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Why I'm Paying Farmers to Convert to Biodynamic Cotton

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-09-18 19:14
All About Organics, Biodynamics, Environment & ClimateDr. Joseph MercolaMercola.comSeptember 17, 2019https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/09/17/biodynamic-cotton-crops.aspx cotton cc 1200x630.jpg

When you think about curbing pollution, taking aim at the clothes in your closet is probably not high up on the list. But the textiles industry is one of the most polluting on the planet. New trends and “ultrafast fashion” has clothing entering popular clothing stores on a weekly or even daily basis.

As a result, Americans have increased how much clothing they buy, with the average person bringing home more than 65 articles of clothing in 2016, according to the “Toxic Textiles” report by Green America.1 Where clothing was once valued for durability and practicality, we’re living in an age where people feel pressured to keep up with clothing trends, at the expense of quality and the environment. Green America noted:2

[S]ocial media has led to a new trend of ultra-fast fashion — where companies are able to design, manufacture, and sell hundreds of products mere weeks after the initial conception of design, thanks to a large network of local and international factories.

Some ultra-fast fashion companies, such as Fashion Nova, release 600 new items a week — and sell out most of them too. We’ve entered an age where clothing is made to be worn and subsequently discarded, where ‘good-enough’ is the metric for the quality of our clothes.

Textile Manufacturing Is Polluting the Planet

The textile industry is an often-overlooked contributor to pollution that is destroying the planet. Green America released some sobering statistics, including that textile manufacturing causes about 20% of industrial water pollution and emits 10% of global carbon emissions.

Textile production also uses 43 million tons of chemicals annually,3 and this doesn’t even include the pesticides used to grow cotton (glyphosate, the most used agricultural chemical, is an herbicide used to grow cotton that’s linked to cancer and found in cotton textiles).

Chemicals are used at multiple stages of production when it comes to turning raw materials into clothing and include azo-aniline dyes, which may cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe.

Even more concerning, azo dyes may release aromatic amines, which are carcinogenic.4 If you're sensitive, such dyes may leave your skin red, itchy and dry, especially where the fabric rubs on your skin, such as at your waist, neck, armpits and thighs.

Formaldehyde resins are also used in clothing to cut down on wrinkling and mildew. Not only is formaldehyde a known carcinogen, but the resins have been linked to eczema and may cause your skin to become flaky or erupt in a rash.5

Brominated flame retardants, used to stop clothes from burning (although this is questionable), may be found in children’s clothing. These chemicals are neurotoxic endocrine disrupters that may also cause cancer. Polyflourinated chemicals (PFCs), used widely in uniforms and outdoor clothing to create stain-repellant and water-resistant fabrics, are carcinogenic, build up in your body and are toxic to the environment.

The chemicals may be mostly washed out, but some can linger in the clothing as you wear it. Some clothing is treated with additional chemicals for water-resistant, wrinkle- and stain-protection as well. However, workers are exposed to the chemicals during manufacturing and when they’re rinsed off the fabrics (a process that uses copious amounts of water), they end up in waterways. Green America explained:6

Once released into the water, chemicals can also affect the community, through exposure to water sources, but also due to the leaching of chemicals into the soil, which affects the local agricultural system. The chemicals that are commonly used in the manufacturing process pose a variety of health and environmental risks.

There isn’t a lot of transparency about what specific chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, which is especially concerning when it comes to the workers who are directly exposed to the chemicals, sometimes without adequate safety protection.

Americans Throw Away 70 Pounds of Textiles Every Year

While Americans add dozens of new articles of clothing to their collections annually, they also get rid of others, tossing 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year.7 According to the U.S. EPA, textiles made up 6.1% of municipal solid waste in 2015. Only 15.3%, or 2.5 million tons, was recycled while landfills received 10.5 million tons of textiles in 2015, accounting for 7.6% of all municipal solid waste landfills.8

Even when clothing is recycled, Green America notes that “less than 1% of the resources required to make clothing is recaptured and reused to create new clothing.”9 When you donate clothes, it’s also not a sustainable solution.

The fact is, the sheer volume of clothes being donated far outpaces the demand. Charities sell only a fraction of the clothing they receive in donations, and the majority ends up getting sold to textile “recyclers.”

These “recyclers” may sell some of the clothing at that point, but most of it may end up being exported to other countries. There, it will either be sold, made into rags, processed into industrial uses or end up in landfills.

“Although 35% of our clothes are technically being diverted from American landfills, they may end up in a landfill in another country. This means that two of the most environmentally destructive aspects of the apparel production system — the manufacture of textiles and the disposal of unwanted clothing — is happening disproportionately in other, oftentimes developing, countries,” Green America noted.10

“Furthermore, countries that traditionally have imported second-hand clothing are reducing the amount they are importing.”11

Genetically Engineered Animals: From Lab to Factory Farm

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-09-18 18:40
Farm Issues, Genetic EngineeringDana PerlsFriends of the EarthSeptember 17, 2019https://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/FOE_GManimalsReport_ExecSumm_web.pdf genetically-modified-cow-cc-1200x630.jpg

In the face of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss from industrial agriculture, it is critical to transition to sustainable and ecological farming systems.1 But a new wave of research on genetically engineered animals is leading us in the opposite direction — by designing animals to better fit within industrial systems rather than addressing the underlying health, animal welfare and environmental problems associated with these systems.2

A growing body of scientific evidence is finding that genetically engineered animals may present even more food safety, environmental and animal welfare issues for an already problematic industrial animal farming system. The AquAdvantage salmon was the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. Since its approval in 2015, concerns about engineering animals have only deepened. 

Source Author 2: Dr. Janet Cotter

An Increasingly Urbanized Latin America Turns to Electric Buses

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-09-11 22:42
Environment & ClimateMaria GallucciYale Environment 360September 9, 2019https://e360.yale.edu/features/an-increasingly-urbanized-latin-america-turns-to-electric-buses electric bus 1200x630 cc

From Colombia to Argentina, major cities in Latin America are starting to adopt electric bus fleets. In a region with the highest use of buses per person globally, officials believe the transition will help meet climate targets, cut fuel costs, and improve air quality.

In Medellín, Colombia, passengers cram aboard a battery-powered bus during the morning commute. Inside, the vehicle is a respite from the crush of cars, taxis, and motorcycles winding through traffic outside. The driver, Robinson López Rivera, steers the bus up a steep ramp, revealing views of hillsides covered with rooftops of tile and tin. The bus dashboard indicates that the batteries are mostly charged, with enough power to last through the evening rush hour.

“It’s a little smoother and more comfortable to drive. And there’s hardly any noise,” López Rivera says from behind the wheel. He gently brakes as a street vendor pushes a fruit cart across the dedicated bus lane. At night, the bus will return to a parking lot by the airport, recharging its 360-kilowatt battery pack while the city sleeps.

#StrikeWithUs for Climate Action - Including Regenerative Agriculture!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-09-11 13:20
September 11, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate climate_protest_march_signs_1200x630.jpg

#StrikeWithUs has a plan to solve the climate crisis and it includes regenerative agriculture! 

If you agree with the demands below, join the climate strike on September 20. You can find an action near you at StrikeWithUs.org. 

If you’re in New York City, scroll down to find out more about the Climate Week event we’re hosting at the NY Botanical Gardens with Regeneration International on September 24.

