Organic Bytes
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Your Brain on Drugs

Your Brain on Drugs

Fungicides are widely sprayed on fruit, vegetable, nut crops and corn and soybean fields. But as Tom Philpott (Mother Jones) reports, a new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, says there’s disturbing evidence fungicides are “doing more than just killing fungi.” 
Philpott reports that Mark Zylka and his team of University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center researchers subjected mouse cortical neuron cultures—which are similar in cellular and molecular terms to the human brain—to 294 chemicals “commonly found in the environment and on food.”

The researchers wanted to know if any of the chemicals would trigger changes in the brains of the mice that mimicked patterns found in brain samples from people with autism, advanced age, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Eight of them did.  Two of those eight—pyraclostrobin and trifloxystrobin—are from a relatively new class of fungicides called “quinone outside inhibitors.” According to the researchers, the use of these fungicides has surged since farmers began using them in the early 2000s—even though the fungicides were never properly tested to see how they might impact human health or the environment.

“What’s most disturbing to me is that we’ve allowed these chemicals to be widely used, widely found on food and in the environment, without knowing more about their potential effects.” – Mark Zylka, research, University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center, in an interview with Tom Philpott, Mother Jones

Learn more 

Fair - from 'Root to Fruit'

Fair—from ‘Root to Fruit’

Coconut oil. Health experts recommend it. Consumers love it. But how many of us think about how the coconut oil on the store shelf was produced, and how the people who helped produce it were treated? 

“Everything we buy and sell has a human component to it,” says David Bronner. “Some human labor went into that thing you’re buying. Was that labor respected, or was it exploited?”

In this video produced by Dr. Bronner’s, the Bronner’s team explains how relief efforts that followed the devastating Tsunami of 2004—which killed 230,000 people in 14 countries—led  to the creation of Sri Lanka-based Serendipol, now one of the world’s leading producers of certified fair trade and organic virgin coconut oil.

Watch the video 

Coconut Oil: A Breakfast Superstar 

Celebrate the Earth

Celebrate the Earth

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” – Mahatma Gandhi

On April 22, the world will “celebrate” Earth Day again. Do you have plans for the day? Can we help?
Whether you’re headed to a local Earth Day celebration, community event or demonstration, or dropping by your farmers’ market or local co-op, you can use the occasion to help spread the word about the plight of the honeybee, Monsanto’s GMOs, organic alternatives, or how to fight for truth and transparency in food labeling.

To make it easier for you, OCA has some Earth Day packets with posters, leaflets, petitions, and stickers. 
Prefer to download, rather than order? Here are some of our most popular leaflets:

Order your Earth Day packet

In their Faces

In their Faces

“We’ve been too quiet, too indulgent with such office holders, and they won’t change until we start confronting them publicly.” – Jim Hightower

This is the part where every week we mention that, oh by the way, your financial support is what allows us to advocate on your behalf. Which it does. Without it, we couldn’t do what we do. We are beyond grateful to all those who are willing and able to help out financially.

That said, money isn’t everything. Which is why we wanted to share this recent column by Jim Hightower, who reminds us that if we want things to change, the first thing we need to do is show up.

“Simply being there matters. While progressives have shown up for elections in winning numbers, our movement then tends to fade politely into the shadows, leaving public officials (even those we put in office) free to ignore us and capitulate to ever-present, ever-insistent corporate interests. No more. Grassroots progressives—as individuals and through our groups—must get in the face of power and stay there.”

We couldn’t agree more. Thanks for showing up. Let’s keep getting in their faces until our elected officials start working for us again.

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)

On a Mission

On a Mission

While we fight Monsanto north of the border, our friends in Mexico are fighting the good fight, too.

OCA Mexico and Millones Contra Monsanto have joined Mayan authorities, activists, scientists, community organizers and human rights experts in the Civil Observation Mission. The project came about because, despite a court order requiring Monsanto to consult with indigenous communities before granting permits for GMO soy crops, the Biotech Bully, with a little help from the Mexican government, is violating the law.

Why does it matter? 

For starters, contamination from GMO soy crops is destroying organic honey production in the Campeche and the Yucatán regions. Not to mention how it’s ruining the region’s rich agricultural traditions and biodiversity. Or the health of everyone who lives there.

