Environment

Take Action to Help Your Local Meat Producers!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-01-15 14:56
January 15, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerFarm Issues, Politics & Globalization chicken_foliage_face_profile_1200x630.jpg

The new Congress is busy setting its priorities for the 2019-20 session. So now is the time to let your representatives know how they can help the regenerative organic food and farming movement.

One easy thing Congress can do is to make it easier for farmers who produce pasture-raised meat to process their animals closer to home, and access new local markets.

The benefit to consumers? More locally produced meat at potentially more affordable prices.

TAKE ACTION: Ask your representatives in Congress to be original cosponsors of the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act and the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act.

The PRIME Act would allow animals butchered at small-scale custom slaughterhouses to be sold by the cut within the state.

The New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act would allow producers of meat and poultry products inspected by USDA-approved state programs to sell their meat across state lines.

Both bills were introduced in past legislative sessions, but will have to be reintroduced in order to go anywhere during the current session.

Please ask your representatives in Congress to re-introduce and sponsor these bills!

Gambling With Our Health: Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Cost the U.S. $340 Billion a Year

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-01-15 14:29
January 15, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonAll About Organics, Health Issues grocery_1200x630.jpg

The diseases caused by exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our food, environment and household and personal care products cost the U.S. $340 billion a year, says children’s environmental health expert Dr. Leonardo Trasande.

Trasande is the author of “Sicker, Fatter, Poorer,” featured on a recent CBS News segment. The book highlights the potentially harmful effects of thousands of endocrine disruptors, also known as hormone mimickers, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system and cause adverse developmental, reproductive and neurological effects.

Endocrine disruptors are linked to a string of health problems, including diabetes, brain disorders, fertility issues and cancer. The chemicals can be grouped into four categories: 

• Pesticides used in agriculture

• Phthalates used in personal care products and food packaging

• Bisphenol A (BPA) used in aluminum can linings and plastics

• Flame retardants applied to furniture, electronics, mattresses and car seats

"Hormones are molecules that our body uses to signal and communicate, and hormone disrupters are chemicals that scramble those signals and contribute to disease, Trasande told CBS News. “We know now of over 1,000 chemicals that are hormone disrupters," he said.

Hormone mimickers also play a role in weight gain and may be a key factor in America’s growing obesity epidemic, which now affects 78 million adults and 12 million children, according to the National Council of State Legislature.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals that cause weight gain are called obesogens. Studies show that not only do obesogens promote weight gain, but they also cause the body to hang on to other environmental pollutants for longer, which could explain why obesity is an underlying risk factor for so many other diseases, including cancer.

Trasande says these chemicals “scramble hormone signals and shift our diet and how it's transformed in our body into fat as opposed into muscle or other categories.”

The use of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in consumer products is so widespread that the toxins are showing up in the environment, and subsequently, wildlife, too.

A study published in 2018 found phthalates in the urine of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida. Phthalates showed up in 71 percent of dolphins tested in the area over a two-year period. The discovery is alarming as it marks the first time scientists have found endocrine disruptors in the urine of wild marine mammals, which indicates the chemicals remained in their body long enough to process them.

Despite their persistence, there are steps consumers can take to limit their exposure to hormone-mimicking chemicals. Buying organic and locally sourced food can reduce exposure to toxic pesticides. Avoiding canned food and drink can help protect consumers from BPA and BPA alternative chemicals.

Finally, never microwave anything plastic, and try to avoid consuming food or drink that comes from a heated, plastic container. 

Click here to learn more about how you can avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Julie Wilson is communications associate for the Organic Consumers Association(OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

A Call for the Food Movement to Get Behind the Green New Deal

Organic consumers - Mon, 2019-01-14 15:58
January 14, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsEnvironment & Climate gnd_1200x630.png

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan… Half measures will not work… The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past [sic].”- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then-candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Huffington Post, June 26, 2018

“Just transitioning 10 percent of agricultural production to best-practice regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate. Regenerative Agriculture can change agriculture from being a major contributor to climate change to becoming a major solution.” - Andre Leu, international director, Regeneration International, “Reversing Climate Change with Regenerative Agriculture,” October 9, 2018

The ‘Great Climate Awakening’ of 2018

The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the decisive moment when the global grassroots awakened to the life-or-death threat posed by global warming. With violent weather and climate disasters becoming the norm, and international scientists finally shedding their customary caution to report that we must drastically slash (by at least 45 percent) global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hundreds of millions of ordinary people across the world seemed to simultaneously wake up.

Young climate activists under the banner of the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and other countries, sat in at politicians’ offices. They blocked streets and roadways. They demanded immediate and bold action. 

The Green New Deal is born

In the U.S., an insurgent slate of newly elected members of Congress, inspired by the Sunrise Movement and led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have generated headlines and popular support by calling for a Green New Deal (GND), a 21st Century upgrade of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal carried out during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Given the severity of the climate crisis, and the deterioration of the U.S. and global status quo (economic, political, health and environment), it’s no exaggeration to state that the GND is perhaps the most significant blueprint for system change in 100 years.

The GND’s call for a mass conversion to renewable energy and zero emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S. by 2030, is in line with what most scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

But what’s new, and long overdue in this  evolving manifesto is that the GND also calls for the greening, “just transition” and elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from our multi-trillion-dollar food and farming system as well. That call is long overdue, especially given that our degenerative food system generates 44-57 percent of all global greenhouse gases.

The GND draft statement calls for “eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries, including by investing in local-scale agriculture in communities across the country.” It also calls for funding “massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases.”

Beyond offering comprehensive energy and agricultural solutions for our climate emergency, what is truly game-changing and revolutionary about the GND is that it calls for system-wide economic regeneration as well: full employment, $15/hr. minimum wage, universal health care, free public education, and economic justice for all—policies extremely popular with the overwhelming majority of the body politic, including students, working class communities and low-income groups.

By bringing together the concerns of youth, food, farmer, environmental and climate activists, with the bread-and-butter concerns of workers and frontline communities, the GND offers nothing less than a contemporary roadmap for survival and regeneration.

As Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, pointed out in a recent email urging groups to sign on to the GND, it is economic injustice, the lack of money in the pockets of workers and consumers, the 80 percent of ordinary people who live from paycheck to paycheck, that has, in large part, held back the greening of America:

Who wouldn’t drive a Tesla, put up solar panels, or buy an energy efficient home in a walkable neighborhood with great public transportation? Everyone wants these things. We all want to enjoy good health, breathe clean air and drink pure water. There aren’t many families who would have to be convinced to eat locally grown organic health food if it were available and they could afford it. The problem is we’ve got student debt. Our mortgages are under water. We’ve got medical bills and childcare to pay for. And many of us have been too poor to go to college, buy a house or start a family. Our country’s struggling family farmers have the same problem. Sure, they’d love to go organic and pay their workers fairly. They want to do what’s best for their families, their communities and their environment. They just have to figure out how to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy first.

Support grows quickly for the GND, but so do attacks

With unprecedented speed, Ocasio-Cortez, insurgent Democrats and the Sunrise Movement have stimulated massive media coverage and generated significant public support for the GND, putting radical change on the national agenda. More than 45 members of Congress, five U.S. Senators, leading 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, hundreds of local officials, and over 600 activist organizations have already endorsed the GND.

In late-2018, polls indicated that 81 percent of Americans support full employment, economic justice and renewable energy, as outlined in the GND.

Yet despite initial strong support for the GND among activists and the general public, establishment politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) and the corporate media have launched a massive counter-attack, denouncing the GND (and Ocasio-Cortez and her allies) as “utopian,” “radical,” “impractical” and even “dangerous.”

The unfortunate truth is that Congress and the mass media are infected and dominated by powerful climate emergency deniers and establishment politicians taking money from fossil fuel companies, climate-destructive industrial agribusiness and Wall Street. Yet with global scientists sounding the alarm that the onset of runaway global warming (with atmospheric CO2 levels of 450 ppm or higher) is not 80 years away or even 50 years away, but more like a dozen years away unless we drastically change course, it can hardly be called “utopian” to organize around a bold emissions-reduction, drawdown and economic development plan that can avert catastrophe, and improve the lives of everyday people at the same time.

Painting Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement as “radical” is not likely to derail the growing insurgency. Because a radical emergency more serious than anything humans have ever faced in our 200,000-year evolution demands a radical solution. As Cortez said in an interview on “60 Minutes” on January 6 (watched by 11 million people), she admits to being a “radical”— not unlike previous “radicals” in American history, including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who likewise confronted severe crises demanding radical solutions.

Is it possible to achieve zero emissions in the U.S. by 2030?

On the same “60 Minutes” show, Ocasio-Cortez was pressed on the practicality of zero fossil fuel emissions by 2030. The host tried to trip her up by asking if zero emissions meant that all of us would be driving electric cars within a decade. She responded by saying that there are technological breakthroughs on the horizon that we can’t even imagine yet.

