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Little Bytes

Essential Reading for the Week

Vitamin D Is More Effective Than Flu Vaccine, Study Says

Propaganda Wars: ‘Pro-Science’ GMO, Chemicals Boosters Funded by Cimate Change Deniers

Battle to Ban Roundup: Government Rows Back on Banning Chemical Used in Growing Food Crops

Leaked Audio: Trump Cares About Food Safety but Only if the Food Is Foreign

Kennedy Challenges Journalists to Balanced Discussion About Vaccine Safety

Monsanto Cancer Suits Turn to EPA Deputy’s ‘Suspicious’ Role

Companies, NGOs and Scientists Come Together Behind New Definition for “Regenerative Agriculture”

american grassfed logo

Coming Soon!

The words on the milk carton say “pasture-raised” or “grassfed.” But can you trust that the cows that produced your milk (or butter or yogurt) weren’t also fed grain, or even GMO grain, at some point?

As the market for organic and grassfed milk soars, so does the potential for brands to mislead consumers. That’s why the American Grassfed Association (AGA) has created new standards specifically for grassfed dairy products—standards that certifiers will soon begin using in order give consumers clarity and peace of mind when trying to sort through the often-confusing landscape of consumer product labeling. (AGA has offered a separate grass-fed meat certification program in the U.S. since 2009).

What does it mean if your milk or butter is certified to AGA standards? In a nutshell, it means the cows that produced those products were fed a strict diet based on open pasture, animal health and welfare, no antibiotics, no added hormones. The AGA standard includes detailed directions for the minimum number of days that cattle must spend outside each season, based on climate and geography.Feeding grain in any form, even as a carrier for mineral and vitamin supplements, is strictly forbidden. Producers must consult regularly with veterinarians on their “written herd health plans.” If an animal becomes sick, and requires antibiotics, its milk can’t be mixed with the other grassfed milk.

The new AGA standards are based on the simple premise that healthier cows produce dairy products that are healthier for humans. Launched last month and endorsed by OCA, the standards still in the implementation phase—so you won’t see them on dairy products yet. But the AGA says look for them soon.

Read OCA’s press release 

Read ‘Buying Grassfed Dairy About to Get Easier’

Heath benefits of grassfed milk

Origami dress shirt folded out of a US dollar bill

‘True Cost’

We’re paying less and less for clothes—clothes that we wear a few times, then discard because the fashion industry shames us into thinking the clothes are “out of fashion.” Meanwhile, the true cost of “fast (and cheap) fashion” is rising. And it’s taking an awful toll on human rights and the environment.

It’s no accident that we’re disconnected from the people who make our clothes. About 97 percent of the clothes we buy are made by about 40 million garment workers toiling away in sweatshops in faraway countries.

“The True Cost,” a documentary, was filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums. The film features interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva.

It’s not a pretty story. Watch the film, may find yourself echoing the narrator’s lament: “My God, we can do better than this.”

Watch the trailer 

Host a community screening of ‘The True Cost’ 

Yellow road sign showing curved road ahead

What’s Next?

The second half of 2016 wasn’t a great year for the food movement. Congress stripped states of the right to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws, and handed consumers a “fake” federal GMO labeling law,  giving corporations a free pass on labeling.

Then came the November election of Trump, who has aligned himself with the corporate interests of companies like Monsanto and Exxon, and shows no interest in protecting consumers, public health or the environment.

What do we do next? Now that GMO labeling is, at least for now, off the table? We #resist. And #regenerate.

Let’s face it, the food movement on its own just wasn’t powerful enough to overcome Monsanto’s resolve to keep labels off GMO foods. We need a bigger, better, more inclusive movement, united in its vision to protect consumers and the environment, to build stronger communities, stronger economies and a stronger democracy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the 1%.

Response to our recent call to organize at the local and state levels, around strong #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution platforms, was overwhelming. So far, nearly 400 people have volunteered to hold regeneration meetups and house parties, bringing together fellow activists working on issues related to natural health, climate, clean water, food and farming.

Because of the strong response, and the need to provide the resources to help make these meetups and house parties successful, we’re pushing out the date from March 20 to mid-April. If your plans for a March 20 (give or take) meeting are in place, go for it! But if you’d like more time, let’s shoot for the third week in April—you may want your meeting to coincide with Earth Day (April 22).

Planet Earth is in crisis. We can continue to fight our single-issue battles in our own bubbles—and fail. Or we can connect the dots, unite around the common theme of regeneration—and create a movement too big to fail.