On September 20, three days before the United Nations’ Climate Summit in New York City, young people and adults will strike to demand transformative action to address the climate crisis. The US Youth Climate Strike has put forth the following demands:

A Green New Deal:

• Transform our economy to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 and phase out all fossil fuel extraction through a just and equitable transition, creating millions of good jobs

• End all leasing and permitting for fossil fuel extraction, processing and infrastructure projects immediately

Respect of Indigenous Land and Sovereignty:

• Honor the treaties protecting Indigenous lands, waters and sovereignty by the immediate halt of all construction, leasing and permitting for resource extraction, processing and infrastructure projects affecting or on Indigenous lands

• Recognize the Rights of Nature into law to protect our sacred ecosystems and align human law with natural law to ban resource extraction in defense of our environment and people

Environmental Justice:

• A transition that invests in prosperity for communities on the frontlines of poverty and pollution

• Welcome those displaced by the cumulative effects of the climate crisis, economic inequality, violence and lack of opportunity

Protection and Restoration of Biodiversity:

• Protect and restore 50 percent of the world’s lands and oceans including a halt to all deforestation by 2030

Implementation of Sustainable Agriculture:

• Invest in farmers and regenerative agriculture and an end to subsidies for industrial agriculture

If this platform inspires you, use this map to find a strike near you on September 20. 

If you’ll be in New York City during Climate Week, join us at the NY Botanical Garden at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 24 for: “The Power of Plants and the Secrets of the Soil: Ecosystem Restoration to Reverse Climate Change.” Event description:

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were a new technology that could pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to reverse climate change? It's exists! But, it isn't new—it's ancient. It's a power only plants have and a secret only the soil knows: How to use photosynthesis to draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground. Restoring the world's forests, wetlands and coastal ecosystems can help bring the carbon cycle back into balance. We can also enlist crop and pasture lands in this effort through regenerative, organic and agro-ecological methods that sequester carbon while growing healthy food. 

Join us at the NY Botanical Gardens on September 24 for a conversation with experts from Regeneration International to learn about the global movement for ecosystem restoration.

Six Children

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-09-10 14:26
September 10, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsGenetic Engineering kids_running_field_1200x630.png

Over the course of next year, six children will stare down Monsanto in U.S. courtrooms.

Six children, whose childhoods have been interrupted by excruciatingly painful cancer treatments.

Six children, whose once bright futures are now uncertain.

Six children who have cancer because they were innocently exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

We owe it to these children to do everything in our power to stop the poisoning of our food, our parks, our water—even our playgrounds. Please make a donation today to help fund the fight to keep our children safe from Monsanto and other poison-peddlers.

The science couldn’t be more clear: children exposed to pesticides before birth or during other critical periods of growth often end up with lower IQs, birth defects and developmental delays. 

These kids are also at a higher risk for autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and cancer.

Thanks to a study released earlier this year, scientists also believe that when adults are exposed to glyphosate, that exposure may lead to health problems in their kids and even their grandkids.

It’s simply unconscionable that we continue to poison our children.

Please make a donation today to help fund the fight to keep our children safe from Monsanto and other poison-peddlers.

Thanks to the support of thousands of people like you, I’ve been able to devote a good portion of my activist life to exposing the poisonous corruption of Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) and the harm these chemical companies inflict on all of us.

I’m a perennial optimist. But there are days when even I question our collective ability to bring down a company like Monsanto.

Those are the days when I know it’s time to double down.

Those are the days when I know this battle can, and will, be won—if we all remain committed.

We owe it to the six children suing Monsanto, and to all the other children whose childhoods have been, or will be in the future, sacrificed at the altar of corporate profits, to keep up the relentless pressure on corporations and politicians to end the use of Roundup and other pesticides. 

As Nelson Mandela wisely said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Let’s do it. Together.

Please make a donation today to help fund the fight to keep our children safe from Monsanto and other poison-peddlers.

Bernie's Green New Deal Will Radically Reform Food & Farming

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-29 16:03
August 29, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, Politics & Globalization country_hillside_green_blue_sky_1200x630.jpg

Without fail, every time we talk about the Green New Deal as having the potential to rapidly transform the U.S food and farming system, we’re met with skepticism. “Where are the details?” people want to know.

That’s because the GND, introduced in the U.S House and Senate in February, isn’t a law, or a bill or a policy. It’s a non-binding resolution. Congress will vote on it, but it won’t be signed into law by the president. Non-binding resolutions are viewed as a commitment by Congress to a general goal, or in the case of the GND, a set of goals.

Ever since the GND was introduced, and supported by more than 100 members of Congress, we’ve been waiting for a concrete plan of action. 

The wait is over.

Last week, Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan for fleshing out the GND in order to meet the resolution’s ambitious and urgent goals, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

Sanders’ 67-page plan lays out a comprehensive $16.3-trillion package of policies and government-funded programs, as well as realistic projections on how these new programs will actually pay for themselves over the next 15 years. 

As OCA’s Ronnie Cummins points out in this week’s essay, Sanders’ GND far exceeds what any of the other leading presidential candidates have so far dared to propose—including providing $841 billion in program money to transform our climate-destructive, corporate monopoly-controlled, industrial food and farming system into an equitable family farm-based, regenerative system of farming and ranching. 

Sanders’ GND is a radical plan designed to address a radical societal and global emergency, Ronnie writes. Which is exactly why Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Biotech and Big Pharma are attacking it.

Read ‘Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal is a Game-Changer for Food & Farming’

Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal is a Game-Changer for Food & Farming

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-29 12:46
August 29, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsEnvironment & Climate, Politics & Globalization sunflower_sunset_landscape_1200x630.jpg

The scope of the challenge ahead of us shares similarities with the crisis faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s. Battling a world war on two fronts—both in the East and the West—the United States came together, and within three short years restructured the entire economy in order to win the war and defeat fascism. As president, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis and act immediately to mobilize millions of people across the country in support of the Green New Deal… a wholesale transformation of our society, with support for frontline and vulnerable communities and massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system… [and] our agricultural system to fight climate change, provide sustainable, local foods, and break the corporate stranglehold on farmers and ranchers… providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change… reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030—the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent… [and] Investing in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands…”. – from “The Green New Deal,” Bernie Sanders Campaign, August 22, 2019

Beyond the cesspool of the Trump administration and his fascist allies across the globe, powerful winds of rebellion and regeneration are gathering momentum.

This year will likely be remembered as the time when the U.S. and global grassroots finally began to acknowledge the terminal crisis posed by global warming. With the global scientific community finally dropping their customary caution and pointing out that the “end is near” in terms of irreversible climate change, the mass media, a significant number of global policymakers and hundreds of millions of ordinary people simultaneously began to wake up across the world.

Activist youth in America, led by the Sunrise Movement, supported by a group of radical insurgents in the U.S. Congress, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are leading the new resistance and calling for an end to business as usual—and a Green New Deal.

Ever since the Green New Deal Resolution was introduced in Congress in February, supported by more than100 members of Congress, millions of us have been waiting for a concrete plan of action. Contrary to the standard “go slow/small change” establishment message perpetuated by the mass media, a Yale University poll in April found that an overwhelming 93 percent of Democratic voters (and even a minority of Republicans) support an aggressive plan like the Green New Deal.

Finally, we have a true Declaration of War against fossil fuel pollution and global warming, a radical legislative program that can head off climate catastrophe and supercharge a just transition to a 21st Century Green Commonwealth—thanks to the Green New Deal plan laid out by Vermont Senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Released on August 22, 2019, Bernie’s 67-page GND lays out a comprehensive $16.3-trillion package of policies and government-funded programs, as well as realistic projections on how these new programs will actually pay for themselves over the next 15 years.