Although it’s undoubtedly true that there are technical breakthroughs in renewable energy and electric cars on the horizon, I wasn’t fully satisfied with Ocasio-Cortez’s answer (even though I admit she’s my favorite political leader of all time). Here’s how I would have answered that question:

“Millions of Americans are going to be driving electric cars in 2030. But you’re right, a lot of us will still be driving our old gasoline-powered vehicles. If you read the details of our proposed Green New Deal carefully, you’ll see that we’re not just talking about rapid reductions in fossil fuel emissions, the CO2 and other greenhouse gases we put up into the sky by burning fossil fuels. We’re also talking about drawing down these same greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, utilizing climate-friendly farming practices that qualitatively increase plant photosynthesis, soil fertility and natural carbon sequestration. These regenerative practices include farming organically, holistic grazing, improving soil health, and restoring our forests, grasslands and wetlands. In other words, we can and must reach zero net emissions in 2030 by drawing down as much atmospheric carbon as we’re still putting up.

“The Green New Deal aims to change not only our climate-destructive energy, manufacturing and transportation systems, but also our degenerative food and farming systems. The Green New Deal is designed to raise the living standards for all Americans, including low-income workers in both rural and urban communities, so that all of us can choose and afford healthier and more climate-friendly lifestyles. In the next decade, we must facilitate a just transition away from climate-destabilizing factory farms and fossil fuel-intensive agriculture, at the same time as we switch, as rapidly possible, to 100-percent renewable energy. With renewable energy and regenerative food, farming and land use working in synergy, there is no doubt that we can reach zero net emissions by 2030, significant negative net emissions by 2050, and literally, along with the rest of the world, reverse global warming and avert climate catastrophe.”

We know what to do. The best practices and practitioners in alternative energy, infrastructure rebuilding and regenerative food and farming are already visible in or near our local communities. We simply need to mobilize politically to scale up these practices utilizing the power of a GND. But we’re running out of time unless we can quickly build a massive united front, elect new GND supporters to Congress and the White House in 2020, and pass federal legislation for a GND starting in 2021, as Ocasio-Cortez puts it, “similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan.”

The time to join the GND Revolution is now. On February 5, hubs and homes across the country will host parties to tune into a Sunrise Movement livestream detailing the 2019 GND strategy. Anyone can host a party to grow the movement. These house parties will unite communities to build the people power we need to make the GND happen. To host a party click here:

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

Organic Consumers Association Wins on Motion to Dismiss in Case Against Unilever-Owned Ben & Jerry's for Deceptive Marketing Claims

Organic consumers - Thu, 2019-01-10 14:08
All About Organics, Environment & ClimateOrganic Consumers AssociationJanuary 10, 2019 ben_and_jerrys_ice_cream_shelves_1200x630.jpg

Photo: benjerry.fr, CC BY-NC 2.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 10, 2019

CONTACT: Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association, (207) 653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

Washington, DC –Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today announced that the District of Columbia Superior Court rejected Ben & Jerry’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit OCA brought against the Unilever-owned brand in July 2018 under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).

“We are pleased that the court agrees that Ben & Jerry’s can be held accountable for the claims it makes about its products, and how the production of those products impacts animal welfare and the environment,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. “This is a major victory for millions of consumers who have been deceived by Ben & Jerry’s marketing claims.”

OCA sued Ben & Jerry’s for the deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of its ice cream products as humanely sourced and environmentally responsible, despite the fact that ingredients are sourced from typical factory dairy farms and some of the products contain traces of glyphosate, an environmentally harmful biocide and the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup® weedkiller.

In its ruling, the court agreed that consumers may have been misled by Ben & Jerry’s environmental responsibility statements into believing that the company’s ice cream products would be free of glyphosate.

The court also agreed that Ben & Jerry’s general messages about humane treatment of cows in the “Caring Dairy” program and “values-led sourcing” may mislead customers into believing that Ben & Jerry’s uses ingredients only from dairy farms with higher-than-average animal welfare standards, when the evidence may suggest otherwise.

OCA is represented by Richman Law Group.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots organization advocating on behalf of millions of consumers for safe, healthful food and a clean environment. Visit: https://www.organicconsumers.org/.

Richman Law Group (RLG) is a collective of lawyers specializing in impact litigation to repair the world. RLG was founded on the idea that what cannot be achieved by way of legislation can sometimes be achieved by way of litigation. This tight-knit cadre of tenacious and diverse professionals is dedicated to fighting for the rights of its clients, and through them, the needs of the community at large. Visit: www.richmanlawgroup.com.

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Deer Disease Poses Risks to General Public, Not Just Hunters

Organic consumers - Tue, 2019-01-08 02:42
January 7, 2019Organic Consumers AssociationMartha RosenbergFood Safety deer_buck_antlers_field_meadow_1200x630.jpeg

If you live in an urban area, should you be concerned about the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in U.S. deer herds?

CWD has caused hundreds of captive deer to be euthanized on commercial deer farms in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Pennsylvania. The disease has also spread to non-captive (wild) deer herds.

CWD hasn’t been widely publicized. So it’s no surprise that many people, whether they live in rural or urban areas, are unaware of the issue. But among those urban dwellers who are aware, there’s often little concern—because most people think CWD affects only rural areas, namely hunters and Departments of Natural Resources (DNRs) that depend on hunting licenses for revenue. 

In fact, recent scientific reports suggest that whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the country, you should be concerned about CWD—and you should take precautions.

What is CWD?

CWD is a fatal, transmissible neurological disease that affects members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

It’s called a “prion” disease because it’s caused by microscopic “prions,” defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as “misfolded forms of proteins naturally found in the body . . . [that] can convert normally folded prion protein molecules into an infectious form when they come in contact with each other.”

According to the NIH, these misshapen prion proteins clump together and accumulate in brain tissue. Once that happens, it’s impossible to get rid of them. They aren’t deactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde or radiation.

But here’s something that gets very little attention: Prions also remain in the soil indefinitely.

Colorado Division of Wildlife personnel recently found out just how indestructible prions are when they tried to eradicate CWD from a contaminated facility. Staff treated the soil with chlorine, removed the treated soil, then applied another chlorine treatment to the remaining soil and let the facility remain vacant for more than a year.

A year later, the soil still tested positive for the prion disease.

In humans, a prion-related disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a degenerative brain disease that leads to dementia and is ultimately fatal. CJD in humans is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease.

Research suggests CWD not limited to animals and humans

CWD is commonly thought to affect only animals. However, a 2015 study by University of Texas Health Science Center suggests that the leaves and roots of grass plants can bind, uptake and transport infectious prions.

Even highly diluted amounts of the infected prion protein were absorbed by the roots and leaves of the grass plants, in as little as two minutes, according to the UT the researchers. When fed to hamsters, the prion-contaminated grass infected the hamsters.

The fact that humans could eat grass plants—such as wheat grass, typically considered a health food—infected with CWD should give people pause, regardless of where they live.

Here’s another reason for people who don’t live in rural areas to fear prion diseases like CWD: Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the University of California at San Diego and UC-San Francisco, found that people with CJD have the prions in their eyes. That means there is a risk for the disease to spread via prion-contaminated instruments, during eye surgeries or even routine eye exams, according the researchers.

As reported by Live Science, researchers "found prions in all eight regions of the eye that were tested, including the cornea, lens, ocular fluid, retina, choroid (a part of the eye that contains blood vessels and connective tissue), sclera (the white of the eye), optic nerve (which connects the back of the eye to the brain) and extraocular muscle (which controls eye movement)."

Where do prion diseases come from?

Mad cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also transmitted by prions, is widely believed to stem from the cost-cutting practice of feeding cows to cows. Similarly, CWD may have man-made origins.

Captive deer operations are a main source of CWD due to their concentration of animals, “communicability window” (from trophy stock trading and escaped animals) and questionable feed sources. In a four-part expose, the Indiana Star revealed how “the pursuit of deer bred for enormous antlers and shot in hunting pens” on trophy farms is spreading CWD at an alarming rate.

Infected sheep may also be to blame. In the mid-1960s, the Department of Wildlife ran a series of nutritional studies on wild deer and elk at the Foothills Wildlife Research Facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Soon after the studies began, however, Foothills deer and elk began dying from a mysterious disease.

It turns out that the deer may have developed CWD as a result of being held at the same facility with sheep that had had scrapie, a fatal, degenerative prion disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. Research shows that white-tail deer exposed to scrapie are susceptible to developing CWD.

Can you get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) by eating CWD-infected deer meat?

The official position of Departments of Natural Resources (DNR), which depend on revenue from deer-hunting licenses, is that humans can’t get CJD from eating venison from deer infected with CWD.

Yet a 2002 Centers for Disease Control study contradicts that claim. The study, "Fatal Degenerative Neurologic Illnesses in Men Who Participated in Wild Game Feasts,” found numerous cases of hunters and/or men who ate venison who had developed CJD.

