Organic Bytes #387: Monsanto's Going Down, Safeway Fires Back, & Moyers on Ag-Gag Laws

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Winning Our Hearts and Minds? Monsanto and Big Food Pull Out the Big Guns

Monsanto and Big Food are taking the battle for consumers' hearts and minds to the next level. And it's no coincidence that they're pulling out the big guns just as the Washington State I-522 campaign to label genetically modified organisms in food products is gaining steam.

Can industry front groups and slick public relations firms convince us that the products they're peddling are not only safe, but good for us? Will the millions they spend on websites and advertorials pay off?

You be the judge.

The freshly launched is funded by the biotech industry, which claims it just "wants to talk." And the recently formed Alliance to Feed the Future, representing more than 50 multinational food, agribusiness and biotech companies, wants to give us the "real" scoop on our food system.

Read the essay


Organic Eggs? Not If the USDA and FDA Can Help It!

Are the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined to keep chickens penned up, and rob consumers of the right to real free-range organic eggs?

It would seem so. First, the USDA's National Organics Program refuses to enforce standards set by the National Organic Standards Board requiring organic farmers to allow their hens outdoors. Responding to complaints that organic farmers were violating the standards, the NOP said they have more "urgent" matters to deal with.

Now, the FDA wants to make it nearly impossible for organic farmers to raise free-range hens. Despite weak scientific evidence, the FDA says it's risky for organic farmers to let their hens come in contact with wild birds. So the FDA is proposing costly, redundant and onerous so-called "food safety" measures on organic farmers who let their hens outdoors.

The USDA and the FDA need to hear from us. Eggs from organic free-range hens raised outdoors are more nutritious than eggs from hens kept indoors and raised on exclusively on grain. Not to mention how much more the animals suffer from being penned up.


TAKE ACTION: Tell the USDA and FDA: Set Organic Chickens Free!


Leader of the Pack: GMA Tops List of NO on I-522 Donors

Who wants you to have the right to know whether or not your food has been genetically engineered or not? Leading organic and natural health companies. Consumer groups such as the OCA and the Alliance for Natural Health. Nonprofit watchdog groups. Thousands and thousands of organic and natural health consumers.
Who doesn't? The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its dues-paying members. Monsanto. DuPont. Bayer Cropsciences. Dow Agrisciences.

So far the GMA is the largest donor to the NO on I-522 campaign, which wants desperately to defeat I-522, Washington's citizens' initiative to label GMOs. The GMA represents more than 300 corporations including Kraft, Kellogg's, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Hershey's, ConAgra, General Mills and a long list of other companies that want your money – but don't want you to know what they're selling you.

The GMA member roster also includes Starbucks, Target and Safeway, owner of the O Organicsâ„¢ brand. Which is why we hope you'll sign our petition asking the leaders of those companies to support I-522 and ditch the GMA.


See Who's Funding NO and YES on I-522 Campaigns

TAKE ACTION: Tell Safeway, Starbucks and Target: Stop bankrolling campaigns to defeat GMO Labeling!


You Rock!

You did it again. Thank you!

Thanks to almost 4,000 of you who contributed to our recent appeal for support for I-522, we raised the $150,000 we needed in order to receive a generous matching grant from

We were all disappointed when we lost Prop 37, the GMO labeling initiative in California last year. But together, we rallied. Now we're more determined than ever to win this year in Washington State. And beyond.

I-522 is a must-win campaign. As the donations to the NO on I-522 campaign pour in from Big Food and the Biotech Bullies, we will keep pressuring the natural and organic companies who sat on the sidelines last year while you emptied your pockets to fight this battle.


In the meantime, we're grateful for your generous support and your unstoppable determination to win this battle. Thank you. From all of us.

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in Washington, Vermont and other states)


Naked Truth: Naked Juice Not So Natural

No wonder PepsiCo, owner of the Naked Juice brand, spent $2.5 million to defeat California's GMO labeling law last year. Turns out the Junk Food Giant isn't too fond of honest labeling, even when it comes to its so-called "all-natural" Naked Juice.

