Organic Bytes #52
Food and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge! 3/11/2005
ALERT: STOP THE PENTAGON'S WAR ON PUBLIC HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT
The Pentagon is lobbying Congress to pass a new law that would allow the military to freely violate a host of environmental regulations. Entitled "The Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative," the legislation would allow military facilities to ignore laws like the Clean Air Act. The Pentagon claims environmental regulations are a threat to national security, since they restrict the military. The proposal comes on the heels of a sharply different bill sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein of California that would hold the military responsible for cleaning up perchlorate pollution (rocket fuel), which has recently been discovered in 93% of the nation's lettuce and 97% of breast milk samples. Take action here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/perchlorate.htm
MEXICO DROPS BAN ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS
On February 15, the Mexican government voted to legalize genetically engineered (GE) crops. Up until now, GE crops have been banned in the country in order to keep GE contamination away from what is the world's most diverse, important, and pure collection of maize (corn) varieties. Although surveys reveal the vast majority of Mexican citizens oppose the legalization of GE crops, intense pressure from the U.S. eventually won over. Monsanto, which owns the patents and distribution rights to 91% of GE seeds in the world, is now one of the leading advertisers in Mexico, second only to Coca-Cola. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/mexicoapprove022805.cfm
BIOPIRATES LOSE PATENT ON SEEDS OF INDIA'S SACRED TREE, THE NEEM
Under the New World Order of the World Trade Organization (WTO), corporations now have the right to "discover" seeds and genetic materials used by indigenous peoples for centuries, and patent these materials, thereby obtaining monopoly rights to its products and profits. One such example is that of India's Neem Tree, traditionally considered a sacred tree, whose seeds have a fungicidal quality that has been common knowledge to the indigenous people of India for centuries. Despite this widespread traditional use, an American company, Thermo Trilogy, was able to obtain a patent on that process. In other words, using Neem Tree seeds as a fungicide suddenly became illegal, unless you paid Thermo Trilogy its royalties first. But last week, for the first time in history, a patent has been revoked as a matter of protecting traditional knowledge and practices. This landmark decision, made by the European Patent Office, is being celebrated in India and will likely inspire the reassessment of dozens of other similar patents. http://www.organicconsumers.org/patent/neemtree030905.cfm
STINK BUGS OUTWIT GENETIC ENGINEERS
Southern U.S. cotton farmers are speaking out against Bt cotton, a plant genetically engineered to create its own pesticide to ward off bollworms. Although Bt cotton farmers are enjoying a decrease in bollworm damage, they say the plants are unexpectedly attracting other pests at a much higher rate. This week, North Carolina State University released a study on the matter, indicating that the state's Bt cotton fields have an average of three times more damage from stink bugs than conventional cotton. http://www.organicconsumers.org/clothes/stinkbugs030905.cfm
HIDDEN CARCINOGENS IN BABY CARE PRODUCTS
American moms and dads are expressing anger over new reports revealing a host of hidden carcinogens in baby care products. According to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, "The cosmetics industry has borrowed a page from the playbook of the tobacco industry by putting profits ahead of public health." The OCA and Cancer Prevention Coalition joined together last week to inform consumers of these dangers while providing information about safe alternatives. http://www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/babies030105.cfm
SPLENDA'S MISLEADING ADVERTISING
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the advertising practices of Splenda. The artificial sweetener carries the slogan "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar," and as a result, nearly half of all consumers believe Splenda is natural, according to a survey done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In actuality, Splenda is made through a complex chemical process using chlorination and phosgene gas. http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/splenda030105.cfm
BAD NEWS FOR JUNK FOOD LOVERS
This week, a committee of 35 scientists from 13 countries, organized by the World Health Organization, announced major concerns with increasing levels of acrylamides in food. Acrylamides are carcinogens that are now known to be created when carbohydrates are cooked at extremely high temperatures, like french fries and potato chips. http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/junkfood30705.cfm
GOOD NEWS FOR FRESH PRODUCE LOVERS
The American Medical Association has published the results of three new studies, further underlining the fact that plant based diets reduce cancer risks. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables offers nutrient combinations that are consistently being shown to lower risks of prostate, breast and colon cancers. http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/eatveg30705.cfm
THE ACTION ALERTS OF ORGANIC BYTES SHOW "REAL BITE"
The OCA would like to thank all of you who have joined in on our Organic Bytes Action Alerts, signing our online petitions and forwarding these important news briefs to friends and colleagues. We now have 250,000 online subscribers to Organic Bytes and 20,000 people visiting our website daily. Here's a quick update on some of our recent victories:
SUPPORT TILLAMOOK CHEESE AGAINST MONSANTO INTIMIDATION (Issue #51) - On 2/25/2005, the OCA called on Bytes readers to support a large nationwide distributor of cheese that was considering going rBGH-free. Thanks in part to your action, despite threats by Monsanto, the Tillamook board of directors has voted to go rBGH-free. We hope this will inspire a chain reaction of other major dairy companies to do the same. http://www.organicconsumers.org/rbghlink.html
TERMINATE THE TERMINATOR (Issue #50) - On 2/11/2005, the OCA informed you of new efforts to legalize the "Terminator" gene, an experimental genetic engineering technique that makes plant seeds sterile. Thanks in part to your letters to the United Nations, those efforts by the biotech industry were stopped, and the terminator has been (at least temporarily) terminated. http://www.organicconsumers.org/un.htm
NEW EPA DEAL LETS FACTORY FARMS POLLUTE AIR WITHOUT RESTRICTION (Issue
#49) - On 1/28/2005, the OCA notified subscribers about a new agreement between the Bush Administration and factory farms that allows these industrial operations to ignore a variety of environmental regulations. The good news is that a federal court has ruled that Bush's new water pollution policies for factory farms are so lax they are illegal. The bad news is that the EPA has not reversed its January 2005 announcement that factory farms don't have to follow the Clean Air Act. If you have not signed the petition yet, please do so now: http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa3.htm
EPA CUTTING BACKROOM DEAL THAT THREATENS KIDS (Issue #47)- On 12/31/2005, the OCA alerted Bytes readers about Dow Chemical and the EPA meeting behind closed doors to remove the ban on the toxic termite pesticide Dursban. Thanks in part to your overwhelming response to that alert, that backroom deal was dropped and the ban on Dursban is still in force. http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa-dow.htm
DONATE TO THE OCA: http://www.organicconsumers.org/donations.htm
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