To reduce their CWD risk, DNRs warn hunters to wear surgical gloves when cutting up deer and to avoid exposing open cuts or sores on their hands. They tell hunters not to eat a deer’s brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes. Yet, scientific articles say that muscle, blood, fat and other parts of the animal, including kidneys, pancreas, liver, saliva and antler velvet, also contain prions.

What can consumers do to avoid risk?

There are a number of ways you can limit your personal risk, and also help minimize the overall risk of the spread of CWD.

Take these three critical steps to avoid personal risk:

• Avoid eating venison, especially if it comes from “farmed” deer fed animal waste. Because it’s nearly impossible for deer processors to sterilize their equipment after each deer, cross-contamination is always a risk.

• Avoid any meat that comes from a factory farm. Factory farms often feed confined animals slaughterhouse waste, or rendered animal protein. This practice is prohibited in organic meat production.

• Make sure your eye doctor is aware of the new and concerning risks presented by patients who may have prion diseases.

Here are some things you can do to help address the overall problem:

• Call for an end to game farms. Deer breeding and “trophy farms” are a $4-billion/year industry. Farmers operate canned "hunts" in which bucks with trophy antlers can fetch six figures. Customers are guaranteed a kill, and the animals are sometimes drugged. Deer farm operators also sell antlers, velvet, urine and meat.

• Protest the widespread trapping and killing of wolves. Wolves serve the important ecological purpose of culling diseased deer from the herd––a function which is lost when they are hunted and trapped.

• Call on the CDC to require autopsies on people whose death certificate reads "Alzheimer’s disease" or "dementia." Many of these people, especially deer hunters, actually have died from CJD but are buried or cremated with no disclosure. The public deserves to know these risks, which can be transferred through surgical instruments and bodily fluids.

Martha Rosenberg a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Ronnie Cummins is OCA’s International Director. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here. 

Source Author 2: Ronnie Cummins

The Genius of Many Minds, The Effort of Many Hands

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-12-27 18:45
December 27, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsAll About Organics hands_working_together_business_1200x630.jpg

“New models are emerging today . . . from the longing in many hearts, the genius of many minds, the effort of many hands to build what we know instinctively that we need.” - Marjorie Kelly, “Owning our Future.”

Last week, the USDA released its final rules for GMO labeling. As predicted, the federal law is full of loopholes. So full of them, that the law can easily be summed up in two words: a joke.

With your help, OCA fought long and hard for your right to know if your food contains genetically modified ingredients.

But even under Obama, who campaigned on the promise of your “right to know” about GMOs, federal lawmakers sided with Monsanto.

Betrayed by the politicians elected to represent us, we stepped up our education campaign. We ratcheted up the pressure on corporations, using boycotts and lawsuits.

We may not have won the GMO labeling battle—which was always a means to a bigger end. But thanks to you, we are winning the war against Monsanto and Big Food.

Now, with a roster of newly elected members of Congress who understand that we must connect the dots between food, farming, environmental, climate and economic justice policies, we’re standing on the brink of an unprecedented opportunity to transform our food and farming system.

We need your help to make the most of this opportunity.

If you make a donation to OCA between now and December 31, your gift will be matched by the Mercola.com’s charitable foundation. You can donate online, or by phone or mail, details here.

How do we know we’re winning the war against Monsanto and Big Food?

Junk food sales are down. Local citizens are rising up against factory farms.

Monsanto lost the biggest lawsuit it’s ever faced, when a jury unanimously decided that Roundup weedkiller caused Dewayne Johnson’s cancer. The company still faces more than 9,000 lawsuits by other cancer victims. 

Meanwhile, Monsanto’s new parent company, Bayer, is struggling under the weight of plummeting stock prices.

At least 13 countries, including France and Germany, are moving to ban glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup. 

In the U.S., while the EPA drags its feet, cities from Sonoma, California, to Bethesda, Maryland, are weighing their own bans on glyphosate.

Progress may still be too slow, but make no mistake: An educated citizenry is demanding—and getting—change.

But perhaps the best news to come along in awhile is something called the Green New Deal. 

We often hear from our supporters that we shouldn’t mix food with politics. But if the GMO movement taught us anything, it’s that policymakers—especially those who line their campaign coffers with donations from Monsanto and Big Food—wield tremendous power over consumer rights when it comes to food (and the environment).

The authors and supporters of the Green New Deal understand this. They also understand that food and farming policy, which currently favors industrial factory farms, is directly related to poor health, a polluted environment, declining communities, and the climate crisis.

Newly elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently told Bon Appétit she sees food at the center of many pressing issues, from ethics to climate. She told the magazine:

“The food industry is the nexus of almost all of the major forces in our politics today. It’s super closely linked with climate change and ethics. It’s the nexus of minimum wage fights, of immigration law, of criminal justice reform, of health care debates, of education. You’d be hard-pressed to find a political issue that doesn’t have food implications.”

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, Democratic Socialist, Libertarian, or just plain apolitical, if you care about food, health or the environment, you should be encouraged by Ocasio-Cortez’s statement. And you should get behind the Green New Deal.

We are encouraged. And we are mobilizing.

We believe 2019 has the potential to be a great year for the food movement—but only if we fight for it. Only if we pressure lawmakers, as never before, for transformational, not incremental, change.

If we want to transform our predominantly degenerative food and farming system to a regenerative one, we’re going to need drastically better food and farming policies.

We’re going to need the “genius of many minds, the efforts of many hands.”

We’re going to need you.

Please consider a generous donation to our year-end fundraising campaign. Make your donation to OCA between now and December 31, and Mercola.com’s charitable foundation will match your gift. You can donate online, or by phone or mail, details here.

Tell Bayer CEO Werner Baumann: Think Roundup Lawsuits Are a ‘Nuisance?’ Imagine How Cancer Victims Feel!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-12-19 22:17
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic EngineeringTags: #MonsantoTrialArea: USA

More than 9,000 lawsuits are now pending against Monsanto, by people who allege that exposure to Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer. 

Most of the people behind these lawsuits have stories not unlike the one told by Dewayne Johnson, during his landmark jury trial. Like Johnson, many of these people have non-Hodgkin lymphoma—or they have family members who have already died from the disease. 

To Monsanto’s victims, these trials are a way to hold Monsanto accountable for its crimes.

But to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer (which acquired Monsanto last year for $63 billion), these lawsuits are just “nuisances.” 

TAKE ACTION: Tell Bayer CEO Werner Baumann: Think Roundup Lawsuits Are a ‘Nuisance?’ Imagine How Cancer Victims FeelRead more

Demand Your Right to Know About Toxic Sewage Sludge!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-12-19 20:17
Belong to campaign: Save Organic StandardsStop Toxic SludgeCategory: All About Organics, Food SafetyArea: USA

Sewage sludge: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) euphemistically calls it “biosolids.” But what is it really? And why should you care?

As an article from In These Times explains, sewage sludge is:

. . . whatever goes into the sewer system and emerges as solids from municipal wastewater treatment plants. Sludge can be (its exact composition varies and is not knowable) any of the 80,000 synthetic chemicals used by industry; new chemicals created from combining two or more of those 80,000; bacteria and viruses; hospital waste; runoff from roads; pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs; detergents and chemicals that are put down drains in residences; and, of course, urine and feces flushed down toilets. 

This toxic stew is sold to farmers who use it to fertilize food crops—a fact most consumers don’t know, because food producers and retailers aren’t required to tell you.

TAKE ACTION: Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification ActRead more

A Personal Message from Ronnie Cummins

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-12-18 17:09
December 18, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsAll About Organics planet_hands_tree_seedling_1200x630.jpg

Now and then I think back to the first days of OCA.
 
The winter of 1997-98, hunkered down in our small cabin in northern Minnesota, our then-tiny staff waged its first big battle against Big Food, Monsanto, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
Then and now, protecting your right to safe food, and safeguarding organic integrity, were central to our mission. And so were you. Can you make a donation to keep OCA going strong in 2019?

Twenty years ago, as USDA bureaucrats sought to degrade organic standards, we realized they were more interested in rewarding their corporate donors than they were in protecting consumers.

They wanted to allow GMOs and irradiated foods to be certified organic. They wanted to let organic farmers fertilize their crops with toxic sewage sludge.

Back then, OCA was a fledgling organization with scarce resources. No army of social media followers to spread the word. All we had were a couple of telephones and a fax machine.

We were small. But our mission was big . . . and we had you. Together, we took on Big Food and the USDA. And we won.

Today, OCA represents a network of more than 3 million consumers, in the U.S. and Mexico. Together, we are exposing the corruption that lets industrial agribusiness damage our health and environment.

Together, we’re growing the market for organic and regenerative food. We’re building a food and farming system that produces safe, healthy food, protects the environment, nurtures biodiversity—and holds the potential to restore climate stability.

