Environment

Tell Congress: Consumers Want the Right to Choose Raw Milk!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2016-02-10 21:11
Belong to campaign: Healthy Raw MilkCategory: Food Safety, Health IssuesArea: USA

The health benefits of raw milk have been widely documented. Yet in many states, farmers and retail stores can’t sell it, and consumers can’t buy it.

It’s time to protect farmers from raw milk raids, and make it legal and easy for consumers to buy raw milk.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Consumers Want the Right to Choose Raw Milk! Ask Your Congress Members to Support HR 4307 and HR 4308.Read more

A Personal Invitation to Explore Organic Mexico!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2016-02-09 19:07
All About OrganicsFebruary 9, 2016http://viaorganica.org/ecotour/ Via Organica farmers

Seven years ago, we launched a project in Mexico, with a small budget and big dreams. 

Today that project, Vía Orgánica, includes a flourishing organic market and cafe in the UNESCO Heritage City of San Miguel de Allende,  and a rapidly growing organic teaching farm and conference center a few miles outside the city.

I could go on and on about this project, and often I do. But rather than just talk about our work in Mexico, I’d love to personally show it to you. 

In March, and again in April, we will conduct 10-day ecotours designed to immerse you in the culture and organic movement in San Miguel and the surrounding central highlands of Mexico.

This won’t be your typical tourist experience. Rather, you’ll be immersed in the organic regenerative farming and ranching experience, including spending some of your nights at our teaching farm. 

The trip will also include tours of San Miguel and other World Heritage sites, nature walks, horseback riding, a visit to the nearby natural hot springs, and organic farming and cooking workshops.

I will personally be on hand for parts of these tours, to answer questions and share our vision for scaling up organic regenerative agriculture on a global scale.

The tours will run from March 19 - 28, and April 22 - May 1. You can learn everything you need to know, including registration deadlines, costs and logistics, by visiting this website, where you’ll also find a registration form, and a phone number and email address to call or email for more information.

Our Vía Orgánica project is a critical, if quiet, part of our work. We don’t often talk about the positive impact we are having on the local economy and rural farming communities near San Miguel. About the land we are restoring through organic regenerative farming practices.  Or the hope we foster for rural farmers who are eager to learn how to  restore their own land, and increase their own food security and financial independence.

Not to mention the incredible beauty of this area of Mexico.

Through these new eco-tours, we hope to bring together adventurers, nature enthusiasts, gardeners, farmers and organic activists who share our vision for an organic, regenerative future.

Please visit our website for more details, and reach out with questions.

Hasta la vista!

Ronnie Cummins
International Director, Organic Consumers Association and Vía Orgánica

P.S. All proceeds from our eco-tours will support OCA, Via Organica and Regeneration International.

Twisted Logic

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-02-04 15:10
February 4, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization Twisted Tendril

“Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.” – Lewis Carroll

Yesterday (February 3, 2016), the Senate Ag Committee met, again, to discuss what to do about a federal standard for GMO labeling. 

Once again, Monsanto, Big Food and their devoted politicians in Washington D.C., engaged in another round of hand-wringing over what they claim will amount to doomsday for food companies: having to comply with Vermont’s GMO labeling law, by July 1.

The argument they love to put forth is this: Requiring food companies to comply with state laws requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs will result in a nightmare of confusion and costs.

The solution they put forth is this: a voluntary federal labeling law, preferably involving QR codes.

The question we ask, over and over again: If you’re that concerned about slight variations in state GMO labeling laws, why not just pass a mandatory federal labeling law that meets or exceeds Vermont’s standards? That’s what consumers want. That’s what the citizens in more than 60 other countries already have.

Instead, we hear the same old refrain. 

This, from Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), quoted by PoliticoPro :

"You can see that asking for more time [to work on a compromise], I don't know if that gets anything done or not given the strong feelings on both sides. But we are going to have to come together or we are going to have a wrecking ball in the food industry."

And this recent statement, from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA): 

“Further on food labeling, NASDA supports ‘a voluntary, federal system so as to avoid a patchwork of state-by-state standards’ for foods ‘containing or not containing’ genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

It defies logic. Unless, of course, your real intent is to protect Monsanto and Big Food by legally sanctioning their right to deceive consumers.

If the real concern is a state patchwork, the solution is clear. A mandatory federal standard solves the problem. 

We believe states should have the right to pass their own GMO labeling laws. If the federal government is willing to pass a uniform mandatory labeling law, that meets or exceeds Vermont's standards, we could support that.

On the issue of voluntary vs. mandatory? No compromise.

TAKE ACTION: Demand Mandatory Labeling of GMOs--Not Voluntary Labeling or QR Codes!

Text "LabelGMOs" to 97779 to join OCA's mobile network and take action!

Tweet your Senators: @(add your Senator’s twitter handle): I want a mandatory, not voluntary GMO labeling law! #LabelGMOs #RightToKnow

False Promises

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-02-04 13:44
February 4, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues Ban Roundup

One of Monsanto’s favorite (false) claims is that the proliferation of GMO crops leads to reduced pesticide use. The latest study to refute that claim, published this week in Environmental Sciences Europe, says that glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since Monsanto’s "Roundup Ready" genetically engineered crops were introduced in 1996. (Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup).

Monsanto also loves to falsely claim that glyphosate is harmless, despite study after study suggesting otherwise.(Not to mention that last year the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen).

How much should you care about a 15-fold increase in the use of glyphosate?

"The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences," said Dr. Charles Benbrook, author of the new study.

One of those (many) consequences, according to the world’s leading natural health website, Mercola.com, is that glyphosate damages your mitochondria. Damaged mitochondria are linked to hypertension and diabetes, allergic inflammation and autoimmune inflammation—conditions that are all on the rise, especially in the U.S. where 75-85 percent of all processed foods contain ingredients derived from Roundup Ready corn, soy, canola and sugar beets, to name a few.

A mere coincidence that instances of diabetes, allergies and autoimmune disease have risen, alongside the increased use of glyphosate? You decide.

