Organic Bytes
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Little Bytes

Essential Reading for the Week

14 Million Americans Are Drinking Carcinogen-Polluted Tap Water

This Is the Story of a Soap Company That Is Changing the World

This Common Drug Combo Raises Your Risk of Lethal Overdose Fivefold

Ed Begley, Jr. Attends Monsanto Trial

Replacing Vacant Lots with Green Spaces Can Ease Depression in Urban Communities

Clackamas County Officials Urge You to Soil Your Undies

American Academy of Pediatrics Calls for ‘Urgently Needed Reforms’ to Fix Broken Food Additive Regulatory System

silhouette of a human head with half a light bulb and half brain inside

Think Exponentially!

At the top of our website, under our name, we proudly—and ambitiously—state that we are “Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace and democracy.”

We sometimes hear from the consumers on whose behalf we work, and from funders who support our work, that we should set our sights lower. No one person, no one organization can hope to achieve so much. “Focus,” we’re told. “Set more realistic goals.”

In our day-to-day work, we do set clear goals. But when it comes to the big picture, we endorse what Mark Bonchek, writing for the Harvard Business Review, calls “creating an exponential mindset.”

Because if we truly want the world we envision, we can’t think small. We can’t be satisfied with incremental change. As Bonchek writes:

Without an exponential mindset, Google would never have created such an ambitious vision as “organizing the world’s information,” Facebook would never have set out to “make the world more open and connected,” and Airbnb to “create a world where all 7 Billion people can Belong Anywhere.” Similarly, a group of innovative organizations in the public sector are out to solve global social issues by achieving “transformative scale.”

We believe that we can, must and will achieve “transformative scale” when it comes to our national and global food and farming system. And when we do, when we return control of our food system to farmers and other locally owned food-related businesses, we will address the issues of health, sustainability (or regeneration), peace and democracy.

But to get there, we’ll all need an “exponential mindset.”

Make a tax-deductible donation to the Organic Consumers Association

Make a tax-deductible donation to OCA’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign

Support Citizens Regeneration Lobby (CRL), OCA’s sister lobbying organization Donations to CRL, a 501(c) (4) nonprofit, are not tax-deductible

Click here to learn about other ways to support our work

DeWayne Johnson


On Monday, July 23, DeWayne “Lee” Johnson” took the stand before a courtroom crowded with journalists and members of the public following the Johnson vs. Monsanto trial.

Johnson recalled life before his cancer diagnosis. He described the rigorous work ethic that he learned at his first job as a kitchen staffer at Applebee’s and how he carried those lessons to his job as school groundskeeper.

Without ever sounding boastful, he described the series of promotions that rewarded his reliability, competence and hard work. Following their marriage, Johnson’s life orbited around Araceli and their two sons. He attended every practice and worked Ali’s football games as a linesman moving the first down chains.

But then, the hardworking school groundskeeper was diagnosed with cancer, which he says was caused by Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

Following his diagnosis, Lee tried to hide his pain from his family, but the tragedy, the loneliness, fear and his agony at all those losses sometimes overwhelmed him. He told the jury:

“I’m trying to show my kids an example of how to deal with things and crying is not going to help you, some things are uncontrollable. But I’m raising two little boys, so I’m teaching them to deal with pain and learn to deal with it and to deal with a situation if it comes to you. And sitting around sorrowful and crying is not going to help.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. continues his daily coverage of the Monsanto Trial.

Read ‘Plaintiff Testifies in Landmark Monsanto Roundup Trial’

Follow OCA’s coverage of the Monsanto trial

Make a tax-deductible donation to OCA’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign

blue rendered image of several sets of genetic helixes

Beg to Differ

The biotech industry has long insisted that genetic engineering is no different than, or at the very least a continuum, of traditional plant breeding techniques—a myth perpetuated by the industry to shield it from public criticism, as well as from regulatory oversight.
But a new study from the biotech industry itself admits that there are in fact significant differences between new methods of genetic engineering, including the gene-editing technique CRISPR, and conventional plant breeding, further dispelling the claim that the two methods are one in the same.
The study lends support to the July 25, 2018, ruling by the European Court of Justice that food and crops produced using new gene-editing technologies must be regulated in the same way as genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—which in the EU means they must be labeled as GMOs.
U.S. consumers should be so lucky. Unfortunately, in the U.S., where there is yet no meaningful law requiring the labeling of  GMO foods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it won’t even regulate gene-editing techniques, much less require labels on foods produced by those technologies.
The USDA supports its no-regulation position by claiming that gene-editing technologies “are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods.”
That claim isn’t shared by EU regulators. And it isn’t supported by scientists at DowDuPont, the world’s largest chemical company.
Read ‘DowDuPont’s Own Scientists Confirm Critical Differences Between Gene-Editing and Conventional Plant Breeding Techniques’

More facts on gene-editing techniques

shadows and silhouettes of cattle grazing in a meadow at sunset

Or Maybe Not…

You would think that meat labeled “Product of U.S.A.” would come from cattle actually raised in the U.S. 

Surprisingly (or maybe not), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t see it that way.

Under current federal government labeling policy, imported beef can be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” as long as it passes through a U.S.-based meat inspection plant, or is blended with beef from cattle raised in the U.S.