The Green New Deal will pay for itself over time by creating massive new revenue streams through increasing employment and income tax revenue ($2.3 trillion) and through selling trillions of kilowatt hours of renewable solar and wind energy every year from new, expanded Federal Power Marketing Administrations ($6.4 trillion), patterned after our current federal hydropower program.

Meanwhile the GND will reduce federal government expenditures by slashing military spending ($1.2 trillion) and reducing government energy costs, among other benefits. Sanders’ plan also calls for “making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies… [reducing the] need for federal and state safety-net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs… [and] making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.” 

Bernie’s multi-trillion-dollar GND lays out a 10-year strategy to transform the U.S. energy and utilities sector, transitioning from our current levels of 17 percent renewables to 100 percent renewable energy between 2030-2050; creating 20 million well-paid green jobs; forging new foreign relations and cutting back military spending as part of a global cooperation with Russia, China, India, the EU and other nations; and implementing a trillion-dollar program of organic and regenerative (carbon-sequestering) food, farming and land use practices.

Sanders’ manifesto far exceeds what any of the other leading presidential candidates have so far dared to propose. Because Sanders’ GND is essentially a radical plan designed to address a radical societal and global emergency, it has, of course, already generated terabytes of criticism and ridicule from proponents of fossil fuels and “middle of the road, don’t go too fast” politicians and corporations.

Of course as Bernie constantly reminds us, we’ll never be able to implement a system-changing GND without a grassroots-powered ballot-box “political revolution,” starting with the 2020 election cycle and beyond, whereby we elect a pro-GND president and inspire, co-opt or cajole a majority in both the House and the Senate to get behind a GND.

Earlier this year, David Roberts, writing for Vox magazine pointed out the political realities of implementing a Green New Deal:

Here’s the only way any of this works: You develop a vision of politics that puts ordinary people at the center and gives them a tangible stake in the country’s future, a share in its enormous wealth and a role to play in its greater purpose. Then organize people around that vision and demand it from elected representatives. If elected representatives don’t push for it, make sure they get primaried or defeated. If you want bipartisanship, get it because politicians in purple districts and states are scared to cross you, not because you led them to the sweet light of reason.

Four major game-changers in Bernie’s GND

I could write a whole book on this topic, and in fact I have, “Grassroots Rising,” which will be published in January 2020 by Chelsea Green Publishing.

But for now, let’s look at four aspects of Bernie’s GND that make it different—and revolutionary.

No. 1: The GND is a U.S. and global Renewal and Regeneration plan on the scale of a World War II mobilization. The Sanders GND is the only plan in the industrialized world that sets a goal high enough to actually reverse global warming (with significant net negative emissions projected by 2030) and eliminate economic injustice, environmental destruction, deteriorating public health and global poverty and conflict at the same time.

The primary drivers of the plan include a green, high-wage, full-employment renewable energy economy complemented by an agricultural and land-management system with little or no use of fossil fuels and massive natural carbon drawdown and sequestration of excess atmospheric CO2 in our soils, forests and wetlands. This Great Transition will be financed by a multi-trillion-dollar infusion of public funds ($15.3 billion over 10 years) that can actually “net zero out” fossil fuel emissions in the short timeframe we have left (2019-2030) before our current climate crisis morphs into runaway global warming and climate catastrophe.

While Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbert, Marianne Williamson, and others have spoken out on the urgent need to solve the climate crisis, none have offered a comparable high-bar plan, nor dared to propose more than a few trillion dollars over the next decade to fix our Climate Emergency and societal breakdown.

No. 2: Bernie’s GND offers the first realistic assessment and timeline for what needs to be done in the limited timeframe we have left to avoid climate catastrophe, both nationally and internationally. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said shortly after she won her Congressional primary election in New York in 2018: “The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan… Half measures will not work… The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past.”  

Most politicians who acknowledge that there is indeed a climate crisis are still talking in rather vague terms about moving to domestic net-zero emissions by 2050, advocating domestic private and public funding in the billions of dollars, whereas Bernie is talking about trillions in public funds, including $200 billion to help the Global South decarbonize their economies and naturally sequester billions of tons of atmospheric carbon through reforestation and regenerative agriculture.

By allocating massive resources both nationally and internationally, the GND will reduce the U.S. carbon footprint (which includes both the emissions released within our borders and the emissions released overseas to supply us with resources, imports and consumer products) by “the total equivalent of… 161 percent” within a decade. As the Sanders GND emphasizes, we need drastic changes in our foreign policy as well as our domestic policy:

As president, Bernie will provide strong, inclusive American leadership to not only transform our own energy system, but to reach out to countries all over the world and cooperate on the global crisis of climate change. We must recognize that people from every country in the world — Russia, India, China, Japan, Brazil — are all in this together. Instead of accepting that the world’s countries will spend $1.5 trillion annually on weapons of destruction, Bernie will convene global leaders to redirect our priorities to confront our shared enemy: climate change.

No. 3: Focusing on, and providing $841 billion in program money to transform our climate-destructive, corporate/monopoly-controlled, factory-farm food and farming system into an equitable family farm-based, regenerative system of farming and ranching. Bernie’s GND will provide the funding and resources to revitalize rural America and draw down billions of tons of excess CO2 and store it in our soils and pastures, while simultaneously improving food quality, public health, rural livelihoods and quality of life.

Among the unprecedented food, farming and land use components of the GND are:

• $410 billion for farmers and ranchers, including first-time, indigenous, minority and disadvantaged farmers, to avoid or make the transition from chemical, energy-intensive, factory farm methods to “ecologically regenerative,” climate-friendly practices

• $160 billion in payments to farmers and ranchers to sequester and increase soil carbon

• $25 billion for farmland conservation

• $1.25 billion for tribal land access and acquisition

• $1.4 billion in new research and development

• $1.4 billion for renewable energy on farms

• $36 billion to establish a “victory lawns and gardens initiative” to help urban, rural and suburban Americans “transform their lawns into food-producing or reforested spaces that sequester carbon and save water”

• $14 billion to increase the number of co-op grocery stores

• $31 billion to strengthen the infrastructure for on-farm and local food processing

• $160 billion to help states to eliminate food waste and compost organic materials

• $500 million to help farmers get certified as organic, as well as funds to incentivize schools to procure locally produced foods.

Beyond financial subsidies and grants, the GND promises to:

• Use government resources and legal power to enforce anti-trust laws

• Break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities

• Ensure farmers are paid a fair price for their products with tools like supply management and grain reserves

• Re-establish and strengthen the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration

• Ensure farmers have the right to repair their own equipment

• Reform patent laws to prevent predatory lawsuits from massive agribusinesses like Bayer/Monsanto

• Reform the agricultural subsidy system so more money goes to small and medium-sized farms

• Strengthen organic standards

• Enforce country-of-origin labeling and allow meat slaughtered at state inspected facilities to be sold across state lines

• Create a pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers and improve wages and working conditions and end exclusions for agricultural workers in labor laws

• Invest in historically underserved communities to grow the number of farmers of color.

No. 4: Bernie’s GND doesn’t shy away from the fact that we must fight the power of the fossil fuel corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the economic elite that maintain our degenerate and climate-destructive business as usual. As the Sanders GND states in its introduction:

We need a president who has the courage, the vision and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action. We need a president who welcomes their hatred. Bernie will lead our country to enact the Green New Deal and bring the world together to defeat the existential threat of climate change.

