Consumer Power

Tell Congress: Support the Tribal Food and Housing Security Act!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-04-17 17:35
Belong to campaign: USDA WatchRegenerative AgricultureCategory: Environment & Climate, Fair Trade & Social JusticeArea: USA

About 60 percent of the food eaten around the world today originated in the Americas. Meanwhile, Native Americans are twice as likely to be food insecure compared to whites.

This meme says it best: “Give a man some corn, feed him for a day. Teach a man to grow corn, he kills you and steals your land.”  

The Native Farm Bill Coalition, which represents 65 tribes throughout the U.S., is  advocating for equity in the Farm Bill, legislation that determines how more than $900 billion in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources is distributed each year. 

The coalition is backing the Tribal Food and Housing Security Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), to improve affordable nutrition, housing and rural development assistance for Native American communities.

Tell Congress: Support the Tribal Food and Housing Security Act!Read more

Rural Community and Family-Owned Farm Wage War Against Factory Farms

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-04-17 16:42
April 16, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues pig hog farm eyes stare fence cc 1000x523.jpg

Clearly Ronnie Cummins, international director of Organic Consumers Association, is not alone in thinking that “It’s time to step up the attack on factory farms and the entire degenerative food and farming system.”

Two new allies waging war against Big Ag include a small family farm in Minnesota and residents of a rural Delaware community.

Family-Owned farm at war with neighboring factory farms

In a bold “David-and-Goliath” type move, the owners of a small-scale farm in Dodge County, Minnesota, an hour southeast of the Twin Cities, are standing their ground after neighboring Ripley Township issued permits for a 2,400-hog operation on just five acres of land. It’s estimated that the hog farm will produce more than 45,000 pounds of liquid manure a day. According to City Pages, 88-year-old Lowell Trom and his family have filed a lawsuit against Ripley Township and the owners of the new farm.

The Trom’s lawsuit alleges that the issuing of the permits violates an ordinance adopted by Ripley Township more than 15 years ago, stating that only 33 pigs should be raised on every five acres of land.

The Troms, whose family-owned farm has been passed on from generation to generation for 75 years, have put up with nearby factory farms for years. Eleven feedlots stand within three miles of their farm, using in excess of 40 million gallons of water and producing more than 11 million gallons of liquefied manure a year. These factory farms are causing irreversible damage to the surrounding soil and water, and polluting the air with an unbearable stench.

Manure is high in nitrates, phosphorus and antibiotics, residues which seep into the earth and are absorbed into the food supply, Lowell’s daughter Sonja told City Pages. Manure washes into the headwaters of the Cedar River, fostering E. coli bacteria. Thousands of hogs share the aquifer, draining people's wells, Sonja explained.

The Troms feel enough is enough and they seek your support.

Residents threaten lawsuit against America’s seventh largest chicken producer

Delaware residents are fighting Mountaire Farms, a chicken-processing plant operating in the town of Millsboro. Residents are “threatening legal action if the operation doesn't take steps to prevent the waste it generates from contaminating local water supplies and wells,” according to Politico Pro.

According to the notice of  intent to sue, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has documented “elevated and rising nitrate levels in monitoring wells surrounding spray irrigation fields, a strong indication that Mountaire has applied its wastewater in excess of agronomic rates.” Residents have also concluded that “the excessive nitrates and other contaminants contained in these nearby wells are directly attributable to Mountaire’s improper practices of storing, treating, transporting and disposing (through application or otherwise) of solid wastes.”

Consuming this contaminated water puts the locals at risk of severe health problems, such as cancer, autoimmune system dysfunction and methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome).

If Mountaire Farms fails to address its contamination problems within 90 days of receipt of the intent to sue letter issued on March 27, Delaware residents will file a lawsuit against the chicken producer under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Mountaire Farms also has operations in Maryland, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Support the fight against factory farms

According to Cummins, it’s necessary to switch our “degenerate food, farming and land use system to one that is regenerative” in order to stabilize public health, the environment and the climate.

To set the wheels in motion, consumers must ditch GMO foods, boycott factory-farm animal products, discourage the use of Monsanto’s Roundup and support the independent testing of brand-name foods.

Supporting farms that employ regenerative farming practices, such as the Main Street Project, will help turn the tide against factory farms and make regenerative food and farming the norm by 2025.

Organic Consumers Association is a nonprofit consumer advocacy and grassroots organization. Stay up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts by signing up for our newsletter.

 

Are Your Eggs Really "Organic?"

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-04-11 14:31
April 10, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAll About Organics crackedeggsongrass1000x523jpg

Ever wonder if the eggs you eat are really organic? According to a recent PBS NewsHour segment, the answer to that question is: “It depends on who you ask.”

Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program, organic eggs must come from chickens that are raised cage-free, fed an organic diet grown without pesticides, managed without antibiotics and hormones, and have seasonal access to the outdoors.

But not all organic egg producers agree on the definition of “outdoor access.” In fact, their definitions, and practices, can differ immensely.

For example, White Oak Pastures in southwestern Georgia has about 4,000 egg-laying chickens that are pasture-raised. By contrast, Country Hen in central Massachusetts houses 80,000 chickens mostly indoors, allotting 1.5 square feet per bird—“outside access” for all those birds amounts to a covered porch.

Very different practices, but both labeled organic.

Video of What makes eggs 'organic'? It depends on who you ask

This is why, after a 14-year effort led by National Organic Standards Board to tighten animal welfare rules for organic egg producers, the USDA decided to update its Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule to require organic chickens to have contact with actual soil, not just outdoor porches.

But just as the rule was set to be enacted in January 2017, the Trump administration withdrew the Obama-era regulation, saying the USDA didn’t have the authority under existing law to mandate animal welfare conditions.

Was that really why the Trump administration’s USDA wanted to get rid of the OLPP rule? Or did the USDA just want to help “Big Organic” egg producers who already routinely ignore existing animal welfare standards in order to keep pocketing higher profits?

According to Organic Consumers Association’s Katherine Paul and Alexis Baden-Mayer:

These practices [by Big Organic producers] not only make it more difficult for smaller organic egg farmers to compete, they also cheat consumers who believe certified organic means higher animal welfare standards. Instead consumers are unknowingly buying eggs from producers who run nothing more than industrial-scale operations indistinguishable from factory farms apart from the type of feed they use.

How do you know if your eggs are coming from "Big Organic" factory farms or smaller farms like White Oak Pastures, which strictly adhere to fair, sustainable and humane practices?

First, visit The Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Egg Scorecard. 

Second, be wary of retail grocery chains that sell "organic" eggs under their own label, including Aldi’s Simply Nature, Whole Foods 365 Organic, Trader Joe’s, Kroger Simple Truth, Costco, Walmart, etc. Most of these store-brand eggs are produced by industrial-scale organic producers.

Third, learn about regenerative agriculture and the farms that produce eggs and other products using practices that not only meet, but exceed USDA organic standards.

And fourth, stay up-to-date on the latest news about organic food and farming by signing up for Organic Consumers Association’s online newsletter and action alerts.

Bon appétit.

Organic Consumers Association is a nonprofit consumer advocacy and grassroots organizing organization. To keep up with news and alerts, sign up here for our newsletter.

 

Free Ice Cream Cones? We Think Not!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-04-10 15:30
April 7, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues icecreamconeonpavement1000x523.png

Today, April 10, is Ben & Jerry’s annual Free Cone Day. There’s only one problem: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is never free—because we all pay for the health and environmental damage caused by Ben & Jerry’s factory farm dairy practices.

