| Alert Update of the Week:
OCA & Grassroots Pressure on Obama and Vilsack Show Results
|Thanks to your hard work and ongoing pressure, the Obama Administration and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack are apparently responding to OCA and our allies’ calls for major reform in the food and farm sector, including:
- President Obama’s budget plan includes a $1 billion a year increase in funding for U.S. child nutrition programs including school lunches. Learn more
- Secretary Vilsack has called for government support for farmers using alternative energy, such as wind and solar, as well as those converting to organic farming practices. Vilsack also has called for cuts in taxpayer subsidy payments to large farms. Learn more
- Vilsack has pledged the USDA’s support in ending racial discrimination in the farm sector, specifically condemning past discrimination in limiting credit opportunities for African-American farmers. Learn more
- The USDA’s National Organic Program has cracked down on companies spiking organic fertilizer with prohibited synthetic additives. Learn more
- President Obama has guaranteed at least $500 million for the Green Jobs Act in the stimulus package. Learn more
What’s next? Keep the pressure on! Congress, President Obama and Secretary Vilsack need to hear from you on key issues.
| More Good News:
Campaigning of OCA & Allies Shifts USDA and Helps Hilda Solis Get Confirmed
On February 23, 2009, the Obama administration heard the voice of organic consumers and named Kathleen Merrigan deputy agriculture secretary. As one of OCA’s favored nominees for the position, Merrigan has a solid background in sustainable and organic agriculture. She was the administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service at the USDA when the division crafted the organic guidelines. Since then, she’s been a board member of the Organic Center and a professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She’s been an avid organic booster, spreading the word about the superiority of organic foods.
Thank you to the nearly 100,000 organic consumers, including 50,000 new OCA participants who joined OCA’s Vilsack campaign, which is putting pressure on the Secretary of Agriculture to make positive changes at the USDA with actions like the appointment of Merrigan.
We’d also like to thank the thousands of you who took part in another OCA alert and supported Hilda Solis for Labor Secretary. We’re pleased to announce she was confirmed on February 24, 2009. Secretary Solis, the department’s first Latino chief, is a longtime ally of farm workers, a champion of workers’ rights and green jobs, and an experienced leader who has fought to restore balance to our economy. OCA expects Solis to bolster protections for farm workers and other laborers in the food sector.
Your OCA Support is Bringing Positive Change
The Organic Consumers Association is one of the few nonprofit organizations that provides you with success stories, nearly every week, showing you how your financial donations are directly bringing about positive change. These success stories are due to the involvement and donations of our supporters. In order to continue bringing positive change in the realms of health, social justice, and sustainability, we need your contributions. If you are unable to donate, please help spread the word about OCA to friends, family and colleagues. Please donate today!
| Nutrition News of the Week:
Taking a Bite Out of Childhood Obesity
| Child-friendly, healthy and truly delicious food can be served in school lunchrooms: that’s what OCA’s DC Intern, Chantal Clement, learned at “Take a Bite out of Childhood Obesity”, a briefing on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Thanks to junk food diets, the estimated lifetime risk for kids born in or after 2000 to contract Type 2 Diabetes (a disease doctors generally treated patients aged 30 or more for) is 32.8% for men and 38.5% for women. Due to widespread dietary unhealthiness, boys will lose 11.6 years from our current life expectancy rates and girls will lose 14.3 years.The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is an opportunity to get these healthy, cost-effective foods to every school child through the school meals.
| Alert of the Week:
Sign the Health Revolution Petition
| The Organic Consumers Association is co-sponsoring a health care reform petition, put together by our friends at Natural News, with a goal of generating 100,000 signatures for submission to elected officials in Washington DC. The broad scope of this petition reminds the President and Congress that the nation’s health is dependent on prevention as well as curing disease:
- Safeguarding our food supply: Banning genetically engineered foods and known toxic ingredients such as aspartame and MSG.
- Investing in disease prevention: Teaching the public about nutrition and exercise with Public Service Announcements.
- Cleaning up the environment: Investigating the impact of fluoridation and pharmaceuticals in the public water supply.
- Protecting our children : Restricting junk food advertising and encouraging the use of fresh and unprocessed foods in schools.