The hour is late, but we still have time to turn things around. Our job in 2019 and beyond is to reach out and educate our fellow Americans about the GND and the political revolution that must take place, beginning now. Don’t mourn, organize.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

The Big Get Bigger: Elanco's Planned Acquisition of Bayer Animal Health Will Create Another Industry Giant

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-29 12:10
August 29, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationMartha RosenbergEnvironment & Climate, CAFOs vs. Free Range factory-farm-cattle_1200x630.jpg

Any mention of factory farm corporations usually conjures up names like Tyson, Cargill, Koch Foods, JBS, Perdue and, more recently, retailer-turned-factory-farm, Costco.

Some consumers will also think names like Monsanto (now owned by Bayer), Syngenta (now owned by ChemChina) and DowDupont—the companies behind the massive amounts of GMO grains grown to feed imprisoned animals.

Even fewer consumers, however, will think “Big Pharma” when they hear the words “factory farm.” 

Yet, the pharmaceutical industry plays an integral role in industrial factory farming. 

Giants like Bayer and Elanco want us to think they’re in the business of “animal health.” But what they’re really doing, is pushing drugs—on farm animals. And as the recent news of Elanco Animal Health’s proposed $7.6-billion acquisition of Bayer Animal Health reveals, a dizzying number of relatively recent spin-offs is leading to monopolization in the world of “Big Farma.”

Enough spin-offs to make your head spin

By now, most people know about Bayer’s past role in Nazi concentration camps and its track record with respect to lethal drugs, such as Baycol, pulled off the market after it was linked to 32 deaths. They also know about Bayer CropScience's pesticides, including bee-killing neonicotinoids, and the company’s $66-billion acquisition in 2016 of Monsanto, which included Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, glyphosate.

But fewer people know that Bayer is also in the animal drug business—a business it plans to shed, assuming the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division approves Bayer’s plan to sell Bayer Animal Health to Elanco Animal Health. The plan, which would make Elanco the no. 2 veterinary drug peddler, second only to Zoetis.

The veterinary drug industry, whose largest customers are corporate factory farms, has seen plenty of consolidation in recent years.

In 2013, Pfizer spun off its “animal health” division in a $2.2-billion initial public offering (IPO) which, according to some market watchers, was designed to make up for the losses Pfizer incurred when the drug-maker’s aggressively marketed antidepressant Cymbalta, and estrogen agonist/antagonist Evista, both went off patent. 

The Zoetis IPO was at the time the largest IPO since Facebook's $104-billion IPO in 2012.

Pfizer's successful gambit is said to have inspired Eli Lilly’s spin-off of Elanco, its animal health business earlier this year.

Elanco: built one acquisition at a time

With 5,800 employees in 90 countries Elanco owes it growth to the serial acquisitions, first by its former parent company, Eli Lilly and subsequently on its own, of veterinary drug businesses. For example, in 2014, Eli Lilly acquired the drug giant Novartis AG's animal health business which greatly strengthened Elanco's resources and product lines.

The Novartis Animal Health acquisition added 3,000 employees, 600 products and nine manufacturing sites to Elanco. It also expanded Elanco’s equine and vaccines sales and created an entry into the aquaculture market.

The same year, Lilly acquired Lohmann Animal Health, a global poultry vaccine and feed additive leader.

In 2011, Lilly acquired Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Johnson & Johnson company, adding Flubenol (flubendazole) to treat roundworms in swine and poultry (wear gloves and a dust mask for handling, warns the product sheet) and Vecoxan (diclazuril) for coccidial infections (parasites) in calves and lambs to its product list.

According to the Vecoxan product fact sheet, farmers can avoid using the drug by "providing dry, clean bedding, avoiding overstocking and stress" and "Keeping feed and water troughs clean and clear of faecal contamination.” For housed animals, “thorough cleaning of premises between batches" and "turning young animals out onto fresh pasture" will help prevent coccidial infections.

But none of those conditions describe today’s “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs), or as they’re more commonly called, factory farms—so Vecoxan to the rescue!

Vaccines: the next Big Pharma cash cow

Before Lilly spun off Elanco earlier this year, and before Elanco's recent offer to buy Bayer Animal Health, Elanco already planned to debut new vaccines to surpass the industry's annual vaccine sales growth rate of 4 percent to 5 percent, according to market reports.

Why the interest in vaccines? As global antibiotic-resistance public health crisis worsens, factory farms will eventually have to end the routine use of preventive antibiotics. That will cut into Big Pharma’s animal drug sales—so the drug pushers are looking at vaccine sales to pick up the slack.

Here’s how Bloomberg describes (according to AgriMarketing) the lucrative livestock vaccine market as it appeared in 2016.

A 2015 study estimated the global animal-vaccine market will be worth $7.2 billion by 2020, up from $5.5 billion in 2010. Already, about one-third of the industry's revenue is from vaccines, according to company and industry officials . . . The company [Elanco] expects European approval to market Clynav, a DNA vaccine for north Atlantic salmon to fight pancreas diseases. The company is also working on a new vaccine for bovine respiratory disease . . .

Elanco has plenty of company. At New Jersey-based Zoetis Inc., vaccines accounted for almost half the company's product approvals last year. It received a license in 2013 for Fostera PCV MH, which helps control porcine circovirus and enzootic pneumonia. This year, regulators granted the company a conditional license for its vaccine to help prevent disease caused by avian influenza H5N1 in chickens.

Animal Pharma doesn’t hide the fact that it seeks to replace its routine antibiotic use in healthy animals with vaccines. The overriding goal of Elanco's 48,000-square-foot research facility near Indianapolis is "to develop vaccines that food producers can use in place of the antibiotics that they’re under increasing pressure to eliminate," reports FiercePharma.

Do we really want these vaccines in our food supply?

While the animal drug pushers ramp up vaccine sales to make up for potentially slower sales of other animal drugs, consumers are still left with this: If you buy meat from animals raised on factory farms, it’s likely to be contaminated with something—either vaccine drugs, antibiotics or any number of drug residues, some of them even banned in meat production.

Let’s look at a few of the vaccines Elanco is pushing, starting with Imvixa, a delousing product for use in farmed Atlantic salmon operations. Consider this warning:

Meanwhile, with respect to the risk that the use of this product may pose to other animals (eg molting stage in crustaceans), the executive said that Imvixa should only be used in land-based freshwater sites with a treatment system for effluent and treatment of solids. Therefore, it should not be released to the environment. That's part of its condition of use. Thus, there is a guarantee that the product will not have contact with the environment or with species that are in the environment.

Why is that statement alarming? Because farmed Atlantic salmon have been known to escape from both net pen and land-based salmon farms.

Then there’s Victrio, the "DNA immunostimulant" that will become Elanco's if its purchase of Bayer Animal Health is approved. Victrio is injected into 18-day-old embryonated eggs. The drug is a bacterial-produced plasmid DNA with a liposome carrier to stimulate the innate immune system in poultry. The stimulation of the innate immune system has been shown to provide a potent, rapid, nonspecific, protective response to infectious agents."

Thanks to the biotech industry, injecting embryonated eggs with immunizations is the rule not the exception, says Science Direct:

Currently, most of the major hatcheries in the USA and a number of other countries immunize broilers against MD by in ovo vaccination. In addition to the MDV vaccine, some flocks also receive in ovo vaccines against IBD and poxvirus. The in ovo vaccines are injected in eggs at about EID 18, when the eggs are routinely transferred from the incubators to the hatchers.