Meanwhile, glyphosate is up for review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which promised a decision by the end of July, then pushed the deadline to end of 2015. And then went radio silent.

While the EPA drags its feet on whether or not to renew approval of glyphosate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) refuses to tell consumers how much glyphosate is left behind on the foods they eat.

It’s enough to send your blood pressure soaring.

TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA’s Neil Anderson: Ban Monsanto’s Roundup Now! 

More on the latest study of glyphosate use 

Tweet it now!

Text “Roundup” to 97779 to join OCA’s mobile network and take action!0

OCA Joins New Organics & Natural Health Trade Association

Organic consumers - Wed, 2016-02-03 14:07
All About Organics, OCA in the NewsOrganic Consumers AssociationFebruary 3, 2016 Organic and Natural Health Association logo

OCA Joins New Organics & Natural Health Trade Association

New Trade Group Will Not Seek Certification for ‘Natural Label’; Will Promote New Organic 3.0 Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2016   

CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association, Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090

FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today announced that it has joined the Organic & Natural Health Association, a new trade group committed to bringing together “a broad coalition to work towards preserving and advancing the health and well-being of people, animals and plants, and the planet as a whole.”

“The Organic & Natural Health Association fills a void in today’s market for a trade group that is dedicated to serving the needs of suppliers, retailers and consumers who seek truthful, unbiased and credible information, based on the latest health- and nutrition-based science and research, about organic and natural products,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director.

“America’s 100 million organic consumers and 100 million natural health consumers, working together, can be a mighty force for positive change, moving society toward a future which is organic and regenerative, while fighting off the increasing attacks against organic foods and natural health from Big Ag, Big Pharma, and their indentured scientists, propagandists, and political officials.”

The Organic & Natural Health held its first annual conference last month, where Karen Howard, CEO and executive director, announced that group’s board has decided against developing a certification or seal for the word “natural” on product labels, in favor of instead strengthening the current definition of “organic.” The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently extended the public comment period on whether or not the agency should define “natural.”

In a February 1 press release, Howard said, "Our research clearly shows that the majority of consumers do not differentiate between 'natural' and 'organic' and expect products labeled natural to also be organic. So, after careful consideration we determined that introducing a new 'natural' certification seal would not be in the best interest of consumers and could contribute to further confusion. At this juncture, encouraging people to go organic is more important, so we will focus on the existing organic certification seal and do whatever we can to strengthen that program."

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, a majority of consumers falsely assume that products labeled “natural” are produced without the use of pesticides, and are free of genetically engineered and artificial ingredients.

“Confusion around product labeling and false marketing claims makes it difficult for consumers to know which companies and brands are trustworthy. OCA supports the Organic & Natural Health’s mission to eliminate confusion and to hold brands to the highest of standards relating to product integrity,” Cummins said.

In addition to educating consumers about the false assumptions around the “natural” label, the Organic & Natural Health will collaborate with IFOAM International, OCA and other organizations to promote Organic 3.0, a more inclusive definition of organic, which takes into account the role agriculture plays in the global issues of hunger, inequity, energy consumption, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural resources.

“We can no longer talk about food out of context,” Cummins said. “Food and agriculture are inextricably linked to a host of environmental and social issues, all of which are intertwined. The OCA fully supports Organic & Natural Health’s commitment to raising the bar for organics, and to holding all of those involved in the food supply chain accountable for the role they play in society as a whole. Our interaction with consumers leads us to believe that they understand these issues, support higher standards, and will support those brands that adhere to Organic 3.0 standards and Organic & Natural Health’s values.”

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.

 

¡Bienvenido!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-01-28 21:02
All About OrganicsJanuary 28, 2016http://viaorganica.org/ecotour/ Via Organica Farm

OCA, along with our Regeneration International Project and  Vía Orgánica, our sister organization in Mexico. are now offering 10-day eco-tours in the central highlands of Mexico.

Visit three World Heritage sites, including San Miguel de Allende. Take a trip to the hot springs. Participate in organic farm tours, trail rides, nature walks and organic farming and cooking workshops.

You’ll spend most of your nights at Vía Orgánica’s teaching farm, just outside San Miguel, where you can join in lively discussions with OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins, and other staff. It's a great way to build solidarity with the international organic food movement. 

The Ecological Ranch serves as an educational farm and training center for farmers, students and activists in the organic food movement. The ranch includes a natural retreat center with adobe buildings, walking trails, solar power, rainwater catchment, and greywater and composting systems. 

Tour dates are March 19-28 or April 22-May 1. Cost for accommodations and all-organic meals is $1250 per person.  Deadlines for registering are February 19 for the March 19 tour, and March 22 for the April 22 tour.

For more information or to register contact: tour@organicconsumers.org

Learn more 

Demand Mandatory Labeling of GMOs--Not Voluntary Labeling or QR Codes!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-01-28 14:11
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Millions Against Monsanto, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

We first wrote about U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s Big Idea for GMO labeling nearly a year ago. Then, the subject surfaced again, as Hershey's announced plans to use QR codes, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association launched its Big QR Code Plan.

The idea is this: Allow companies, voluntarily, to use QR barcodes to tell consumers if their products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The scheme would require you to scan the product, then be directed to the company’s website where you’d have wade through the advertising  and search the fine print.

Of course, you’d have to have a smart phone. And plenty of time on your hands.   We didn’t like the plan then. We don’t like it now. And we’re not keen that it may show up soon in a Senate bill, that would preempt Vermont's GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1. 

Tell  your Senators: Consumers Want Mandatory GMO Labeling, not Barcodes!

 Read more

Label GMOs with QR Codes? Not So Fast, Senators Say

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-01-21 18:44
January 21, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization QR Codes, 420x280

Consumers aren’t the only ones who aren’t keen on a high-tech “solution” to GMO labeling.

