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Climate Change, Frankenfoods, Farmworkers, Organic Gardens
#282, June 23, 2011
In this issue:
Quote of the Week
In Denial About Climate Change?
"All around the country progressives are fighting to make our world a better place to live. In the midst of an ascended right wing and the dominance of corporations over our daily lives, progressives continue to fight for affordable housing, better wages and working conditions, social justice, clean water and many other solutions to the ills that have long plagued their communities. And yes, most of us progressives also support policies to cut greenhouse gasses and thereby reduce climate change.
"But climate change is not just another 'issue.' The earth is in the midst of a radical shift that will affect our country and society more severely than other great upheavals such as the Civil War, the Great Depression, or World War II. It represents an existential threat to every human and every community on the planet. It threatens every job, every economy in the world. It threatens the health of our children. It threatens our food and water supply...
"But much of the progressive community either has not realized or is refusing to accept the implications of this escalating crisis. When you read progressives' proposals, examine the legislation they are supporting, and listen to their conversations and speeches, it seems like only a minority are leading the charge on climate change. It's as if a Tsunami was about to strike and wipe out an entire city, and local activists decided to go ahead with their planned meeting of how to stop Walmart from opening up a new store..."
- Brendan Smith and Jeremy Brecher, "Are Progressives in Denial About Climate Change?"
Alerts OF THE WEEK
Congress Close to Stopping GMO Salmon, Write Your Representatives Today!
The US House of Representatives last week passed an amendment that blocks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving genetically engineered salmon - the first genetically modified animal intended for human consumption.
During full floor debate of the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture and FDA appropriations bill, members of the House passed an amendment offered by Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) to prohibit use of FDA funds to approve any application for approval of genetically engineered salmon.
The full appropriations bill, The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2112), passed on Thursday by a 217-203 vote.
As the Agriculture Appropriations Act heads to the Senate and then to a conference committee, there's no guarantee that the provision blocking GMO salmon will remain in the bill and become law.
Your support is needed! Please write your Senators and Congressperson today!
Help OCA Fight GMOs and Safeguard Organic and Fair Trade Standards
As you know, Genetically Modified Organisms, factory farms, and deceptively labeled consumer products pose a mortal threat to public health, climate stability, and all living things. As you read this issue of Organic Bytes, consumers are inadvertently ingesting genetically engineered organisms and pesticide-tainted foods, organic farms are being contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs, climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers are being massively applied to crops, and small farmers and farm workers are being exploited. We need your financial contributions to educate and mobilize consumers, to protect and maintain strict organic standards, and to pressure the entire food industry, including natural food stores and co-ops, to adopt Truth-in-Labeling and Fair Trade practices.
Alerts OF THE WEEK
California! Stop Agribusiness Exploitation in the Fields
Support the Farm Workers' Rights Bill
Most Americans know little or nothing about the two million hardworking farm workers, often Latino immigrants, who toil in the fields and packing houses to grow and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods we take for granted. Many organic consumers are now familiar with the concept of "Fair Trade" and look for Fair Trade labels on the imported coffee and bananas that we buy. But what about Domestic Fair Trade? Don't you agree that all agricultural and food workers, from the field to the grocery checkout counter, deserve fair wages and working conditions?
It's up to legislators, consumers, farmers, farm workers, and food workers to rebuild the food and farming system into one that is healthy, sustainable, and just. The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act helps farm workers, including immigrants, help themselves. It makes it easier for them to form a union, so they have the voice to demand safe working conditions. The right to collective bargaining is essential, especially on the large industrial-scale farms that dominate California agriculture.
The time has come to end the routine exploitation of farm workers and make Cesar Chavez's dream of "justice in the fields" a reality.
Tell California Governor Brown: Make the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act law!
Truth-In-Labeling Campaign Update
Boulder, CO: Picket of Organic Meeting on GMOs Cancelled
On June 28 & 29, an important meeting of organic consumer advocacy groups, trade associations and businesses is taking place in Boulder, CO, to discuss next steps in the campaign against genetically modified organisms, including plans for how to get mandatory labels for genetically modified foods.
OCA will be there to continue to put pressure on the Organic Industry until industry players "walk their talk" on GMOs and stop selling and profiting off of so-called "natural" or "conventional" foods contaminated with GMOs. Our demands are:
(1) Natural food stores and coops need to stop selling, or else label GMOs, by Oct. 2012 (World Food Day).
(2) The entire Organic Industry/Community needs to get behind a massive multi-million dollar California Initiative campaign to put a GMO labeling law on the California state ballot in November 2012. Passing this Initiative, because of the large size of California, will have national consequences and severely damage Monsanto and the biotech industry.
(3) Organic and or Natural brands (like Whole Foods' 365 brand) must stop using the Non-GMO Project as a greenwashing tool and submit all "natural" brands to the Non-GMO Project (not just organic brands). Companies must voluntarily label suspect brands (those likely containing GMO ingredients or produced with GMO feed) until they have been certified as Non-GMO. Companies or brands that refuse to do so must be punished by bearing "May Contain GMOs" labels.
We knew our presence inside the meeting would be stronger if we created a presence outside the meeting, so we began organizing a picket line of consumer activists who would gather outside the hotel where the meeting was being held.
Unfortunately, we were forced to cancel our plans for this peaceful expression of free speech when it was misinterpreted as targeting fellow pro-organic/anti-GMO NGOs, organic farmers, and 100% organic businesses, and forcing our allies to dramatically "cross a picket-line" to attend the meeting.
Video of the Week
How To Make a Keyhole Garden
Keyhole gardens provide easy access and minimum work. A favorite of permaculturists worldwide, the idea of a keyhole garden is to create a raised, no-dig garden that allows the gardener maximum access to each square inch of soil, without ever having to step on the bed itself.
The British charity Send A Cow, which operates with a similar ethos to Heifer International, is working to combat chronic malnutrition in Lesotho. Because distributing livestock is unviable due to poor soils and problems with erosion, Send A Cow is instead educating school children on how to create "keyhole" gardens.
This video shows how keyhole gardens are built, creating raised-bed, easy access systems that are perfect for novice gardeners and school children using a few rocks, manure, soil and straw. (And, apparently, a few rusty tin cans!) In Lesotho, Africa, these gardens are proving to be a lifeline in the fight against malnutrition.
The Cost-Effective Way to Feed the World
Whole Foods Includes GMOs In 'All Natural' Foods
Should Wealth Be Held by the Few or Everyone? That's the Central Focus of Protests from Spain to Greece
Palestinian Desire for Food Security Drives Organic Farming Innovation
Organic Gardening Is Simple, Easy, Affordable
OCA Affiliate Program
It's Easy to Help!
The Organic Consumers Association Online Affiliate Program benefits everyone! By taking part, you help grow an interdependent network of the best organic producers, the most conscientious consumers, and all of us at the OCA who tirelessly defend organic standards.
How does it work?
When you click on the special links to the websites we provide, our Affiliate Partners can then track your purchases and donate a percentage to the OCA.
Check Organic Bytes every week for new, 100% organic, GMO-free products we can all get excited about!
Book of the Week
Help Us Build a Sustainable Future!
Our friends at Chelsea Green offer the latest books on sustainability, democracy, new science, and pathways to peace. Thanks to our new Affiliate Program, your online purchase supports the OCA!
This weeks featured book is... Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind
In his insightful new book, Holy Shit, Managing Manure To Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure - our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure - worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value - but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.
Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating, and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial, subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.
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.
Please visit us on the web at DrBronner.com
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