Elanco also floats this warning about the chicken viruses in its medications:

One would not expect the inactivated viruses or bacteria involved to be a problem by themselves as they do not cause disease in humans, and further there are no living organisms present" but if human injections of the vaccines occur, "it is recommended that the victim seek immediate medical attention. Do not delay treatment."

But hey, it’s worth the risk, right? So people can eat more and more factory farm chicken? According to William Weldon, vice-president of Elanco R&D:

"As the middle class grows in size and affluence throughout the world, the demand for eggs and poultry is growing rapidly. However, egg layer productivity is now shrinking after decades of increases," said William Weldon, vice president of Elanco R&D. Delivering innovation to this industry is critical. Without it, we're on pace to double the number of hens needed, plus the massive resources to support them, in order to meet demand in 2050.”

Spoken like a true promoter of the biotech industry’s obsession with getting more profit out of each animal "unit" with vaccines, feed additives and GMOs.

There’s another reason Elanco is eager to acquire Bayer Animal Health. African swine flu has led to the slaughter of millions of animals in China, a scourge as underreported as the U.S. porcine epidemic diarrhea virus which killed one-tenth of all U.S. pigs between May 2013 and September 2014 but was largely––and conveniently––ignored by the mainstream press.

Similarly the African swine flu scourge currently causing the slaughter of millions of pigs in China has barely made the news except for this short Bloomberg observation in August.

For companies like Elanco, the culling of livestock has led to lower demand for medicines and other products. “I haven’t seen something like this in my 30 years working in animal health,” said Elanco Chief Executive Officer Jeff Simmons in a telephone interview. He said that swine fever is the most significant headwind the company faces. The disease is expected to cut into Elanco’s sales by $40 million to $50 million this year, the company said.

No wonder Bayer and Elanco want to emphasize their pet business when they talk about "animal health" with heart-warming photos of cuddly cats and dogs, instead of showing sick food animals in cramped conditions that are headed to the dinner table.

No friend of animals—or consumers

Elanco's anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-animal positions are nothing new. The company bought its recombinant bovine growth hormone, Posilac, one of the U.S.'s first genetically engineered foods, from Monsanto and continued to market it despite public outrage.

Over 10 years ago when it looked like Congress might regulate antibiotics used on the farm, Elanco wrote in a brochure:

"Monitoring antibiotic resistance in raw meat products is not an appropriate measure to represent the bacteria that reach the consumer because cooking destroys these bacteria, and dead bacteria cannot transmit antibiotic resistance."

Not true, of course. Daily dosing of antibiotics, at the same time it lowers feed needs, lowers drug effectiveness and produces antibiotic-resistant bacteria or super bugs that can be deadly to people.

Then there’s Elanco’s notorious food additive ractopamine––still in use––which has been repeatedly found to mimic stress hormones and lead to health problems in pigs.

"Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the U.S. meat industry, ractopamine use has resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market," says the Center for Food Safety. "According to FDA's own calculations, more pigs have been adversely affected by ractopamine than by any other animal drug—more than 160,000."

How does Elanco justify its participation in the biotech/GMO/factory farm world?

By shamelessly perpetuating the myth that factory farms “feed the world.” Shamelessly, Elanco presented its biotech/GMO approach to find new world markets as "feeding the world's hungry" in a slick, misleading campaign a few years ago that redefined unadulterated, normal food as a luxury and redefined GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and production methods like battery egg cages as "innovation."

"Organics and 'luxury food' produced without innovation have almost become a status symbol for those who can afford it," says Elanco. "Is it fair—or justifiable—for shoppers living in comfort to disregard innovations that can help feed others?"

What a load of drug-contaminated cow, pig and chicken manure.

Martha Rosenberg is a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to Organic Consumers Assocation (OCA). Katherine Paul, OCA associate director, contributed to this article. To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Monsanto-Bayer's 'Family Values'

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-29 09:18
August 29, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering monsanto-threatens-moms.jpg

Just when you thought you’d heard the worst about Monsanto, comes this: Monsanto executives and paid shills for the company argued “to beat the shit” out of moms who criticized Roundup weedkiller.

They also declared “organic” to be the “enemy.”

As Monsanto’s new owner, Bayer, gears up to face another round of trials from plaintiffs alleging that exposure to Roundup caused them to get non-Hodgkin lymphoma, more revealing and disturbing internal emails and other documents are surfacing.

They’re ugly. They shed more light on Monsanto’s sinister tactics. And they target you.

As reported in New Food Economy, here’s what Monsanto Bruce Chassy, a University of Illinois biochemist, wrote to Monsanto executive Dan Goldstein, about a letter posted by Zen Honeycutt on the Moms Across America website:

“The funniest part about the letter is how it says my children got better when I fed them organic. There you have it. That’s your enemy. Beat the shit out of them and put them on the defensive and you won’t have this problem.”

Chassy fired back:

“I have been arguing for a week to beat the shit out of them and have clearly lost. We don’t want to be seen as beating up on mothers, nobody will listen to it anyway, it has to be done by third parties, it’s an industry problem not a Monsanto problem … I have heard it all this week.”

There you have it. From the company that brags on its website:

Respect for human dignity and human rights is the ethical foundation of everything we do. We treat people fairly and respectfully, irrespective of their religion, nationality, ethnic origin, culture, gender or sexual orientation. We value and foster diversity.

Well, almost everybody . . . but clearly not moms who have an axe to grind with Roundup weedkiller. And not anyone who supports organic food and farming.

This is the evil we’re up against. It’s our job to keep up the pressure on corporations and politicians until one day, our food is poison-free.

Make a tax-deductible donation to Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

Support Citizens Regeneration Lobby, OCA’s 501(c)(4) lobbying arm (not tax-deductible)

Click here for more ways to support our work

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter. 

Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-08-28 19:46
Health IssuesDariush MozaffarianNew York TimesAugust 26, 2019https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/opinion/food-nutrition-health-care.html french fries 1200x630 cc

Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care.

The Democratic debate on health care has to date centered around who should be covered and who should pay the bill. That debate, which has been going on for decades, has no clear answers and cannot be easily resolved because of two fundamental realities: Health care is expensive, and Americans are sick.

Americans benefit from highly trained personnel, remarkable facilities and access to the newest drugs and technologies. Unless we eliminate some of these benefits, our health care will remain costly. We can trim around the edges — for example, with changes in drug pricing, lower administrative costs, reductions in payments to hospitals and providers, and fewer defensive and unnecessary procedures. These actions may slow the rise in health care spending, but costs will keep rising as the population ages and technology advances.

And Americans are sick — much sicker than many realize.

Source Author 2: Dan Glickman

Monsanto Used Former Top DOJ Official Involved in Epstein Deal to Quash Felony Case

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-08-28 19:00
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationAdam ZagorinYahoo! NewsAugust 28, 2019https://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-monsanto-used-former-doj-lawyer-involved-in-epstein-case-to-quash-felony-charges-090028623.html handcuff-money-cc-1200x630.jpg

This spring, Justice Department prosecutors were on the verge of charging biotech giant Monsanto with a felony for illegally spraying a banned, highly toxic pesticide and nerve agent in Hawaii, not far from beachside resorts on Maui. But then, according to an internal April 2019 government document viewed by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), that decision was overruled.