TAKE ACTION: Call, email, or post on Ben & Jerry’s social media today to let Ben & Jerry’s know that factory farm ice cream is not what consumers want. It’s time to go 100% organic!

OCA has been running a campaign against Ben & Jerry’s factory farm ice cream ever since we announced that the brand is contaminated with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

Glyphosate contamination isn’t the only problem with Ben & Jerry’s. Water pollution caused by non-organic dairy farms that supply Ben & Jerry’s is costing taxpayers millions.

Today, please help get the word out that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is never free. Please take one or more of the actions below:

• Call Ben & Jerry’s customer service at 802-846-1500

• Sign the petition to Ben & Jerry’s

• Post on Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page

• Download this flyer and hand it out in front of your local Ben & Jerry’s retailer

• Download this glyphosate fact sheet and share it widely

• Make a tax-deductible donation to support our campaign asking Ben & Jerry's to go organic

It’s time to call Ben & Jerry’s ice cream what it truly is—factory farm ice cream.

Please help get the word out to friends and family. And please let Ben & Jerry’s know that you don’t buy the brand’s “squeaky clean” image story!

'Food Safety-Denier' Trent Loos Has Trump's Ear on Ag Issues

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-04-09 17:47
April 8, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationMartha RosenbergHealth Issues, Politics & Globalization radio audio microphone studio on air sign cc 1000x523.jpg

He defended Michael Vick's dogfighting. He followed environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. across the country to bash his anti-factory farm speeches. He went undercover to spy on animal rights group Farm Sanctuary.

Now radio show host Trent Loos, whose audience includes people who believe, among other things, that the Endangered Species Act is a government conspiracy to run ranchers off their land, is a member of Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee.

And he’s got Trump's ear.

In recent decades, under pressure from consumers, environmentalists and animal welfare activists, Big Ag has sought to project a “kinder, gentler image” that includes taking animal welfare and food safety seriously.

Not so with Loos.

Loos might be the only agricultural voice in America willing to publicly defend horse slaughter, antibiotics in chicken production and the GMO recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) used in milk.

After all this is the guy who, when Vick was arrested for operating an interstate dog-fighting ring that included abuse, torture and execution of under-performing dogs, complained that the football player was "charged with the crime of letting a dog be a dog" and "not treating his dog like a kid."

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Loos defends something like rBGH, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, over the widespread objections of farmers, public health advocates and animal welfare agencies. Developed by Monsanto and sold in 2008 to Elanco, a division of the Eli Lilly drug company, rBGH is given to cows to make them produce more milk. The FDA approved commercialization of the hormone, even though the agency acknowledged that use of rBGH on dairy cows increased the rates of 16 harmful physical effects on the animals.

Thankfully, rBGH has largely been phased out because of strong consumer backlash and questions over one of its byproducts found in milk––insulin-like growth factor-1 or IGF-1. Harvard researchers found that men with elevated IGF-1 have more than four times the risk of prostate cancer and premenopausal women with elevated IGF-1 have seven times the risk of breast cancer.

Loos doesn't buy it.  Here’s what he wrote on a pro-rBGH website:

IGF-1 is [a] naturally occurring human hormone commonly measured in our saliva,” he “Every person who has ever been diagnosed with cancer has also had saliva. Does that mean that saliva causes cancer? NO. Furthermore, if parents are worried about the impact of milk consumption on their kids, are they keeping the kids locked away from the sun? Malignant melanoma [is] the most serious form of skin cancer.

Loos also uses his "two wrongs make a right" argument in defending hormones used in meat production. Here’s what he wrote in his “Loos Tales” column:

Hormone levels in beef and milk are actually considerably lower than some plant-based food sources, yet consumers don't seem at all concerned about that. Take, for example, a tablespoon of soybean oil, which contains 28,000 ng of estrogen. Four ounces of raw cabbage has 2,700 ng of estrogen, and four ounces of raw peas have 454 ng of estrogen."

The hormone-raised U.S. cattle Loos defends are treated with melengestrol acetate, a synthetic progestin 30 times as active as natural progesterone, and trenbolone acetate, a synthetic androgen several times more active than testosterone, zeranol and the steroid oestradiol-17.

Zeranol is known for its “ability to stimulate growth and proliferation of human breast tumor cells” like the “known carcinogen diethylstilbestrol (DES),” says the Breast Cancer Fund, a group dedicated to identifying and eliminating environmental causes of breast cancer. Zeranol may “play a critical role in mammary tumorigenesis” and may “be a risk factor for breast cancer,” according to a study from the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University in Beijing.

Certainly Loos realizes that the European Commission (EC) does not ban "raw peas" or "cabbage" but it does ban hormone-treated U.S beef because of the well-known cancer risks.  According to the EC’s Committee on Veterinary Measures report, “The highest rates of breast cancer are observed in North America, where hormone-treated meat consumption is highest in the world.”

In explaining its shunning of hormone-treated U.S. beef the EC report observes that Kwang Hwa, Korea has only seven new cases of breast cancer per 100,000 people whereas non-Hispanic Caucasians in Los Angeles have 103 new cases per 100,000 people. The breast cancer rate also increases among immigrant groups when they move to the U.S., says the report, suggesting causes are not genetic but environmental.

Watch for new trade wars as the U.S. tries, once again, to get the EU to accept hormone-treated beef.

Trump is often accused of surrounding himself with climate deniers. With Trent Loos on his Agriculture Advisory Committee, Trump has added a food safety denier to the list.

Martha Rosenberg a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Not Headed to Mars? Then Listen Up!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-04-05 13:22
April 5, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulEnvironment & Climate world map dry cracked earth cc 1000x523.png

If your backup plan is to join Elon Musk on Mars, then read no further.

But if you (or your kids or grandkids) plan to stick around on Planet Earth, take note: The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports that land degradation has reached the “critical” stage—and 3.2 billion people could find themselves affected, either by mass migration or wars. 

Who's to blame for the mess we're in? Industrial agriculture tops the list, according to this IPBES press release:

Rapid expansion and unsustainable management of croplands and grazing lands is the most extensive global direct driver of land degradation, causing significant loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services – food security, water purification, the provision of energy and other contributions of nature essential to people. 

Prof. Robert Scholes, co-chair of the study said:

“With negative impacts on the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people, the degradation of the Earth’s land surface through human activities is pushing the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction. Avoiding, reducing and reversing this problem, and restoring degraded land, is an urgent priority to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services vital to all life on Earth and to ensure human well-being.”

As OCA’s Ronnie Cummins recently wrote, the majority of migrants leave their land for greener pastures—in the literal sense—because the land in their own communities and countries has become too degraded to produce food or sustain livelihoods.

We know how to fix this.

John D. Liu, ecosystem restoration researcher, educator and filmmaker, said in an interview:

“What I’ve noticed is that degraded landscapes are coming from human ignorance and greed. If you change that scenario to one of consciousness and generosity, you get a completely different outcome. And that is where we have to go, where we need to go. We are required to understand this. We have to act now as a species on a planetary scale. This has to become common knowledge for every human being on the planet.”

What can you do? Reduce your consumption. And when you do buy—especially food—choose organic and/or regenerative.

You can also engage by learning more about the Regeneration Movement and getting involved in a Regeneration Alliance.

Read ‘Worsening Worldwide Land Degradation Now ‘Critical’, Undermining Well-Being of 3.2 Billion People'

Read ‘Land Degradation Threatens Human Wellbeing, Major Report Warns’

Watch this video on land restoration

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association and a board member of Regeneration International. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here. Subscribe to the Regeneration International newsletter here.

