Organic Bytes
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dead green leaf turning yellow and brown

Persistently Toxic

For decades, Monsanto has claimed that the glyphosate in its Roundup herbicide breaks down so quickly that we shouldn’t worry about the chemical’s impact on soils. Independent scientists (i.e., scientists not funded by the chemical industry) have disagreed.

Now, a new study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and two Dutch laboratories confirms:

Contrary to manufacturers’ claims, glyphosate persists in soils, not only affecting soil fertility and crop quality, but also posing risks to human and environmental health.

According to the study, 45 percent of Europe’s topsoil contains glyphosate residues. The study was conducted in six crop systems in 11 EU member states on soils in different geographical and climatic conditions.

According to 2015 figures, 440 million acres of farmland are planted in GMO crops, worldwide.

Given that the quality and health of soil is directly related to the quality of our own health, isn’t it time to get glyphosate out of our soils?

Full study here

Learn more 

Lightning storm rising over hay bales on a farm field


From the archives . . . this video, produced in 2015, by Compassion in World Farming, does a great job of explaining why we want Ben & Jerry’s to go organic, and why we don’t want Costco to build another giant poultry factory farm.

From industrial dairy, to fish farms, to hog CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) . . . consumer demand for cheap meat comes with a high price.

Watch as Philip Lymbery, author of “Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat,” interviews people affected by factory farming in Argentina, China, Mexico, Peru and the U.S.

Then think: Would factory farms continue to exist if consumers stopped buying their products?

Watch the video 

Shovel and rake gardening tools leaning in dirt

Worth It

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Amidst all the anti-Monsanto, anti-dirty dairy, anti-factory farm talk, it helps to remember: There are tens of thousands of farmers and producers committed to producing clean, healthy food using practices that respect humans, animals and the environment.

It’s just as important to fight for the producers who are doing it right, as it is to fight back against the Unilevers and Costcos of the world.

In a couple weeks, we’ll be at the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Jacksonville. We’ll fight to protect organic standards from corporate interests. We’ll push for better enforcement of existing standards. 

We’ll argue that because organic certification requires that producers improve soil organic matter, vegetables grown without soil shouldn’t be certified organic.

You count on us to advocate for you. One way we do that, is to fight for a level playing field for those producers who play by the rules, who steward the land, who “get” that chemical and factory farming have no place in the future of farming.

Your generous support helps us support those farmers who are doing good in the world. Because they’re worth fighting for. 

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

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

red cartoon fist holding a megaphone

Upping the Volume

It’s time to turn up the volume.

Last week, we announced that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK is contaminated with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. 

Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s London- and Rotterdam-based parent company) shot back with an announcement of its own: a plan to stop sourcing ingredients sprayed with glyphosate (many crops, even non-GMO, are sprayed pre-harvest with glyphosate to facilitate a uniform harvest time), and a plan to launch an organic line of ice cream in the U.S., representing six percent of the company’s total sales.

That’s progress, assuming Unilever follows through on those promises—which remains to be seen.

But there’s progress. And then there’s real progress. We’re aiming for the real kind. That means we need your help making sure that Ben & Jerry’s hears from us that six percent organic is, well, about 94 percent short of acceptable.

Ben & Jerry’s could announce tomorrow that the company has a plan to begin, immediately, a transition to a 100-percent organic dairy supply. Can you let them know that that’s what consumers want? ‘Cause if they don’t hear from us, they’ll think they’re off the hook.

Please take a minute this week to tweet, post on facebook, call or fill out a customer comment online form to let Ben & Jerry’s know that organic is where it’s at—and they aren’t there yet.

Call Ben & Jerry’s customer service at 802-846-2413

Click to tweet this message to Ben & Jerry’s: Going only 6% #organic means @benandjerrys still sources 94% from non-organic, factory farm dairy. 

Post on Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page

Use Ben & Jerry’s online form to leave a comment (scroll down the page, under “Online,” select: send us a comment)

TAKE ACTION: Tell Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim, aka Scooper Man: ‘Roundup-Ready’ Ice Cream Is Not ‘Natural,’ or ‘Socially Responsible.’ Go Organic! 

