Tell These Grocery Stores: No GMO Apples, Please!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-02-14 21:10
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: All About Organics, Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

This week, the GMO Arctic Apple is headed to grocery stores for a trial run. They’re being tested in the Midwest—if you’re a Midwesterner, please read this!

Who stands to benefit from the GMO apple? Not consumers like you. Definitely not apple growers, who have been opposing this apple all along. The only benefits will go to Intrexon, the synthetic biology company that owns the GMO salmon, the GMO mosquito and the GMO apple.

You can still disrupt the market for these apples and keep them off our plates and out of our environment. But we need you to act now during this trial run in grocery stores.

 Read more

Philpott Is Right: Trump’s ‘Dark Forces’ Are Coming for Your Organic Food

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-02-14 20:23
All About Organics, Politics & GlobalizationRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationFebruary 14, 2017 Smoke Man 1000x523

Over the past three decades, organic food, farming, and products in the U.S. have grown into a $50-billion-a-year powerhouse, representing more than 5 percent of all retail grocery sales. This growth has been achieved with little or no help from the White House, Congress or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that’s been true no matter which party, Democrat or Republican, has been in power.

At current rates of growth the majority of food sales in the U.S. will be organic or 100% grass-fed within three decades. Unfortunately these current levels of growth for organic, no matter how impressive they seem, will not be enough to prevent the current (food- and farm-related) public health, environmental and climate crises from metastasizing into a full-blown catastrophe within 25 years or less. That’s why my organization, the Organic Consumers Association is organizing for what we call a Consumer and Political Revolution 2017-2020.

Although the majority of consumers—no matter whether they voted for Hillary (65 million), Trump (62 million), or stayed home and didn’t vote (92 million)—tell pollsters that they know that organic food is superior to chemical/GMO food, in terms of nutrition and environmental impact, and that they believe that pesticides, synthetic hormones, antibiotic residues and GMOs are dangerous, Congress keeps subsidizing industrial agriculture, factory farms, processed food and GMO corn-derived ethanol to the tune of billions of dollars a year. At the same time, lawmakers show little or no support for organic or transition-to-organic farmers or programs.

100% grass-fed beef and dairy products are now the fastest growing segment of grocery store sales. Yet most grass-fed beef and cheese is imported from overseas (Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) for the most part because here in the U.S., the USDA subsidizes factory-farm meat and animal products, rather than helping U.S. ranchers, farmers and processors move toward grass-fed, pasture-based, and regenerative production.

The Obama Administration behaved very much like the Bush Administration before it, providing little or no support for organic farming while touting the supposed benefits of GMOs, hi-tech agriculture, ethanol and agribusiness-friendly free trade agreements. Despite promises made in 2007 on the campaign trail that his administration would require mandatory labels on GMOs, Obama did nothing. In 2016, when Congress (including a number of recent Trump cabinet appointees) rammed through the controversial Roberts/Stabenow/Pompeo Dark Act, taking away the rights of states to require mandatory GMO labeling, Obama remained silent—instead of using his veto power.

Let’s get organized! Join a call with Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director.

Organic consumers - Mon, 2017-02-13 18:49
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoSafeguard Organic StandardsCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Environment & Climate, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

Our health, our environment, our basic right to know—everything is under attack.

How do we unite the people working in our own communities on food, natural health, social justice and climate issues into a more powerful movement that can put an end to corporate crime and political corruption in the marketplace and in the political realm, while regenerating our health, our economy, our local communities and our democracy?

Sign up to join Ronnie and the Organic Consumers Association for this important call about how to launch both a #ConsumerRevolution and a #PoliticalRevolution.Read more

Regenerating Public Health: Beyond Obama and Trump

Organic consumers - Mon, 2017-02-13 17:51
Environment & Climate, Health IssuesRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationFebruary 5, 2017 Money 1000x523

As evidenced by the 2016 primary and general elections, Americans–Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Independents–want real change, radical change, not just “business as usual.” That’s why Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) nearly won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 with his call for a “Revolution,” including Medicare for All, reining in Wall Street, higher taxes on corporate profits, an end to wars in the Middle East, and free tuition for students at public colleges. Polls consistently indicated that had Sanders survived the dirty tricks of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and actually won the Democratic Party nomination, he could have defeated Trump by a significant margin.

On the Republican side of the partisan divide, 63 million (mainly white),bitterly dissatisfied Americans cast their votes against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed revolutionary, who promised to “Make America Great Again,” by reducing taxes, and by raising the living standards of everyday Americans. Trump’s platform included putting an end to Obamacare and providing a more effective and affordable system of healthcare by devolving power to the states.

Since his inauguration, Trump and his minions have unfortunately declared war on the majority of Americans with a divisive, indeed alarming, series of sexist, racist, authoritarian and homophobic policy pronouncements and executive orders. After declaring he would “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and special interests, Trump has instead hypocritically put forth the nominations of corporate millionaires, billionaires, Wall Street insiders, militarists and climate deniers to his Cabinet, along with an anti-abortion extremist to the Supreme Court, and has enacted a series of executive decrees on immigration, environmental pollution, and pipelines that have brought millions of protesters out into the streets.

According to the well-respected Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP),

“Trump has issued instructions to effectively gag government scientists, thus threatening continuity and public accountability in research, and is preparing to gut regulations across multiple sectors that were designed in the public interest. He is building a cabinet of powerful millionaires and billionaires, some of whom oppose the very purpose that their agencies are mandated to serve. He is perpetuating the idea that recognition of climate change is subject to a belief system rather than to scientific evidence. He is attempting to reverse the social-, economic- and environmental-achievement and promise of renewable energy. –IATP newsletter Feb. 4, 2017.

One of the most pressing crises we face, a major topic in the 2016 elections, is our rapidly deteriorating public health and healthcare system. See the linked article and video at the end of this article. Unfortunately, neither Establishment Democrats (Clinton et al) nor Republicans (Trump) appear ready to “bite the hand that feeds them” (Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, insurance companies, junk food conglomerates, corporate agribusiness, chemical polluters) and offer a real solution, in terms of effective and affordable healthcare and public policy that address the underlying causes of rampant disease and sickness, not just the symptoms.

