Thursday, October 21, 2010

Organic Bytes: SOS 2010 - Save Organic Standards

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#247, October 21, 2010

SOS 2010 - Save Organic Standards

In this issue:

Quote and Essay of the Week

SOS: OCA's Ongoing Campaign to Safeguard Organic Standards

"Over the last twelve years the OCA has been forced to organize a series of national campaigns to safeguard organic standards. While the OCA and our allies have basically been able to prevent the standards from being significantly watered down, constant vigilance and mobilization have been necessary... The new organic dairy regulations banning feedlots and requiring mandatory pasturing of cows are a good start, but we need to apply similar standards to poultry production. We need an independent National Organic Program Peer Review Board. We need to officially ban nanotechnology from organic production. And we need a number of currently allowed non-organic substances or inputs to be prohibited in organic products, as there are now organic options available. Over the next decade it will take constant vigilance and mobilization on the part of consumers, natural food stores, and farmers to uphold organic standards and prevent a takeover of the organic industry by corporate agribusiness."

- By Honor Schauland and Ronnie Cummins - October 20, 2010

Action of the Week

Safeguard Organic Standards

Chemical and energy-intensive industrial food and farming poses a mortal threat to life on the planet. Monsanto and Food Inc. are rapidly destroying the soil, contaminating water, reducing biodiversity, and destabilizing the climate. Meanwhile consumers are being stuffed with junk foods that make us fat and sick. Industrial agriculture's fatal harvest includes trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and filthy, disease-ridden factory farmed animal products laced with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, nano-particles and bacteria.

While a cornucopia of healthy food alternatives are available at the local level, from small organic farmers to urban gardeners to raw milk distribution networks and community supported agriculture projects, the USDA National Organic Program is the only system to provide certified national and global standards for organic food that is distributed regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Foods labeled "USDA Organic" are the gold standard for health and sustainability at the retail and wholesale level. Organics provide a beacon of light in grocery store aisles to guide consumers away from GMOs and chemical-tainted junk foods. Consumer demand for healthy and eco-friendly food has built the organic market into a $30 billion a year powerhouse, and has forced even the largest retailers, wholesalers and brand names to get into organics.

While we oppose the "Walmartization" of organic, we are happy to see that even our adversaries are being forced to market and sell organic products. While OCA's campaigns against worker abuses, GMOs, factory farming, and the many poisons used in industrial food production are aimed at tearing down a deadly system, our work to keep organic standards strong guarantees that even the big corporate players must "play by the rules" if they are to call their products organic.

Unfortunately the big players (Monsanto, Kraft, Wal-Mart, General Mills, et al.) keep trying to change the rules, which means we've got to keep fighting them.

This year, 2010, the biggest attacks on organic standards are coming from the following companies:

  • Cal-Maine Foods (the nation's largest egg producer) who want to keep so-called organic chickens in intensive-confinement factory farms and feed them synthetic supplements like methionine.
  • General Mills (the world's sixth-largest food company) who want to introduce dangerous, untested, unlabeled products of nanotechnology in organic products and packaging.
  • Coleman Organic (part of the ConAgra conglomerate, the 3rd largest U.S. beef and pork processor) who want to use non-organic animal ingredients (pork intestines) in "USDA Organic" products (sausage).
  • Renpure Organics (subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb, owner of Clairol) who want to use the word "organic" on products that aren't certified to USDA organic standards (shampoo).
  • Peak Organic who want to use non-organic agricultural ingredients (hops) in "USDA Organic" products (beer).
  • Organic Vintners who want to use synthetic ingredients (sulfite preservatives) in organic products (wine).

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is holding its twice-yearly standards-setting meeting in Madison, WI next week. Organic Consumers Association political director Alexis Baden-Mayer will be speaking at the meeting on behalf of our quarter-million active members and we need you to back up her testimony with letters to the NOSB on the topics that are most important to you.

Please Donate

Support the OCA! Save Organic Standards

We depend on your donations to preserve strict organic standards, to fight against Monsanto and GMOs, and to build a global climate justice movement based upon organic food and farming. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today and we'll send you a free "Millions Against Monsanto" bumper sticker so you can help spread the word in your community. Please be sure to put "sticker" in the comments field of your donation.


Climate Justice: Join the OCA at the Historic Global Climate Crisis Summit in Mexico

Please join OCA Director Ronnie Cummins and other OCA staff on a week-long escorted delegation to the historic teach-ins and rallies for climate justice and organic agriculture at Global Climate Crisis Summit in Cancun, Mexico Nov. 29-Dec. 6.

The OCA delegation, limited to 80 people, will include international experts on organic agriculture and climate justice, including OCA Directors Ronnie Cummins, Alexis Baden-Mayer, and Ryan Zinn; organic farm leader and author, Will Allen; noted blogger and food activist Jill Richardson, and renowned GMO specialist and critic Dr. Michael Hansen. Outstanding speakers at Cancun will include Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Maude Barlow, Pat Mooney, and other global climate justice leaders.

OCA's seven-day escorted tour, starting Thanksgiving weekend, November 29 and extending through Dec. 6, includes all lodging, meals, and transportation costs (airfare not included).  Early Bird Registration (before November 7) is only $750-$950.

It is also possible to stay for the entire 11 day event from November 29-Dec. 10.

For more information or to register for the OCA delegation to Cancun contact; or call 415-307-8914.

Video of the Week

Scrambled Eggs: A New Video from the Cornucopia Institute

Imagine 80,000 laying hens in a single building, crowded in confinement conditions, on "farms" with hundreds of thousands, or even a million birds.

Is this organic?

How about a tiny enclosed concrete porch, accessible by only 3%-5% of the tens of thousands of birds inside a henhouse. Does that constitute "outdoor access" as required by federal organic law?

Industrial-scale egg producers are gaming the system with their so-called "livestock management" shortcuts and are placing family-scale organic farmers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage. Some pasture-based organic farmers have already been driven out of the organic egg business.

Little Bytes

Turning Asphalt Into Edible Education -read more
Beef Industry Woes May Mean Poorer Meat -read more
Is the National Organic Standards Board Embracing Nanotechnology? -read more
For Organic Hops Farmers in Washington, Government Obstacles -read more
We are Facing the Greatest Threat to Humanity: Only Fundamental Change Can Save Us -read more


HI - Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in HI here.
  • Join HI discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in HI on our community calendar.

Message from our Sponsors

Dr. Bronner's is Celebrating Our 60th Anniversary!

Marking the 60th Anniversary of the company, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is pleased to announce that all classic liquid & bar soaps are now not only certified under the USDA National Organic Program, but also certified Fair Trade! In addition, we are pleased to introduce a revolutionary new range of high-quality organic products, from hair rinses to shaving gels – all certified under the same USDA program that certifies organic foods.

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