Support our ‘Ben & Jerry’s: Go Organic!’ campaign (donations to OCA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, are tax deductible

fork and knife on a wooden table

No Prize

Tonight (October 19, 2017), the World Food Prize will be ceremoniously bestowed on yet another cheerleader for degenerative agriculture. 

This year’s award goes to Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina of Nigeria, president of the African Development Bank, and a proud supporter of Big Ag and Biotech. In his words, Adesina says he works to “help farmers rise to the top of the value chain by industrializing agriculture.”

In the lead-up to World Food Day (October 16) and tonight’s ceremony, I’ve received, from an enthusiastic marketing person who mistakenly thinks I’d be interested in attending tonight’s events, a series of emails all with the subject line “How Iowa is feeding the world.” 

The email invitations contain glowing praise for industrial, degenerative agriculture—the type that kills healthy soil life, has ruined Iowa’s water and produces pesticide-contaminated food. In one email, she wrote:

But in Iowa, solving global hunger is business as usual, from being the #1 producer of pork, soy beans and eggs, to the cutting-edge bioscience research being conducted at the state’s universities, to groundbreaking technological innovations applied in the farms and fields – Iowa has a long legacy of feeding the world.

Iowa is indeed home to many good farmers. Farmers who work with nature, not against it. Farmers who—without benefit of the huge taxpayer-funded subsidies granted to their GMO monoculture counterparts—steward their lands, and grow nutrient-rich, uncontaminated food.

But those aren’t the farmers who are ever awarded a $250,000 World Food Prize. Because those farmers aren’t generating big profits for corporations like Monsanto. 

No, the farmers and “thinkers, scientists and advocates of global food security” who are gathered in Des Moines this week aren’t so interested in organic or regenerative agriculture. And, as one new report after another reveal, the only thing they’re feeding the world is a slick PR campaign, founded in lies.

The truth about who’s really feeding the world (spoiler alert: it’s not industrial ag) was published this week by the nonprofit ETC Group in its latest edition of “Who will Feed us?”

Read ‘World Food Prize: Feeding the World a Slick Campaign of Lies’ 

Close up of rooster

Big, Bad Chicken

Walk in to any Costco store, and you’ll be greeted by the smell of roasting chicken.

Mmm mmm good—for your nose, maybe.

But Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chickens are bad for the environment, bad for farmers, bad for chickens and bad for your health.

Costco is a leading seller of organic produce. Yet when it comes to meat, the retail giant is big on cheap chicken.

So big, that Costco wants to build the largest factory farm chicken operation in the U.S., in Fremont, Neb. (population under 26,500). Unfortunately, the project has the support of a majority of Fremont’s city council members.

But a group of citizens representing the millions of people in surrounding towns say it’s their waterways that will be polluted by Costco’s cheap chicken farms. They point out that the majority of Nebraskans, approximately one million, will see water quality decline as a result of poultry litter runoff from the 100 chicken barns that will raise birds for Costco.

Equally important, the group says, is this: Nebraska should invest in family farms that support local economies and use responsible farming practices—not corporate-owned factory farms.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Costco: Consumers don’t want unhealthy factory farm chicken and a polluted environment. Please invest in organic regenerative poultry farming instead! 

Click to tweet a message to Costco. Post on Costco’s Facebook page. 

Call Costco’s customer service line at 1-800-774-2678. If you’re a member, tell them you’ll cancel your membership unless Costco halts its factory farm project.

feet in sneakers standing on lush green grass

First Steps

It’s the hardest part of anything worth doing: taking that first step.

But for anyone who’s paying attention to what’s going on in the world—the intensification of global poverty and food insecurity, deteriorating public health, species extinction, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, refugees fleeing drought and famine, escalating geopolitical tensions—inaction isn’t an option.

It’s time to step up. It’s time to embrace hope. And our best hope is regeneration.

The paradigm shift from degenerative food, farming and land-use practices toward regenerative practices—those that regenerate soil, biodiversity, health, local economies and climate stability—is arguably the most critical transformation occurring throughout the world today.

But that transformation won’t happen fast enough, unless we all step up. And the best place to take that first step is in our own communities.

In “First Steps: Build a Regeneration Movement in Your Local Community,” OCA’s Ronnie Cummins offers suggestions for how to build a local core group to advance the regeneration movement.

Read Ronnie’s essay

Watch Ronnie’s presentation at the Living Soils Symposium