The root causes of the world’s most expensive and ineffective system of healthcare—the U.S. healthcare system—are not only medical errors (failing to focus on prevention and nutrition for example) and malpractice (the third leading cause of death in America), but also the self-destructive lifestyle choices or addictions (junk food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and lack of exercise) of the majority of the population. The everyday behavior of consumers in our Fast Food nation, compounded by the routine “profit-at-any-cost” contamination of our environment, have not only degenerated public health, but have also raised healthcare costs ($3.3 trillion per year and rising) to the point where they are threatening to bankrupt our entire economic system.

Let's Talk

Organic consumers - Mon, 2017-02-13 15:30
February 13, 2017Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues, Politics & Globalization Girls on phones 1000x523

Our health, our environment, our basic right to know—everything is under attack. We need everyone on deck.

How do we unite the people working in our own communities on food, natural health, social justice and climate issues into one powerful movement to end corporate and political corruption at the local, state and federal levels?

Join Ronnie and the Organic Consumers Association for a national call about how to launch both a #ConsumerRevolution and a #PoliticalRevolution

Everyone is feeling it right now—the compulsion to get involved, to do something positive to protect our health and our environment. Can we regenerate our food and farming system? Can we regenerate our health? Our local economies? Even our democracy?

We think the answer is yes. But only if we give up single-issue organizing and start working together, from the grassroots up.

What do you think? We want to hear from you.

TAKE ACTION: RSVP for the call-to-action with OCA's Ronnie Cummins on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 5 p.m. Pacific!

You can join the call by dialing (855)-756-7520, Ext.34431#. But be sure to put the date on your calendar!

Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Sonny Perdue! #NoPerdue! Block Trump's #SwampCabinet!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2017-02-01 19:27
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCook Organic Not the PlanetSave the BeesCategory: Environment & Climate, Farm Issues, Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

Remember the DARK Act vote last summer? When your Senators had to decide whether or not to block state laws requiring labels on genetically engineered food?

There’s a vote coming up in the Senate that’s even more important. It’s the vote on whether to confirm Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture.

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is a Monsanto-funded politician who made millions selling fertilizer and gaming the farm subsidy system. 

Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary! Read more

Trump’s Pick for Ag Secretary Has ‘Bigly’ Ties to Big Ag and Big Food

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-01-24 10:02
January 24, 2017Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulEnvironment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization Sonny Perdue 1000x523

In announcing his pick last week for Secretary of Agriculture, Trump heaped predictable praise on Sonny Perdue, promising that the former governor of Georgia will “deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land."

We predict that Perdue will indeed deliver “big” results—but he’ll deliver them to his friends in Big Food and Big Ag, not to America’s rural farmers, and surely not to America’s consumers.

If it’s true that you can judge a man by the company he keeps, well, judge for yourself whose side Perdue is really on. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), that multi-billion-dollar lobbying group that represents Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Coca-Cola, General Mills (you get the picture) rushed to praise Perdue’s nomination. In a statement, GMA’s president said her group “looks forward to working with [Perdue] on issues key to keeping America's food the safest and most affordable food supply in the history of the world.”  Coming from the GMA, leader of the charge to keep labels off GMO foods, we know that “safest and most affordable food” is code for “industrial chemical GMO food.” 

And by now, we also all know that Perdue, who was named 2009 Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, counts both Monsanto  and Coca-Cola  among his many corporate campaign donors. 

What else do we know about Perdue? Here are some not-so-fun facts:

•    Perdue hails from Georgia, which leads the country in poultry production, most of which comes from factory farms. Although he’s not related to the founders of Perdue Farms, Perdue helped the giant chicken-producing factory farm business expand its Georgia operations by $155 million. That might explain, as Grubstreet points out, why the National Chicken Council, which lobbies on behalf of the poultry industry, can’t wait for Perdue to be confirmed.

•    A former fertilizer salesman, Perdue at one time owned Houston Fertilizer and Grain which, after its acquisition of Milner Milling Co., morphed into AGrowStar, a grain business with operations across Georgia and South Carolina. His supporters cite his business operations as proof that he’s qualified to lead the USDA. They fail to mention the role chemical fertilizers play in water pollution and global warming, much less the cost to farmers of relying on synthetic inputs instead of regenerative practices which rely on organic composting and that improve both crop yields and soil health, without the pollution side effects.

•    Perdue has a degree in veterinarian medicine which, coupled with his professed disdain for regulations that he deems “unfriendly” to farmers, means he’s more likely to overlook (or overturn) existing regulations requiring veterinarians to cut back on the use of antibiotics in order to  address the current health crisis—antibiotic-resistance—caused by the over-use of antibiotics, especially in animal feed.

•    Perdue is a climate-denier who made headlines in 2007 when he prayed for rain during a drought. Alternet reported that “backed up by a choir singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ accompanied by three Protestant ministers, and twenty demonstrators from the Atlanta Freethought Society, Sonny Perdue, Georgia's Baptist governor, led a crowd of hundreds in prayers for rain.” Not that there’s anything wrong with praying, but how about also acknowledging the role healthy soils play in making crops resistant to drought, and even preventing it in the first place? We probably won’t get that acknowledgement from a man who once said this: “It’s become a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.”

•    Perdue has no qualms about taking government handouts. Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that between 1995 and 2014, he cashed in on $278,679 in taxpayer-funded subsidies for his various businesses. Will he be open to overhauling the current system which doles out $25 billion/year in subsidies (paid out mostly to large producers, not small farmers) for commodity crops, like wheat, GMO corn, GMO cotton and GMO soy? And instead support subsidies for organic and regenerative (and small) farmers who are reducing pollution, producing more nutrient-dense (and pesticide-free) foods while enhancing their soils’ capacity to draw down and sequester carbon? Again, not likely we think, given that Perdue is co-founder of Perdue Partners, a global trading company that specializes in trading goods and services, including commodities, and that he assured Trump that trade will be a big priority for him.

•    Perdue apparently hasn’t made the connection between junk food and health (much less industrial ag and global warming). At a 2003 meeting organized by his wife (then first lady of Georgia) and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A, Perdue praised the soda giant for its “ its continued effort to grow its business presence and invest in Georgia, as the Company prepares to open a $100 million plus expansion to its Atlanta production facilities.”