As the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) was meeting behind closed doors last week, trying to negotiate some sort of compromise that would preempt Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law before July 1, a number of Senators—including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—sent some pointed questions for the GMA about its proposed QR code labeling scheme.

Sanders, along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.),  Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) fired off a letter to the GMA’s executive director, Pam Bailey, stating that they are “troubled” by the QR code scheme’s “anti-consumer loopholes.”

Here are their questions:

How will GMA ensure that consumers who don’t have smart phones—typically lower income, less educated, or elderly individuals—are able to access important food labeling information while they are shopping in grocery store aisles?

What promises will manufacturers participating in the SmartLabel initiative make to consumers to assure their privacy and their information will not be used or sold?

What steps will your members take to resolve these numerous technical considerations?

The Senators request a response by February 17, 2016.

Vermont’s GMO labeling law is at risk, if a federal bill preempts it with QR codes. Connecticut’s GMO labeling law can’t take effect until several other New England states pass similar laws. And Massachusetts currently has a bill under consideration, supported by 155 state legislators.

You can read the entire letter here. It pretty much sums up the reasons that consumers reject QR codes, and remain committed to requiring mandatory, on-package labeling of GMOs. Please tell your Senators you want mandatory, on-package labeling of GMOs—not QR codes!

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Letter from Senators to the GMA Questioning GMO QR Codes

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-01-21 18:12
Food Safety, Politics & GlobalizationSen. Richard Blumenthal, et alblumental.senate.govJanuary 21, 2016http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2016%201%2021%20Letter%20to%20GMA%20re%20SmartLabel.pdfhttp://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2016%201%2021%20Letter%20to%20GMA%20re%20SmartLabel.pdf fountain pen

Ms. Pamela G. Baily
President and CEO
Grocery Manufacturers Association
1350 I Stree, Northwest, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Ms. Bailey:

We write regarding the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recent launch of its SmartLabel initiative, which is currently supported by over 30 food, beverage, and consumer product companies. As you know, consumers take into account a number of factors, including health, environmental, religious, ethical, and more, when making their food purchasing decisions. Accordingly, we strongly believe consumers have a right to easy access of basic information about their food, so that they can make informed decisions about what to eat for themselves and their families.

We understand that your new initiative is intended to allow consumers to use their smartphone to obtain information not required to be on a product's label, by scanning its bar code or QR code while shopping.1 While we recognize that the companies commited to this intiative are taking steps towards supplying consumers with the information that they deserve to have access to, we are troubled that this initiative may have significant anti-consumer loopholes. We worry that this initiative will instead make it more difficult for consumers to learn basic information about the food products they are buying, such as whether a product contains a specific allergen or whether the product uses genetically engineered ingredients. Specifically, we have concerns with respect to the implementation of this program and how GMA intends to address issues that deal with consumer privacy, descrimination, and technical feasibility.

First, this initiative may unfairly descriminate against a large segment of the population. According to the PEW Research Center, only 68 percent of American adults own a smartphone - many of which do not necessarily subscribe to mobile broadband.2How will GMA ensure that consumers who don't have smartphones - typically lower income, less educated, or elderly individuals3 - are able to access important food labeling information while they are shopping in grocery store aisles? How will GMA make these shoppers aware of the SmartLabel initiative? How will you measure the efficacy or consumer use of this initiative and will such reporting be made publically available?

Second, many consumers are worried about how this initiative will effect their privacy.
According to a recent pole by the Mellman Group, 82 percent of consumers beleive that food manufacturers should be restricted from collecting personal information, such as product choices and physical location, from consumers.4 Eating habits and prefrences are personal, and consumers deserve to be able to scrutinize labels without worrying about food manufacturers gathering their information, creating profiles about them, and possibly sharing or selling this information. What promises will manufacturers participating in the SmartLabel initiative make to consumers to assure their privacy and that their information will not be used or sold?

Lastly, we are concerned that the SmartLabel initiative faces many technical hurdles that will effect consumer access to critical information that they will not have access to by simply reading a product's label. Different smartphone models vary greatly in their ability to quickly and easily scan QR codes. In addition, it can be difficult to scan a QR code if it is too small, based on the type of surface it is on (e.g. a curved surface or crinkly package), and if the store's lighting is not at the optimum level. Firthermore, not all grocery stores get adequate cell phone data service and most aren't equoipped with free Wi-Fi. What steps will your members take to resolve these numerous technical considerations? What commitments do you have with food retailers to ensure that these issues, among others, are addressed?

Consumers have a right to clear, turthful, and concise food labels regarding key information about the food products they are purchasing. We look forward to monitoring the implementation of your new initiative. We ask that you provide answers to our questions by February 17, 2016. Thank you for your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Richard Blumental

U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy

U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders

U.S. Senator Jon Tester

U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 http://www.gmaonline.org/news-events/newsroom/new-smartlabel-initiative-gives-consumers-easy-access-to-detailed-ingredien/

2 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/

3 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/

4 http://www.j ustlabelit.org/press-room/new-pol1-nearly-nine-in-10-americans-want-labels-on-gmo-food/

Tell WebMD CEO Schlanger to Stop Promoting Monsanto!

Organic consumers - Mon, 2016-01-18 18:24
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoAppetite for a ChangeCategory: Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesArea: USA

If you’re one of the nearly 12 million people who visit WebMD.com every month, you’re getting a healthy dose of Monsanto propaganda along with your “health research.”
 
Monsanto is one of the many corporate “sponsors” of WebMD. That means Monsanto pays WebMD in order to pepper WebMD’s website with advertisements and advertorials, disguised as legitimate journalism.
 
WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) is a publicly held corporation that answers first and foremost to its shareholders. The company, with its long history of deceiving consumers and partnering up with drug, junk food and biotech companies, is not, and never was, in the business of caring about consumers—a fact meticulously documented in an article (January 19, 2016) by Mercola.com.
 
Why bother to ask one corrupt corporation, WebMD, to cut ties with another, equally or exceedingly corrupt corporation (Monsanto)?
 