But we can only keep doing this work as long as you support us. If you make a donation to OCA between now and the end of December, it will be matched by Dr. Mercola. Please donate today, online, by mail or by phone, to double your impact!

Right now, the food movement is at a crossroads. We have a chance to reshape our future . . . but only if we act.

Backed into a corner by growing consumer demand for transparency and accountability, the giants of the industrial, GMO food system are lobbying Congress harder than ever to hold on to their “right” to poison and pollute, with impunity.

They may be able to buy their way to securing industry-friendly policies for a while longer. But Big Ag is losing in the courts. And losing in the court of public opinion.

We used the courts this year to stop General Mills from using the word “natural” on their Nature Valley Granola Bars, contaminated with Roundup weedkiller. The same for Post and its Shredded Wheat brand. We forced Handsome Brook Farm to stop deceiving consumers with false claims of “pasture-raised” eggs. We’re also suing Ben and Jerry’s, Monsanto, and other large companies for labeling fraud.

But the movement’s biggest win this year . . . the win that could lead to a long-overdue ban on Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller . . . was a California jury’s unanimous decision to hold Monsanto accountable for poisoning a school groundskeeper and causing his terminal cancer.

The plaintiff in the case, Dewayne Johnson, had good attorneys and a strong case. However, consumer awareness, and years of consumer education and activism, also played a role in the stunning win against Monsanto. Last year alone, OCA invested $300,000 in public education and mobilization around exposing the hazards of Roundup.

We’re already seeing the impact of Johnson’s landmark victory against Monsanto. In the last few months, the French government launched an initiative to phase out glyphosate. Tanzania cracked down on illegal pro-GMO propaganda by ordering the destruction of Monsanto/Gates GE crop trials. And Germany set new restrictions on glyphosate, with an eye toward establishing an end date for its use.

We could be moving toward a global ban on glyphosate, as early as next year. But we need your help. Make your tax-deductible donation by midnight, December 31, and your donation will be doubled.

Here are a few of the ways we’ll put your donation to work:

• OCA is a major funder of U.S. Right to Know, which exposes corruption in the food industry. USRTK published internal emails showing collusion between Monsanto and the EPA. The emails were used in the California trial against Monsanto.

• OCA is a founding member and major funder of Regeneration International, a transnational non-profit network building global regeneration alliances to scale up regenerative organic food, farming, and land use. 

• OCA is collaborating with other organizations and our legal team to stop two major factory farm operations: Costco’s poultry factory farm in Nebraska, and a Norway-based corporation’s proposed salmon factory farm which would pollute the surrounding waterways and destroy 50 acres of  woodlands on the coast of Maine.

We can’t predict with certainty what the coming year will bring. Will politicians and policymakers come to their senses, and ban pesticides? Will industrial food producers heed the science on soil health, human nutrition, and climate change? I can’t say.

But I can promise you this: We will be as relentless as ever in defending your right, against threats old and new, to healthy food and a clean environment.

Nearly 80 percent of our support comes from individual donors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to double your impact by making a tax-deductible donation before midnight, December 31.

Urgent Action Needed to Save Organic Standards!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-12-12 17:19
December 12, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerAll About Organics, Politics & Globalization harvest_vegetables_produce_food_carrots_beets_onions_1200x630.jpg

On Tuesday, December 10, the Senate advanced a version of the Farm Bill, in hopes of passing a bill before the end of the year. While the latest version contains some good news for small independent farmers, it also includes a plan that would weaken organic standards.

Tucked into the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill is a seemingly innocuous provision that would undermine organic standards by severely limiting our ability to get synthetic and non-organic substances off of the “National List” of what’s allowed in organic food and farming.

TAKE ACTION: Call the Senate Agriculture Committee at (202) 224-2035, then click here to email and call your Senators and Member of Congress.

Ever wonder why we call it “organic” agriculture? 

Lord Northbourne, who coined the term in his 1940 book, “Look to the Land,” compared "chemical farming versus organic farming” and described an “organic” farm as one where: “The soil and the microorganisms in it together with the plants growing on it form an organic whole.” 

Sir Albert Howard, who adopted Northbourne’s term for the title of his 1947 book, “The Soil and Health, A Study of Organic Agriculture,” emphasized organic agriculture’s use of organic matter to create rich compost to feed soil microorganisms, improve soil fertility and produce nutrient-rich food. 

The Rodale Institute, founded in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, has elevated the significance of “organic” being “carbon-based.” Rodale’s research shows that if we converted all global croplands and pastures to regenerative organic agriculture we could sequester more than 100% of current annual carbon dioxide emissions.”
 
USDA Organic regulations codify these values, defining organic production as:

A production system that is managed … to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. 

Unfortunately, the National Organic Program has failed to enforce this definition and has instead encouraged the growth of three disturbing trends in the organic industry:

• Factory farmed “organic” meat, eggs and dairy, where animals are kept indoors or out on bare dirt.

• Hydroponic “organic” produce, where fruits and vegetables are grown without soil.

• “Organic” food where the nutrition comes from added synthetic vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

At the crux of each of these issues is a synthetic substance that props up the broken organic system: 

• “Organic” egg and poultry producers can deprive their birds of sunlight and access to pasture only by supplementing the feed with synthetic methionine.

• “Organic” hydroponic fruit and vegetable growers rely on synthetic micronutrients in the absence of soil.

• “Organic” infant formula is a soup of synthetic nutrients.

That’s why, every six months, we take consumers’ demands for real organic to the public meetings of the National Organic Standards Board. The NOSB is the standards-setting body for USDA Organic that decides which non-organic substances can be used in organic food and farming. Every five years, each of the non-organic substances allowed in organic is reviewed by the NOSB. The substance will “sunset” (be removed) unless the NOSB votes to keep it in organic.

The corporations that are making money from the use of synthetics in organic don’t want us to have a voice at the NOSB. They have been lobbying Congress to make make it harder for the NOSB to end the use of synthetics in organic: 

• The poultry and egg industry has spent $1,395,000 so far this year lobbying Congress. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member and Farm Bill author Debbie Stabenow has been receiving campaign contributions from Herbruck’s, an “organic” factory farm in Saranac, Michigan, that is raising six million birds that produce five million eggs daily.

• The Coalition for Sustainable Organics, the hydroponic industry front group, has spent $180,000 lobbying Congress.

• DSM North America, the company that sells DHA and ARA, synthetic nutrients heavily marketed through organic foods for infants and children, has spent $90,000 lobbying Congress so far this year, and has spent as much as $495,000 in past years.

How would the 2018 Farm Bill make it harder to get synthetic and non-organic substances out of organic?

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, which could be voted on as early as today, two-thirds of the 15-member NOSB would have to vote in favor of removing a synthetic material from organic in order to get the material out of organic.

On the surface that might sound reasonable. But here’s the deal. Historically, the NOSB would approve a synthetic chemical for use in organic solely on a temporary, five-year basis, until an organic alternative became available. After the five-year period was up, the synthetic ingredient would automatically drop off the list of allowed substances. The only way it could stay in organic, was if two-thirds of the NOSB members voted to keep it there.

The change being proposed in the Farm Bill—which allows a synthetic material to stay on the list indefinitely unless voted off—was actually already enacted through a policy change, during an NOSB meeting in 2013. That controversial decision, opposed at the time by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), principal authors of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, triggered protests and a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The lawsuit was dismissed in May of 2018. However, the court provided the plaintiffs, which include Organic Consumers Association, a roadmap for a future legal challenge. Here’s what that looks like: We need to wait for the five-year approval period for a synthetic material to expire. If the material isn’t re-approved by a two-thirds vote, and isn’t dropped from the National List, we could mount a legal challenge to get the material removed.

That’s exactly what proponents of the proposed change to the Farm Bill don’t want to see happen. So they’re using the Farm Bill to legislate the change, in a move aimed at preventing the courts from overturning the 2013 NOSB policy change.

TAKE ACTION: Call the Senate Agriculture Committee at (202) 224-2035, then click here to email and call your Senators and Member of Congress.

Did Dow Chemical Fake Safety Studies on Brain-Damaging Chlorpyrifos?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-12-06 03:47
December 5, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonEnvironment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Health Issues tractor_pesticides_1200x630.jpg

We’ve known for a while that Monsanto buried the truth about Roundup weedkiller by ignoring concerns by its own scientists. Now it seems Dow Chemical Co. has been using the same playbook.

Dow (renamed DowDuPont after its 2017 merger with DuPont) likely knew for decades that its widely used chlorpyrifos insecticide is harmful to humans—especially children and developing fetuses. But the company hid that information from regulators, both in the U.S. and EU, according to a new study, published in the journal Environmental Health.

The revelation comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is duking it out in the legal system over an August 2018 court ruling requiring the agency to finalize a the ban on chlorpyrifos that was originally proposed under the Obama administration, but overturned after Trump took office. 