Before his nomination, Perdue served on Trump’s ag advisory committee whose talking points, as reported on November 15, by Politico, “offer a roadmap on how President-Elect Donald Trump's agriculture secretary could shape agricultural policies, including the sweeping promise to ‘defend American agriculture against its critics,’”. . (emphasis ours).  Of course, what the committee means by “American” agriculture is industrial factory farm and GMO commodity agriculture. And we all know who the committee sees as its critics—that would be us and a host of other groups that advocate for healthy food and a clean environment.

For all the talk about sticking up for rural farmers and rural America, the plain fact is this: Perdue’s track record consistently reveals his support for corporate agribusiness—not small farmers or rural Americans. There are his aforementioned corporate campaign donations. And this—in 2009, Perdue signed a bill that blocked local communities in Georgia from regulating animal cruelty, worker safety and pollution related to factory farms. That’s hardly “looking out” for the little guy.

Given his known (real) priorities, we predict that right out of the gate, Perdue will go after new USDA regulations, passed under the Obama Administration in December 2016, that are designed to “expand small farmers’ ‘protections against the most egregious retaliatory practices’ used by big chicken companies like Tyson.” Those rules can’t go into effect until a 60-day comment period has passed—which gives Perdue plenty of time to quash them in order to protect his state’s $39-billion factory farm chicken industry. If he does go after the new regulations, it will be his way of confirming his support for the highly profitable Tyson-type corporations—not small farmers who currently suffer, financially and otherwise, under a system that is titled in favor of big corporations.

If confirmed, Perdue will oversee a budget of more than $140 billion and a staff of more than 100,000 people in an office that, as Civil Eats points out, executes “policy in a wide variety of areas, including food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and nutrition. The agency oversees the national school lunch program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as food safety and farm policy programs, the Forest Service, and various land and water conservation efforts.”

And of course, Perdue will play a key role in negotiating the 2018 farm bill.

We’d love to see Perdue really support rural farmers and Americans, by supporting the farmers who are farming in a responsible way. But as Naomi Klein said, the Trump cabinet is a “corporate coup d’état. Perdue, from all appearances, fits right in with the rest of the millionaire and billionaire corporate cronies tapped by Trump to run the country. The last time he ran for governor, in 2006, financial statements showed he was worth about $6 million and his businesses about $2.8 million, according to Politico.

Perdue may have impressed Trump by showing up for his job interview wearing a backpack and a tie with little tractors on it.  But most farmers are smart enough to see through Perdue's phony concern for rural farmers, no matter how he dresses it up.  And it will sure take a lot more than that to convince us that Perdue will support the real future of agriculture—which is organic and regenerative.

Please call your Senators and ask them to reject Sonny Perdue for USDA secretary of agriculture.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. Like this article? Sign up for OCA’s weekly online newsletter.


Ronnie’s Inauguration Day Message

Organic consumers - Fri, 2017-01-20 16:44
Environment & ClimateRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationJanuary 20, 2017 revolution orange 1000x523.jpg

Today, Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States.

Today, I'm announcing our #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution 2017-2020 platforms.

If Hillary Clinton placed her hand on a Bible today, promising to protect the U.S. Constitution, we would be organizing a massive movement to change her positions on many issues, including war, Big Ag and GMOs.

If Bernie Sanders took the oath of office today, we would be celebrating his authenticity, and his solid track record (not just lip-service) of support for at least 90 percent of the issues we care about. Then we’d get to work on the other 10 percent—with hope and enthusiasm.

But today, we witnessed the swearing in of a president who has signaled loud and clear his intent to maximize the profits of giant corporations—like Exxon Mobil, BP, and Monsanto and Bayer (whose merger he's set to approve)—on a scale never before seen in our lifetimes. Public and environmental health be damned.

Trump has appointed a slate of millionaire and billionaire corporate cronies to key, powerful positions, with orders to immediately set to work rolling back any regulations or policies that even hint at cutting into corporate profits. We will have an EPA Administrator, an Energy Secretary and a head of the CIA who largely reject the international scientific consensus that human behavior is a contributing factor to global warming.

We will have billionaire bankers running the U.S. Treasury Department and the American economy.

And yesterday we learned, not surprisingly, that the new USDA Secretary of Agriculture will be former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Another millionaire climate-denier, Perdue is a cheerleader for the worst of the worst agribusiness corporations. Based on his history, Perdue will have no interest in protecting the interests of rural farmers, farm workers or consumers from the routine poisoning of our food, water and air by factory farms, pesticides and GMOs.

We have our work cut out for us in the coming months and years. As Frances Fox Piven, a professor of political science and sociology, recently wrote, we’ll need to keep signing petitions, but that won't be enough. We’ll need to, as she said, “throw sand in the gears of everything” just to protect the most basic of human rights.

With that in mind, we have developed two platforms that will guide our work, beginning immediately.

#Consumer Revolution 2017-2020

Overarching goal: Force corporations that sell consumer products, including food, clothing, drugs and personal care products, to respond to consumer demand for truthfully labeled products that have a positive impact on human health and are produced using regenerative processes and practices that not only prevent harm to human health and the environment but also measurably improve soils and combat global warming.

(1)    Move toward making organic, 100% grass-fed, and regenerative food and farming the norm, not just the 5-percent alternative in the marketplace, by doubling sales of organic to $80 billion by 2020, and by increasing sales of U.S. grass-fed meat and dairy, and organic and pastured poultry and pork by at least 400 percent by 2020.

(2)    Achieve a 50-percent reduction in sales of GMO food and animal feed by 2020, with the aim of driving GMO animal feed off the market.

(3)    Force major food brands and companies that fraudulently label their products as “natural,” “organic” or “GMO-free” to remove misleading labels and/or transition their products and production methods to organic and/or regenerative practices.

(4)    Increase market share for clothing made from organic cotton, wool and other natural fibers through a high-profile “Care What You Wear” campaign that encourages consumers to boycott GMO cotton and synthetic fibers.

#PoliticalRevolution 2017-2020

Overarching goal: Reform the current political process to create a democracy that works for all people, not just wealthy corporations and the 1%, by uniting the food, climate, economic and social justice, natural health and peace movements in a coordinated effort to support candidates, elected public officials and policies, at the local, state and federal levels, that support our common goals.