That goes for 100% grassfed beef, too. And the policy is killing U.S. grassfed beef producers.

The American Grassfed Association (AGA) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) have submitted a petition to the USDA asking its Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) Agency change its labeling policy—to protect U.S. ranchers and consumers.

Please sign our petition asking for honest labels on imported beef. Deadline is midnight, August 17.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT AUGUST 17: Sign the petition to help U.S. grassfed beef producers stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.”

Read ‘Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?’

Something in the Air

Jessica Robertson Got Sick Working as an Inspector at a Poultry Plant. Now She’s Speaking Out to Defend Workers Exposed to Chemicals.

Like many people in Sanpete County, Utah, a rural area roughly 100 miles south of Salt Lake City, Jessica Robertson likes to spend her Sundays in church. Unlike many of them, the house of worship she frequents is not a chapel filled with copies of the Book of Mormon, but the landscape surrounding her home, a windswept valley dotted with cedar and aspen groves that she regards as her sanctuary. Originally from Milwaukee, Robertson, who is 47, has lived here for 20 years, in a small house set behind a split-rail fence off a rutted dirt road. When tending to the horses on her property or hiking along one of the trails that twist through the valley, where elk and mule deer roam and bald eagles sometimes circle overhead, she feels at peace.


Count the Ways

So many oils, so many uses.

For a growing number of health-conscious consumers, essential oils have become, well, essential.

Epoch Times provides a list of 25 ways to use essential oils. But for starters, you can:

• Massage them (blended with a carrier oil) into your skin
• Add them to bathwater
• Use them in a hot compress
• Heat them in a diffuser
• Rub a drop onto pulse points in lieu of perfume

Not familiar with what a carrier oil is? They’re oils that you mix with essential oils that are often highly concentrated. When applied topically, they help “carry” the essential oil.

Carrier oils benefits include:

• Organic Argan Oil: contains skin-moisturizing properties and healthy fatty acids
• Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil: improves sun-damaged skin
• Organic Jojoba: is non-allergenic, non-comedogenic

From now until midnight July 31, get 20% off your purchase of essential and carrier oils with this promo code: ORGANIC718. Plus, Mercola will donate 20% of your purchase price to OCA.

Shop now and get 20% off your purchase of organic essential and carrier oils.

clipart of a burger with question marks

Impossibly Fake

It’s tough to even know where to start with this one, but here goes.

A company called Impossible Foods, with $257 million in venture capital funding, recently launched its fake, genetically engineered Impossible Burger—even though, the FDA (supposedly in charge of food safety) can’t say if the burger’s “secret sauce”—soy leghemoglobin—is safe.

How can Impossible Foods put soy leghemoglobin in food if the FDA hasn’t deemed it safe? The New York Times explains:

The F.D.A.’s approval is not required for most new ingredients. Companies can hire consultants to run tests, and they have no obligation to inform the agency of their findings, a process of self-affirmation.”

While you let that sink in . . . here’s the other half of that story. Impossible Foods asked the FDA to weigh in on the safety of its “secret sauce” ingredient, even though it wasn’t required to. The agency did. This is what regulators wrote in a memo to Impossible Foods:

“F.D.A. believes the arguments presented, individually and collectively, do not establish the safety of soy leghemoglobin for consumption,” nor do they point to a general recognition of safety.”

Despite that statement, the Impossible Burger went to market. Because, as it turns out, a company can introduce into the food system a product or ingredient that the FDA says may not be safe—as long as the FDA doesn’t say the product is unsafe.

That’s one issue with the Impossible Burger. Here’s the other. According to Max Goldberg, author of “Living Maxwell,” Impossible Foods uses genetic engineering to make the secret sauce that the FDA won’t say is safe. In his column, which appeared on the same day as the New York Times article, Goldberg raised the question of genetic engineering, and whether Impossible Foods is misleading consumers. Goldberg explains how the Impossible Burger is made:

The key to the Impossible Burger is making the burger look and taste like a regular hamburger. Impossible Foods accomplishes this, at scale, through genetic engineering.

Impossible Foods begins with the gene for a protein called leghemoglobin, a heme protein that is naturally found in the root nodules of soy plants. It then takes a strain of genetically-engineered yeast and adds the soy leghemoglobin gene, and proceeds to grow the yeast via the fermentation process. The company isolates the leghemoglobin, or heme, from the yeast and adds that genetically-engineered protein to the Impossible Burger.

To read the company’s website, however, you’d be hard pressed to figure out if you’re eating GMO. And that may be intentional.

Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, told Goldberg:

“The way in which Impossible Foods is loosely and interchangeably using the word “heme” is misleading consumers. The average person with no scientific background would reasonably read the FAQ section of this website and think that the genetically-engineered heme in the Impossible Burger is ‘identical’ to the heme that humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat and other foods. This is categorically not true.”

If you find this all a little impossible to understand, much less believe, well, welcome to the dark side of “food tech.”

Of Burgers, Blood and Balderdash

Read ‘Impossible Burger’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Highlights Challenges of Food Tech’

Read ‘Impossible Foods Is ‘Misleading Consumers’ About Its GMO Protein, FDA Rejects the Claim That It Is Safe for Consumption’