On September 24, the EPA—the agency charged with protecting us from environmental contaminants—asked the courts to rehear the case. The move means that chlorpyrifos is still being used while the request for a rehearing plays out in the courts. Organic Consumers Association is collecting signatures on a petition to the EPA, asking the agency to rescind its request for a rehearing, and ban chlorpyrifos now.

In California alone, 800,000 acres and dozens of crops continue to be doused with a pesticide that Beyond Pesticides describes this way:

A neurological toxicant, chlorpyrifos damages the brains of young children: impacts of exposure, even at very low levels, include decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder,and developmental and learning delays.

Dow Chemical study produced ‘misleading’ results

The scientists who conducted the new study used public information requests to expose the raw data behind safety studies Dow submitted to European regulators in the late 1990s. 

The data is of particular importance as it was used in the EU’s decision to approve chlorpyrifos in 2006. The same studies were also submitted to officials at the EPA.

The study’s authors attempted to replicate the findings in Dow’s original study. But they discovered serious flaws, even omissions, in the company’s analysis. The industry study found “no selective effects on neurodevelopment” in rats, even at high levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos. This contradicts mounting evidence linking chlorpyrifos to neurodevelopmental problems in developing fetuses and young children—even at very low levels. 

The scientists found “treatment-related changes in a brain dimension measure for chlorpyrifos at all dose levels tested.” These findings went unreported in Dow’s original analysis. In other words, Dow’s own data showed that chlorpyrifos hurt rats, but company didn’t communicate that fact to regulators. According to the study authors:

We further found issues which inappropriately decrease the ability of the studies to reveal true effects, including a dosage regimen that resulted in too low exposure of the nursing pups for chlorpyrifos and possibly for chlorpyrifos-methyl, and a failure to detect any neurobehavioral effects of lead nitrate used as positive control in the chlorpyrifos study. 

Our observations thus suggest that conclusions in test reports submitted by the producer may be misleading. This discrepancy affects the ability of regulatory authorities to perform a valid and safe evaluation of these pesticides. The difference between raw data and conclusions in the test reports indicates a potential existence of bias that would require regulatory attention and possible resolution.

Chlorpyrifos applied to 50 different crops

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide (OP) widely used in agriculture, is approved for use in 100 countries. The insecticide is used on an upwards of 50 crops including almonds, cotton, citrus fruits, grapes, corn, broccoli, sugar beets, peaches and nectarines. 

Despite being allowed on all these foods, chlorpyrifos was banned for indoor home use in 2001.

Chlorpyrifos and other OPs are highly controversial due to the damaging effects they have on the human nervous system. The class of pesticides works by blocking an enzyme needed by the brain to regulate communication between nerve cells. 

As a result, exposure to chlorpyrifos, including at low levels, has been shown to cause neurodevelopmental effects such as decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder and developmental and learning delays in young children. Chlorpyrifos also has been linked to a loss of memory in farmworkers.

Given the evidence of harm caused by chlorpyrifos in humans, and especially children, any push to keep the chemical on the market is nothing short of unconscionable.

"What type of society poisons its children?” said Andre Leu, author of “The Myths of Safe Pesticides,” in an email to the Organic Consumers Association. “This shows the corruption of the Poison Cartels and how they are damaging the developing brains of children—they must be stopped!"

Several U.S. states have moved to restrict or ban chlorpyrifos, including California, Hawaii, Maryland and New Jersey. In June 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban it.

California, which applies chlorpyrifos to more than 800,000 acres and on dozens of crops, has proposed several restrictions on the use of the insecticide. Through its Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), the state is pushing to ban all aerial application of chlorpyrifos, as well as discontinue its use on most crops. 

DPR is also recommending a quarter-mile buffer zone during all allowed applications of the pesticide and for 24 hours afterward, and a 150-foot setback from houses, businesses and schools. 

Julie Wilson is communications associate for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Groovy Tuesday

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-12-04 16:45
December 4, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAll About Organics thank_you_1200x630.png

Not to sound like a broken record, but . . . without you, we simply wouldn’t exist.

Thank you for investing in Organic Consumers Association on  #GivingTuesday.

Thank you for sharing our vision for—and our commitment to—a safe, healthful and just food and farming system.

And thank you for inspiring us to work harder and smarter, even on those days when the deck seems stacked against us.

If this was your first donation, welcome! We look forward to partnering with you on future projects and campaigns.

If you are a long-time supporter and repeat donor, thank you for being there for us, once again.

#GivingTuesday marked the launch of our critical year-end fundraising campaign. From now until midnight December 31, all donations will be matched, dollar for dollar.

Thank you for being there with us in 2018, and for making our #GivingTuesday so successful.

We look forward to working together in 2019, as we continue to expose the corporations that pollute our food and environment, and push for the transition to an organic, regenerative food and farming system.

Monsanto Lost Its Most Important Case Yet. Soon More Victims Will Get Their Day in Court.

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-11-29 15:37
November 29, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering gavel_law_roundup_shelf_1200x630.jpg

Dewayne Johnson never wanted to be a celebrity acting out his life on an international stage. He’d much rather be a healthy man, going to work, taking care of his family, making a modest-but-steady living.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, the former school groundskeeper said:

“I’ve never really been a fan of attention or fanfare. And now it seems like that’s taken over my life. I get requests for media interviews from all over the world, and people ask me to come to their events and speak, and I’ve had people telling me they want to buy my 'life rights' to try to get movie deals . . . It’s crazy.”

Crazy, maybe. But Johnson, who recently won a $289-million judgment (later reduced to $78 million) against Monsanto (now Bayer) for manufacturing a product he says (and the jury agreed) caused his terminal cancer—and for hiding evidence of that product’s lethal toxicity—has perhaps done more than any one single person to shine a spotlight on how bad Roundup weedkiller is. And how deceitful Monsanto is.

There are more than 8,000 claims pending against Monsanto in state courts, about 620 awaiting trial in federal court, as more victims come forward to tell their stories of how they believed Monsanto’s public claims of safety, only to become deathly ill from exposure to Roundup.

Next up is the case of Edward Hardeman, whose trial is set to begin on February, 25, 2019, in a San Francisco federal court. Reuters reports that Hardeman’s case was selected as “a so-called bellwether, or test trial, frequently used in U.S. product liability mass litigation to help both sides gauge the range of damages and define settlement options.”

Bayer CEO Werner Baumann says the lawsuits are just "nuisances." Maybe. But the Germany-based chemical giant’s shareholders aren’t happy about them. Feeling the pressure, Baumann recently announced the company will sell a number of businesses and cut 12,000 jobs, after Bayer's stock dropped 35 percent.

Two different cases, two different messages

In some way, Hardeman’s case may resonate more with the average person who may at one time have bought Roundup, for home use, believing Monsanto's claims that it was safe. According to Reuters:

Hardeman began using the Roundup brand herbicide with glyphosate in the 1980s to control poison oak and weeds on his property and sprayed “large volumes” of the chemical for many years on a regular basis, according to court documents. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, in February 2015 and filed his lawsuit a year later.

Hardeman could be you, or your neighbor or family member, who heads over to Costco or Walmart or your local hardware store several times every summer, to buy bottles of Roundup to to kill weeds on your own property.

We haven’t been able to nail down what portion of the more than $4 billion in Roundup sales are direct sales to consumers. But it’s significant enough that U.S. retailers are “sticking by” the product, despite the public’s growing awareness of its potential harm.

Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides jointly filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for intentionally misleading the public by labeling its popular weedkiller Roundup, and its active ingredient, glyphosate, as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.”

In fact, according to scientists:

. . . although humans and other mammals themselves do not have a shikimate pathway, the shikimate pathway is present in bacteria, including beneficial bacteria that inhabit the mammalian gut and are essential to overall health. EPSP is therefore “found in . . . people [and] pets.” Just like it inhibits EPSP synthase in weeds, the active ingredient in Roundup inhibits EPSP synthase in these human and pet gut bacteria, and just like it targets weeds, the active ingredient in Roundup targets the human and pet gut bacteria the enzyme targeted by Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is found in the gut bacteria of people and pets.

Johnson case draws attention to use of Roundup where kids play

Johnson’s case is different. He used commercially sold Roundup on a regular basis, on the multiple school properties he managed. He wasn’t your average homeowner, buying Roundup at Walmart, to keep his yard tidy.

But his case shouldn’t resonate any less with the public—especially parents of schoolchildren. He told the Time interviewer he “had to be at work by sun up to make sure we had time to spray before the kids got to school.” He also insisted that his staff wear protective gear.

Kids don’t wear protective gear to school. Nor should they have to, most parents would agree.