(1)    Support the candidates and elected officials endorsed by the post-Bernie Sanders movements, including “Brand New Congress” and “Our Revolution.”

(2)    Lobby candidates and elected public officials to support OCA’s #ConsumerRevolution platform

(3)    Lobby candidates and elected public officials to support the “Our Revolution” platform, with the addition of:

•    on climate: a focus on regenerative agriculture and soil carbon sequestration as a global warming solution, in addition to fossil fuel emissions reduction and renewable energy

•    on healthcare: a focus on "Medicare for all" that includes coverage for preventive, natural and alternative healthcare solutions

•    on food: a focus on food policy that supports consumer health and consumer right to know, and acknowledges the role food production plays in environmental and climate policy

•    on living wage: a focus on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour so that lower-income Americans can afford organic food

(4)    Organize local grassroots meet-ups and coalitions to run candidates, for local and state offices, who support our issues.

(5)    Oppose any candidates or policies that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism and all forms of discrimination, whenever and wherever they arise.

(6)    Oppose any laws or illegal attempts to disenfranchise voters.

(7)    Support the decriminalization of drug use, including the legalization of marijuana, and oppose the war on drugs.

(8)    Combat climate change by promoting candidates and policies that advance regenerative food, farming and land use, in addition to fossil fuel emissions reduction and renewable energy, as solutions for achieving zero emissions, for reversing global warming by sequestering excess CO2 and greenhouse gases in soil and forests, and for addressing our public health, water and environmental crises.

Why do we need a revolution?

Our democracy is broken. Under the Trump Administration, we could witness the final collapse.

The handful of corporations that control our food, farming, energy and pharmaceutical industries have corrupted the marketplace to the point that it generates enormous profits for CEOs and shareholders at the expense of workers, consumer choice, human health and the environment.

Our political process no longer works for a majority of people in this country, much less for the future of the common good. The failure of this process can be traced to the disproportionate influence of corporations and the uber-wealthy (1%) on policymaking, either through direct lobbying or by using generous campaign contributions to buy the loyalty of incumbent and/or future politicians.

These systemic failures originated and are perpetuated from the top down. They will be corrected only by a bottom-up grassroots rejection of the status quo, by a critical mass of citizens who hold a new, more hopeful vision for a healthier, safer, more equitable future.

What can you do?

Today, I call on you personally to get involved in our consumer and political revolutions. OCA and our allies will be organizing as never before at the local and state levels, pulling together the energy and talents of people young and old, from environmental, social justice, peace—every movement that shares our vision.

We’ll need people who live in and understand the needs of rural communities. We’ll need city dwellers. We’ll need lawyers and accountants. Farmers and factory workers. Moms and Dads.

We will have to work together, for each other. Because it's clear that our elected officials will not be working for us.

It’s time to get out from behind our laptops and cell phones, to break out of our silos, to break the pattern of single-issue organizing.

Please follow our communications as we roll out critical new consumer and political campaigns. Please share our messages far and wide. Please attend the community meetings and house parties we will soon be organizing.

And if you can, please support our critical work with a donation today—or better yet, become a monthly donor. Thank you!

In Solidarity,

Ronnie Cummins
International Director


P.S. We are raising money for the Organic Consumers Fund (OCF), our 501(c)(4) lobbying arm. Contributions to OCF are not tax deductible. But OCF funding is critically needed for our political work. You can donate online, by mail or by phonedetails hereThank you!

A Local Minnesota Dairy Farm Is Locked in a Costly Legal Battle With the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Over Its Right to Sell Raw Milk

Organic consumers - Wed, 2017-01-11 18:17
January 11, 2017Organic Consumers AssociationMelinda SuelflowFood Safety girl talk 420x280

Lake View Natural Dairy, Grand Marais, MN

A local Minnesota dairy farm is locked in a costly legal battle with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) over its right to sell raw milk and other dairy products directly to consumers. 

Lake View Natural Dairy in Grand Marais, Minn., is just an hour north of OCA’s home office. The farm, which was settled in the 1880s by owner David Berglund’s ancestors, sells unpasteurized dairy products to friends, family and neighbors.

Since 2013, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been threatening to shut down Lake View Natural Dairy farm, unless Berglund agrees to let the state inspect his farm. 

But Berglund says that under the state constitution, the farm can sell its products directly to consumers who come to the farm, without the threat of state inspection and regulation. The Minnesota Constitution guarantees that, “Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license thereof."

And Berglund is saavy enough to understand that inspection is simply a vehicle to enforce regulation. In Minnesota, there are no regulations on the books for raw milk other than a brief statute that says raw milk can be “occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.”

To be clear, Lake View Natural Dairy runs a very sanitary and clean operation. And because consumers have to come to the farm to purchase products directly, the farm’s customers know this.

Berglund’s very real concern is that allowing the MDA to inspect his farm will lead to an unlawful attempt by the MDA to impost statutes meant for pasteurized milk production on the dairy’s production of raw milk. This would require Lake View Natural Dairy to pasteurize its milk, something neither the farmers, nor customers, want. Plus the costs of pasteurization equipment and a bottling plant would quickly put this small family farm out of business.

On November 16, Lake View’s case was heard by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in St. Paul. Earlier this year, the local district court upheld the state’s inspection order, and Berglund appealed it. If the Court of Appeals affirms the district court’s decision, Berglund and Lake View Dairy will appeal that decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Because there is a patchwork of state laws regarding the sale of raw milk and raw milk products across the country, Lake View’s case could set a national precedent. Minnesota is the only state that guarantees a farmer the right to “peddle” his or her products on the farm. 

Implicit in this constitutional right of farmers to directly “peddle” their products to consumers is our right as consumers to purchase foods directly from farmers, without government interference.

Recent studies have debunked the myth that raw milk is a high-risk food. In fact, the numerous health benefits of raw over pasteurized dairy products are becoming more widely recognized, and consumer demand for these products is increasing.

Why is the MDA so intent on shutting down Lake View Dairy? It likely has something to do with the fact that the Big Dairy lobby sees small dairy farms, especially those selling raw milk, as a threat to their business. 