Atrazine's Dark Secrets Reemerge in Must-See TEDx Talk

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-04-05 00:37
April 3, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, Health Issues atrazine1000x523.jpg

Everything changed for Dr. Tyrone Hayes when in 1998, the largest chemical company in the world asked him to use his expertise to determine if the company's top-selling product interfered with the hormones of frogs.

The company: Syngenta. The product: weedkiller atrazine.

Hayes, an American biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, discussed in his nearly 16-minute TEDxBerkeley talk the results of exposing African clawed frogs in his lab to atrazine. He presented an image up on the big screen of frog testes, showing a considerable difference between the controlled and exposed groups.

Hayes said:

“The controlled testes, if you look under the microscope, is full of sperm soldiers ready to go. The atrazine-treated testes, the testicular tubules are filled with cellular debris.”

Hayes explained how after exposure to atrazine, frogs that were genetic males became completely functioning reproductive females. In another frog species, he showed the gonads with “eggs that are bursting through the surface of the male’s testes.”

Video of Endocrine disruption, environmental justice, and the ivory tower | Tyrone Hayes | TEDxBerkeley

Hayes took this research to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but they said, “that’s not really an adverse effect that would stimulate us to reassess the chemical.” He then published the results in prestigious journals, including Nature and National Academy of Sciences.

Still, Hayes didn’t get the response he thought his data deserved. So he expanded his research beyond frogs by connecting the impact agricultural runoff into lakes and other bodies of water could have on people who use those resources for drinking water. 

In collaboration with other colleagues, Hayes was able to show how men living in Columbia, Missouri, who have atrazine in their urine, have a low sperm count and can’t get their wives pregnant. Hayes said, “this is the same amount of atrazine, .1 parts per billion, that we were using to chemically castrate and feminize our frogs.”

It gets worse. Men who apply atrazine on fields in California “have 24,000 times the atrazine in their urine than we use to chemically castrate frogs and fish.”

In his talk, Hayes goes into the correlation between atrazine exposure and cancer: “If you look at prostate cancer, there’s an 8.4-percent fold increase in prostate cancer in their factory where they make atrazine in a community that’s 80 percent black.” Those percentages underscore the fact that those who suffer most from the environmental impacts of harmful chemicals tend to be the socioeconomically-disadvantaged and racial or ethnic minorities.

Hayes concluded his talk by sharing this Albert Einstein quote: “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.”

After a round of applause he explains, “Now, I’m here. Now, you are here. You are privileged and you have a duty. And I have reason that we can change the past, but only if we act now while it is still the future.”

Keep up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

 

Sign Today! GMO Animals Should Be Regulated!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-04-03 18:57
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoUSDA WatchCook Organic Not the PlanetCategory: Food Safety, Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesArea: USA

If you think genetically modified salmon is a bad idea, wait ‘til you hear what kind of GMO animals Recombinetics, Inc., the “Monsanto of the genetically modified animal industry,” wants to unleash on the market.

Among other things, Recombinetics wants to genetically engineer pigs specifically to withstand a miserable life in factory farms. Not only that, but the St. Paul, Minn.-based biotech company wants to keep the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from having anything to do with regulating GMO pigs, or any other GMO animals that could end up in the U.S. food supply.

If Recombinetics’ plan succeeds in ending FDA review of GMO animals, this would be the most drastic deregulation of biotechnology to date. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Genetically modified animals need to be thoroughly safety tested by the FDA!Read more

Boycott Factory Farm Foods: But Don't Forget the Fish

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-03-29 14:04
March 28, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsEnvironment & Climate, Food Safety, Health Issues salmonfarmchile1000x523.png

Photo Credit: Kevin Schafer/ WWF-US

Factory farming and fish production are now a multi-trillion-dollar monster with a growing and devastating impact on public health, animal welfare, small farmers and farmworkers, rural and fishing communities, ocean marine life, water quality, air pollution, soil health, biodiversity and last but not least, global warming.

Worldwide, two-thirds of all farm animals are now inhumanely imprisoned on highly-polluting factory farms, fed pesticide- and chemical-contaminated grains and GMOs, often supplemented with contaminated fish meal and oils, and routinely dosed with antibiotics and hormones.

In the U.S., 90-95 percent of all dairy, meat and poultry come from industrial-scale factory farms, while more than half of all fish consumed comes from factory-scale fish farms. 

The U.S. industrial agriculture and fishing industry is an out-of-control system based on cruel, filthy, disease-ridden and environmentally destructive animal prisons and fish pens; labor exploitation; false advertising (most food items in grocery stores, and at least one-third of fish items on restaurant menus are falsely advertised); corporate corruption of government; and the use of massive amounts of dangerous pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones and growth promoters.

The production of factory-farm meat, dairy, poultry, and fish is the number one cause of water pollution, soil degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, and chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, reproductive defects, hormone disruption and obesity. 

World Water Day was celebrated globally on March 22. On this day the Organic Consumers Association, along with other public interest groups, sounded the alarm on the seriously degenerated state of our global waters and marine life and called, not only for a change in public policies, but for a consumer boycott of factory-farmed foods, which are number one source of water pollution in the U.S. and around the world.

What a lot of consumers may not understand however, is that most of the fish sold in grocery stores and served up in restaurants today in industrialized nations is also factory-farmed. For example, one of the most popular fish items on restaurant menus in the U.S. is factory-farmed salmon (along with equally-destructive farmed shrimp). 

Factory-farmed salmon and fish not only threaten wild salmon and other marine species by spreading disease (and now GMO-related risks), but also by contaminating coastal waters and the ocean with the toxic chemicals and feed used on fish farms.

As Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says, via their Operation Virus Hunter campaign, "You are not saving wild salmon by eating farmed salmon."

Video of Farmed salmon?

Salmon and other fish farms also pose a major threat to human health. In fact, according to Mercola.com, farmed salmon are perhaps the most toxic food that Americans consume.

Laboratory studies have shown that mice fed factory-farmed salmon become obese and develop diabetes. The likely cause of these diseases, rampant among super-sized humans as well, includes the pesticides and antibiotics that are routinely doused on fish farms, along with the feed that the fish eat, heavily contaminated with PCBs (a by-product in the fish feed), dioxins and other toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, PCBs, pesticides and other toxic chemicals tend to concentrate in the fatty tissues of fish and other animals.

Farmed fish, including salmon, have anywhere from three to six times the fat content of wild fish. This is why farmed salmon is five times more toxic than any other food regularly consumed by Americans.

Farmed salmon also differs substantially from wild salmon, not only because the contain 3-6 times more fat overall, but also because farmed salmon contains substantially less healthy Omega-3 fats than wild salmon.

The now common advice from natural health experts is to avoid all factory-farm fish and larger fish (who have had more time to absorb toxins), and to consume only wild Alaskan salmon, along with smaller fish species, such as anchovies, sardines and herring. For more information on what fish to consume and to avoid see: https://www.seafoodwatch.org/seafood-recommendations.

Another reason for conscious consumers to stop buying or consuming salmon and other factory farmed fish, as well as other large or endangered ocean species, is because our over-consumption of industrially harvested or farmed fish threatens the food security of more than three billion people across the world. Eight hundred million small fisherman and fisherwomen harvest 25 percent of the world’s fish, struggling to make a living and/or to provide a significant portion of the protein for themselves and over 3 billion people. The other 75 percent of fish are unsustainably harvested (or produced on fish farms) by large corporations in a supply chain that often wastes or throws overboard 50 percent of the catch.