Because Monsanto’s WebMD propaganda is cleverly disguised as legitimate health advice. So cleverly, that millions of visitors to the site probably have no idea that they’re being duped.

TAKE ACTION: Tell WebMD CEO Schlanger to Stop Promoting Monsanto!Read more

Campbell’s Will Label GMOs—and the Sky Will Not Fall

Organic consumers - Wed, 2016-01-13 20:27
January 12, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineeringhttps://www.organicconsumers.org/blog/campbell%E2%80%99s-will-label-gmos%E2%80%94and-sky-will-not-fall Spaghettios GMO Label Text on label: Partially produced with genetic engineering.

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have long defended their die-hard positions against mandatory GMO labeling laws, often by feigning concern about the financial impact labeling laws would have on consumers. Labeling will be costly for manufacturers, who will pass those costs on to consumers, they consistently argue (despite studies suggesting otherwise).

As if concern for consumers’ wallets had anything to do with Big Food’s determination to deceive.

So the first question we asked the Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) last week, following the announcement that Campbell’s will label all of its products that contain GMOs, was this: Will you charge more for these products after you label them?

In an email to OCA, company spokesman Tom Hushen wrote:

“To be clear, there will be no price increase as a result of Vermont or national GMO labeling for Campbell products.”

Will Campbell’s have to absorb extra costs associated with labeling? Will profit margins on their GMO brands shrink?

No, says Carmen Bain, a sociology professor at Iowa State University who studies GMO labeling. Bain told PoliticoPro’s Jenny Hopkinson:

"Campbell has determined that the cost of labeling their products is negligible (and therefore won't mean higher costs for consumers) and that it's probably costlier for them not to get out in front of this thing.”

Campbell’s is the first major food company to break ranks with the biotech and food industries on the issue of mandatory labeling of GMOs.  We don’t yet know how the decision will play out over time. (Campbell’s will finish rolling out its labels within 12-18 months, according to the New York Times).

But so far, we know this much. Consumers who still choose to buy Campbell’s GMO products, even after they read the labels, won’t pay more for those products. Campbell’s will continue to sell a mix of GMO and non-GMO foods. The company will use on-package labels (not QR codes), on all U.S. products that contain GMOs, not just those covered by Vermont’s mandatory labeling law (set to take effect July 1). Campbell’s will follow through on its labeling plan regardless of what happens at the federal level—passage of a voluntary QR code standard, preemption of Vermont’s law, or nothing at all.

And, despite all of the above, the sky will not fall.

Not perfect, but definitely a win

We’ve always viewed the GMO labeling fight as one small battle in a much larger war. That hasn’t changed.

We want GMO crops and foods to disappear, replaced by an organic regenerative food and farming system that produces chemical-free, nutrient-dense food using farming practices that restore biodiversity, keep our waters clean, treat animals humanely, support family farmers and local economies, and draw down carbon from the atmosphere by rebuilding soil health and organic matter.

Campbell’s isn’t on board with our mission, at least not yet. In an email, Campbell’s Hushen wrote:

“We still believe GMOs are safe and we continue to believe that they play an important role in feeding the world.”

Clearly, we disagree, on both counts. Most of us won’t be rushing out to buy Campbell’s non-organic soup anytime soon, label or no label.

That said, we congratulate Campbell’s for responding to consumer demand for truth and transparency in labeling.  But from the “credit where credit is due” department, let’s not forget to congratulate the consumers who forced Campbell’s hand.

Campbell’s about-face on mandatory labeling didn’t happen overnight. And it’s safe to say it wouldn’t have happened at all, without consumer pressure.

For years, the most famous soup brand in the U.S. planted itself squarely in the GMA’s corner. When consumer demand for GMO labels took a political turn, sparking citizen-led ballot initiatives to mandate labels, Campbell’s stepped up to the plate. The company donated $589,000 to defeat California’s Proposition 37 in 2012, and another $385,000 to defeat a similar initiative in Washington State, in 2013.

But when the battle moved to Oregon and Colorado in 2014, Campbell’s sat on the sidelines.

Fast forward to last week, when Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison, in an official statement, wrote:

We are operating with a “Consumer First” mindset. We put the consumer at the center of everything we do. That’s how we’ve built trust for nearly 150 years. We have always believed that consumers have the right to know what’s in their food. GMO has evolved to be a top consumer food issue reaching a critical mass of 92% of consumers in favor of putting it on the label.

Why spend nearly $1 million to defeat state labeling initiatives if you’ve “always believed” consumers have the right to know? According to Campbell’s, the company didn’t oppose the labeling of GMOs, though it didn’t label them. Campbell’s just didn’t like the idea of laws that might vary from state to state.

That may be the company’s line now, but until last week, all consumers knew was that Campbell’s refused to label, spent generously to defeat labeling laws, and was a member of the GMA which, among other things, sued Vermont to try to overturn the state’s mandatory labeling law.

So when the OCA launched its Traitor Boycott, targeting the GMA-member food companies that spent millions to defeat labeling laws, Campbell’s, including its organic brands, made the cut.

The boycott wasn’t exactly good for Campbell’s brand image. Could that have played into the company’s decision to cut and run from Monsanto and the GMA?

Timing is everything

Consumers can’t take all the credit for Campbell’s decision to label. Vermont’s labeling law is still on track to take effect July 1. Unless Monsanto and the GMA get Congress to preempt it, or the court overturns it, Campbell’s—and every other food company—will have to comply with Vermont’s standards, at least in Vermont.

Alternatively, food companies could remove GMO ingredients from their products, rather than label them (which is what many companies have done with products they sell in countries that require labeling). Or they could stop selling their GMO foods in Vermont, but continue selling them in other states (not likely).

When asked if Campbell’s would phase out GMOs from their brands, Hushen responded:

“We will follow our consumer-first approach and develop products that people want to eat. We expect that we will continue to have a mix of foods that are GMO free and foods that use ingredients derived from GMO crops.”