Personally, as a consumer who purchases raw milk from Lake View Natural Dairy, I am appalled at the aggressive nature of the MDA’s threats against David Berglund. In its attempt to force Berglund to submit to a farm inspection, MDA threatened Berglund with jail time and exorbitant daily fines and inspection costs.  As a tax-paying citizen, I am also appalled at the thousands of tax payer dollars being spent by the MDA to deny my right to purchase healthy foods directly from a local farmer.

Luckily for me and all of the rest of Lake View’s customers, David Berglund and his family are  willing to stand up to the MDA and defend their rights and our rights. Let’s stand with them.

As a small family farm, Lake View Natural Dairy needs our help to fund its legal battle. You can make a tax-deductible donation to help support the farm and cover the family’s legal costs here. 

More information on Lake View’s case here. 

Monsanto and Its Minions Are Poisoning Us: How Can We Defend Ourselves?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2017-01-11 18:15
Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationJanuary 11, 2017http://ronnie.organicconsumers.org/monsanto-and-their-minions-are-poisoning-us-how-can-we-defend-ourselves/ Restaurant person food 1000x523

Monsanto (soon to be Bayer) and their minions are poisoning us. Yet another independent peer-reviewed scientific study (article linked below) has confirmed that Monsanto’s notorious weedkiller, Roundup, sprayed on most major agricultural crops and animal feed, including corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, cotton, wheat, alfalfa, and beans–contaminating the majority of the non-organic foods in U.S. grocery stores, restaurants, and school lunch cafeterias–is toxic, even at the routine parts per billion or trillion level ingested by most Americans everyday.

Roundup is everywhere, in our food, in our cotton clothing, in our urine, in our breast milk, in the rain, in our drinking water, rivers, fish, and wildlife. Following up on the declaration of a respected scientific panel of the World Health Organization in 2016 that Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) likely causes cancer, compounded by numerous studies linking Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide to hormone disruption, birth defects, kidney damage, and other diseases, the question we should be asking today is not whether we need more proof that the Biotech Bully of St. Louis is deliberately poisoning us for profit, aided and abetted by indentured scientists, media hacks, and politicians; but rather how do we drive Monsanto’s Roundup and Roundup-tainted foods off the market?

Hint number one: don’t hold your breath for the Trump administration, Congress, or the regulatory agencies to ban or even restrict the use of Roundup and the thousands of other pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers contaminating our food and water and destroying our soils’ ability to sequester carbon and re-stabilize our dangerously out of control climate. Trump’s new regime is filled with “business as usual” Monsanto cheerleaders, Wall Street bankers, and corporate cronies who love industrial agriculture and America’s fossil fuel suicide economy.

Hint number two: don’t expect Big Food companies, fast food giants, retail supermarket chains, school cafeterias and institutional food providers to voluntarily remove Roundup and other agri-toxics from their product lines and menus.

Hint number three: don’t rely on the fraudulently labeled “natural,” “all natural,” or “non-GMO” brands of companies such as Ben and Jerry’s, Dannon, General Mills, Kellogg’s, or Whole Foods’ 365 brand, to keep Roundup and other poisons out of your food.

The only way to protect yourself and your family from toxic pesticides such as Roundup, as well as the other poisons laced into your food, is to buy certified organic and 100% grass-fed foods today and everyday, or else buy organic and transition to organic (certified or not) products from farmers and ranchers in your local area that you know and trust. Or better yet, grow your own, or at least some of your own food.

It’s important in terms of consumer self-defense to understand that most GMOs and toxic herbicides such as Roundup end up, not only in non-organic fruits and vegetables, but also, in fact predominately, as ingredients in processed food, cooking oils, and animal feed. Ninety percent of U.S. corn and soybeans for example, most of which is Monsanto’s “GMO Roundup Ready,” is used to produce high fructose corn syrup (a common junk food ingredient), low grade cooking oil, animal feed, and ethanol.

Most U.S. consumers don’t yet fully understand that the poisons such as Roundup, atrazine, dicamba, neonicotinoids, and “Agent Orange” 2,4 D, coated on seeds or sprayed on crops for animal feed end up in your milk, your ice cream, your hamburger, your eggs, or your fried chicken. Don’t believe “natural” or “non-GMO” claims unless the product is organic or 100% grass-fed, We are what we eat. But we are also what our farm animals (and fish) eat. Boycott factory farmed foods, not only in the grocery store, but in restaurants as well.

If we can’t trust the government or the large corporations, we need to take matters into our own hands, today and everyday. Take control of your health and your diet. Protect our common home, the Earth’s environment and the climate. We need a #ConsumerRevolution and we need it now. Join up with the Organic Consumers Association and Millions Against Monsanto to drive Roundup and other poisons off the market. Together we can begin to organize a food and political revolution in 2017-2020 that will move us toward a food, farming, and land use system that is not only healthy and just, but Regenerative and climate-friendly as well.

Source: Britain’s most used pesticide is linked to a serious liver disease which can be fatal, shocking new study claims.

Tell Ben & Jerry’s: Stop Defrauding Consumers—It’s Time to Go Organic!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2017-01-05 16:21
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoThe Myth of NaturalCategory: Food Safety, Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

If there were an award for “greenwashing,” it would likely go to Ben & Jerry’s, the iconic Vermont-based ice cream brand, now owned by Unilever.

Ben & Jerry’s has done a brilliant job of selling consumers on the idea that the company cares about social justice, the environment, the climate, and its customers—the company even brags about its "Caring Dairy" program and its commitment to using non-GMO ingredients.

But behind that greenwashed façade lies the tale of a company that relies on a #dirtydairy industry that has poisoned Vermont’s waterways, that abuses animals, that is bankrupting farmers and is contributing to global warming by stripping the soil of its ability to draw down and sequester carbon.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Ben & Jerry’s: Stop Defrauding Consumers—It’s Time to Go Organic! Read more

Sign by Jan. 10! Support Healthy Soils!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-01-03 20:03
Belong to campaign: Organic TransitionsCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Environment & ClimateArea: USA

The federal government has finally recognized that increasing soil carbon is an essential part of the solution to climate change!

TAKE ACTION by midnight, January 10: Sign our petition in support of the Framework for a Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science. 

 Read more

Invite Your Congresspersons to the 'Soil Is the Solution' Briefing

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-01-03 19:57
Belong to campaign: Cook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Environment & Climate, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

On January 11, our Regeneration International project is bringing a team of experts to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. to brief Congress on the fact that our ability to feed the world and cool the planet depends on how we care for the soil.