While 91 percent of fish stocks in the oceans are now over-exploited by industrial trawlers, small fishermen struggle to catch just 6 percent of what their ancestors were able to catch a hundred years ago.

Consumers need to start acknowledging the relationship between our degenerative agricultural and fish production systems and consumption patterns and the other life-or-death problems that we are facing: deteriorating public health; the degeneration of our soils, forests, oceans and surface waters; greenhouse gas pollution and climate destabilization; and the economic justice impact of our consumption habits on the three billion-plus low-income people living in developing countries, and even in the U.S., especially small farmers and fisher people.

Many contemporary consumers have become more conscious—for health, ethical and environmental reasons—about what we purchase in grocery stores or supermarkets. This is why organic and natural foods now constitute more than 10 percent of our grocery store sales in the U.S. Unfortunately, many of us seem to forget about these concerns when we sit down in a restaurant, where we spend on the average, one-half of all food dollars in the United States.

We are what we eat. This means, among other things, we need to be just as concerned about fish and seafood as we are about the other items on our plate.

So ask your restaurant waiter if the vegetables are organic, and better yet local and organic, and put your money where your values lie. But don’t forget to ask whether the meat, dairy, or eggs are organic or grass-fed; or whether they are coming off the food service truck from factory farms. And last but not least, don’t forget to do the same thing for the items on the fish menu.

The nation that destroys its soil, freshwater and oceans is the nation that will eventually destroy itself. Let’s make every day World Water and Buy Organic Day. Cook Organic, not the Planet. Buy organic and regenerative food and other products today and every day.

For more information on the boycott against GMOs, factory farm foods and fish go to www.OrganicConsumers.org

And don’t forget to sign up for our news and action alerts.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association. 

 

Tell Your Senators: Don't Put a DowDupont Lawyer in Charge of Cleaning up Dow's Toxic Waste Dumps!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-03-28 16:13
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoAppetite for a ChangeCategory: Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, Health IssuesArea: USA

Peter C. Wright is a lawyer who has spent his entire career helping Monsanto and Dow avoid cleaning up their toxic pollution.

Now, Trump wants to put Wright in charge of—guess what?—forcing companies like Monsanto and Dow to clean up their toxic pollution.

Trump has nominated Wright to serve as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assistant administrator for Land and Emergency Management—the office that oversees the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program. 

TAKE ACTION: Please tell your Senators to stand up for the environment by voting against Peter C. Wright. Read more

Dirt: The Only Solution to the Climate Crisis?

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-26 17:05
March 26, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationEnvironment & Climate, Farm Issues soil cross section farm field sugar beet cc 1000x523.jpg

What’s one of the biggest problems with the discussion on the climate crisis? “It focuses excessively on emissions,” Kristin Ohlson, author of "The Soil Will Save Us" says in the trailer for the film “Dirt Rich.” 

Ohlson explains:

“Unless we undertake very serious work making our soil healthier, revegetating the land, not doing things that release the carbon from the soil, there’s no way we can deal with the climate crisis.”

According to this new film, carbon drawdown is the only viable and timely solution to reverse the effects of global warming.

In fact, sequestering carbon in the soil and transitioning to regenerative agriculture was ranked the 11th most important solution to climate change in the New York Times bestseller “Drawdown, the Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.”

So what makes a farm regenerative? It’s adherence to these agricultural practices:

• no tillage

• diverse cover crops

• in-farm fertility (no external nutrients)

• no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers

• multiple crop rotations

This shovel-ready solution couldn’t come at a better time. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that under current conditions, the world on average has just 60 more years of growing crops. With 24 billion tons of fertile topsoil lost every year, 25 percent of the earth’s surface already degraded and at least 50 percent of the carbon in the earth’s soils already released into the atmosphere, now is clearly the best time to save our soil by quickly transitioning to regenerative farming.

Steven Farrell, co-owner and general manager of Finca Luna Nueva, a regenerative farm and hotel in Costa Rica, is one of many interviewed for the “Dirt Rich” documentary. As he puts it:

“I think that farming regeneratively is the only way we will have a world worth living in for the near future.”

How can you watch “Dirt Rich?” You can catch the film at festivals and community screenings. The film will also be available soon at Eco Dox.


Dirt Rich Trailer from Passelande Pictures on Vimeo.

Want to get involved? Help us rapidly scale up the signatories of Regeneration International’s 4 per 1000 initiative, which calls for countries to draw down more carbon than they emit, and to store it in the soil. Connect us with your local farmers, NGOs, agencies and companies that would be interested in signing on.

Increasing the number of those committed to healthy soil is the first step toward building a regeneration movement in your community.

Sign up here to keep up with news and alerts from Organic Consumers Association.

Dr. Hyman: 'Your Fork is the Most Powerful Tool to Transform Your Health and Change the World'

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-26 16:48
March 26, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAll About Organics, Health Issues drmarkhyman 1000x523.jpg

Are you confused on what’s healthy to eat? If so, Dr. Mark Hyman, who has been studying nutrition for 35 years, brings clarity to what you should be putting in your mouth and what you shouldn’t in his book “Food. What the Heck Should I Eat?”

Organic Consumers Association has been touting for more than 20 years the importance of eating a diet that supports organic and regenerative agriculture to improve human health, advance fair trade/fair labor practices, protect the environment and combat global warming. Dr. Hyman’s new book outlines so many of these same principals.

We had a chance to ask Dr. Hyman a few questions regarding the importance of being a conscious consumer and how switching to a regenerative farming system can reverse climate change. Here’s what he had to say:

OCA: Can you explain why you think our forks are the most powerful tools to transform our health and change the world?

Dr. Hyman: Food and the way we produce and consume it is the nexus of most of our world’s health, environmental, climate, economic and even political crises. That’s why it is our fork, and what we decide to put on it every single day that is of the utmost importance. I truly believe that when we choose organic, grass-fed, local, sustainable foods, we are voting for a healthier planet.

OCA: I love the food is medicine connection you make in your book. Can you elaborate on what you mean by this?

Dr. Hyman: Food contains information that speaks to our genes, not just calories for energy. We are learning from research in the field of nutrigenomics, that good “talks” to our DNA, switching on or off genes that lead to health or disease. Every bite of food regulates your gene expression, hormones, immune system, brain chemistry and even your microbiome. What you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness. This is what I mean by food is medicine.

OCA: How is the current industrial food system responsible for chronic diseases and epidemics like diabetes, obesity and allergies?

Dr. Hyman: The food industry includes seed producers, factory farmers, food growers, and the processed food and fast food industries. These organizations spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying to influence our Department of Agriculture. And there’s a huge problem with this. Our dietary guidelines are actually created by the Department of Agriculture, the same agency that is in charge of deciding which crops our tax dollars subsidize! Seems like a big conflict of interest to me.  

This results in subsidies that support commodity crops—corn, wheat and soy—which get turned into high fructose corn syrup, white flour and soybean oil. Even though more than half our diet comes from these three crops which are the building blocks of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed foods, they are definitely not what we should be eating. Yet, 99 percent of the government’s food subsidies go to support these crops, while only 1 percent goes for “specialty” crops—fruits and veggies. If these are “specialty crops,” then why does the government tell us to eat 5-9 servings a day? The truth is that our government is funding our chronic disease epidemic.

And the food industry heavily markets poor-quality foods designed to be addictive.

OCA: Can you explain how the health of our soil impacts the health of humans?