Learn more and take action
| Sustainability News of the Week:
OCA at Power Shift ‘09, Artists for the Climate and the Capitol Climate Action
| Worldwide, industrial food production is responsible for 30% or more of the fossil fuel use and the greenhouse gas pollution that’s driving climate change. The Organic Consumers Association has joined the climate movement to bring the CO2 levels down below the dangerous tipping point of 350 ppm (we’re at 387 ppm right now). We support the movement’s goals to stop new coal plants, to shut down or phase out the pre-existing 600 U.S. coal plants, to create 5-10 million new green jobs in wind and solar sector, and to begin a deep retrofitting of the nation’s 130 million buildings to drastically cut (by 80—90%) energy consumption. In addition, we’re educating climate activists about the potential organic agriculture has to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by drastically cutting fossil fuel use and sequestering greenhouse gases in the soil. As the Rodale Institute has shown, transitioning the world’s agricultural lands to organic would allow the soil to absorb 40% of current greenhouse gas emissions.
On February 28, OCA’s DC intern Chantal Clement spoke at Power Shift ‘09, a gathering of 12,000 young climate activists, on a panel about the film Food Inc. On March 1, OCA’s political director Alexis Baden-Mayer caught up with Wendell Berry at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s Artists for the Climate, and on March 2, she joined Berry and a few thousand others at the Capitol Climate Action to shut down the coal plant that powers the U.S. Capitol.
| Related Web Videos of the Week:
Wendell Berry speaks about Climate Change at Artists for the Climate conference in DC.
| Web Forum Posting of the Week:
We only have the next 10 days to stop MANDATORY NAIS.
| The following was posted in the OCA web forum by Cyn:
“Whether you’re a small farmer, rancher, a person that owns just one animal, or just an average consumer, we are all gong to suffer for this. If you think food prices are high now, just wait when the NAIS becomes mandatory. You can forget about buying healthy, free range, or organic meat, milk and eggs because it will become price prohibitive. Most likely you wont be able to get it at all, because the cost of NAIS for small farms and ranches will put them out of business…The U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on NAIS on March 11. Bills to put NAIS into law, HR875 and companion Senate S814, are being pushed through Congress, as well as an Appropriations Bill with funding for NAIS. This hearing is critical to blocking mandatory NAIS…”
Read more and post your own thoughts in OCA’s web forum
| Genetic Engineering News of the Week:
Study Shows Monsanto’s GE Cotton is Killing the Soil
| A new study analyzing fields planted with Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) cotton indicates the crops are causing the soil to slowly die. The study found that over a three year period soil micro-organisms, which are necessary for building healthy and nutrient rich soil, decreased dramatically in the Monsanto cotton fields. According to the Institute for Science in Society, “At this rate, in a decade of planting with GM cotton, or any GM crop with Bt genes in it, could lead to total destruction of soil organisms, leaving dead soil unable to produce food.” Learn more
You can make a difference. Join the Organic Consumers Association and contact your Congresspersons today and urge them to:
1) Require mandatory labeling of all GE plants and animals
2) Place a moratorium on new genetically engineered plants or animals, and
3) Protect non-GE and organic farmers by assigning liability for injury caused by genetically engineered organisms.
| Headlines and Articles of the Week:
| 1) Scientists Agree That Organic Farming Delivers Healthier Soil and More Nutritious Food:
Scientists gathered last week for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, analyzed research from the last decade, and determined, once again, that the path to healthy soil and healthy food is organic farming.
2) How to Survive the Coming Century: Living or Dying in a World Warmed Just Four Degrees
3) Support Ron Paul’s Bill to End the Ban on Raw Milk:
The consumption of raw milk is legal in every U.S. state, but its sale is currently illegal in about half of them. U.S. Congressman Ron Paul has introduced HR 778, a bill “to authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.”
4) Nation’s Food System Nearly Broke:
“Any time a country neglects its family farm base and allows it to become financially bankrupt, the entire economy of that country will soon collapse. It may take generations to rebuild the farm economy and that of the country…”
5) Washington State Turnaround on Organic Milk Policy Has Far-Reaching Implications:
“Washington State announced plans last week to deny mothers the choice to purchase organic milk for their infants and young children with federal WIC Nutrition Program funds. This policy confuses consumers and will set a precedent for other state agencies…”
Let OCA sift through the media smog and bring you the top new and analysis of the day. The OCA website has 10 or more news articles posted each day, and a library of over 40,000 articles covering issues including health, justice, food and farming, politics, and the environment. Bookmark OrganicConsumers.org