Here’s what we think: Campbell’s will closely monitor sales of products labeled as containing GMO ingredients. If sales fall off, look for more GMO-free products. If not, well, there goes another of the food industry’s phony claims—that labels will “scare” consumers away from GMO products. (To be clear, we believe consumers should be scared. GMOs have never been proven safe, they haven’t even been adequately tested. And GMO crops are grown with copious amounts of toxic chemicals, like glyphosate, recently classified as a probable carcinogen).

Either way, Hushen confirmed that Campbell’s will continue to respond to consumer demand for organic and non-GMO foods. Campbell’s already markets several organic lines, including Campbell's Organic Soups, Wolfgang Puck Organic Soups, Campbell's Organic Tomato Juice, Organic V8, Swanson Organic Broth and Plum Organics. (According to the New York Times, about 75 percent of the company’s products contain ingredients derived from corn, canola, soybeans or sugar beets, the four largest genetically engineered crops).

What does the GMA think about Campbell’s defection?

We asked, of course, and the GMA’s Roger Lowe emailed this response:

“GMA respects the rights of our individual member companies to communicate with their customers in whatever manner they deem appropriate and manufacturers have been asking for science-based guidelines from which they can reasonably disclose for the absence or presence of GMOs.  For this reason, the national food supply chain advocated for a consistent national labeling standard as outlined in H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act which was sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield and passed by a bipartisan vote of   275-150 on July 23, 2015. It  is imperative that Congress acts immediately to prevent the expansion of a costly patchwork of state labeling laws that will ultimately hurt consumers who can least afford higher food prices.”

There is also broad industry consensus that a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws would only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers.

Providing consumers with the information they need to make informed product choices is a core commitment of GMA and is at the heart of our new SmartLabel initiative which will provide consumers with far more information than could ever appear on a food label."

Missing from that statement is the word “voluntary,” which is the only form of labeling, QR code or otherwise, the GMA has so far been willing to support—and only if it preempts Vermont’s mandatory law.

And what about the fact that Campbell’s says labels won’t cause an increase in food prices? Lowe wrote: “GMA’s position on the cost issue has not changed.”

By all means, let’s not let facts get in the way of an entrenched position.

Any way you slice (or slurp) Campbell’s decision to label, this is change in the right direction. It’s proof that persistence pays. That Monsanto is not as unassailable as it thinks. And that consumers can drive corporations, even the big ones, to do the right thing.

Want to thank Campbell’s for breaking ranks with Monsanto and the GMA? Post on Campbell’s Facebook page. Or join the Stock It With Campbell’s campaign, but please – if you donate any Campbell’s products to your local food pantry, choose only an organic product.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

 

OCA Statement on Campbell’s Announcement that the Food Co. Will Label Foods Containing Genetically Engineered Ingredients

Organic consumers - Fri, 2016-01-08 15:24
All About Organics, Food Safety, Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesOrganic Consumers AssociationJanuary 8, 2016 Campbells, 420x280

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 8, 2016
    
CONTACT
: Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul, 207-653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today issued the following statement following the announcement by Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB) will label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients:

“Today’s announcement by Campbell’s marks a significant win on the GMO labeling front for consumers,” said OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins. Whether this major food company’s decision was forced by Vermont’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, or whether it is a result of direct pressure from consumers and consumer boycotts, the decision proves that when consumers consistently, and persistently, demand transparency, food corporations will eventually comply, rather than risk their brand images or retail sales.

“The decision by Campbell’s sends a clear message to Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling laws. And unless Campbell’s announces price hikes resulting from these new labels, this move proves that industry threats that labels will makes products more expensive have been nothing more than empty fear mongering.

“Ultimately we would like to see Campbell’s source only organic ingredients, from suppliers that use organic, regenerative farming practices. And we disagree with the company’s claims that GMOs are safe, especially given that about 85 percent of GMO crops are grown with Monsanto’s Roundup, which contains glyphosate, a probable carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization. But we congratulate the company for being the first major brand to provide transparency around GMO ingredients.”

Following the loss of Proposition 37, a 2012 ballot initiative in California that would have required GMO foods in that state to be labeled, the OCA called for a boycott of the organic brands owned by Campbell’s, including the company’s Plum Organics line. Campbell’s donated $589,000 to defeat Prop 37, and another $385,000 to defeat a similar initiative in Washington State, in 2013.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.

Drugging Animals on Factory Farms—ENOUGH Already.

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-01-07 14:51
January 7, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulFarm Issues, Health Issues hand_syringe_glove_drop_420x280.png

We’ve all grown accustomed to the steady parade of television ads—$3 billion year worth, by some estimates— urging us to “ask our doctors” about the latest miracle drug. Pharmaceutical ads have been commonplace since the 1990s, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the way for prescription drug companies to aggressively market their wares directly to consumers.

Wisdom and ethics aside, it’s easy to see why Big Pharma would push pills to humans, to treat human ailments. It’s big money. 

But a drug company that makes animal drugs, purchased not by consumers but by factory farms, advertising direct to consumers who will never actually purchase those drugs? How does that make sense?

If you’re Elanco, the $2.3-billion animal drug division of Eli Lilly, you make it seem sensible by spinning the message. In Elanco’s case, the message is this: Without our animal drugs, the world will starve.

It’s a message that paints the drug maker as an altruistic savior, instead of the profit-motivated animal abuser and public health threat it actually is.

Massaging the Messaging

It’s been about a year since I accidentally stumbled on Elanco’s ENOUGH Movement campaign. Curious as to why a corporation that pushes animal drugs would spend millions on a consumer campaign, I “joined” the movement.

Since then, I’ve routinely received emails from “The Movement.” The subject lines generally go like this: “More People, Improved Diets, ENOUGH Food” or “When It Comes to Harvesting, Will We Have ENOUGH?” or, one of my favorites, “Pork: Can We Have ENOUGH?”

The messages are intended to evoke fear—fear of scarcity, fear of hunger. But these messages strike a different kind of fear in the hearts of those who know anything about the real causes of hunger—poverty,  poor distribution, waste, climate instability.

