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Essential Reading for the Week

The Mark of Monsanto 

Microfiber Madness: Synthetic Fabrics Harm Wildlife, Poison the Food Supply and Expose You to Toxins

Hillary Clinton’s Statements on GMOs Have Varied by Audience 

Increased Asthma Attacks Tied to Exposure to Natural Gas Production

Farming and Forestry Can Deliver Food Security, Says UN

Why Are Vaccine Rights Being Removed While Safety Issues Are Increasingly Brought to the Fore?

Maple Syrup Is a Cancer Killer, Study Suggests

There’s Something Disturbing About One of Hillary’s Top VP Picks 

Friends sharing a toast on a rooftop restaurant

Grab Your Passport!

If you’re looking to combine international travel, adventure and organic food and agriculture education, you’re in luck. OCA, along with our Regeneration International and Vía Orgánica projects, have scheduled a full slate of eight-day eco tours in the central highlands of Mexico.

Deadline to register for the next tour is August 20. The tour runs from September 20-27.

If you can’t make the September tour, you can also register ahead of time for another of the upcoming tours (dates and deadlines here). 

Our eco tours include accommodations at Vía Orgánica’s eco ranch and farm school, which serves as an educational farm and training center for farmers, students and activists in the organic food movement. The ranch includes a natural retreat center with adobe buildings, walking trails, solar power, rainwater catchment, and greywater and composting systems. 

Tours also include side trips to San Miguel de Allende and other World Heritage sites, trail rides and nature walks, horseback riding, and organic farming and cooking workshops—and of course, the opportunity to join in lively discussions with OCA and Vía Orgánica staff and other tour participants. Cost for accommodations and all-organic meals is $1250 per person.

Learn more 

For more information or to register contact:

Science beaker containing a chemical reaction

Toxic Cocktail

In the world of pesticides, the word “synergy” refers to the interaction that occurs between chemicals when they’re mixed together to make pesticides (and herbicides). This interaction, or synergy, can actually make individual chemicals more toxic than they are on their own.

Surely the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency takes this into account when it assesses “safe levels” of these chemicals, right? Wrong, says a new study by the Center for Biological Diversity. 

From the study

Although pesticide mixtures in the environment have been extensively documented, the Environmental Protection Agency generally only assesses the toxicity of pesticides individually, in isolation from potential real-life scenarios where these pesticides may interact with other chemicals.

More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the U.S. each year, according to the study. Those pesticides are sprayed on agricultural fields and orchards, residential lawns, playgrounds and parks. And evidence suggests that, contrary to what the EPA claims, most of those pesticides are made from chemicals that are unsafe at any levels, because they are hormone disruptors.

The least the EPA can do assess chemicals in their “real-life” scenarios—which means looking at how much more toxic a chemical is when mixed with others. Until then? All we can do is avoid anything—parks, yards and foods—that may be sprayed with pesticides.

More here 

Read the full report 

Man holding peas in a pod at a farmer's market

Year of the What?

Last year was the International Year of the Soils. Everybody knew what that meant.

In January of this year, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. That declaration had more than a few folks scratching their heads—and scrambling for their dictionaries.

From “The Pulse of Life,” by Vandana Shiva:

Pulses are truly the pulse of life: for the soil, for people and the planet. In our farms they give life to the soil by providing nitrogen. This is how ancient cultures enriched their soils. Farming did not begin with the Green Revolution and synthetic nitrogen fertilisers. Whether it is the diversity-based systems of India, or the three sisters planted by the first nations in North America, or the ancient Milpa system of Mexico, beans and pulses were vital to indigenous agro-ecological systems.

For a quick tutorial on what pulses are, why they’re good for you, and how they contribute to global food security, watch this video from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Watch the video

Learn more

Man climbing large cliff face in bright sunlight

Yes, You Do

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

It’s been a discouraging few weeks. It’s been a discouraging few months and years, for that matter, as we’ve taken on one of the most powerful, most corrupt corporations in the world—Monsanto—in the battle for GMO labeling.

It’s tempting to give in to the notion that the battle is over, and we have lost.

Please don’t.

The fact is, despite passage of the DARK Act (still awaiting President Obama’s signature), many brands have seen their images, and their profits, diminish as a result of siding with Monsanto. Other food corporations stopped fighting back, and are now labeling their products as “produced with genetic engineering.”

You made that happen. Here’s what else you can do.

You can let food corporations know that you will never, ever, buy a product that displays a SmartLabel QR code.

You can reject any product that isn’t labeled organic or non-GMO.

You can also join with us as we launch a global education campaign (and boycott) around the massive, degenerative impact of industrial factory farms on our health, on our environment and on the welfare of animals. 

