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GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK Victory for Voluntary GMO-Free Labels!

Monsanto and Eli Lilly have successfully blocked consumers’ right to know about factory-farm dairy production by concealing the use of their genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, a.k.a. rBGH or rBST.
Still, when it comes to voluntary labels on non-GMO food, consumers are winning!
The first blow to biotech was in 2010 when a Sixth Circuit court ruled that milk produced with synthetic hormones is different than milk produced without it and struck down a Ohio rule that would have removed "rBGH-free" labels from dairy products. The court found:
– A compositional difference does exist between milk from untreated cows and conventional milk.
– The use of rBGH (rbST) in milk production has been shown to elevate the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a naturally occurring hormone that in high levels is linked to several types of cancers, among other things.
– rBGH (rbST) use induces an unnatural period of milk production during a cow’s "negative energy phase." Milk produced during this stage is considered to be low quality due to its increased fat content and its decreased level of proteins.
– Milk from rBGH-injected cows contains higher somatic cell counts, which makes the milk turn sour more quickly and is another indicator of poor milk quality.
The final blow to the Ohio rule came this week when the state agreed that, instead of revising the rule to comply with the court’s opinion, it would abandon it altogether.

Read more

URGENT ALERTS Is the 1%’s Super Committee Writing a Secret Farm Bill?

Demand Cuts to Corporate Welfare – Not Hunger and Sustainable Ag Programs!

The Big Ag lobby suffered a shock when an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to cut farm subsidies to anyone with an average income of over $1 million cleared the Senate by a vote of 84-15. This proposal has yet to become law, but it is clear that the momentum is not in Big Ag’s favor. Congress is ready to vote for a fairer Farm Bill in 2012 when the current law expires. Knowing that, corporate lobbyists working for the 1% are trying to prevent any more votes like that one.

Big Ag’s current strategy is for Congress not to vote on a new Farm Bill at all. They’d rather have the Super Committee, set to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the federal debt in November, shape the bill behind closed doors. Their idea is for the Super Committee to cut $23 billion over 10 years, mostly from conservation and nutrition programs that help the hungry, family farmers, and sustainable agriculture, rather than save more money by adopting the White House proposal to save $50 billion over 10 years by ending all direct payments that go to mega farms growing crops for polluting factory farms and unhealthy junk food.

Ag Committee Chairmen and Super Committee members are currently working on a Secret Farm Bill that by all accounts will favor Big Ag over family-scale organic farmers and the swelling ranks of those who are relying on Food Stamps and school lunch programs to survive during the continuing economic crisis.

Tell Congress: Cut Corporate Welfare – Not Hunger and Sustainable Ag Programs!

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PLEASE DONATE Donate to OCA & Receive Access to Yoga, Fitness and Meditation Videos Online

The Organic Consumers Association is happy to be partnering with My Yoga Online to provide OCA donors with a month’s worth of instructional web fitness videos at no cost with any size donation. Your donations help us continue to do the important work that you read about each week in Organic Bytes and each day on our website.

OCA highly recommends this resource for anyone who is online and has a computer! Choose the type of fitness video, ability level and length that works for you. Check out the My Yoga Online website to browse their dynamic library of hundreds of yoga, health and wellness videos and articles.

Just put “yoga offer” in the comments of your donation! 

Please Donate

Label GMOs 2012 CA Ballot Initiative Signature Gathering to Begin During the Holidays

This month, lawyers representing a broad and unprecedented health, environmental, and consumer coalition will file papers with the California Attorney General’s office to place a Citizens Initiative on the Ballot in November, 2012 that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients.

If you live in California, help us gather signatures! In order for this momentous initiative to qualify, we need to collect around 850,000 signatures by April. We are confident that we can meet our goal, but we need your help. Are you among the 90% of Californians who think that GMO foods should be labeled? If you’re tired of waiting for the federal government to require labeling, here’s a chance to help California lead the way in mandatory labeling legislature. Between now and the end of the year we are building a force of several thousand volunteers trained and ready to hit the ground running. Be a part of this historic anti-GMO initiative.

Go here to volunteer, donate or learn more

#OCCUPY Occupy Wall Street + Transition Towns = Sustainable Revolution

The Transition Towns movement teaches us that peak oil and climate change are a threat to democracy and economic justice all by themselves. No amount of democratic reforms or economic regulations will save us, if we don’t also transition from fossil fuels to more resilient, lower carbon systems.
The OWS movement reminds us that peak oil and climate change can only be addressed if we figure out a way to create real democracy and economic justice.
OWS is already quite naturally employing the very strategies the Transition Movement advocates:
– Direct democracy using the community-building consensus process, and
– Cooperative action plans for sustainably creating the basic resources the community needs.
The community building and survival skills that OWS occupants are developing are exactly the types of skills Transition Town participants are teaching and promoting. Two concrete examples of this are the consensus process used to make decisions at OWS General Assemblies and the OWS encampment’s use of permaculture and other low-carbon techniques to do things like recycle greywater, charge electronics, build furniture and grow food (see last week’s Bytes).

The method is the message. Another world is possible and people involved in the Transition Towns and OWS movements are already in the midst of creating it.

More resources on the Transition Movement and Occupy Wall Street

Podcast of the Week Raw Milk Freedom Riders

It is illegal to transport raw milk across state lines. On Tuesday, a caravan of mothers defied FDA interstate commerce and food safety laws on raw milk in support of farmers across the nation who are willing to supply fresh milk to mothers across state lines – farmers who are risking their business to serve their customers.

Listen and learn more

Sponsored Message Eden Foods Offers OCA Customers 15% Discount

Eden Foods is one of the few national organic food producers that go beyond the USDA Organic Standards. Although Eden Foods is USDA certified, their products do not bear the USDA seal, because they say the USDA standard really represents a “minimum standard” that Eden Foods goes far beyond.

As a subscriber to Organic Bytes, you can enjoy a 15% discount rate on any Eden Foods products by going here.


1) Organic Gardening Tip of the Week:
Vermicomposting Is More Than Wiggle to a Worm

Jane Tunks, a novice gardener, is using her office’s rooftop garden as her classroom, with Fred Bové and Kevin Bayuk from the San Francisco Permaculture Guild as her teachers. Here is another of her lessons.

2) Forum Topic of the Week:
How Does Your Garden Grow?

Share stories and post pictures in the Organic Consumers Association’s online discussion forum.

3) Organic Consumer News of the Week:
Aurora, Supplier of So-Called “Organic Milk” to Wal-Mart, Continues Violating Organic Standards

The Cornucopia Institute, filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA in Washington alleging that one of the five industrial-scale dairies operated by Aurora, its High Plains dairy near Kersey, Colorado, is failing to graze their dairy cattle as required by the federal organic standards. OCA has called for a boycott of Aurora’s cheap feedlot milk, marketed under private labels as “organic” by Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Safeway, and others.

4) GMO News of the Week:
ArborGen to Plant 260,000 Frankentrees Across the U.S.

International Paper’s ArborGen joint venture with MeadWestvaco Corp. and New Zealand’s Rubicon Ltd. is seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell the first genetically engineered forest trees outside China.

5) Health News of the Week:
Pollution Causing Cancer in Animals, New Report Warns

Dumping of toxic wastes is contributing to cancer among wildlife, a new report says. Scientists say that tumors on beluga whales, sea lions and other animals are a warning signal.