The fact is, we already produce enough food to feed the world. And as research conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has clearly shown, to achieve global food security we need a “rapid and significant shift from conventional monoculture-based and high external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

What we should really be afraid of is the fact that drug use on factory farms has led to a huge public health problem—antibiotic resistance. In the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, and at least 23,000 die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not to mention that animals pumped with drugs like ractopamine, banned in China, the European Union and more than 100 other countries—but not here in the U.S.—suffer and become ill. Yet we still turn them into meat for human consumption.

Good ENOUGH for U.S. Consumers

In October (2015), mainstream business press got wind of Elanco’s ENOUGH Movement. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Andrew Martin wrote a piece exposing the campaign, and its near-evangelical spokesperson, Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco. Martin wrote:

Simmons is on a counteroffensive. Increasingly, the drugs Elanco makes—including antibiotics and productivity enhancers—have come under attack by food activists and, in some instances, scientists and regulators. Food companies and fast-food chains are responding to consumer demand for healthier, more natural food that doesn’t contain some of the drugs that have made Elanco a $2.3 billion business.

Elanco, the animal-health division of the pharma giant Eli Lilly, makes one of the world's most controversial growth-promoting chemicals for meat production: ractopamine, marketed as Optaflexx for cattle, Paylean for pigs, and Topmax for turkeys.

A member of the class of medicines known as beta-agonists, which are also given to asthmatic people to help relax their airway muscles, ractopamine makes animals rapidly put on lean weight—but it also mimics stress hormones and makes their hearts beat faster. Studies suggest that it makes livestock more vulnerable to heat. Ractopamine is banned in the European Union, China, and more than 100 other countries, and it faces mounting criticism here in the United States.

So controversial is ractopamine, that according to PoliticoPro, China recently agreed to resume imports of U.S. pork from six processing plants and eight cold storage facilities, only after those plants and facilities pledged to not to process hogs raised with ractopamine. PoliticoPro quoted a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official as saying:  "This will allow a greater share of U.S. pork and product exports to China in the coming months." 

What the official didn’t say? We’ll save the ractopamine-laced pork for consumers here in the U.S.
 
And what about those consumers who don’t want ractopamine, or any other unnecessary drugs, in their meat? Simmons told BloombergBusinessweek his message is this:

...that a minority of pushy elites—vegans, organic die-hards, and GMO-bashers—is keeping vital technology from farmers, that animal protein is a crucial source of nutrition, that unleashing innovation would allow farmers to produce enough meat, milk, and eggs to meet demand without draining additional natural resources.

To which we say, hogwash. And ENOUGH, already.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. 

Urgent! Tell Sec. Vilsack to Back Off and Let Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law Take Effect!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2016-01-06 20:46
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

As the calendar flips over to 2016, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and the rest of the GMO junk food industry are growing ever more desperate to prevent Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120) from taking effect on July 1, 2016.
 
Their next move? A closed door, by invitation-only meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and select GMO labeling advocates (OCA has not been invited) in the hope of striking a compromise, one that no doubt would preempt Vermont’s law.
 
Should the GMO labeling movement, which has fought so long and so hard to require food manufacturers to disclose this basic information about their products, settle for anything less than a mandatory labeling law like Vermont’s?
 
We don’t think so. Vermont’s GMO labeling law must be allowed to take effect July 1, 2016, as scheduled.  Then we can talk about next steps, at the federal level.
 
We don’t yet know the date of this upcoming meeting, other than that Vilsack has publicly said it would happen in January. OCA has not been invited. Not surprising, given our no compromise position on GMO labeling.  
 
Here’s what we do know: Vilsack needs to hear from you, from all of us, now.
 
TAKE ACTION! Tell Sec. Vilsack to back off and let Vermont’s GMO labeling law take effect!
Read more

Tell Congress: Support the Food Recovery Act (HR 4184)!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2016-01-05 22:59
Belong to campaign: Organic TransitionsAppetite for a ChangeCategory: Food Safety, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

People go to bed hungry every night in nearly 7 million households in the U.S., according to a report published last month by the National Commission on Hunger. 

And yet, Americans throw away 40 percent of our food—the equivalent of $165 billion each year—according to the National Resources Defense Council.

Can we distribute food to those who need it? Rather than bury it in landfills, where it generates methane emissions that heat up the Earth’s atmosphere?

On December 7, 2015, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine) introduced H.R. 4184, the Food Recovery Act.

H.R. 4148 proposes comprehensive legislation to address food waste in four areas: at the consumer level; at the retail (grocery stores and restaurants) level; at the institutional (schools, hospitals and other institutions); and on the farm.

What does the bill mean for consumers?

TAKE ACTION! Tell Congress: Support the Food Recovery Act (HR 4184)!

 Read more

Not Even An Octopus

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-12-31 00:16
Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 30, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12680 2015YE, 420x280

Dear Organic Consumer,

OCA has joined a long list of groups and individuals who are organizing and funding a citizen tribunal to hold Monsanto accountable for inflicting disease and devastation on humanity and the environment we inhabit.

The tribunal will take place in The Hague, beginning October 12, and ending—not coincidentally—on October 16, World Food Day. 

We still need to raise $15,000 by midnight December 31, to take advantage of a matching funds challenge from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s, and reach our year-end goal. Please make a generous donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here.

Why spend the time, energy and resources to make Monsanto face a citizens tribunal, some ask?

For us, the answer is clear. When it comes to Monsanto, governments and legal systems throughout the world have failed us at every turn. Failed to protect our health. Failed to protect our planet. 

We, and millions others who refuse to sit by while this ruthless and corrupt corporation poisons and pollutes, are left with no choice.

Citizen tribunals are not "mock" trials. They have a long history of bringing justice to issues where governments either act corruptly, or fail to act at all. Citizens tribunals can’t impose penalties, but their final verdicts do have major influences and consequences.