TAKE ACTION: Send an email invitation to your members of Congress.Read more

Act by Jan. 10! Support Strategies to Help Feed the World and Cool the Planet!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2017-01-03 19:51
Environment & ClimateAlexis Baden-MayerOrganic Consumers AssociationJanuary 3, 2017 Soil Hands 1000x667

You know that switching to organic and pasture-based agriculture is what we need to do to feed the world and cool the planet—because healthy soil can both provide abundant food, and also draw down and sequester carbon.

But do our federal policymakers know this? And if so, are they doing anything about it?

As it turns out, at least some of them have heard the message. Our job is to push them to act. Here are two ways you can help:

Action #1: Deadline Jan. 10: Support the 'Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science' 

Action #2: Invite Your Congresspersons to the 'Soil Is the Solution' Briefing 

The National Science and Technology Council’s Soil Science Interagency Working Group just released “The State and Future of U.S. Soils: A Framework for a Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science.” This breakthrough document that officially recognizes that:

Soil is essential to human life. Not only is it vital for providing most of the world’s food, it plays a critical role in ensuring water quality and availability; supports a vast array of non-food products and benefits, including mitigation of climate change; and affects biodiversity important for ecological resilience. These roles make soil essential to modern life.

Thus, it is imperative that everyone—city dwellers, farmers and ranchers, land owners, and rural citizens alike—take responsibility for caring for and investing in our soils.

TAKE ACTION by Jan. 10: State your support for the 'Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science'

In addition to organizing public comments in support of the “Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science,” we’re also organizing a briefing on Capitol Hill to educate Senators and Members of Congress about regenerative agriculture’s capacity to address some of our most pressing problems:

1) Skyrocketing rates of diet-related diseases, 
2) Rapidly vanishing natural resources, especially water, and 
3) Dangerous concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

These problems have one thing in common: They can't be solved without soil. We might take dirt for granted, but we can't do much without it. As an anonymous wit observed:

Humankind, despite its artistic abilities, sophistication and accomplishments, owes its existence to a six-inch layer of farmable soil—and the fact that it rains!

TAKE ACTION: Click here to invite your Senators and Members of Congress to attend our January 11 briefing on how caring for the soil can help feed the world and cool the planet.

If you’re in the D.C. area, you’re welcome to attend, as well.

And here’s a third way you can support regenerative agriculture this month. Join us at the Regenerative Agriculture Track at the Future Harvest-Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture Conference on January 13, in Hyattsville, Md. Click here to register.

Let’s start the new year right—by working on a plan to transition to a 100-percent regenerative food and farming system.

I Personally Invite You.

Organic consumers - Sat, 2016-12-31 16:10
All About Organics, Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 31, 2016https://secure.organicconsumers.org/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12139 OCA 2016 Dec 220 420

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry, farmer, author, environmentalist

For decades, we’ve watched as corporations like Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Exxon, Coca-Cola, Cargill and others have committed crimes against our health and our environment.

While fraudulently claiming to offer consumers “modern solutions” these companies have brought us only pesticide-coated GMO foods, poisoned rivers and streams, and an epidemic of cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Together, they’ve pushed us to the brink of an environmental, public health and climate disaster.

We're still about $30,000 short of our year-end fundraising goal. Can you help us reach $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

Like you, I’m still discouraged that earlier this year we lost an intensive four-year battle to get GMO foods labeled.

Still, hope springs eternal. If the GMO labeling loss taught us anything, it taught us that we have to build a bigger movement, a movement of movements.

No one of us alone can solve the crises we face. No politician, no scientists, no organization, no technology company, no environmental or social justice movement leader (no matter how charismatic) will deliver us a top-down solution.

We will foster renewal, we will regenerate our soils, our economies, our health, our communities—our hope—by finding common ground. By connecting the dots between our many good causes. By working together.

From the ground up.

I personally invite you to join me in making this our highest priority in the coming year.

If we can do this, we will have hope.

We're still about $30,000 short of our year-end fundraising goal. Can you help us reach $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

From all of us at OCA, thank you. Here’s to a healthy, regenerative 2017.

Ronnie Cummins
International Director


P.S. Martin Luther King once said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." In 2017, we will need to build a #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution on a scale meaningful enough to counter what is shaping up to be one of the most financially and politically corrupt administrations in our lifetimes.But we will need your help. Click here to donate to our year-end campaign.

I'm Going to Break the Rules Today

Organic consumers - Fri, 2016-12-30 20:15
All About Organics, Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 30, 2016http://secure.organicconsumers.org/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12139 oca-2016-dec-180-420.png

Under the rules of online fundraising, it’s a given—don’t include links to anything other than the donation landing page. 

You don't want readers to get distracted. They won’t come back and donate.

I’m going to break that rule today. 

I want you to read what one reporter referred to as a “chilling preview” of the coming attacks on your health, and the health of our common environment.

I want you to read this legislative agenda, published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). It’s a document that outlines the incoming administration’s plans to gut food, health and environmental regulations.

I want you to scroll down to the section titled “Food, Drugs and ‘Consumer Freedom’” where you’ll see that Myron Ebell, CEI’s director and Trump’s EPA transition guy, plans to aggressively promote Monsanto’s GMOs. 

You’ll see that Ebell and his corporate cronies intend to attack efforts to restrict toxic chemicals, including the cancer-causing phthalates in kids’ products.

Go back up to no. 4, “Energy and Environment,” and you’ll see that the first order of business under the new administration will be to “repudiate the Paris Climate Agreement.”

And then there’s this: CEI’s plans to eliminate funding for what it calls “activist research.” That means the end of the work by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on BPA, a known endocrine disruptor. And the end of “Safer Choice,” an EPA program that helps companies eliminate toxic chemicals from their products.

It’s all there. In a document called “Freedom to Prosper.”

It’s a nefarious plan to make sure that the only ones who will prosper in the next four years will be corrupt corporations and the fat-cat CEOs who run them.

If only a fraction of this plan is succeeds, your health will decline. Your environment will disintegrate to the point where it may no longer be possible, at least in our lifetimes, to clean it up.