Dr. Hyman: Because of depleted soils from modern industrial farming and hybridization techniques, the animals and vegetables we eat have fewer nutrients. Crops like wheat, rice and corn are typically grown as monocultures, meaning that a single crop is planted repeatedly on the same land, season after season. Monocultures farmed with tilling deplete the soil of its nutrients, and as a result they require huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Damaged soil leads to erosion and runoff, which contaminates the water supply with pesticides. When you purchase organic and grass-fed, you are voting for healthier soil. Organic matter in the soil holds water and sequesters carbon. Our modern farming techniques result in droughts, floods and climate change.

OCA: Thank you for touching on crop desiccation in your book. Can you explain how this process—the spraying of the herbicide glyphosate just before harvest to increase yield—impacts human health?

Dr. Hyman: Glyphosate aka Roundup, made by Monsanto, although it didn’t exist until 1974, is now the most heavily used weed killer in global agriculture. (It’s also the second-most popular herbicide for home use). It is sprayed on wheat crops to exfoliate them to make the wheat easier to harvest. Those residues end up in our wheat products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it’s safe for us, but there’s evidence suggesting it may have something to do with the rise in celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities. Glyphosate exposure has been associated with increased risk of cancer, kidney disease, lymphoma, reproductive difficulties and damage to our gut bacteria.                               

OCA: I’ve heard that you’re a big supporter of regenerative agriculture. What role does regenerative farming play in the future of food and the health of people and planet?

Dr. Hyman: Early research has shown that regenerative farming may be the future of meat that is healthy for us as well as the environment, and humane for the animals, too. For example, well-managed grazing operations can actually offset or even completely compensate for methane and other greenhouse gases linked to beef production by trapping carbon in the soil. The grass soaks up and stores, or sequesters, carbon, preventing carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. These operations also involve regularly moving the animals to fresh pasture and keeping them away from streambeds, which can help prevent water pollution. For the most part, pasture-raised cattle do not rely on irrigated crops for feeding, which lessens the amount of water required to produce meat. By choosing grass-fed meat from small, sustainable farms, we also support the fair treatment of workers and livestock.

To learn more about Dr. Hyman’s new book, click here.

Keep up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

Organic consumers - Thu, 2018-03-22 16:11
Environment & Climate, Health Issues, Politics & GlobalizationKatherine PaulOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 21, 2018 water_ocean_sea_blue_sun_1000x523.jpg

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco’s plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

On the east coast, industrial dairy operations have all but ruined Vermont’s lakes and rivers. One of the biggest offenders? Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s. 

In North Carolina, industrial hog operations foul the state’s waterways with 10 billion gallons of feces and urine each year. 

It’s no better on the west coast. In 2015, a federal judge ruled that Washington’s industrial dairy operations pose “a significant public health risk by contaminating water supplies.”

Whether it’s the animal waste and antibiotics from livestock operations, or the nitrates and pesticides from GMO corn and soy grown to feed the millions of confined animals, from sea to shining sea, industrial agribusiness, led by multi-billion dollar corporations like Tyson, is destroying our most precious natural resource—water.

State and federal regulators by and large use their power to protect corporate profits, not public health.

That leaves citizens to battle it out in the courts. But now some members of Congress want to eliminate even that last resort.

'Nature for water'

Thursday, March 22, is World Water Day. It’s been 25 years since the United Nations designated the first annual international celebration of water.

This year’s theme, "Nature for Water," focuses on nature-based solutions for how to better manage the world’s water.

We like it. Here’s why.

According to the UN, agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s available freshwater, including for crop irrigation and livestock production.

The UN also reports that farms discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into water bodies, resulting in “demonstrated risks to aquatic ecosystems, human health and productive activities.”

From the report:

Water pollution from agriculture has direct negative impacts on human health; for example, the well-known blue-baby syndrome in which high levels of nitrates in water can cause methaemoglobinemia – a potentially fatal illness – in infants. Pesticide accumulation in water and the food chain, with demonstrated ill effects on humans, led to the widespread banning of certain broad-spectrum and persistent pesticides (such as DDT and many organophosphates), but some such pesticides are still used in poorer countries, causing acute and likely chronic health effects. Aquatic ecosystems are also affected by agricultural pollution; for example, eutrophication caused by the accumulation of nutrients in lakes and coastal waters has impacts on biodiversity and fisheries.

The report also states that in the last 20 years, a new class of agricultural pollutants has emerged in the form of veterinary medicines (antibiotics, vaccines and growth promoters [hormones]), which move from farms through water to ecosystems and drinking-water sources.

The upshot? Agriculture is the biggest user, and one of the biggest polluters, of the world’s water.

No help from the Feds

Given agriculture’s role in destroying our most precious natural resource, you’d think the U.S. Congress would do everything in its power to protect your water.

Instead, it’s moving in the opposite direction.

In 2015, Congress passed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, in an attempt to bring more clarity to the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the rule was intended to protect U.S. waterways from polluters, including agricultural operations, which have historically enjoyed a high level of exemptions under the Clean Water Act.

Enter the Trump administration, which has asked the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to “revisit” WOTUS, which according to the Washington Post, Trump described as “paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.”

So much for regulatory relief.

But even before Trump attacked WOTUS, some members of Congress began looking for additional ways to protect agribusiness profits—by making it impossible for citizens to sue companies that destroy their drinking water.

Last year, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced a bill (H.R. 848, the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act), to strip citizens’ ability to file lawsuits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) against factory farms that have polluted their drinking water. If passed, the bill would leave rural Americans with no recourse if their drinking water is polluted by mismanagement of livestock waste on a factory farm.  

No surprise that Newhouse would lead this charge. It was in his state that citizens successfully used RCRA to go after factory farm dairies that had made their water too polluted to even bathe in, much less drink. After a 15-year struggle, the courts finally forced companies to clean up their acts, and also provide hundreds of families with drinking water until their wells could be restored.

If Newhouse and his co-sponsors in the U.S. House get their way, dairy farm manure would be exempt from any regulations, and lawsuits like the one filed by Washington state citizens would be banned. 

What can you do?

Back to World Water Day.

We like the “nature-based” solutions for cleaning up the world’s water because it leads us away from the dominant corporate agribusiness model, to the regenerative organic model—a model that works with nature to build healthy soil that retains more water, and uses practices that don’t include synthetic chemicals and a host of dangerous chemicals like glyphosate,  2,4-D, atrazine, chlorpyrifos and others.

The corporate industrial ag empire will tell us it can’t be done. But as consumers, concerned citizens, ethical business owners, independent farmers and countless others will ultimately prove, it can.

What can you do? To help speed the transition to an agriculture model that heals our waterways, rather than exploit and pollute them?

Here are a few concrete steps you can take.

• Get involved in the Regeneration Movement. You can start by signing up for the Regeneration International newsletter, and by learning more about how to join or build a local or regional Regeneration Alliance.

• Tell Congress to protect your water! Call your members of Congress with these two asks: 1) Ask them to protect WOTUS which would at least help hold more companies accountable for ag-related water pollution; 2) Ask them to protect citizens’ right to clean drinking water by rejecting Rep. Newhouse’s H.R. 848. Find your Representatives’ phone numbers here. 

• Ask Congress to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) Food & Farm Act. This is the year Congress rewrites the Farm Bill. Historically, the Farm Bill has doled out millions in subsidies to corporations like Monsanto, Tyson, Cargill, Dow—big water polluters—while ignoring the farmers who produce healthy food, using practices that build healthy soil. Please use our alert to contact your members of Congress and ask them to support the Food & Farm Act.