The Monsanto Tribunal will be led by Professor Olivier De Schutter, a Belgian legal scholar and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food. It will be run according to international legal procedures.

From now until the trial, De Schutter and others will interview witnesses and compile testimony. 

They will hear how Monsanto has destroyed biodiversity, degraded the world’s soils, poisoned farmers, polluted waterways, devastated local economies.

The lawyers and judges who conduct the tribunal will hear how Monsanto’s glyphosate has caused birth defects, kidney disease and cancer. They will hear how Monsanto’s monopolization of seeds and required use of increasingly costly and ineffective pesticides have led farmers to commit suicide. They will hear how Monsanto has attacked scientists that speak the truth, bribed politicians, and manipulated the media. 

They will hear how Monsanto is committing crimes against the climate.

There will be no shortage of witnesses, no dearth of evidence against one of the most soulless, morally bankrupt corporations on Earth. Monsanto’s tentacles reach into every aspect of our lives. 

Not even the octopus, poster child for all that is dark and sinister about the sea, can make such a claim.

You can be certain that our work on the tribunal will not detract or deter us from our bigger mission—to support those farmers who grow the food we actually need, using techniques that restore, renew, rebuild and regenerate—our soils, our health, our economies, our climate.

But we believe history will show that the Monsanto Tribunal, following on all of the work you have helped us carry out over the past several years, will mark a turning point. That's why we've already contributed $5,000 and pledged another $10,000 to fund the tribunal.

If you can help us raise an additional $15,000, we can reach our $250,000 goal by midnight December 31,  Let's make 2016 the year we bring down Monsanto, and regenerate our food and farming system. Please help by making a generous donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here. 

Thank you. 

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

P.S. We have until midnight December 31 to take advantage of this matching grant. Please make a generous donation today. Donations made to the the Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) are tax-deductible. If you don't need the tax deduction, please consider making a donation to our 501(c)(4) lobbying arm by clicking here. Thank you!

A Meeting of the Monsanto Masterminds

Organic consumers - Sun, 2015-12-27 15:37
Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 27, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12680 2015YE, 420x280

Dear Organic Consumer, 

In 2001, the biotech industry named Tom Vilsack (now USDA Secretary of Agriculture) “Governor of the Year,” thanks to his loyal support of Monsanto and all things GMO.

Vilsack is determined to live up to that dubious honor. In January, he will hold an invitation-only meeting, between industry and consumer groups, to “forge a compromise” on GMO labeling.

But there is no compromise between mandatory and voluntary labeling laws. It’s one or the other. What Vilsack really plans to do is this: everything in his power to permanently legalize the right of Monsanto and Big Food to deceive consumers.

We still need to raise $70,000 by midnight December 31, to take advantage of a matching funds challenge from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s. Your donation will help us keep up the pressure on Monsanto and Big Food, and take back our food and farming systems. Please make a donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here. 

Vilsack recently told reporters he’s concerned about “chaos in the market” if more states pass mandatory GMO labeling laws like Vermont’s. He also trotted out the tired old tune that requiring food companies to label GMO ingredients will cause drastic increases in food prices. 

What “compromise” will Vilsack likely propose in his back-room confab? A voluntary labeling scheme involving QR codes—fancy barcode technology requiring consumers to have smart phones. 

Never mind the ridiculous argument that printing four words on a label will cost food companies more than setting up fancy smart-phone technology that links to websites. We know what QR codes are really about. They’re about making it as difficult as possible for consumers to find out if the food they are buying has been genetically modified, or contains genetically engineered ingredients.

That Vilsack even has to call this emergency meeting is a testament to you, and everyone else who has fought so hard for the basic right to know. Monsanto thought it would be easy to ram a preemption bill through Congress.  Thanks to you, it wasn’t.

With your help, we will come back in January as strong as ever, to protect states’ rights to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws. We will make it crystal clear to every member of the U.S. Congress: Consumers will settle for nothing less than mandatory labeling laws.

But requiring food companies to label GMOs is just one battle in a much larger war. That’s why, in 2016, we will introduce new campaigns that will shed more light on Monsanto’s role in factory farms, in the ethanol scam, in global warming. We will mobilize millions of consumers to engage in policy battles that will go well beyond GMO labeling. Policy battles that will put an end to subsidizing the corporations that poison and pollute. 

Only about 20 percent of GMO crops grown in the U.S. go into food. The other 80 percent are used to feed animals imprisoned in factory farms, or to make fuel. Billions of tax dollars—your dollars—are used to subsidize these degenerative crops. Crops that are grown with millions of tons of toxic chemicals. Crops that pollute our waters, degrade our soils, destabilize our climate. 

There’s a better way. The fact is, small farmers already grow 70 percent of the world’s food. We don’t need Monsanto. What we need is to support those farmers who grow the food we actually need, using techniques that restore, renew, rebuild and regenerate—our soils, our health, our economies, our climate.

This is our mission. This is our challenge. Win or lose the labeling battle, we need you in this fight.

If you can help us raise an additional $70,000 so we can reach our $250,000 goal by midnight December 31, Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s will pitch in to bring our total year-end fundraising to $500,000.  You can help us keep the momentum going by making a generous donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here. 

Thank you!

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

'and the earthworms will dance'

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-12-22 15:37
Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 22, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12680 2015YE, 420x280

Dear Organic Consumer,

Something is happening. There’s a shift taking place.

An awakening.

A connecting of the dots between our soil, climate, and food. Between our health, and the health of our entire ecosystem.


Along with this awakening comes the realization that we, the people—not corporations, not politicians—are our best hope for restoring sanity to a food and farming system that has run so far amok it threatens every aspect of our existence.

We still need to raise $160,000 by midnight December 31 to take advantage of a matching funds challenge from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s. Your donation will help us keep up the pressure on Monsanto and Big Food, and take back our food and farming systems. Please make a generous donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here. 

December 5 marked the official end of the United Nations International Year of the Soils. 

I choose to see this as a beginning. 