I want you to read this plan. Then please return to this page and make a donation to our year-end fundraising campaign. If you donate by midnight December 31, Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner's will match donations up to $250,000. You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

If Hillary Clinton were moving into the White House next month, we’d be gearing up for a fight over her love affair with Monsanto.

Instead, we’re facing an unprecedented onslaught of outright attacks on our health, our environment and our food and farming system—the likes of which, in my 40-plus years working on these issues, I’ve never seen.

With your help, we will fight back against these attacks. In communities large and small. In the streets. In the halls of Congress.

You have my word.

We're still $70,000 short of our year-end fundraising goal. Can you help us reach $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

In solidarity,

  Ronnie Cummins
  International Director


P.S. Martin Luther King once said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." In 2017, we will need to build a #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution on a scale meaningful enough to counter what is shaping up to be one of the most financially and politically corrupt administrations in our lifetimes.But we will need your help. Click here to donate to our year-end campaign. 

Tell New Scientist Magazine: Stop Spreading Lies About Organic Food and Climate Change!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-12-22 20:03
Belong to campaign: Organic TransitionsCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: All About Organics, Environment & ClimateArea: USA

A popular science and technology magazine recently published an article and video aimed at convincing consumers that buying local and organic food is bad for the climate. 

Given what we know—that industrial agriculture is the biggest contributor to global warming, and that organic and regenerative agriculture practices not only reduce emissions, but also draw down carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil  —it’s hard to fathom how this article got the OK from the editors at New Scientist.

That is, until you find out that Syngenta and Merck are big advertisers.

The editors at New Scientist are taking their direction from the “hands that feed them”—rich corporations whose profits depend on a model of agriculture that has totally failed to live up to its promises, while simultaneously fouling our waters, destroying our soils and heating up the planet.

TAKE ACTION: Tell New Scientist Magazine: Stop Spreading Lies About Organic Food and Climate ChangeRead more

A Personal Message From OCA Director Ronnie Cummins

Organic consumers - Tue, 2016-12-20 20:08
All About Organics, Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationDecember 20, 2016https://secure.organicconsumers.org/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12139 Fundraiser meter 85k 420x280

This seems like as good a time as any to review a little bit of our common history.

You and I, the OCA staff, and our entire volunteer network have been speaking truth to power for almost two decades now, fighting to safeguard organic standards, campaigning against GMOs and pesticides, advocating for Fair Trade, natural health, and environmental, animal and climate-friendly regenerative agriculture.

We’ve connected the dots in our newsletter, website and social media between health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy.

OCA now has over two million organic consumers in our online network, reading and sharing information, pressuring companies and politicians–and putting our consumer dollars where our values lie.

In the late 1990s, we and our allies kept GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation out of organic. Since then we’ve fought against synthetic ingredients in organic, against fraudulent “natural” and organic label claims (including six lawsuits this year), and against factory farm-style confinement of “organic” dairy and poultry.

We've fought for labels on GMO-tainted foods. We’ve pressured leading retail chains such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to sell more organic and local organic products.

Most recently we’ve called on organic brands to move beyond mere organic to become fully regenerative.

Monsanto’s minions and the factory farm lobby often claim that OCA is “too radical.” We’ve been admonished to tone down our rhetoric. We’ve been told by some that we’re too harsh on the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, the Obama administration and now the Trump administration.

We’ve been advised to play nice, to not criticize the “Organic Traitors” in our own industry.

But OCA is not your typical nonprofit organization. Taking on the Monsantos of the world, and their accomplices in Washington, standing up for what’s right—this is what we do, and will continue to do.

We believe that transforming our food and farming system is a matter of life or death. Our health and the health of the planet literally hang in the balance.

As we prepare our campaigns for 2017, our rights to healthy food, to poison-free water and air, to choose natural health practices and practitioners, our right to a non-toxic environment and a healthy climate are threatened on all fronts.

Business-as-usual in the marketplace and in the political arena is a recipe for disaster. We need to organize for big change, and we need to begin now.

The OCA staff and I are prepared to go all out. But we’re going to need your help.

Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, warned us 50 years ago to move beyond “little tranquilizing pills of half-truth.” With Monsanto and Big Ag moving to monopolize our seeds and food, with one third of our children suffering from diet-related and environmental-driven chronic disease, with Wall Street and corporate cronies tightening their stranglehold on the economy, with global warming and violent weather spiraling out of control, we need the whole truth.

And we need radical action.

With the US EPA poised to re-approve Monsanto’s glyphosate, the DDT of our generation, with an incoming administration chomping at the bit to wipe out every bit of reform we’ve made in the past few decades, OCA will not sit back and administer “little tranquilizing pills of half-truth.”

In the coming months, I’m going to call on you to help us take on Monsanto and Big Food in a very big way. Because our lives depend on it.

We are still a long way from making our year-end fundraising goal. Could you help us raise $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here. Thank you!

In solidarity,

Ronnie Cummins
International Director



P.S. Martin Luther King once said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." In 2017, we will need to build a #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution on a scale meaningful enough to counter what is shaping up to be one of the most financially and politically corrupt administrations in our lifetimes. But we will need your help. Click here to donate to our year-end campaign. 

Dow Chemical CEO: 'I tingle with pride.'

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-12-15 16:31
Environment & ClimateDecember 15, 2016 2016 Dec 15 420

The list of corporate cronies who will soon run the new sad reality show in Washington DC gets uglier by the day.

Here’s one appointment that may have escaped your notice. Under the incoming Trump Administration, the CEO of the company that brought us Napalm, Agent Orange, Chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D and, along with Monsanto, GMO crops, will head up the “American Manufacturing Council.”

It’s a safe bet that Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, won’t care one whit about how much poison his company unleashes on you and your food.

Your donation to OCA’s year-end campaign will help us organize an online and get-out-in-the-streets #ConsumerRevolution. Can you help us reach our goal of $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

On December 10, President-Elect Donald Trump pulled Dow’s Liveris up on stage at the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., to announce that the head of the chemical giant will lead Trump’s “American Manufacturing Council.”

As the two men “showered each other with praise,” said a Wall Street Journal report, Liveris reportedly told the crowd, “I tingle with pride listening to you.”

Does Liveris “tingle with pride” over the fact that Dow’s Agent Orange killed more than 400,000 people during the Vietnam War? Or that more than a million people still suffer disabilities and chronic illness from exposure to Agent Orange?