• Buy organic and regenerative! Consumers are key to successfully shifting our country’s food and farming system from one that degenerates, to one that regenerates. The more we use our consumer dollars to support the farmers and producers who understand the importance of regenerating our soil and water, the more likely they will succeed.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Can Food-Focused Medicine Cure Food-Related Disease?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-03-21 17:54
March 20, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonHealth Issues mortar pestle root herbs natural food cc 1000x523.jpg

So-called “modern” food, produced through industrialized, chemical-intensive farming practices, is causing a host of chronic, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-treat health problems in children and adults, say Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?” 

The book explores the impact chronic exposure to toxins in our food—pesticides, hormones and antibiotics—is having on children, many of whom suffer from myriad health problems that are often linked to an impaired gut and overtaxed immune system.

The book also explores the power of ecomedicine—medicine that focuses on clean, healthy food.

Children who primarily depend on a Western diet, consisting of processed foods and industrially produced meat and dairy are struggling with a new wave of chronic health problems that simply did not exist decades ago, say the book’s authors.

The U.S., for example, is witnessing the rise of a number of chronic diseases in children including food allergies and food sensitivities, asthma, eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other debilitating mental disorders.

One in 13 American children is reported to have a serious food allergy. That’s a 50-percent increase over the last two decades, according to the book. About 9 percent of children have asthma and one in 10 children have Crohn’s disease. One in five children is obese and one in 41 boys or one in 68 children have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Food-based chemical toxins

Perro and Adams report that doctors faced with an epidemic of complex, chronic symptoms can do little aside from minimizing the symptoms. As for the cause, the authors say that industrial food, and the toxins used to produce it, are the main culprits.

"Eating processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugar, and hollow calories is the first problem . . . but it is not the main problem. The more insidious danger is foods that are full of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics."

Perro and Adams draw a correlation between the development of agrochemical technologies, including genetically modified (GM) foods or crops designed to either produce or withstand heavy applications of toxic crop chemicals, and the rise in chronic disease.

They point out that what the biotech industry considers to be “advancements” in food production are systematically exposing children to more toxic chemicals than any generation before them.

Sick kids and the politics of knowledge

“What’s Making Our Children Sick?” is the result of a unique collaboration between a food-focused pediatrician (Perro) and a medical anthropologist (Adams). Perro has practiced  medicine for 35 years, the last 15 of which she has spent in pursuit of integrative strategies that work to help children suffering from diseases caused by food-based chemical toxins. 

Perro says she has witnessed a “steady stream of ailing children, from infants to teenagers,” who could not be helped with the training she received in medical school. Her frustration led her to the field of functional medicine, homeopathics and herbal medicine where she started to examine the link between what her patients were eating and drinking and the effect it was having on their gut health.

Adams has a background in Asian medicine, which recognizes that food can both cause and treat disease—a concept noticeably absent from western medicine.

While studying recovery efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, Adams investigated what she called the “uneasy relationship between large corporations that controlled basic resources needed for human health and the most vulnerable members of the public who suffered from being denied access to these resources.”

Adams says she began to see similar patterns of inequality in our agro-industrial food production systems, where large corporations held a monopoly not only on the products farmers needed for growing food but also on the science that was being produced to endorse use of these products.

Working in tandem, Perro and Adams began to tie together the connections between really sick kids and the politics of knowledge around GM foods. They consulted with microbiologists, biochemists, geneticists, pediatric experts and farmers. They attended workshops on organic food and interviewed activists working on the front lines of agroecology.

The result is a well-researched book that offers insight into the underlying cause of chronic disease and its connection to an industrialized, chemical-intensive farming system. Click here to pick up a copy of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?”

Julie Wilson is communications associate at Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

What do you get out of the deal?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-03-20 17:44
March 19, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsAll About Organics, Environment & Climate, Food Safetyhttps://secure.actblue.com/donate/1stquarter2018# tomatoesdew1000x523.png

“Water sustains all.” - Thales of Miletus (c. 624 - 546 B.C.), philosopher, mathematician, astronomer

Water. Without it, there would be no food.

Yet food production—that is, today’s industrial food production system—is degrading this essential natural resource faster than any other industry, depriving you of your right to clean water.

What do you get out of the deal?

Nutritionally inferior and contaminated food. Poor health.

Endless fields of of GMO monocrops, sprayed with millions of tons of glyphosate, to produce animal feed.

You also get the bill for cleaning up Big Ag’s mess.

As we approach World Water Day (Thursday, March 22)—and near the end of our spring fundraising campaign—I thought it fitting to say a few words about how your're helping us bring down, and replace, America’s factory farms.

And why we your support is so critical.

Your donation will help fund a massive collaborative effort to build an alternative to Monsanto’s failing industrial, GMO-fueled factory farm agriculture model.  Please help us reach our quarterly fundraising goal by donating today online, by mail or by phone—details here.

The handful of corporations that control the industrial factory farm system would have you believe they are "feeding the world."

We know better.

Factory farms produce nutritionally inferior meat and dairy products.

Factory farms create unfair and unhealthy working conditions.

Factory farms inflict horrendous suffering on animals.

Factory farms unapologetically dump nitrates, pesticides, organic matter, pathogens, antibiotics and growth hormones—into our waterways.

It’s estimated that in the U.S., tens of millions of acres of corn and soy fields, mostly in the Midwest, have been sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. And that’s just one contaminate on a long list that includes 2,4-D, atrazine and chlorpyrifos.

You would think that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require corporations like Tyson and Cargill to clean up after themselves. Or better yet, not pollute our lakes and streams in the first place.

Sadly, not.

In fact, Trump’s EPA, led by Pruitt, is rolling back regulations on everything from banning Dow’s chlorpyrifos, which causes neurological damage in children, to the rule adopted in 2015 to implement the Clean Water Act, which was supposed to clarify legal protection for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams across the country.

From our office in D.C., we continue to fight back against policies that give giant corporations a free pass to pollute our waters.

From our campaign office in Minnesota, we continue to rally consumers to boycott companies like Ben & Jerry’s, which supports an industrial factory farm dairy system that has all but ruined Vermont’s lakes.

We've also stepped up efforts to build a new organic and regenerative food and farming system, beginning in the Midwest. An agricultural system that not only produces clean food and inflicts no harm on our waterways, but actually helps clean our rivers and streams, and improve the soil’s ability to retain water during droughts.

Thanks to your support, we have been able to increase our staff on the ground in states like Nebraska and Minnesota and start building a 12-state alliance in the Midwest that will have the knowledge, the will and the resources to bring about an agricultural “regime change.”

As long as we—consumers, activists, voters—commit to supporting this growing alliance to build an economically viable alternative to factory farms, an alternative that not only grows food but creates health and well-being, we can end the rule of a few giant corporations.

This seems like a worthy goal as this week, the world celebrates water.

But we can't do it without your help.

Please help us reach our spring fundraising goal? You can donate online, by mail or by phone—details here.

From all of us at OCA, thank you. And happy World Water Day.

In solidarity,

Ronnie Cummins
International Director

 

 

P.S. Organic Consumers Association is the major funder of Regeneration International (RI). Our partnership with RI is critical to our efforts to end factory farming and advance a new, regenerative food and farming system. We need your help. Please make a generous donation to our spring fundraising campaign today, details here.

 

 

On World Water Day, Organic Consumers Assoc. Renews Call for International Boycott of Ben & Jerry's

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-19 17:17
Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering, OCA in the NewsOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 18, 2018 LakeCamiVT1000x523

Photo Credit: Regeneration Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2018

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

FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today called for an international boycott of Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s in conjunction with World Water Day, March 22.

“Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, spend millions on marketing to create the false image that the Vermont-based brand is a champion of the environment, when in fact Ben & Jerry’s supports an industrial dairy system that is responsible for a water pollution crisis in Vermont,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. 