In a big win for consumers, PepsiCo has been ordered to pay $9 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. Why? Because the courts agreed that adding synthetic fiber material made by Agri-Giant Archer Daniels Midland to Naked Juice products equates to deliberately deceiving consumers.

And that's not all. The lawsuit accused Pepsi of adding a host of other questionable ingredients, including zinc oxide, ascorbic acid and calcium pantothenate, made from formaldehyde, a carcinogenic compound.

Pepsi denied the claim that Naked Juice contains GMOs. But the undeniable truth? Pepsi doesn't want you to know what's in Naked Juice, or any of its other products. And as a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which is so far the top donor to campaign to defeat I-522, a GMO labeling initiative in Washington State, Pepsi is still working to keep you in the dark.

Learn more

TAKE ACTION: Tell Naked Juice to Clean up its Act and Support I-522, Washington State's GMO Labeling Initiative


Gaining Ground: Organic and 'Natural' Grab 13% of All U.S. Grocery Sales

Maybe it's the high cost of healthcare. Or the fact that organic food just tastes better. But American consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium price for foods and products that they believe are healthier, environmentally sustainable, and humanely produced.

Organic and "natural" products now constitute over 13% of U.S. grocery purchases. Sales of certified organic products are projected to reach approximately $35 billion in 2013, or 4.5% of total grocery sales. That number amounts to only half the sales of so-called "natural" products - uncertified, and routinely produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, animal drugs, GMOs, and sewage sludge – which are expected to exceed $70 billion in 2013.

Unfortunately many, if not most consumers are unclear about the qualitative difference between certified organic and most so-called "natural" products. Given this rampant mislabeling in the marketplace, if so-called "natural" products containing GMOs and synthetic chemicals and residues had to be truthfully labeled, organic sales would likely double within a short period of time. 

Get the facts on organics and "natural" here


No Small Thing: Reversing Climate Change through Sustainable Agriculture and Biochar

For the past five years, OCA has been passionately talking and writing about how organic farming, ranching, and forestry practices can potentially reverse global warming and save us from climate catastrophe.

There were times when we thought we were preaching only to the choir. But now a growing number of leading food and environmental writers, including Michael Pollan and Mark Hertsgaard, are joining the chorus and educating the public on how we can use sustainable farming, ranching and biochar practices to exponentially increase plant photosynthesis and soil carbon sequestration on hundreds of millions of acres of farmland, pasture, and rangeland.

This Great Transition has the potential to bring our current greenhouse gas pollution down from our 400 ppm of CO2 to 350 ppm – the number scientists say we need to achieve if we're going to survive. If we can achieve this, we can stabilize our dangerously out-of-control global climate. And in the process, we'll dramatically increase soil fertility, biodiversity, and moisture retention.

As Pollan puts it, moving away from factory farms and industrial/GMO agriculture to organic no-till farming and rotational grazing  "gets us out of one of the worst aspects of environmental thinking - the zero sum idea that we can't feed ourselves and save the planet at the same time. It also raises our spirits about the challenges ahead, which is not a small thing."

Read Michael Pollan on agriculture and climate change

Read Mark Hertsgaard on how biochar, composting and biochar energy production can reverse global warming


Essential Reading for the Week

Consumer Alert: Fertilizer Industry's Arsenic-Tainted Fluoride Laced into Drinking Water of 150 Million Americans

Nasty Pesticide Broken Down by Probiotic Used In Culturing Food

Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork Food Bank Changes Lives

Study Shows High Levels of Arsenic in Water Near Fracked Gas Wells

Survey: Only 15% of Farmers would Eat GMO Food

Consumer Alert: Most Common Vitamins, Including Children's Vitamins, Found to Contain GMOs

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Tom Usher

About Tom Usher

Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.