Organic Bytes
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It’s official! Mendocino County (CA) has passed a ballot initiative making
it the first county in the U.S. to ban genetically engineered crops and
animals. This is an important and precedent-setting victory for farmers
and consumers, particularly given the fact that corporate agribusiness
and the biotech industry spent over $620,000 attempting to convince citizens
to vote against the referendum (grassroots supporters of the referendum
had only $100,000 to work with, including $11,500 from the Organic Consumers
Association). Organic and non-GMO farmers in Mendocino say the new law
will help protect their crops from potential contamination from neighboring
GE fields. The success of the initiative is already proving to be highly
contagious. Humboldt County (CA) claims it’s next in line for passing
a similar referendum, while farmers in the U.S. Midwest see it as evidence
that they may be able to resist the release of Monsanto’s new GE wheat.
Grassroots activists across California and the nation will be meeting
in San Francisco this weekend to discuss launching similar initiatives.
Similarly Prince Edward Island in Canada is now considering becoming a
"GMO Free Zone." Meanwhile, the biotech industry has made it
clear that it will do its best to snuff out Mendocino’s GE ban with state
legislative or legal action. Informed sources have told the OCA that the
California Farm Bureau and the Gallo wine company are spearheading an
effort to introduce a bill in the California Senate that will nullify
the Mendocino GMO ban and make it illegal for other California counties
to pass similar laws. OCA and its allies are planning a major campaign
to stop or defeat this legislation. Stay tuned to Organic Bytes and the
OCA website for forthcoming news on this front… /old_articles/monsanto/mendocino030804.cfm


It’s been a week full of victories! One year after the Organic Consumers
Association (OCA) launched the Coming Clean Campaign to establish strong
labeling standards for "organic" cosmetics, the Organic Trade
Association’s Personal Care Task Force (PCTF) rejected a scheme of counting
ordinary water as "organic" in body care products. In a 13 to
2 vote on Saturday (3/6) at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim,
California, the task force of natural body care companies condemned the
practice of counting as "organic" water added during the steaming
of botanicals to make hydrosol water extracts. The task force subsequently
voted 10 to 5 to not count any amount of hydrosol water extracts as organic
until the minority percentage of water from plant material versus added
from steam can be determined. The OCA will continue to drive this campaign
ahead, until meaningful organic standards are established for body care
products. /old_articles/bodycare/


A criminal investigation is underway to determine whether the U.S. Government
falsified documents pertaining to the recent case of Mad Cow Disease in
Washington. Specifically, the Department of Agriculture reported that
the beef that tested positive for the disease came from a "downer"
cow (a cow too ill to walk). Three key eye-witnesses at the slaughterhouse
argue otherwise, saying the cow was walking and appeared to be healthy.
The U.S. Government used the potentially altered documents to assuage
concerns that cattle are not tested sufficiently for this deadly disease
in the U.S. /old_articles/madcow/falsify030404.cfm


When the hole in the ozone layer and its causes were confirmed in the
1980s, nations around the world banded together to create one of the most
significant international environmental treaties in history. The Montreal
Protocol of 1987 was a global agreement to phase out the production and
use of chemicals that cause the depletion of the ozone layer. Now George
W. Bush has shocked the world (once again) by threatening to pull out
of this landmark treaty. Bush claims the U.S. strawberry and tomato agriculture
industry should be able to continue using the pesticide methyl bromide,
the most dangerous ozone depleting chemical in use. Interestingly enough,
the majority of growers who would benefit from this violation of international
treaty are situated in California and Florida, critical states in the
coming election. /old_articles/corp/ozone112403.cfm


-The Environmental Protection Agency classifies methyl bromide in the
most deadly category of substances (Category I), due to its ability to
cause neurological damage, reproductive harm, and fatal poisonings.

-Organic strawberry growers use a mix of safe alternatives, including
biological control, crop rotation, and pest-resistant root stocks, to
produce strawberries without the need for methyl bromide.


An international biosafety treaty has now been finalized in Malaysia,
where 87 countries from around the world have successfully negotiated
a protocol that establishes labeling and documentation regulations regarding
imports/exports of genetically modified organisms. Under the new system,
any international shipment containing genetically engineered ingredients
intended for food, feed or processing must be labeled as such. Despite
consensus between the attending nations, President Bush has refused to
sign the agreement. /old_articles/ge/biosafety-pact.cfm


New scientific research has revealed some disturbing health implications
related to genetically modified foods. The viral promoter used in GE crops
to "turn on" certain genes has been found in the tissue of test
rats. The biotech industry has consistently claimed this is impossible.
According to Dr Terje Traavik, the study’s results indicate that these
same promoters could switch on any number of viruses that normally lay
dormant within our own DNA and/or change the activity and structure of
chromosomes, creating the potential for inducing cancer and/or metabolic
changes. /old_articles/ge/studies030404.cfm


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! /old_articles/chat/index.php If you are
interested in being a moderator of one of these forums, please contact


If any of the issues above spark your desire to take action, please visit
OCA’s Action Center for instant faxes, petitions, volunteering and donation
opportunities. /old_articles/action.htm