Monsanto, battling a slew of high-profile lawsuits contending that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, had its Washington lawyers intervene at the highest levels of DOJ to stop the felony case, which has not been previously reported. A key attorney handling the matter for Monsanto, Alice S. Fisher, is a former senior DOJ official alleged to have played a part in keeping Jeffrey Epstein’s controversial plea deal secret from his victims more than a decade ago, although some U.S. officials have provided other reasons why victims were not notified. Fisher denies playing a decision-making role in the Epstein matter.

Source Author 2: Nick Schwellenbach

Take Action by September 3 to Ban This Cancer-Causing Weedkiller!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-08-27 16:02
August 27, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerGenetic Engineering, Health Issues tractor_field_spray_1200x630.jpg

Before you enjoy the upcoming three-day weekend, please write a note to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) telling the agency why it should ban this very dangerous herbicide, Monsanto (now Bayer)’s glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller.

TAKE ACTION BY TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 3: Tell the EPA why glyphosate should be banned!

Wow! Over the last two months, 106,431 people have taken the time to educate themselves about glyphosate-based herbicides and share what they’ve learned, posting public comments on the Regulations.gov website.

We know it’s going to take another election to really do something about this. But what better way to motivate our next president and her (or his) EPA Administrator than by showing them the hundreds of thousands of public comments demanding a ban on this carcinogenic weedkiller.

What’s wrong with glyphosate?

It causes cancer. Strong evidence links it to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Scarier still, research shows that the worst impacts will be on our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Prostate disease, obesity, kidney disease, ovarian disease and birth abnormalities were rampant in the third and fourth generations of rats, according to studies, even though the impact on the first generation, who were directly exposed to glyphosate—and even their offspring—was negligible.

Scientists have documented damage to the liver and kidneys in rodents exposed to glyphosate in doses considered safe for humans. 

Researchers have observed congenital malformations, similar to birth defects observed in babies in farming regions where glyphosate is used intensively, in the piglets of hogs fed soybeans with glyphosate herbicide residues.

These problems may arise because glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. Studies have found that:

Glyphosate impairs male offspring reproductive development by disrupting gonadotropin expression.

Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines. 

Another reason glyphosate is so harmful may be because it binds to metals, such as cobalt and manganese, depriving our bodies of these crucial micronutrients.

Now that you know what’s wrong with glyphosate, tell the EPA.

TAKE ACTION BY TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 3: Tell the EPA why glyphosate should be banned!

After that, please contact your Senators and U.S. Representative to ask them to introduce legislation to ban glyphosate.

We’ve been gearing up for actions at the EPA and a Congressional lobby day, but we need to have legislation to rally around before it makes sense to ask you to come to D.C.

Monsanto's 'Slime and Slander' Hit List

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-22 18:30
August 22, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering monsanto_sign_1200x630.jpg

Photo: Karen Eliot, Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We’ve known since at least June that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, compiled hit lists containing hundreds of names and other personal information about journalists, politicians and scientists, including their opinions about pesticides and genetic engineering.

But newly revealed court documents expose an even more calculated and sinister plan—a 130-page plan involving 11 staff members plus high-powered public relations firms—to “slime and slander” anyone who criticized their products or operations.

Among the targets of Monsanto’s hit list strategy is U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a nonprofit investigative research group focused on the food industry, for which OCA provides substantial funding. In an interview with Democracy NOW!’s Amy Goodman, USRTK executive director, Gary Ruskin, said there’s still so much we don’t yet know about Monsanto’s strategy. The court documents raise more questions than answers, he said.

What we do know, is that Monsanto’s strategy involved recruiting, and sometimes paying, third-party “experts” to attack USRTK’s and others’ work.

OCA is no stranger to Monsanto’s slimy tactics. The company has funded the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a lofty name for what’s no more than a corporate-funded front group. The ACSH has accused OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins of everything from spreading “fake news” to colluding with Russian trolls.

Give us a break.

Read 'Monsanto's Hit List Exposed'

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

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Dear Mr. Impossible Foods CEO: Please Visit This Regenerative Ranch

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-22 13:17
August 22, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulAll About Organics, Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering 1200x630-for-article.png

It may be true that you can take the boy out of the country, but it’s apparently not so easy to get the CEO out of Silicon Valley.

In mid-June, Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures, publicly invited Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods, to visit Harris’ ranch in Bluffton, Georgia. The invitation was prompted by a statement Harris got wind of, in the latest Impossible Foods Impact Report, which facetiously referred to regenerative grazing as the “clean coal” of meat.

The company has also claimed that grassfed beef  “generates more GHGs than feedlot beef”—a claim that didn’t sit well with Harris, whose ranch in Bluffton, Georgia, stores “more carbon in the soil than our cows emit in a lifetime,” according to this blog post on his website. (For more on regenerative beef production at White Oak Pastures, watch this video produced by CNN).

Harris told a reporter for Civil Eats that he was “stunned” by the “clean coal” analogy. “I think there were many mistruths in that attack,” he said. Then he reiterated his invitation to Brown, through the reporter:

“Dr. Brown, please come see me. It’ll be an opportunity for both of us to adjust our worldviews.”

On June 13, Harris followed up his public invitiations with a personal email, which he shared with us, to Brown. The email read, in part:

While I respect your right to have your own corporate opinion, I am struck by the differences in our world view. After reading your piece, I began creating a detailed outline to explain our very different perceptions of what is true. But, we are so far apart that it was futile.

I have a much better idea. I am now inviting you to visit my farm to allow me to show you regenerative agriculture being practiced. I can only imagine how busy you are, but, based on yesterday's article, I am convinced that you and your company will benefit from a visit.

Brown’s executive assistant, Meghan Duff, responded by email, and she and Harris arranged for Brown and Harris to speak by phone, on Wednesday, July 10, 1 p.m. EDT. But two days before the scheduled call, Duff emailed Harris again to say that they’d need to reschedule the call. The next day, July 9, Brown emailed Harris:

Hi Will,

Very sorry for the delay.  I greatly value your time and I'm looking forward to our conversation, but my schedule is not entirely under my control. 



Harris emailed a lengthy response, in which he outlined some of the viewpoints he thinks the two men share. Then once again he extended an invitation to visit White Oak Pastures:

Clearly we will not be able to reconcile our wide gulf of understanding by speaking on the phone.  I have scientific research, supporting my position, that you might think of as "junk science". You have your research, and I would hold the same opinion of it.  The closest that we can come with research is the Quantis Carbon Footprint Evaluation that was done on your product and on mine. [These demonstrated that it takes 1 pound of my beef to reverse the carbon dioxide equivalent that is emitted by the production of 1 pound of your product.]

I propose, again, that you come to my farm and let me show you what we have been able to accomplish over the last 20+ years through our practice of regenerative land management.   I offer this invitation on behalf of White Oak Pastures, the membership of the American Grassfed Association, Savory Institute, and the American farmers and ranchers that are managing our land in a manner that is reversing climate change.

That was July 9. Harris hasn’t heard a peep from Brown or anyone else at Impossible Foods since.

Beef: to eat or not to eat?

In his last email to Brown, on July 9, Harris also wrote this:

The point on which we are diametrically opposed is our understanding of animal impact on our environment. I know, from my 40+ years of raising livestock, that utilizing proper animal impact is the only cost effective way to heal land that has been degraded by industrial farming practices.  

Conversely, here is a recent quote from your Chief Communications Officer, Ms. Rachel Konrad:  "We are happy about any company trying to eliminate the need for animals in agriculture," says Konrad. "They share our mission."  