Scientists, farmers, ranchers and consumers are only just beginning to understand the vast potential that lies beneath the ground. The potential to grow food that is more nutrient dense—and to grow more of it. And while we’re at it, the potential to store rainfall underground instead of losing it as runoff, to clean up our waterways, to revitalize local economies, to restore resilience through biodiversity, and most important, to draw down excess carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the soil where it belongs. 

We can cool and regenerate the Earth, and feed the world, by becoming responsible stewards, producers, consumers, citizens.

I believe our future and the future of generations to come hinges on how successfully, and how immediately, we get back to the business of regenerating our soils.

So what, or who, is standing in the way? The very same players who got us into this mess in the first place—Big Ag, Big Food, Big Pharma and the politicians who have allowed these corporations to write our food and farming policies.

Our adversaries in this battle are powerful and ruthless, but they are not invincible. Thanks to you, we’re already forcing food companies to clean up their acts, to label or reformulate their products, or to add organic products to their lines. We're doing it by tarnishing their brands, exposing the GMOs, pesticides and drug residues in their products, and undermining their profits.

As food companies look for new sources of cleaner ingredients, farmers and ranchers will look for ways to fill the demand.

It’s up to us now to pressure policymakers to support those farmers and ranchers who step up, who grow food and regenerate soils. 

As it is now, your tax dollars—$20 billion a year—are being used to subsidize the chemical, factory farm and GMO producers who degenerate soils, pollute waterways, generate tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and grow “commodities” (not food) the bulk of which are used to make ethanol fuel or feed animals on factory farms.

That’s a system that’s worse than unsustainable. It's degenerative. On every level.

I believe we can, and must, change this system. And when we do, as one regenerative farmer wrote recently on his blog, “we’ll all be a whole lot better off and the earthworms will dance.”

Please help us make the earthworms dance in 2016. We can’t do it without you.

If you can help us raise an additional $160,000 so we can reach our $250,000 goal by midnight December 31, Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s will pitch in to bring our total year-end fundraising to $500,000.  You can help us keep the momentum going by making a generous donation online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here. 

Thank you. And may the earthworms dance!

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

Beyond the Darkness: #Regeneration 2016

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-12-16 16:05
Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 16, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12680 Year end 2016 fundraiser

“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” – Pete Seeger

Dear Organic Consumer,

A number of online fundraising appeals popped up in my inbox this week, most of them alluding to our “troubled times” and “dark days ahead.” 

I understand why people feel this way. But I’m an optimist. And I believe most of you are, too. As optimists, it’s our job to do more than just rail against the bad. We must also find—better yet, create—the “optimistic stories” and “let them be known.”

With your help, that’s what we’ll do in 2016. We’ve already started.

Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s have once again stepped up to match your donation to OCA. Please help us raise $250,000 by midnight December 31, so we can take advantage of this generous offer. You can donate online, by U.S. mail or by calling our office—details here.

As I write this today, it’s clear your voices have been heard in Congress, at least on the matter of allowing states to enact GMO labeling laws. Thanks to your support this past year, Monsanto couldn’t get a bipartisan version of the DARK Act (H.R. 1599, a bill to preempt GMO labeling laws) introduced, much less passed, in the Senate.

And thanks to a massive mobilization effort, including hundreds of meetings, protests, petition drives and phone banks directed toward Congressional home district and DC offices, we’ve blocked Monsanto and Big Food from attaching a GMO labeling-preemption rider to the year-end federal budget deal. Even better? We forced the FDA to require mandatory labeling of GMO salmon! Until the labeling guidelines are finalized, there will be no frankenfish in our grocery stores.

This is your victory. It may be temporary, but it’s huge. Monsanto will come roaring back in January to try to preempt state laws again. But for now, Vermont’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, is safe

Safeguarding Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and passing similar laws in other states, are worthy goals. We will not lose sight of these goals in 2016.

But let’s face it. The GMO ingredients in our food represent only 20 percent of the total market for GMO crops. The other 80 percent of GMO crops go into making ethanol and feeding the billions of animals incarcerated, in unconscionably inhumane and unhealthy conditions, in factory farms.

The hundreds of thousands of acres of monoculture crops, sprayed with toxic pesticides like glyphosate, and grown in soil that is degraded by synthetic chemicals, are wreaking havoc with our soils, our waterways, our health, our climate.

We absolutely must win the right to know if our food contains GMOs. But our movement must be bigger than that. We must set our sights on building a new global food and farming system. We must bring down the degenerative, Monsanto-style agriculture system and replace it with one that regenerates—soil, health, economies, climate stability.  

Regeneration is the new frontier of the organic food and farming movement. It is our next “optimistic story.” It is a story of healing. Of renewal. Of hope.

And the best part of this story is that we have the power to write it. Our choices as consumers, our choices as activists, our choices as voters will drive the plot. 

If we don’t step up to regenerate our food system and our ecosystem, corporations like Monsanto will define the future. Corporations won’t change unless we force them to change. Elected officials won’t listen to us unless we force them to listen.

My optimism has been fueled by this latest victory to preserve states’ rights to label GMOs. With your help, I believe we can move on to bigger and better victories. Our future depends on it.

Please help us raise $250,000 by midnight December 31, so we can take advantage of a matching funds challenge from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s.  You can donate online, by snail mail or by calling our office—details here.

Thank you! And happy, healthy holidays from all of us at OCA.

 

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

President Obama: Sign on to France’s 4 per 1000 Regenerative Ag Climate Solution!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-12-10 14:58
Belong to campaign: Organic TransitionsCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Environment & ClimateArea: USA

The most compelling, most hopeful climate strategy to come out of the COP21 Paris Climate Conference was something called France’s 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate. 

The 4/1000 Initiative puts regenerative food and farming front and center in the climate solutions conversation. It’s the most direct, most practical, and the only shovel-ready plan for reversing climate change.

TAKE ACTION: President Obama: Sign on to France’s 4 per 1000 Regenerative Ag Climate Solution! Text "Obama" to 97779 to sign the petition.Read more