush administration EPA allowing industry literally to rewrite the rules."--
Aaron Colangelo (Attorney who uncovered EPA documents of private industry meetings)

"To bow to business pressure and take the child-proofing out of rat poison seems the stuff of parody, something you might read in the Onion. But this is no joke."--
Minneapolis Star and Tribune 11/22/2004

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MAD COW USA: MIRACULOUS LUCK OR GOVERNMENT COVERUP?
A second likely case of Mad Cow disease was recently announced by the USDA. Two initial screening tests for the disease turned up positive. According to Bio-Rad Laboratories, the makers of the test, "Greater than 95 percent of all doubly reactive tests are ultimately confirmed [to have mad cow disease]." Yet on Nov. 23, the USDA announced that a third test had somehow turned out negative. Dr. Michael Hansen, a Mad Cow expert, skeptically told the New York Times that given the conflicting results, "further tests should be conducted," but the USDA has declined to do so. Since the first case of Mad Cow disease was reported in the U.S. nearly one year ago, there has been mounting pressure from consumer groups, including the OCA, for the U.S. to adopt European and Japanese-style precautions to stop the spread of Mad Cow Disease, including banning the feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to animals, and testing all cattle at slaughter, before infected animals can get into the food chain. The USDA currently tests only 3% of the 35 million cattle slaughtered annually in the U.S. Learn more...

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70% OF WAL-MART PRODUCTS NOW MADE IN CHINA
The China Business Daily reports that Wal-Mart's inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit $18 billion this year, which represents a full 70% of all of Wal-Mart's products. According to Xu Jun, Wal-Mart China's director of external affairs, "If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China's eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada." Learn more...

 

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STUDENTS CHOOSING SALAD BAR OVER PIZZA
Under pressure from decreased state and federal funding, many schools are discovering that providing a salad bar option to the standard pizza/corndog/burger hotlunch is more affordable, more nutritious, and more popular among students. With a cost of roughly 40 cents less per student, salad bar meals are growing in popularity and are now available at 10% of the nation's schools. Districts are reporting that more students are choosing the salad bar over the hot lunch. Stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy and meats, the salad bar gives students the freedom of choice. "I always get salad bar because they have good stuff like oranges, pickles, yogurt," said 7-year-old Oscar Sibrian of Frances Willard Elementary School in California. "And you can make up your own choice." Some schools are also sourcing their salad bar produce from local and organic farms. Learn more...

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THANKSGIVING DINNER AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE
Retailers witnessed a modest shift in the types of foods consumers purchased for last week's Thanksgiving dinner, demonstrating that the American diet is slowly but surely undergoing a transformation. For example, organic turkey sales doubled this year. For vegetarians, roughly 160,000 "Tofurkeys" were consumed (a soy-based alternative to turkey). And the Atkins diet (good or bad) spawned a slew of new food product lines, including an odd beverage from Jones Soda Company called "Turkey and Gravy Soda," which has no calories and no carbohydrates. Learn more...

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U.S. WILL OFFICIALLY LEGALIZE GE CROP CONTAMINATION
Two years ago, the Bush Administration proposed legalizing the contamination of food crops with experimental genetically engineered crops. Last Friday, the FDA approved that initiative and is calling on the rest of the world to do the same. The FDA said that under this new directive biotech companies can "voluntarily" have their experimental crops tested for safety, but it is not required. In contrast, Germany announced a new strict "polluter pays" liability law this week that makes GE farmers and biotech companies financially liable for economic damage caused if their crops contaminate non-GE or organic crops. Learn more...

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BANNING OF GE CROPS SPREADS
The City Council of Arcata, California has voted unanimously to ban the growing of genetically engineered crops within the city limits, following the lead of three Northern California counties who have also recently enacted bans--Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin. On the international front, the Bush Administration's threats against the EU to overturn its ban on certain genetically modified organisms have turned up dry, as European member states voted overwhelmingly on Monday to maintain the current bans. Learn more...

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ORGANIC BYTES is a publication of:
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
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