“The theme for this year’s World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water’—exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.’ Today we once again call on Ben & Jerry’s to convert its dairy supply chain to 100-percent organic and pasture-raised to help end the dumping of hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers into Vermont’s water supply,” Cummins said.

According to a Regeneration Vermont report, an estimated 40 - 79 percent of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in Vermont’s waterways comes from dairy farms, and almost all the pesticide pollution comes from these dairies. The dairy industry is responsible for up to 85 percent of the pollution in the state’s most contaminated waterways, including the Lake Carmi region.

Regeneration Vermont recently reported on newly released data, covering 2014-2016, showing a dramatic increase in the use of pesticides, including glyphosate, 2,4-D and atrazine on Vermont’s dairy farms, linked to the 92,000 acres of GMO corn grown in Vermont, almost exclusively to feed cows on dairy farms. The most heavily used cornfield pesticide in 2016 was glyphosate, with 62,458 pounds used, more than doubling the 27,440 pounds used in 2014.

In July 2017, OCA reported that 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and/or AMPA, glyphosate’s main metabolite. In October, OCA reported that samples of Ben & Jerry’s in four European countries also tested positive for glyphosate residues.

A petition launched by OCA, and another circulated by OCA and seven other organizations have garnered more than 165,000 signatures. Both petitions call on Ben & Jerry’s to go organic. Nearly 160 businesses, farms and NGOs have signed a letter asking Ben & Jerry’s to go organic.

According to the United Nations, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water abstractions worldwide and plays a major role in water pollution, which poses a risk to aquatic ecosystems, human health and productive activities. The UN reports that today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home, affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

About the Organic Consumers Association
The Organic Consumers Association is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public-interest organization advocating on behalf of more than two million U.S. consumers for health, justice and regeneration. For more information, please visit www.organicconsumers.org. @OCA_Press.

 

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Monsanto Papers' Journalists Win Huge Prize

Organic consumers - Fri, 2018-03-16 17:29
March 16, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationGenetic Engineering top secret stamp 1000x523

Congratulations to Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel for winning the 2018 European Press Prize for their exceptional research in the The Monsanto Papers.

Foucart and Horel won the investigative reporting award for “uncovering how Monsanto interferes with science, policy and people—to undermine the credibility of the International Agency for Research on Cancer,” according to a press statement.

The Monsanto Papers unveils the attacks on Christopher Wild, director of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and others involved in the IARC’s March 20, 2015 decision to classify glyphosate as a “probable” human carcinogen. Glyphosate is an herbicide that has been used for more than 40 years and is present in at least 750 products marketed by about 100 companies—including Monsanto’s Roundup—in more than 130 countries.

"We have been attacked in the past, we have faced smear campaigns, but this time we are the target of an orchestrated campaign of an unseen scale and duration," Wild told the award-winning journalists.

The IARC panel consists of about 20 researchers from different countries who are selected for their experience, scientific competence and the absence of any conflicts of interest. In contrast, the attacks aimed at Wild and the IARC came from Monsanto operatives relying on the company’s own studies. 

In Part 2 of their coverage, Foucart and Horel expose the treasure trove of internal documents obtained via discovery by the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei and Goldman. Baum Hedlund represents victims or relatives of victims who allege exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Foucart and Horel explain how these documents—including internal Monsanto emails, text messages, company reports, studies and other memoranda, totaling 10 million pages—show that Monsanto manipulated the science and actively subverted science to push its own interests.

“Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel are journalistic heroes,” said Gary Ruskin, co-founder and co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “Through painstaking investigative work, they assembled The Monsanto Papers into compelling articles about corporate scandals and wrongdoing. Their work is a model for what the best reporting about food or large corporations should look like.”

The Monsanto Papers, originally published by Le Monde in June 2017, was translated by GM Watch and the Health and Environment Alliance.

Keep up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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Food & Farm Act: Our Best Hope for Healthy Food, Farms and Soil

Organic consumers - Wed, 2018-03-14 21:17
March 14, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate, Farm Issues crocus spring flowers purple soil garden cc 1000x523.jpg

You’ve heard it said before: No Farms, No Food.

But let’s not forget: No Soil, No Farms.

A few years ago, the United Nations warned that on average, the world has fewer than 60 growing seasons left. That grim statistic is based on how rapidly the world’s soils are be degraded, in large part due to poor management.

The situation looks bleak for our soils—and just as bad for our farmers. So bad, that experts compare the current situation to the 1980s when bankruptcies and foreclosures contributed to the loss of 296,360 farms.

These are disturbing trends. But it’s not too late to turn things around, assuming we take the necessary steps.

This year, Congress will pass the Farm Bill, legislation that determines how $90 billion per year is used to shape our food system.

Congress could continue with business as usual, directing funding to the wealthiest farmers growing genetically engineered pesticide-drenched industrial monocultures that tear up our best soil to produce crops that get burned in car engines, fed to animals in factory farms or processed into diabetes-inducing junk foods.

Or, this year, the Farm Bill could go in a new direction. That’s what Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is proposing with his version of the Farm Bill, the Food & Farm Act.

No farms, no food

We should all be concerned about what Farm Aid calls the “Looming Crisis on American Farms.” Even the Wall Street Journal is ringing alarm bells, warning that “The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us.”

Compared with the 1980s farm crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) chief economist Rob Johansson warned in his just-released 2018 forecast that “current levels of debt are approaching the levels we saw back in the 1980s.”

During the 1980s, bankruptcies and foreclosures contributed to the loss of 296,360 farms (there were 2.4 million farms in 1980 and only 2.1 million by 1990).

In 2015-2016, the U.S. lost 8,000 farms and a million acres of farmland.

More farm losses are expected, as farm debt increases, and farm incomes stay low.

Net farm income has declined 52 percent since 2013, and is expected to remain flat over the next 10 years.

In 2018, inflation-adjusted net farm income is expected to drop to the lowest level since 2002. In 2018, the projected medium farm income is -$1,316 per household.

In real terms, this means most farmers lose money growing our food.

There’s a direct correlation between farm economics and farmer mental health.

The current economic pressures are why the suicide death rate for farmers is more than double that of military veterans.

No soil, no farms

As important as it is to keep farmers on the land and protect farmland from development, there’s another urgent food security crisis looming: soil loss. 

In the U.S., soil disappears 10 times faster than it is naturally replenished, causing a $44-billion loss in annual productivity. More than 50 percent of America’s topsoil has already eroded.

The United Nations warns that if current rates of degradation continue, all of the world's topsoil could be gone by 2075.

Help for farmers

Blumenauer’s Food & Farm Act would provide relief to the family farmers who could lose their farms because they’re having to go into debt producing our food.

Here are some of the ways the bill would help farmers:

• Establish a Land Tenure Commission at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as tax-credits, loan, grants and training, to preserve family farms, protect farm land from development and increase access to land for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.

• Expand the Whole Farm Revenue Option to make subsidized crop insurance an effective safety net available to all farms, including organic and diversified family farms. (To make crop insurance available to the family farms that need it most, the Food & Farm Act eliminates the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs, limits total subsidies to $125,000 per year and caps payments for farmers with incomes above $500,000).

• Implement the Farmer Fair Practice regulations that protect small farmers from retaliation by requiring the USDA to crack down on unfair and anti-competitive business practices from big meat and poultry processors.

• Develop market opportunities for family farms. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program would be opened to farmers who comply with federal organic regulations and those who are transitioning to organic. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program would provide more support for states that grow and market a diverse array of fruits and vegetables. Rural Development funding would be used to expand programs that connect demand for local food in urban areas with supply from local farmers and boost funding for meat and poultry processing infrastructure.