Read our update on the battle against Monsanto in Mexico

Support efforts to keep Monsanto’s GMO corn out of Mexico 

We, the People

The People vs. Monsanto

Enough with the waiting. 

It’s clear that world governments lack the will to stop Monsanto from poisoning our food and our planet—much less hold the agribusiness giant accountable for its crimes.

That means it’s up to us, the citizens of the world, to take on Monsanto.

OCA is part of a committee organizing a Citizens’ Tribunal. The tribunal will take place October 15 and 16 (World Food Day), in The Hague, Netherlands. Prior to the start of the tribunal, on October 14, we will hold a People’s Assembly. During the two-day tribunal, judges and lawyers experienced in international law will hear testimony from witnesses from multiple countries, who have suffered harm from Monsanto’s poisons. 

Citizens’ Tribunals have a long history of drawing global attention to corporate crimes. While the opinions handed down by the judges aren’t enforceable, they often—and in this case, will—lay the foundation for future legal cases where judgments will be enforceable.

The power of this tribunal will depend a lot on how much global attention we can draw to it. That’s why we’re coordinating with March Against Monsanto to publicize the tribunal during May 21 global marches, and use the May 21 marches to begin organizing the largest yet global March Against Monsanto for October 16, 2016—the day the tribunal wraps up in The Hague.

We’ll have much more to report on the tribunal, as judges are named, legal memos are published and witnesses are chosen.

But for now, we need your help to kick off a massive publicity effort, beginning with the May 21 global March Against Monsanto.

 Find a May 21 march near you  

Register your March Against Monsanto event: email

Email for help organizing an event in your city

Sign up to receive a Monsanto Tribunal leaflet and other materials 

Monsanto Tribunal on Facebook

Support the Monsanto Tribunal

Tiny Traces, Deadly Secrets

Tiny Traces, Deadly Secrets

The Big Food giants, the pesticide and genetic engineering corporations such as Monsanto, the chemical, cosmetics, body care, food packaging, bottled water, and home furnishings industries—they all have a dirty secret.

All these “Better Living Through Chemistry” companies and their PR firms and trade associations, bolstered by their minions in the mass media and academia, like to reassure us that these toxic, carcinogenic, gender-bending compounds in their products have been thoroughly tested and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies.

But they haven’t. And we’re only beginning to learn that the tiniest amount of these chemicals are dangerous—sometimes more dangerous than higher levels. Because they can disrupt the body’s complex endocrine system which is responsible for growth, stress response, insulin production, sexual development and reproduction, metabolism, immunity—even intelligence and behavior.

Corporations would have us believe that there’s no harm in consuming or inhaling or absorbing small amounts of these chemicals into our bodies. But mounting evidence suggests otherwise. Here’s a scary thought: New research shows that the additives (co-formulants) used in glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, may have damaging endocrine-disrupting effects. Sobering news, given that billions of pounds of Roundup are sprayed on both GMO and non-GMO crops every year, everywhere in the world.

Read this week’s essay

Desperate Measure

Desperate Measure

A recent article by the arguably conservative Fortune magazine painted a bleak picture for the processed junk food industry. Fortune reported that the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion since 2009. According to a survey paid for by the financial magazine, 64.2 percent of consumers are “very” or “extremely” concerned about pesticides on their food; 56.5 percent said the same thing about hormones, 52.2 percent about antibiotics and 45.9 percent about GMOs.

No wonder food companies are desperate to keep GMO labels off of their products, and avoid conversations around the fact that GMO foods are grown using massive quantities of cancer-causing pesticides.

Lucky for them, these companies belong to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in D.C. The GMA is behind the obscene spending to defeat GMO labeling ballot initiatives. It’s behind the lawsuit to overturn Vermont’s GMO labeling law. And it’s behind this week’s swift green-lighting of H.R. 1599, a bill to ensure that GMOs are never labeled, and never ever subjected to pre-market safety testing.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Which is why a host of D.C. lawmakers, who depend on Big Ag for campaign contributions, are willing to throw consumers and democracy under the bus, in order to pass what we’ve alternately referred to as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act and the “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts.”

H.R. 1599 will be voted on by the House, probably next week.  We must let every single member of Congress know that this bill subverts the truth about GMOs and the pesticides used to grow them, as well as the rights of states to protect their citizens as granted under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your Representative: Vote against H.R. 1599, the ‘Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts’!

URGENT: Help us stop the DARK Act