The issue of whether or not to eliminate animals from agriculture is a hot topic these days. As an organization, Organic Consumers Association (OCA) respects the personal choice made by anyone who decides to eliminate meat and/or dairy from their diets. And we agree with health experts that we should all eat more plants, and less meat.

That said, we reject the notion that eliminating animals from agriculture is a climate solution.

We also suspect that profits, not “saving the planet,” is the primary goal of Impossible Foods. And we wholeheartedly reject the claims by Impossible Foods that its Impossible Burger, made from glyphostate-drenched GMO soy and containing GMO heme, is healthy for either the planet or consumers.

In an article published this week in The Telegraph, Patrick Holden, CEO of Sustainable Food Trust, warns that “jumping on the ‘all beef is bad’ bandwagon” is “hugely counterproductive.”

Holden writes:

In order to reverse the problems that have arisen from chemical-dependent crop monocultures, grass and livestock are having to be reintroduced as part of mixed arable systems. Grass is the great healer and, when grown with plants like clover, is the key to regenerative farming. Its extensive roots store atmospheric carbon deep within the soil, while its continual cover reduces chemical run-off, soil erosion and pollution. 

But, he makes the point, supported by OCA and many other organizations and scientists, that not all beef is created equal:

While free-range cattle are great for the environment, the same is not true of factory-farmed animals. These cows, which live enclosed in sheds, are typically fed on soya or cereals grown on intensively farmed land. This is deeply inefficient and contributes to deforestation.

In other words, it’s not the cow, but the how—a refrain often repeated by many who have studied and/or practiced regenerative agriculture, including Harris and Nicolette Hahn Niman, environmental lawyer, rancher and author of “Defending Beef.” 

Hahn was quoted this week in an article, “If We All Stopped Eating Beef, What Would Happen to the Land?” published on Medium by Popular Science.  Hahn told Popular Science that there’s an “enormous problem” with the U.S. food system, and how it impacts the environment. But, according to the article:

The problem comes from distilling the solution down to a single consumer action, instead of recognizing and fixing the broader system. That means repairing the relationship between purchasers and producers, adjusting feeding operations to be more humane, and literally getting down into the dirt.

The article concludes that “healthy soil is both a sign of sustainable practices and a contributor to a healthy food system.”

It’s hard to argue that the lab-grown GMO Impossible Burger, which relies on chemically grown GMO soy monocultures, contributes to healthy soil or a healthy food system.

Help stop Impossible Foods’ soil-destroying production practices

Whether or not you eat beef, or plant-based meat alternatives, it’s hard to justify the GMO soy monoculture production practices engaged in by Impossible Foods. Here are a few things you can do to keep the pressure on Impossible Foods.

1. Tell Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown: GMO Soy Is Bad for Consumers, Bad for the Planet

2. Tell the FDA: The Impossible Burger’s GMO Heme Should Be Safety-Tested!

3. Help Will Harris get Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown to visit his regenerative ranch. Download and print this invitation to Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown. Then attach the invitation to this comment form. Or mail it to: 

Mr. Pat Brown, CEO, Impossible Foods
400 Saginaw Drive
Redwood City, CA 94063

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Want to Be Healthier? Show the Soil a Little More Respect.

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-22 07:45
August 22, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationOCAEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues field_of_greens_1200x630.jpg

Americans are getting fatter. But we aren’t getting healthier. 

We can expect that trend to continue, unless we fix our food. And we can’t fix our food unless we fix our soil, which means we stop saturating it with herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, synthetic chemical fertilizers and antibiotics.

Scientific American just published a great article this week linking the decline of human health to the decline in food nutrients caused by the decline in soil health. The authors pointed to a report by Eco Farming Daily, citing data going back to 1940, stating this:

“The level of every nutrient in almost every kind of food has fallen between 10 and 100 percent. An individual today would need to consume twice as much meat, three times as much fruit, and four to five times as many vegetables to obtain the same amount of minerals and trace elements available in those same foods in 1940.”

How do we fix our soil, food and health? We need a “microbiome renaissance,” the author said. And that begins with showing Mother Nature a little respect:

It is pure hubris to think we can manipulate nature into agricultural perfection with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, to adapt to and mitigate the intertwined ecological, human health and climate crises, we must respect the elegant complexity of nature.

Read ‘Broccoli Is Dying. Corn Is Toxic. Long Live Microbiomes!’

To keep up with news and alerts from Organic Consumers Association, sign up for our newsletter.

VIDEO: Organic Standards Are Worth Fighting For

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-08-22 07:00
August 22, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationOCAAll About Organics organic_beets_1200x630.jpg

Is the National Organic Program (NOP) doing a good job of fulfilling its stated mission: developing and enforcing “uniform national standards for organically-produced agricultural products sold in the United States?”

That’s debatable. And so the question of organic standards enforcement was debated—last month, during the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) conference in Amherst, Mass.

Johanna Mirenda, Organic Trade Association policy director, and Dave Chapman, farmer and Real Organic Project executive director, went head-to-head on what the NOP is doing right, and what it’s doing wrong.

Demand for organic food is trending up. In 2018, U.S. sales of organic food hit $47.9 billion, up 5.9 percent from 2017. That’s a good thing.

But as demand for organic grows, so grows the number of companies that want a piece of that pie—and are willing to flout organic rules to get it. That’s a problem for the “real” organic producers whose prices are undercut by the fraudsters. And it’s a problem for consumers, who get cheated.

As Chapman says:

“Consumers are being misled. Do we participate in the fraud? Or do we say what we know is the truth?”

OCA was founded out of the need to protect organic standards. We still believe it’s a cause worth fighting for.

Watch ‘Real Organic Project and Organic Trade Association Debate’

To keep up with news and alerts from Organic Consumers Association, sign up for our newsletter.

The Second Silent Spring Has Sprung

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-08-21 19:00
Environment & Climate, Farm IssuesDr. Joseph MercolaMercola.comAugust 21, 2019https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/08/21/second-silent-spring-has-sprung.aspx monarch_flower_cc_1200x630.jpg

The renowned biologist, writer and ecologist Rachel Carson called for humanity's responsible action as stewards of the earth, warning that the federal government was part of a problem that may lead to environmental failure. Her book, "Silent Spring," became a best seller in 1962 and inspired a grassroots movement to protect the environment.1

Carson warned of the deadly impact that a certain insecticide, DDT, would have on insects and wildlife. She contended that its use may result in the death of a vast number of birds and wildlife and ultimately lead to a silent spring devoid of the typical calls of nature. Today, neonicotinoids have become the second silent spring.

Neonicotinoids are a relatively new type of insecticide. Unlike contact pesticides, these chemicals are systemic and water soluble.2 Plants absorb the pesticide into the foliage, flower and sap.3 Commonly called neonics, the toxin works on the central nervous system of the insect,4 causing death and impairing the ability to forage in pollinators.5

Sublethal exposure negatively affects the reproductive capacity of the male insect and may be a possible explanation for the failing honey bee population.6 In addition, only 5% of the active ingredient is absorbed by the plant.7

The remainder of the toxin is dispersed into the environment. Further research8 found this exposure in white-tailed deer resulted in an increased death rate in fawns and a lower reproductive capacity in females.

Neonics responsible for majority of toxicity load

A recent study9 demonstrated America's agricultural lands are now 48 times more toxic than they were a quarter-century ago. In an assessment of the toxicity load, comparing 1992 through 2014, the researchers found that synthetic insecticide use has shifted from mostly organophosphorus pesticides to a mix of neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.