The Food & Farm Act would also help farmers improve the long-term economic viability of their farms by giving them the training and support they need to reduce erosion and build soil. The bill would accomplish this by:

• Extending crop insurance to farmers who reduce erosion. Farmers who plant erosion-reducing cover crops would qualify for crop insurance premium subsidies. The bill would prohibit farmers from receiving subsidies if they plant on unsuitable land.

• Requiring all farmers receiving farm subsidies to comply with soil conservation requirements.

The Food & Farm Act represents our best hope for saving our farmers, farms and soil. But this bill won’t stand a chance unless Congress gets behind it. Please ask your member of Congress to support it.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Sign up here for news and alerts from OCA.

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Organic Consumers Association and Handsome Brook Farm Announce Settlement of Legal Actions Concerning Pasture-Raised Eggs

Organic consumers - Tue, 2018-03-13 15:38
OCA in the NewsOrganic Consumers AssociationMarch 12, 2018 handsome_brook_farm2_1000x523.png

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2018

Contact: Katherine Paul, 207-653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

Handsome Brook Farm and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today announced that they have resolved a consumer-protection action OCA filed against Handsome Brook in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on August 29, 2016, concerning Handsome Brook Farm’s “Pasture Raised” egg labels. The organizations have also resolved a lawsuit filed by Handsome Brook against OCA.

The OCA’s action alleged that some of Handsome Brook Farm’s eggs labeled as “Pasture Raised” were, in fact, from producers not engaged in pasture-raising hens, and that some farms within Handsome Brook’s own farm network did not live up to its internal standards for pasture-raising. Handsome Brook acknowledges shortcomings identified by OCA, including limited out-of-network purchases of organic eggs from producers in late 2015 and early 2016 that did not meet its pasture-raising criteria.

In the intervening period, Handsome Brook Farm has come under new management that has developed an internal auditing and supply chain management program and is committed to ensuring the origin and compliance of its “Pasture Raised” eggs. As part of this commitment, any future purchases of eggs from outside its own network will be from trusted partners who also meet American Humane Association standards for pasture-raised eggs.

Handsome Brook Farm has joined OCA in making a commitment to protecting consumers and holding producers accountable for their labeling and advertising. To demonstrate this commitment, Handsome Brook Farm has agreed to implement additional third-party auditing, in coordination with OCA, for 18 months. This oversight will be conducted on a quarterly basis by an independent auditor who will review Handsome Brook’s purchase-and- sale records, as well as records from Handsome Brook Farm’s network of egg farmers. This additional review of Handsome Brook’s operations will help ensure that it remains an honest producer and marketer of pasture-raised eggs.

OCA and Handsome Brook are pleased to have reached this resolution, which they believe will help bring greater uniformity of standards in the market for pasture-raised eggs and help achieve their goals of changing the food system to provide high-quality, humanely raised, and truthfully labeled food.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and regeneration. Visit: https://www.organicconsumers.org/

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Roundup Causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Scientist Says in Federal Court

Organic consumers - Mon, 2018-03-12 21:05
March 8, 2018Organic Consumers AssociationJulie WilsonFood Safety, Genetic Engineering, Health Issues gavel.jpg

Photo credit: Tori Rector, Creative Commons

It’s been an eventful week in federal court in San Francisco as expert witnesses face off on the science surrounding glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

The outcome of the hearing, determined by U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, will establish whether farmers and their families can proceed with legal action against Monsanto Co. over cancer concerns.

Live reporting from Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know sheds light on some of the latest developments unfolding in the courtroom, including testimony from toxicology expert, former government scientist and plaintiffs’ expert witness, Dr. Charles William Jameson, Ph.D.

“To a reasonable degree of scientific certainly,” it’s clear that glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides likely cause cancer in humans, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), at real-world exposures including the levels farmworkers and others face when using the weedkiller, said Jameson in court on March 7.

In Roundup science hearing scientist says "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" is clear that glyphosate & glyphosate based herbicides are probably human carcinogens & cause NHL; adds causing cancer at current exposures. Monsanto objects to the latter, judge overrules

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Jameson reiterated that there’s credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, adding that oxidative stress caused by glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides is a known link to NHL.

In @MonsantoCo litigation hearing, plaintiffs’ expert Bill Jameson testifies that science showing glyphosate, glyphosate-based herbicides, cause oxidative stress is important as that is known link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Jameson’s testimony sparked early objections from Monsanto attorneys; however, Judge Chhabria twice overruled those objections, reports Gillam.

Twice now Judge shuts down attorneys for @MonsantoCo who object twice to opening testimony from plaintiffs' toxicology expert Bill Jameson who says credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Monsanto proceeded by sending in its “big dog” attorney Joe Hollingsworth to cross examine Jameson, who was part of the team of scientists analyzing research on glyphosate under the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which ultimately determined the weedkiller to be a probable human carcinogen.

Gillam reports:

“Hollingsworth launched his cross by pressing Jameson about distinctions between hazard and risk assessments, and comments Jameson made in a deposition.

“The judge admonished Hollingsworth and suggested that rather than continuously asking Jameson about what he said in a deposition, the attorney should ask him about what he actually thinks.

“‘Why don't you ask [his] about his opinion now,’ the judge told Hollingsworth. ‘That's normally how we do it,’ the judge said.”

After lunch break for cancer science hearing @MonsantoCo unleashes the big dog; attorney Joe Hollingsworth takes on the cross examination of plaintiffs' expert witness Bill Jameson. Judge admonishes Hollingsworth for not providing Jameson dox he is questioning him about.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

Hollingsworth continued to press Jameson about comments he made in a deposition, prompting Jameson to state that he was misquoted and that his words were repeatedly taken out of context.

When Monsanto’s attorney pressed on, Judge Chhabria interrupted, ordering Hollingsworth to provide the full transcript of the deposition, including the page number containing Jameson’s comment.

Hollingsworth was ultimately ordered “to read aloud two pages of deposition testimony supporting the expertise of plaintiffs’ expert Jameson,” reports Gillam.

Wow ! Judge – in stern tone - forces @MonsantoCo attorney Hollingsworth to read aloud two pages of deposition testimony supporting the expertise of plaintiffs’ expert Jameson before judge will allow Hollingsworth to present deposition testimony aimed at impeaching Jameson.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

The judge seemingly grew irritated with Hollingsworth’s style of questioning, Gillam observed, adding that “Judge Vince Chhabria repeatedly admonished Monsanto lead attorney Joe Hollingsworth over his tactics in cross examining Jameson.”

Hard to tell for sure but Judge in Roundup cancer science hearing really doesn’t seem fond of @MonsantoCo attorney Joe Hollingsworth. Has chastised his questioning style of scientist Jameson multiple times now.

— carey gillam (@careygillam) March 7, 2018

After Hollingsworth ended his cross examination of Jameson, Jameson turned to the judge and said: “Thank you for the honor, your honor.”

Two more days of court testimony remain. While it’s unclear when Judge Chhabria will rule, our sources say that there will be an oral argument a week or so after the hearing and then Judge Chhabria will take things under submission and likely write up an order sometime over the next three to four weeks.

Want a front row seat at the hearing? You can follow journalist and author Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know who is live blogging and tweeting from the San Francisco courthouse.

There are more than 365 lawsuits pending against Monsanto in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. These lawsuits have been filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop NHL, and that Monsanto knew the risks.

Julie Wilson is communications associate at Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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