Now that Johnson knows how toxic Roundup is, and how Monsanto works hard to keep that information from the public, he said he’s on a mission. Despite how overwhelmed he is with his new “celebrity” status, not to mention his terminal illness, Johnson said he wants “to see all these schools stop using glyphosate, first California, then the rest of the country.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’re working with other organizations and parent activists to get Roundup out of schools. If you’d like to help, sign our petition to the National School Boards Association. And take this flyer to your school board members, and your next PTA meeting.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit grassroots consumer advocacy organization. To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Tell Congress: It’s Time for a Green New Deal!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-11-29 15:19
Belong to campaign: Regenerative AgricultureCategory: Environment & Climate, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

On Congress’s the first day back to work after the November 2018 election, hundreds of young people with the Sunrise Movement  lined up outside the office of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

They were there to demand a Green New Deal. 

The protesters carried envelopes stuffed full of thousands of letters from other young people. One by one, they filed into Pelosi’s office. Some gave short speeches as they delivered their demands. The 51 of them who sat down in Pelosi’s office and refused to leave were arrested.

When it was her turn to speak, Sophia Zaia from Philadelphia said:

“Back in Nancy Pelosi’s home state, 42 people were just burned alive by wildfires, that are described as fire tsunamis, that we literally do not know how to fight. And she’s come to that crisis with a water gun, saying that she’s going to revive a committee to talk about evidence of climate change? That maybe would have been helpful back in 1968, when Exxon first learned about climate change. But that, today, is so, so far from what we need.”

TAKE ACTION: Ask your members of Congress to support the Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal!Read more

'Final Countdown:' Are Your Food Choices Pushing Wildlife to Extinction?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-11-29 04:18
November 28, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonEnvironment & Climate palm_oil_plantation_1200x630.jpg

Photo: Nanang Sujana/CIFOR, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An ingredient found in many everyday products is pushing wildlife towards the brink of extinction. It’s  also displacing smallholder farmers and moving us closer to a climate catastrophe.

The rising demand for palm oil is contributing to deforestation worldwide, as forests are destroyed and cleared to build industrial-size palm oil plantations.

A new investigation found that the world’s biggest brands, including Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez, are responsible for destroying an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore in less than three years. Why? Because they use palm oil in a variety of food and personal care products, including frozen pizzas, ice cream, cookies, chocolates, soaps, candles, makeup and detergents.

“Final Countdown,” published by Greenpeace International, found that since 2015, about two dozen palm oil groups cleared more than 130,000 hectares of rainforest. About 40 percent of the deforestation was concentrated in Papua, Indonesia.

Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. But that biodiversity is being threatened, because the country is also the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

Big Box brands are destroying vast stretches of rainforest for palm oil

Deforestation for palm oil plantations is pushing mankind’s closest living relative, the orangutan, to the brink of extinction. One of the biggest culprits is the Illinois-based snack food giant, Mondelez.

Mondelez is accused of sourcing palm oil from suppliers that have destroyed 70,000 hectares of rainforest—an area larger than the size of Chicago—since 2016. The snack food giant uses palm oil in its Ritz crackers, Cadbury chocolate and Oreo biscuits, to name a few.

In less than two decades, Bornean orangutan populations have been cut in half due to loss of habitat. Other species, including the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhino and the Sumatran tiger, are also being threatened as forest are cleared to plant more palm-oil trees.

Environmentalists warn that time is running out to save Indonesia’s critically endangered orangutans, which are being killed at a rate of 25 a day as their habitat is destroyed to build palm-oil plantations.

Watch this video for more on how palm oil is threatening orangutans.

Sixty-percent of palm oil is used for biofuel

Native to Africa, oil-palm trees look similar to coconut-palm trees. They can grow to more than 60 feet tall. They flourish on the peaty wetland soil found in lowland tropics. About twice a month, oil-palm trees produce a 50-pound bunch of walnut-size fruit that contains an oil more versatile than nearly any other plant-based oil of its kind.

Although used widely in various consumer products, a big percentage of palm oil is used for biodiesel fuel. About 40 percent of palm oil is used in food, animal feed and chemical products while 60 percent is used for energy including biofuel, power and heat, according to the Rain Forest Action Network (RAN).

The impact of deforestation stretches far and wide. Not only does it threaten wildlife, but it also displaces smallholder farmers and indigenous communities (who are often brutally driven from their land). And deforestation is a primary driver of climate change, because it releases large amounts of carbon stored in trees and soil. According to The New York Times:

Forests hold as much as 45 percent of the planet’s carbon stored on land, and old-growth trees in particular hold a great deal of that carbon, typically far more than any of the crops that replace them. When the trees are cut down, most of that carbon is released.

The rainforests in Indonesia store vast amounts of carbon. Researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration say the accelerated destruction of rainforests in Borneo, Indonesia contributed to the single-largest global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniuma. According to RAN’s website:

Indonesia—the world’s largest producer of palm oil—temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. With their CO2 and methane emissions, palm oil-based biofuels actually have three times the climate impact of traditional fossil fuels.

How you can make a difference

Investigations such as Greenpeace’s “Final Countdown” are important as they offer consumers a glimpse into the health and environmental effects of supply chains for commodities such as palm oil. They also highlight the importance of how making good choices regarding your food affects wildlife and the livelihoods of people on the other side of the globe.

Fortunately, there’s power in spreading awareness and in how consumers spend their dollars. 

If you want to opt out of the harm caused by palm oil, prepare more homecooked meals made of local, organicand regenerativeingredients. Shop at your local farmer’s market where you can purchase not only locally produced food, but also soaps, candles and other everyday products that are less likely to contain palm oil.

Consumers can also reach out to retailers and manufacturers and ask for palm-oil free products. Most companies don’t want to give their products a bad name, which means they’re often open to hearing about the wants and concerns of their customers.

For more information on palm oil, check out Greenpeace International’s full report, available here.

Julie Wilson is communications associate for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Celebrate #GivingTuesday: Help Us Build a Just Food and Farming System

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-11-26 20:51
November 26, 2018Organic Consumers Association giving_tuesday_letter_2.jpg

Neuroscientists tell us that the neurochemical drivers of happiness are dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin—and that any activity that increases production of these “happiness trifecta” chemicals will boost your mood.

Guess what sits at the top of the list of things you can do recharge these brain chemicals?

Giving.

There are many ways to give, everyday. You can take chicken soup to a sick friend. Rake your neighbor’s leaves. Fix someone’s flat tire.

And of course, you can support our work to fix the food system.

About 80 percent of our support comes from individual donors like you. Can you make a donation on #GivingTuesday to help us fix our food system?

Maybe the people who thought up #GivingTuesday weren’t thinking about neuroscience and the “happiness trifecta.”

But they were thinking about this: There’s power in giving. And power in numbers. And great power in great numbers of people giving.

Power for what? For “doing good” in the world.

On this #GivingTuesday, we hope you’ll make a donation to support the good work we are doing, to build a healthier, more just food and farming system.

Because a healthier food system is good for everyone.

But we also recognize that there are many ways to give, and many good organizations worthy of your support.

So, please join us in celebrating #GivingTuesday by following this piece of wise advice: Whatever is good for your soul. Do that.

Thank you, from all of us at OCA.

P.S. There are so many good organizations working to make the world better. We appreciate that you choose to support our work. Thank you!

How Facebook Users Are Making #GivingTuesday a Huge Success

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-11-26 17:07
November 26, 2018Organic Consumers Association gt_fb.jpg

You know what they say. If you can’t beat ‘em, you may as well join ‘em.

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. If you’re a person who cares about making the world better, your inbox will probably fill up fast tomorrow, with emails from organizations asking you to support them.

Rather than get annoyed by all these emails, why not join in the fun? By becoming a fundraiser yourself tomorrow?

It’s easy to set up your own fundraiser, and start raising money for your favorite nonprofit. Just go here and follow the step-by-step instructions.

This year on #GivingTuesday, Facebook is partnering with PayPal to match a total of up to $7 million donations, made on Facebook, to nonprofits like Organic Consumers Association.

We realize that you’ll have many opportunities tomorrow to participate in #GivingTuesday. Thank you in advance for considering a donation to OCA.

Happy Giving!

The OCA social media team

P.S. If you want to get a head start on #GivingTuesday by making a donation to OCA today, please click here for details. Thank you!

This #GivingTuesday Help Us Keep Up the Pressure on Corporations

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-11-26 16:27
November 26, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie Cummins giving_tuesday_letter_one.jpg

For decades, we’ve been shouting from the rooftops to anyone who would listen—and some who wouldn’t—that using poison to grow food is a terrible and dangerous idea.

With your help, we’ve published thousands of articles, organized hundreds of protests, sued numerous poison-spewing corporations, funneled hundreds of thousands of emails and letters and phone calls to Congress.

Why do we persist, in the face of so much corporate lobbying power intent on drowning out our voices?

Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, the now-famous (reluctantly, he’s quick to say) victim of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, said it best in an interview with Time magazine this week:

It is important for people to know this stuff, to know about what they’re being exposed to. If people have the information they can make choices, they can be informed and protect themselves.