Sign up to host a regeneration meetup or house party 

Download a #Resist & #Regenerate flyer 

Add your meetup or house party to our national map!

silver briefcase filled with $100 dollar bills

‘Dark Money’

As we enter the fifth decade of losing the war on cancer, and as climate instability threatens ecosystems and our food system, it’s time to unravel the network of science deniers who claim the mantle of science and expose them for what they are: propagandists who do the dirty work of industry. – article in the Ecologist, by Stacy Malkan, US Right to Know 

In a recent article published on the Ecologist website, US Right to Know’s Stacy Malkan reports on how the “dark money” strategies, funded by Charles and David Koch and their billionaire allies, bankroll not only climate-science denial, but also “a network of PR operatives who have built careers spinning science to deny the health risks of toxic chemicals in the food we eat and products we use every day.”

US Right to Know has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to secure thousands of documents that expose the corporate-funded propaganda network that is relentlessly undermining the work of credible scientists whose only motive is to deliver the truth about the link between toxic chemicals and human health.

OCA provides substantial funding to US Right to Know, an independent nonprofit, because the work they do is critical. 

Please read Malkan’s latest article. And please help us continue to support this important work.

Support US Right to Know’s work to expose Monsanto and Big Food

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)

Here's the Deal

Unholy Alliances

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), overseen by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is set to review $125 billion worth of proposed mega-mergers in the agribusiness sector, including deals between Bayer and Monsanto, Dow Chemical and DuPont and Syngenta and ChemChina.

That’s bad news for consumers, farmers and the environment.

A February 13, 2017, letter to Sessions, signed by nearly 325 farming, beekeeping, farmworker, religious, food safety, and conservation advocacy groups (including OCA) says the trio of proposed mergers “are each problematic on their own, with many likely negative impacts on farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers. When taken together, they pose the threat of major oligopolistic outcomes in the industries of farming inputs, research, development, and technology.”

Will Sessions heed those warnings? Or will he bow to Trump, who following a recent meeting with the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer, signaled a thumbs up for the proposed mergers of two biotech giants? 

Instead of handing over more power to agribusiness corporations whose sole raison d’être is to sell massive quantities of poisons, the DOJ should stand up for farmers and consumers, not chemical companies. The future of agriculture—American and international—lies in working with nature, not against it, and in providing support for local, independent farmers who employ regenerative practices that produce abundant, nutrient-dense, chemical-free food, and strengthen local economies and communities.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Protect U.S. Farmers and Consumers. Just Say ‘NO’ to Big Biotech Mergers!

Read this letter asking Sessions to block the biotech mega-mergers  

Woman writing in a notebook with a fountain pen

Sign Here!

Consumers have wised up to the evils of GMO foods . . . but Monsanto’s GMOs aren’t just in our foods. Only about 20 percent of all GMO crops in the U.S. are used to make (junk) food for humans—the other 80 percent go into animal feed, ethanol and cotton. Globally, the overwhelming majority of all cotton, much of it used to make cheap clothes, is GMO.

By exercising our collective purchasing power, and using the power of boycotts, consumers can force corporations to transition from degenerative production methods that harm human health, degrade soils, pollute the environment, abuse animals, shift profits from small farmers to large corporations, destroy biodiversity, exploit “cheap labor” and promote global warming . . . to regenerative production methods that:

• improve human health
• restore soil health
• respect the environment
• treat animals humanely
• reward responsible farmers
• promote biodiversity
• treat/pay food and clothing workers fairly; and
• combat global warming.

TAKE ACTION: Want to be part of the #ConsumerRevolution? Sign the pledge! 

Man's hand holding his shirt collar

Under Your Skin?

Being the savvy, health-conscious food consumer you are, you probably aren’t shopping in the GMO aisle of your favorite grocery store. 

But are you stocking your closet with clothes made from Monsanto’s toxic GMO cotton?

It takes about one-third of a pound of toxic agricultural chemicals to produce one pound of cotton—the amount of cotton needed to make one t-shirt. Many of those chemicals, including glyphosate, are linked to cancer. Do you really want to wrap your body’s largest organ, your skin, in cancer-causing chemicals? Seeing as those chemicals are absorbed into your body through your skin?

Chemical contamination is just one reason to care about wearing clothes made from GMO cotton—there are plenty of others, including environmental contamination, and the fact that most non-organic (and unfortunately, some organic) cotton clothing is made in sweatshops where workers, predominantly women, are not only under-paid, but also suffer from unsafe working conditions, physical, psychological and sexual abuse, 18-hour work shifts and other illegal labor practices.

The fashion industry, where toxic chemicals abound, promotes a toxic “fast fashion” culture designed to convince consumers that their self-worth depends largely on keeping up with the latest fashion. Can we as consumers clean up the fashion industry, by rejecting its message? And choosing a more conscious approach to buying clothes and textiles?

Can we start to Care What We Wear?

Read ‘Beyond Monsanto’s GMO Cotton: Why Consumers Need to Care What We Wear’