Is Liveris proud that Dow continues to market chlorpyrifos, a chemical known to cause brain damage in kids, despite being ordered to pay a $2-million fine to the state of New York for illegally marketing this dangerous chemical as “safe?”

We know for a fact that Liveris is proud of Dow’s latest soy and corn crops, genetically engineered to withstand massive amounts of Enlist Duo, a toxic concoction made from Dow's 2,4-D and Monsanto’s glyphosate. Yep, Liveris is "tingling with pride” over Dow’s latest poison, even though the EPA estimates that once these crops are unleashed, kids ages 1 to 12 could consume levels of 2,4-D that the World Health Organization, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Brazil and China consider unsafe.

Can you help fund a #ConsumerRevolution that will target the Big Food companies and the factory farms that keep companies like Dow and Monsanto flush? Please help  us reach our goal of $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

In a list of talking points drafted by Trump’s National Advisory Committee for Agriculture and Rural Issues, this was talking point #10:

The Trump-Pence administration will use the best available science to determine appropriate regulations for the food and agriculture sector; agriculture will NOT be regulated based upon the latest trend on social media.

With Dow’s CEO in charge of the “American Manufacturing Council,” there’s no doubt that the so-called “best available science” will be as pro-poison and pro-GMO as it gets. 

“We’ve got ideas and we’ve got plans,” Liveris told the cheering crowd in Grand Rapids.

Well, so do we. Now more than ever we need your support to help execute those plans.

Can you help fund the #ConsumerRevolution by helping us reach our goal of $250,000 by midnight December 31? You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here. Thank you!

In solidarity,


Ronnie Cummins
International Director



P.S. Martin Luther King once said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." In 2017, we will need to build a #ConsumerRevolution and #PoliticalRevolution on a scale meaningful enough to counter what is shaping up to be one of the most financially and politically corrupt administrations in our lifetimes. But we will need your help. Click here to donate to our year-end campaign. 

EPA Poised to Sign Off on Monsanto’s Glyphosate, Despite Warnings by Independent Scientists

Organic consumers - Thu, 2016-12-15 15:53
December 15, 2016Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerHealth Issues, Politics & Globalization Scientist 1000x667

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory panel is meeting this week (December 13-16) to determine the fate of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Will the panel heed the warnings of independent scientists? Or will it give more credence to the testimony (propaganda) delivered by Monsanto, the company that annually sells nearly $5 billion worth of its flagship herbicide, Roundup, grossing nearly $2 billion in profits.

You can listen to the EPA meeting on glyphosate and cancer December 13-16. Call in number: 866-299-3188. Passcode: 202 555 6831. Instructions to access the webcast are here. So far, all signs point to EPA caving to Monsanto, as the panel reviews the science that links the main ingredient in the world’s No. 1 herbicide with cancer. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that the Obama Administration plans to save U.S. farmers and agricultural workers from the ravages of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  

The EPA has a long history of protecting Monsanto’s profits. That’s what happened in 1991, when the EPA received enough pushback from Monsanto to reverse its 1985 decision that classified glyphosate as a possible human carcinogen, based on the presence of kidney tumors in male mice.

In 2009, there was new hope that this injustice could be corrected when the EPA announced that once every 15 years glyphosate would have to be reviewed before it could be re-registered, setting up a formal review that should have taken place in 2015—but has been delayed numerous times. 

Meanwhile, in March 2015, a major breakthrough occurred when 17 scientists at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released the results of their assessment of the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, concluding unanimously that the chemical is a probable human carcinogen. The EPA said it would consider the IARC finding in its own review of glyphosate. 

But in May 2016, when the EPA “mistakenly” released its assessment of glyphosate, the agency’s findings contradicted those of the IARC. The leak appeared intended to give Monsanto ammunition in its fight to keep its profitable Roundup on the market. (In 2015, Monsanto made nearly $4.76 billion in sales and $1.9 billion in gross profits from herbicide products, mostly Roundup.) 

After the leak, the EPA tried to restore legitimacy to the process by insisting that it hadn’t yet made a decision on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity and convening a Scientific Advisory Panel to review the matter. Then in September, the EPA released “Glyphosate Issue Paper: Evaluation of Carcinogenic Potential,” a paper prepared specifically for the agency’s Scientific Advisory Panel. 

An analysis of the paper, conducted by Food & Water Watch researcher Amanda Starbuck, exposed several deficiencies in the science the EPA used to reach its conclusion that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans:

1.    More than half of the studies were submitted by the industry. The EPA looked at 131 studies to decide if Roundup causes cancer, but 71 were unpublished industry studies.
2.    Independent studies were 30 times more likely to find glyphosate's toxicity than those from the industry—but the EPA ultimately concluded that there was “no convincing evidence” of glyphosate’s toxicity.
3.    The EPA used a “weight of evidence” approach, which means that heavy industry slant overwhelmed the independent published findings—including an independent study that linked glyphosate with the growth of breast cancer cells.

Jennifer Sass, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Health Program says the EPA’s science is so poor that:

EPA violated its own Cancer Guidelines by dismissing evidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in people. Even a meta-analysis of many epidemiologic studies that was sponsored by the agrochemical industry reported a statistically significant risk of NHL cancers when glyphosate-exposed individuals were compared with individuals never exposed to glyphosate. IARC’s analysis reported similar results. EPA’s Cancer Guidelines are consistent with calling this “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” for “evidence of a positive response in studies whose power, design, or conduct limits the ability to draw a confident conclusion”.

Knowing that the EPA’s weak science wasn’t up to a serious review, CropLife, the trade association that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto and the rest of the pesticide industry, launched a campaign to discredit scientists chosen for the EPA’s Scientific Review Panel. CropLife succeeded in getting EPA to cancel the panel’s October meeting, remove an esteemed epidemiologist from the panel, and reschedule the meeting for December 13-16.

The EPA has received 254,392 comments from the public in advance of the meeting. Nearly all of the people who submitted comments support a finding that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, including the 119,857 members of the Organic Consumers Association who signed a petition asking the EPA to follow the World Health Organization’s finding. Organizations that organized their members to submit public comments include Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Food Democracy Now, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, GMO Free USA, Moms Across America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pesticide Action Network North America, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group. 

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association.