Help us get poisons out of food. Please consider making a generous donation today, so that together, we can build a better food and farming system. Donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

We couldn’t have said it better than Mr. Johnson.

Johnson’s message is clear: You can choose to avoid GMOs and pesticide residues, and you can choose to boycott food companies that sell them—but only if you know.

We think everyone needs to know.

And we love that once you know, you have the power to spread the word, too.

Alone, we can’t reach the critical mass of educated consumers it will take to transform our food and farming system, from one that wrecks our health and our common home to one that nourishes us, and regenerates the environment.

But together, we can. And we will.

Singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez is famous for reminding us: “Action is the antidote to despair.”

There are many ways to take action. Financial support is just one of those ways—but it’s a critical one.

This #GivingTuesday, please consider making a generous donation to help us keep up the pressure on corporations and policymakers. So that one day, Roundup and other poisons will be banned forever.

Thank you!

P.S. There are so many good organizations working to make the world better. We appreciate that you choose to support our work. Thank you!

The Most Inspiring—and Regenerative—Wins of the 2018 Elections

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-11-21 14:54
November 21, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate, Politics & Globalization ballot_box_votes_voting_sunrise_1200x630.png

The regenerative food and farming movement didn’t get everything we wanted out of the 2018 elections—either in terms of candidates or, as Greg Palast documented, in terms of fair elections. Clearly, our democracy is far from perfect.

But thankfully, that hasn’t stopped the movement for health, justice and regeneration.

On November 6, the country elected several inspiring new leaders, some of whom are already getting to work at the local, state and federal level. On the ballot initiative front, voters in Portland, Oregon, passed a progressive initiative that will, among other things, direct funds to regenerative agriculture projects that sequester greenhouse gases and support local food production.

Maryland district sends anti-Monsanto delegate to the statehouse

We begin by congratulating Vaughn Stewart, the only candidate in the country we’re aware of who publicly called out Monsanto during his campaign—and with good reason.

At a public forum before the elections, Stewart said:

“This issue is very personal to me. I beat cancer last year for the second time in my life. I had salivary gland cancer when I was 18 and lymphoma last year. I can’t prove it, but I’m very certain that the reason is that Monsanto used my hometown in Alabama as a dumping ground for PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) for decades.”

Vaughn won! He’ll join the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 19.

Colorado, Connecticut and Hawaii elect regenerative food and farming champions

We also had a few big wins for regeneration statewide in Colorado, Connecticut and Hawaii.

Coloradans tapped Jared Polis as their next governor. Polis leaves Congress with a great voting record on health, justice and regenerative organic food and farming.

Polis has been a champion for the climate, for labels on foods produced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), for industrial hemp and raw milk, for animal welfare, for organic food & farming, for pollinators, for integrative health and wellness, and for the regulation of agricultural chemicals.

The new governor of Connecticut will be Ned Lamont. We endorsed Lamont because of his strong plan for protecting the environment, a plan that includes a pledge to protect clean air, water and soil. Lamont has also pledged to ban insecticides that harm bees. He made a promise to:

Protect our farmers and landowners by reviewing commercially available herbicides and pesticides used in the state and determine which ones are significantly harmful, and enacting changes if necessary. For instance, I will look to ban neonicotinoids and save our bees, which are critical to pollination of our crops, orchards and native vegetation across the state.

Dr. Josh Green is Hawaii’s Lieutenant-Governor-Elect. In “Dr. Josh Green's Prescription for a Better Future,” Green’s top-10 list of policies designed to strengthen and support Hawaii families, he includes "stronger pesticide restrictions and GMO labeling."

Could Congress be headed for a #GreenNewDeal?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won New York’s 14th district House seat after a primary victory over the incumbent Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley. Crowley was an opponent of consumers’ right to know where food comes from and how it is produced. The Cornucopia Institute gave him a “D” grade for failing to support labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs.)

Based in part on what she told Bon Appétit, we have reason to believe Congresswoman-Elect Ocasio-Cortez will be much better than the average Congress member on food and farming issues:

For Ocasio-Cortez, food is political, and the most tangible indicator of our social inequities. Sure, as living beings we all must eat to survive—and there’s unity in that—but what we eat and how much and where it comes from and what we must do to get it varies widely. “The food industry is the nexus of almost all of the major forces in our politics today,” she says. “It’s super closely linked with climate change and ethics. It’s the nexus of minimum wage fights, of immigration law, of criminal justice reform, of health care debates, of education. You’d be hard-pressed to find a political issue that doesn’t have food implications.”

Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for a #GreenNewDeal that would decarbonize manufacturing, agriculture and other industries, and fund a massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases. Read her proposal for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal. Then, call your Congress members and ask them to endorse this proposal.

In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar won the District 5 House seat vacated by Congressman Keith Ellison who was elected Attorney General. Congresswoman-Elect Omar wants to join the House Agriculture Committee. Representing an urban district, she sees the committee as an opportunity to promote food security for poor communities. Omar was endorsed by Our Revolution Twin Cities, which confirmed through a candidate questionnaire that she would work to:

• Pass legislation that protects Minnesota's pollinators.

• Break up agribusiness.

• Support organic and sustainable agriculture and horticultural practices.

• Eliminate factory farming of livestock.

• Support small-scale farming.

• Increase funding for urban farming.

• Promote good energy and natural resource conservation practices.

• Require composting to be a component of all public and commercial waste disposal

Meanwhile, in New York, Antonio Delgado flipped New York House District 19. Delgado has a great farming and agriculture platform that includes promises to:

• Protect our small and medium-sized farms and the farming industry while also building out the necessary regional infrastructure to ensure that our farmers are able to have access to the $6 billion dollars of unmet demand for local and organically grown food in New York City.

• Conserve and protect our environment, provide access to credit and business training for small rural farms, invest in preparing the next generation of farmers in our community, and fund programs like SNAP and those incentivizing purchases at local farmers markets.

Those are just a few of the CRL-endorsed candidates who won their races. To see all of the 2018 general election candidates we endorsed, and find out how they did in the November elections, please check out Citizen Regeneration Lobby’s candidates page.

Portland, Oregon ballot initiative will raise funds for regenerative ag

Our favorite ballot initiative win happened in Portland, Oregon, where voters approved the Portland Clean Energy Initiative. Portland’s vote proves that localities can take meaningful action to decrease carbon emissions and realize the economic, social and environmental benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuels.

What’s so promising about this initiative (Measure 26-201)? In addition to creating a fund to support clean energy, it also provides funding for “[r]egenerative agriculture and green infrastructure projects that result in the sequestration of greenhouse gases and support sustainable local food production.”

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative makes wealthy corporations pay their fair share for a just transition to clean energy and regenerative agriculture. The measure language states:

Large retail businesses are a significant contributor to carbon emissions. They encourage consumption of heavily packaged and non-recyclable products, have carbon intensive shipping, manufacturing, and supply chain practices, and share responsibility for generating a substantial portion of the City’s overall greenhouse gas emissions when customer traffic and facility operations are considered. These businesses have an inherent responsibility and the financial capacity to support the goals of this Measure, and an incentive to remain in the City to engage in retail activities here.”

As Fast Company put it, “Portland could make big businesses pay to protect communities of color from climate change.” And, it did! Measure 26-201 is the first environmental initiative in history created and led by communities of color, including Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, NAACP Portland Branch 1120, Native American Youth & Family Center, OPAL/Environmental Justice Oregon, and Verde.

In 2017, Portland pledged to transition to 100-percent clean energy by 2050 (electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and all remaining energy from renewables by 2050).

So far, 80 U.S. cities have made similar pledges. That sounds impressive, but as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reminded us, none of those cities have the “funding sources that will help them reach these goals.”

That changed on November 6, when voters passed the Portland Clean Energy Initiative. The initiative creates a 1-percent business license surcharge on large retail operations with more than $1 billion in previous annual national sales and $500,000 in annual sales within the city of Portland.

The initiative will raise over $30 million annually. According to news reports, a portion of the money would be used for regenerative agriculture projects that sequester greenhouse gases and support local food production.

A significant chunk of the money generated by the Portland Clean Energy Initiative will also be used for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, with a focus on projects that benefit low-income people and communities of color.

To see all of the 2018 candidates and ballot initiatives we endorsed, and find out how they did, check out Citizen Regeneration Lobby’s 2018 elections page.

Were you inspired by any winning candidates or initiatives in the November 2018 elections? Let us know by emailing info@citizensregenerationlobby.org.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association and its 501(c)(4) lobbying arm, Citizens Regeneration Lobby. Keep up with news on food, agriculture and environment issues by subscribing to OCA’s online newsletter.