While much of our energy has been focused on GMO labeling of human food products, it’s good to remember that only about 20 percent of GMOs go into our own food. The rest go into animal feed for animals imprisoned in factory farms, or to make ethanol to fuel our cars.

It’s time to think big.

The battle to bring down industrial factory farms won’t be easy. It won’t be short. And it won’t be pretty. Like Monsanto, which relies on the factory farm model to fuel its pesticide sales, the mega corporations that dominate the factory farm industry have deep pockets, and deep ties in Congress. If we want to transform the way meat and dairy products are produced, from today’s degenerate model to a regenerative one, we will have to believe in our own power.

Don’t think for a minute that you don’t have that power.

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)

Support OCA’s Regeneration International Project (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Beekeeper in gloves holding a bee hive

Stinging the Beekeepers

The art of beekeeping in Maya communities can be traced back centuries. Beekeepers pass the skill down from one generation to the next.

For these indigenous communities in Mexico’s Campeche and Yucatán regions, beekeeping isn’t just a tradition or a hobby. For many, it’s a livelihood. 

And that livelihood is now being threatened by Monsanto.

On July 13, our OCA team in Mexico joined Greenpeace Mexico, the Colegio de Antropólogos de Yucatán (School of Anthropology of Yucatán) and Fundar Research Center to shine a light on how Monsanto and Mexican government authorities are breaking the law in order to obtain permits to grow Monsanto’s GMO soy crops in regions where those crops pose a direct threat to beekeepers. 

From our Mexico City office, Ercilia Sahores reports on the press conference, and how Monsanto is flaunting the laws that are supposed to protect Maya beekeepers. 

Read the blog post 

Man signing papers

Autograph, Please?

Monsanto’s dream GMO labeling bill could become law any day now. All it needs is President Obama’s signature.

But today, while the bill is still just a bill (and not a law), we need your signature. 

If you haven’t already, please sign this White House petition today, asking Obama to veto the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act.

You may have already signed our petition to Obama. If so, thank you! But we also need your signature on the official White House petition site. Because 100,000 signatures (we’re at about 75,000 now) will trigger an automatic response from the White House.

Obama should veto this bill that would preempt Vermont’s GMO labeling law, which took effect July 1.

When he was campaigning for President, Obama promised to label GMOs.

And after he was sworn in as President, he issued an executive order advising Congress not to preempt state laws. (The DARK Act could unnecessarily preempt more than 100 state and municipal laws)!

And yet, according to news reports, Obama plans to sign this bill that denies the 90 percent of Americans who support labeling the right to know what’s in their food—by hiding that information behind confusing QR codes that require expensive smartphones, reliable internet service.

Last week, OCA and other groups delivered nearly 250,000 signatures on numerous petitions, asking Obama to veto the DARK Act. But we didn’t yet have 100,000 on the official White House petition.

Can we push the number up to over 100,000 signatures before Obama signs this awful bill? Please sign today—thanks!

TAKE ACTION: Sign the White House petition asking President Obama to veto the DARK Act! 

Call the White House 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to leave your comment! The comment line is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

Attend a GMO labeling rally on July 27 at the DNC in Philadelphia

Colorful apple with question marks on a black and white background

Beyond Frankenfoods

Here’s your mid-summer culinary directive from Congress and the White House: Shut up and eat your Frankenfoods. 

Don’t worry about mutant genes, pesticide residues and a growing list of horrors in your food. 

Don’t worry about your health, your children’s health, global warming, or the health of the environment. 

Nope. Just put your trust in America’s industrial food system and Monsanto’s minions—those indentured scientists, politicians, regulatory agencies, and members of the mass media who toe the line for the biotech industry.. 

On July 14, the House of Representatives voted 306-117 to kill Vermont’s popular mandatory GMO food labeling law, which had already begun to force major junk food and beverage giants (Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Campbell’s, Dannon, Smuckers, Starbucks) to label their GMO-tainted products nationwide. 

As soon as President Obama signs the DARK Act, (or lets it take effect by not vetoing it) states will no longer have the right to mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods. That means that the 90 percent of consumers who want to know what they’re eating can now look forward, on a permanent basis, to what amounts to no labeling

What we will get, if anything, in a few years will be bogus Grocery Manufacturers Association trade-marked QR smart codes, or 1-800 numbers on processed food packages that will serve to keep consumers in the dark about Frankenfoods and their omnipresent toxins, while pretending to provide so-called “disclosure.” 

The big question for the food movement, and in fact all of global civil society, is: What’s next? If Congress is bought and sold, if we can’t change federal public policy, if states’ rights and local rights are being steadily preempted, then how can we change our toxic, out-of-control food system, not to mention our toxic suicide economy and the rotten political system as a whole? 

The answer of course is to build grassroots power.

Read Ronnie’s essay