Organic Bytes
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Think you, personally, can’t do much about global warming? Think the solution(s) will all have to come from genius scientists, engineers or entrepreneurs? And involve all manner of Big Ideas and complex technologies?

Think again.

Courtney White, author, archaeologist and activist, wants you to think small. Because, he says, thinking big can have a paralyzing effect on taking action.

Whites’ latest book, “Two Percent Solutions for the Planet,” is chock full of engaging, inspirational stories, stories that point the way for how all of us can do something to help regenerate our soils, our souls and life on this planet.

If you’ve never read one of White’s books, maybe now’s the time?

Order the book 

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

Should you look for the USDA seal when you buy eggs?

Yes, especially if you don’t have any trustworthy local egg suppliers whose production methods meet or exceed organic standards, based on your own personal verification.

But consumer beware. Not all USDA certified organic eggs are equal, according to a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute.

From the report, titled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture:”

Since 2002, the use of the term “organic” on food packaging has been regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Federal regulations determine which farms and processors qualify as “organic” and, therefore, are authorized to use the official “USDA Organic” seal on their food packaging.

However, while consumers expect the organic label to provide an alternative to the industrialized food system, approaches are diverging in the organic-egg-producing sector. One path affords adequate outdoor access (often on well-managed pasture), intentional diversity on the farm, and conditions which allow hens to exhibit their natural behaviors outdoors. The other path favors large numbers of laying hens raised in confinement conditions nearly identical to conventional, industrial-scale egg production.

Want to “score” eggs that come from hens that are allowed to roam outdoors? Check out the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Egg Brand Scorecard.  

Read the full report 

Read the scorecard 

Learn more 

Dueling Coalitions

Ad Wars

You know what the “Coalition for Safe and Accurate Food” is—a front group for Monsanto and Big Food, formed for the primary purpose of making sure food companies don’t have to label GMOs.

Welcome to the “Coalition for Responsible Labeling,” a group of like-minded organizations working to require food companies to disclose the GMO ingredients in their products.

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are ramping up their television advertising this month, hoping to convince Congress to ignore the 90 percent of Americans who want GMO foods labeled, and instead support industry efforts to preempt all state and federal mandatory labeling laws.

We’re ramping up, too. But our ads (watch them below) represent your interests. Not Monsanto’s.

Watch the “Three Questions”

Watch the QR code video 

Pushing the Candidates

He Said. She Says?

Last summer, we launched a petition asking Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to speak up on the campaign trail in support of mandatory GMO labeling laws.

We’re happy to report that he heard us, or more precisely, he heard you—the nearly 53,000 of you who signed our petition.

During a private dinner event, on December 27, 2015, Sanders addressed the corporate takeover of our food and agricutlure systems:

“The debate should be – how do we make sure that the food our kids are eating is healthy food. And having the courage to take on these huge food and biotech companies who are transforming our agricultural system in a bad way.”

Sanders made the comment at a private dinner, but the news went public. Maybe not a full victory. But clearly a step in the right direction, given that up until then, Sanders hadn’t yet mentioned food and agriculture in his campaign appearances.

OCA does not endorse candidates, but we do inform consumers about where candidates stand on the issues.

We’re still waiting to hear from Hillary Clinton. Yes, we know the text in this petition is outdated—we launched it in July 2014, before Clinton declared her candidacy. So far, more than 130,000 people have signed it. Can we make that 200,000? Or however many signatures it takes to get her attention?

(P.S. Stay tuned in following weeks for updates on where the Republican candidates stand on mandatory GMO labeling).

TAKE ACTION: Tell Hillary Clinton: Support GMO labeling and public health, not Monsanto!

Hush Hush

Hush Hush

Yesterday (January 13, 2016), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack met with five representatives of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Monsanto (the folks who oppose mandatory GMO labeling laws), and five representatives from the GMO labeling movement.

The meeting took place behind closed doors. The public wasn’t invited. Neither was OCA, presumably because we are firm in our opposition to any compromise, including a federal GMO labeling standard that doesn’t meet, or exceed, the mandatory GMO labeling law set to take effect July 1, in Vermont.

So far, we’ve learned nothing about this hush-hush meeting, other than that it ran long, and that the same players will convene again next week to pick up where they left off. 

We’re sticking to our guns. Vermont passed a solid, constitutional GMO labeling law. That law will take effect July 1. No one in Washington D.C.—not the FDA, not the USDA, not Congress—should move to preempt that law. Period.

You have another week to tell Vilsack to let Vermont’s law take effect. If Congress wants to pass a national, mandatory GMO labeling law that meets or exceeds the standards set by Vermont, have at it.

But don’t mess with Vermont.

URGENT! TAKE ACTION: Tell USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack to back off and let Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law take effect! 

Text “Back off” to 97779 to join OCA’s mobile network and take action!

The Sky Will Not Fall

The Sky Will Not Fall

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have long defended their die-hard stance against mandatory GMO labeling laws, often by feigning concern for the financial impact labeling laws would have on consumers. 

Labeling will be costly for manufacturers, who will pass those costs on to consumers, our opponents have consistently argued, despite studies suggesting otherwise. 

As if concern for consumers’ wallets had anything to do with Big Food’s determination to deceive.

So the first question we asked the Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) last week, following the announcement that Campbell’s will label all of its products that contain GMOs, was this: Will you charge more for these products after you label them?

No, the company told us.

Does that mean Campbell’s profit margins on GMO products will shrink, after those products are labeled?

No again.

It’s also unlikely that market chaos will ensue, that consumers will be hopelessly confused, or that any of the other dire predictions Monsanto and the GMA have been feeding consumers and the media will come to pass.

Campbell’s will simply label their products that contain GMOs. And the sky will not fall.

Read the blog post 

Big Deal

Big Deal

The G.M.O. experiment, carried out in real time and with our entire food and ecological system as its laboratory, is perhaps the greatest case of human hubris ever. It creates yet another systemic, “too big to fail” enterprise — but one for which no bailouts will be possible when it fails. – Mark Spitznagel and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York Times, July 13, 2015

Earlier this month, Mark Spitznagel, founder and chief investment officer of Universa Investments, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, scientific adviser at Universa Investments, worte a piece for the New York Times, comparing Monsanto’s GMO empire to the U.S. banking system.

It was an interesting analogy. And a frightening one.

We’re often asked, why GMO labeling? With so many problems facing this country, and the entire world, what’s the big deal?

The deal, as we all know, is bigger than labels. It’s bigger than GMOs.

The deal is, this toxic industrial monoculture, invented by Monsanto in order to sell millions of tons of chemicals like cancer-causing glyphosate, poses a threat to the world’s entire ecosystem.

And like it or not, you and I, and our children and grandchildren, are a part of that ecosystem.

Spitznagel and Taleb nailed it. Our government might have been able to bail out the banking system. But if our ecosystem experiences a systemic failure, there will be no bailouts.

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)