What Turkey Producers Don't Want You to Know

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-11-15 13:51
November 15, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationMartha RosenbergEnvironment & Climate, CAFOs vs. Free Range, Food Safety turkeys_brown_black_grass_farm_1200x630.jpg

As Turkey Day approaches, animal lovers cringe, food safety advocates become vigilant and industrial turkey producers hope you aren’t reading the news.

Specifically, the purveyors of factory farm turkeys hope you haven’t heard about the latest turkey salmonella outbreak in 35 states, causing 63 hospitalizations and at least one death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey and turkey patties. The outbreak strain has also been found in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry."

Factory farm turkey producers also hope you’ve forgotten that avian flu and its prevention killed so many turkeys in 2015—at least 7.5 million—that turkey giant Jennie-O laid off 233 workers.

They hope you’ve forgotten that scientists at the Bloomberg School’s Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute found Tylenol, Benadryl, caffeine, statins and Prozac in feather meal samples that included U.S. turkeys—“a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” said study co-author Rolf Halden of Arizona State University.

And finally, Butterball hopes you’ve forgotten that several of its employees were convicted of sickening animal cruelty and that veterinarian Dr. Sarah Mason admits tipping off Butterball about an imminent raid by Hoke County detectives to investigate the abuse.

Can consumers rely on labels to make good buying decisions? Not really.

Many consumers rely on labels to help them avoid serving a sick, contaminated or abused bird on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, navigating the maze of labels and marketing claims is at best time consuming, and at worst, a waste of time. For example, "cage free" and "hormone free” are meaningless since cages and hormones aren’t used (or at least, aren’t supposed to be used) in turkey production anyway.

Nor does "young” mean anything—all turkeys are young at the time of slaughter. They live only a matter of weeks or a few months.

And don’t even get us started on turkey labeled “natural,” “all natural” or “100% natural.” As Organic Consumers Association and other food safety and animal welfare groups wrote in a letter last year to Cargill:

We are concerned about the production and marketing of Cargill’s turkey products. In particular, we believe that Cargill is misleading consumers about (1) its systematic overuse of antibiotics and other contaminants, which can pose a threat to public health; (2) whether its turkey products, and animal husbandry practices, are “natural;” (3) whether its turkey products emanate from facilities that employ inhumane agro-industrial practices; and (4) whether its turkey production practices are “environmentally conscious.”

Here’s a long list of facts you’ll never see listed on the major turkey brands in your grocery store.

1) Ractopamine is still in use

Hormones may not be used in turkey production but ractopamine, the asthma-like growth enhancer used to quickly add muscle weight to factory farm turkeys is. Banned in 160 countries and widely viewed as dangerous to animals and humans, ractopamine was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in turkey in 2009, under the brand name Topmax. It has never been labeled.

How dangerous is Topmax? This is what its label says: “NOT FOR HUMAN USE. Warning. The active ingredient in Topmax, ractopamine hydrochloride, is a beta-adrenergic agonist. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Not for use in humans. Keep out of the reach of children... When mixing and handling Topmax, use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask. Operators should wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling.” There’s even an 800 number for emergencies.

Monkeys fed ractopamine in a Canadian study "developed daily tachycardia" (rapid heartbeat). Rats fed ractopamine developed a constellation of birth defects like cleft palate, protruding tongue, short limbs, missing digits, open eyelids and enlarged hearts.

In its new drug application (no longer on the FDA website), Elanco, ractopamine’s manufacturer, admitted that ractopamine produced “alterations” in turkey meat such as a “mononuclear cell infiltrate and myofiber degeneration,”  “an increase in the incidence of cysts” and differences, some “significant,” in the weight of organs like hearts, kidneys and livers.

2) Antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are found in turkey

Antibiotics are widely used in turkey production to produce weight gain with less feed, and to stop disease outbreaks from crowded conditions. In fact, when the FDA tried to ban the use of one class of antibiotic—cephalosporins—in 2008, Michael Rybolt, the National Turkey Federation’s director of scientific and regulatory affairs, said, "To raise turkeys without antibiotics would increase the incidence of illness in turkey flocks."

Referring to 227-acre turkey operations as "small family farms," Rybolt said antibiotics were actually green because the use of antibiotics means less land is required to grow feed, less land is required to house turkeys—and less turkey feed means there is less manure.

Not all antibiotics used in U.S. industrial turkey operations are legal, suggests research by scientists at the Bloomberg School’s Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute. They found fluoroquinolones in eight of 12 samples of feather meal in a multi-state study. Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics used to treat serious bacterial infections in humans, especially infections that have become resistant to other antibiotic. Fluoroquinolones have been banned for livestock use since 2005.

Why do the government and all leading medical groups condemn routine, daily use of antibiotics in livestock? Because it encourages the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which cause potentially lethal infections in people.

Almost half of turkey samples purchased at U.S. grocery stores harbored antibiotic resistant-infections, according to a 2011 report in the Los Angeles Times. A serious strain of antibiotic-resistant salmonella called Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella Hadar forced recalls of turkey products from Jennie-O Turkey. The resistant salmonella strains were so deadly, officials warned that the meat should be disposed in sealed garbage cans to protect wild animals. Even wildlife is threatened by the factory farm-created scourges.

More recently, Consumer Reports issued a lengthy report on the widespread presence of antibiotics and drugs, some banned for use in livestock production, in meat, poultry (including turkey) and pork.

3) Drugs used to treat turkey diseases pose threats to human health

Industrially produced turkeys are at risk of many diseases for which both medicines and vaccines are administered. Until 2015, an arsenic-containing drug called Nitarsone was FDA-approved for the "first six weeks of a turkey’s 20-week life span." Three other arsenic products were rescinded by the FDA in 2012.

It’s shocking that arsenic has been allowed in U.S. poultry production for almost 50 years, given that increasing evidence supports that chronic low-to-moderate exposure results in numerous non-cancerous health effects, including cardiovascular, kidney and respiratory disease, diabetes and cognitive and reproductive defects,” according to a scientific paper published in 2016, in Environmental Health Perspectives. Inorganic arsenic is an established human carcinogen, known to cause cancers of the lung, skin and bladder and possibly cancers of the liver and kidney.

Turkeys can suffer from Aspergillosis (Brooder Pneumonia), Avian Influenza, Avian Leucosis, Histomoniasis, Coccidiosis, Coronavirus, Erysipelas, Typhoid, TB, Fowl Cholera, Mites, Lice, Herpes, Clostridial dermatitis, Cellulitis and much more—and the treatments are often as scary as the conditions. Consider, for example, the anti-coccidial drug halofuginone which the Federal Register says "is toxic to fish and aquatic life" and "an irritant to eyes and skin.” Users should take care to "Keep [it] out of lakes, ponds, and streams" says the Register. A few years ago, scientists even found the endocrine disrupter Bisphenol A (BPA) in fresh turkey.

4) Animal cruelty abounds in industrial turkey production

Even before 2015 bird flu outbreak that resulted in turkeys being euthanized by suffocation in a way even producers called cruel, industrially produced turkeys had tragic lives.

Unable to mate because of the huge chests they are bred to have (many barely able to walk), producers use a cruel artificial insemination technique, which involves “milking” the males and forcing the semen into the hens. Veterinary journals admit that using chemicals to make turkeys grow abnormally fast puts the birds at risk for "sudden death from cardiac problems and aortic rupture," (diagnosed by the presence of large clots of blood around the turkey's lungs) hypertensive angiopathy and pulmonary edema. Growth drugs in turkeys may also "result in leg weakness or paralysis," says the Federal Code.

Because turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly, their legs can't support their own weight and many arrive with broken and dislocated limbs, a “live hanger” who worked undercover at House of Raeford Farms in Raeford, N.C., the seventh-largest turkey producer in the U.S. , told me a few years ago. When you try to remove them from their crates, their legs twist completely around, offering no resistance he told me. "The turkeys must be in a lot of pain but they don't cry out. The only sound you hear as you hang them is trucks being washed out to go back and get a new load."

And then there’s this: The kill conveyer belt at the slaughterhouse moves so fast, turkeys miss the “stunner” that is supposed to render them insensate, resulting thousands of birds being boiled alive.

While some food safety and animal rights activists have sought to find turkey producers who do not commit such practices, others warn that so-called ethical producers may be disingenuous.

"Our birds live in harmony with the environment and we allow them plenty of room to roam," says a Diestel Turkey Ranch brochure, displayed at Whole Foods meat counters. But Slate reported in 2015 that a visit to Diestel’s Jamestown facility, conducted by Direct Action investigators, "revealed horrific conditions, even by the standards of industrial agriculture." Turkeys were jammed into overcrowded barns, trapped in piles of feces, had swollen eyes and open sores and "dead turkeys [were] strewn across the barn floor."

Clearly there is a lot that turkey producers, even the so-called "humane" ones—don’t want you to know.

Want to avoid factory farm turkeys this holiday season? Here are a few tips.

Martha Rosenberg a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Katherine Paul, associate director, contributed to this article. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.