The rise in toxicity of the agricultural lands was attributed primarily to neonics, representing up to 99% of the total load in 2014.10 While the plants only absorb 5% of the toxin,11 researchers found oral exposure of concern since the toxicity level is relatively high.12

Exposure may occur from the pollen, nectar and guttation water secreted by the plant. Not all the drops of water found on the leaves of plants in the morning is dew. Dew is the formation of droplets of water when cold air meets the warmer plant.

Guttation is the result of physics as the plant moves nutrients and moisture throughout the system. Since the leaves of a plant absorb only a specific amount of water, the extra water evaporates during the daytime. At night, pressure in the root cells forces the excess water out of the leaves.13

One study author points out this rise in environmental toxins matches the decline in pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies.14 For years scientists have been warning of the dangers of these pesticides; this new study provides a more complete picture of the threat to insect life and wildlife as a whole.

Compounding toxic burden is persistent

The same writer warns neonics stay in the environment for up to 1,000 days,15 which is significantly different than other pesticides that dissipate more quickly.16 National Geographic reports that neonics are used in more than 140 crops in more than 120 countries.17

The combination of widespread use and slow breakdown of neonics contributes to the compounding toxic burden experienced by multiple levels of the environment. As the number of insects have declined, so have the number of birds relying on the insect population for food.

But, as the American Bird Conservancy reports, exposure to contaminated insects is not the only factor reducing the bird population. The organization commissioned a report to review 200 studies on neonics in the industry, evaluating the risk to birds and aquatic systems. Cynthia Palmer, ABC Pesticides program manager, said the results were frightening:18

"A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird. Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid — called imidacloprid — can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction."

How Copenhagen Plans to Reach Carbon-Neutral Status in Just Six Years

Organic consumers - Wed, 2019-08-21 18:38
Environment & ClimateAdele PetersFast CompanyAugust 20, 2019https://www.fastcompany.com/90392020/how-copenhagen-plans-to-reach-carbon-neutral-status-in-just-six-years bicycle_1200x630_cc

Many cities are aiming for neutrality by 2030 or 2050. The Danish capital plans to be the first carbon-neutral capital in the world and to hit the goal by 2025.

If you miss the metro as you walk up to a stop in central Copenhagen during rush hour, you won’t wait long for the next train: the automated system is designed to run every two minutes. It’s one way for the city to convince residents not to drive a car, and as the metro system expands, one small piece of the city’s ambitious plan to cut emissions.

Six years ago, the city of Copenhagen set the goal to become the first carbon-neutral capital in the world, shrinking energy use as it shifts to renewable energy and produces enough extra green power to offset other remaining emissions. It plans to reach the goal by 2025, while some other cities, including Washington, D.C., are aiming for as late as 2050. So far, it has cut emissions 42%, and city leaders believe it is on track to hit the target. The city is working to become “one of the world’s greenest and most bike-friendly cities,” says Frank Jensen, the city’s lord mayor. “This is the best way forward, because it creates better space, cleaner air, less noise, and a healthier city.”

Tell the FDA: The Impossible Burger's GMO Heme Should Be Safety-Tested!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-08-20 19:17
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Food Safety, Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

Whether you’re excited about new meat alternatives, or you’d rather eat regenerative organic grass-fed beef, we can all agree on one thing: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has a responsibility to ensure that all meat alternatives are safe for consumers.

The GMO Impossible Burger is so packed with poisons, that if eating it makes you sick, you’ll never be able to figure out which ingredient to blame.

TAKE ACTION BY SEPTEMBER 3: Tell the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to safety test the GMO Impossible Burger—before the burger is sold to consumers!Read more

Take Action by September 3 for Fake Meat Food Safety!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-08-20 18:16
August 20, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerFood Safety, Genetic Engineering barbecue_grill_hamburger_1200x630.jpg

Even if you prefer organic veggie burgers or grass-fed beef, even if you’d never touch the genetically engineered Impossible Burger, it’s important for all of us to demand safety testing and regulation of GMOs. 

The future of food—and public health—is at stake.

TAKE ACTION BY SEPTEMBER 3: Tell the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to safety test the GMO Impossible Burger—before the burger is sold to consumers!

The GMO Impossible Burger is so packed with poisons, that if eating it makes you sick, you’ll never be able to figure out which ingredient to blame.

Mercola.com reports that “any or all of the following ingredients in the Impossible Burger could potentially be GMO and/or contaminated with glyphosate:

"… Soy Protein Concentrate … Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors … Potato Protein, Methylcellulose (possibly from cotton), Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin … Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) … Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12."

Impossible Foods, the Silicon Valley-based maker of the Impossible Burger, admits that consumers could experience adverse reactions to its lab-grown burger.

But in its warning to consumers the company downplays the potential risks associated with the burger’s genetically engineered ingredients, claiming that, hey, people could be allergic to just about any of the burger’s ingredients.

In other words, don’t blame the GMO ingredients!

Impossible Burger’s main ingredient is GMO soy. While organic fermented soy products like tofu or miso are healthy foods, the highly processed GMO soy in the burger is a nutritionally inferior junk food ingredient.

GMO soy is genetically engineered to soak up glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller. Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Its maker, Monsanto (now owned by Bayer), has recently been ordered to pay out billions in compensation to victims who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of using the weedkiller.

The other GMO ingredient in the Impossible Burger is soy leghemoglobin, or heme, which gives the burger its color and makes it “bleed.”

Rather than getting the heme straight from soy, Impossible Foods makes it by taking the genes that code for the soy leghemoglobin protein, inserting them into a species of yeast called Pichia pastoris, then feeding the genetically modified yeast sugar and minerals, to make it grow, replicate and manufacture heme. Then the heme is extracted from the yeast.

So many things can go wrong with this process. And it would be very difficult to detect contamination, before it was too late. 

In 1989, a food supplement, L-tryptophan, that was also produced using genetically modified bacteria, was found to be toxic. It killed 37 people and disabled more than1500 others.

In the L-tryptophan incident, the product was greater than 99 percent pure, devoid of DNA, and the toxin was present in less than 0.1 percent of the final marketed product. Still, it caused disease and death.

Dangers like this are why GMOs need to be safety tested.

The American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health supports mandatory safety assessments prior to release of genetically modified foods because of “a small potential for adverse events . . . due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity and toxicity.” 

The National Academy of Sciences concluded that genetic modification posed a higher risk of introducing unintended changes into food than any other crop-breeding method other than mutation breeding, a method in which plant genomes are bombarded with radiation or chemicals to induce mutations.

The World Health Organization has stated: “Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.” 

The WHO recommends that “adequate post-market monitoring” is carried out to ensure the safety of genetically modified foods. Yet such monitoring is not carried out anywhere in the world. 

That’s why nearly 300 independent scientists from around the world issued a public warning that there was no scientific consensus about the safety of eating genetically modified food, and that the risks, as demonstrated in independent research, gave “serious cause for concern.”

The Impossible Burger is getting all kinds of media attention these days. Fast-Food restaurants are keen to sell it. And it could soon be on supermarket shelves.

The final FDA comment period on GMO heme comes to a close on September 3. This is your last chance to weigh in on the need for real regulation of GMOs.

TAKE ACTION BY SEPTEMBER 3: Tell the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to safety test the GMO Impossible Burger—before the burger is sold to consumers!