Adventures in Ethical Consumerism

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Organics in America

Some really good news stories this week from the Organic Consumers Association in the US:

'This week the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long awaited report on perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel that has contaminated water, vegetables, and dairy product across the United States. Perchlorates, recklessly discharged into streams and rivers near military bases and weapons manufacturing facilities, have contaminated drinking water in 35 states, and have been detected in measurable amounts in 93% of lettuce and milk samples as well, including organic products. The government funded NAS study has found that perchlorates are roughly ten times more toxic to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects, and lower IQs.'

Mmm, I don’t like the sound of those perchlorates! It seems this has been the subject of a cover-up from day one. And just because this study is funded by the government, it doesn’t guarantee that anything is actually going to be done about it. (read more)

'According to National Geographic, there have been a significant number of reports documenting animals who seemed to sense the recent Asian tsunami before it hit. For example, Sri Lanka's Yala National Park suffered many human casualties, but park managers said the wildlife suffered almost no casualties. "The elephants, wild boar, deer, monkeys and others had moved inland to avoid the killer waves." In Thailand, seemingly insane elephants broke their chains and fled inland before the waves hit. Authorities in India reported that "the indigenous, stone-age tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands escaped the effects of the tsunami because they heeded warning signals from birds and animals." A number of scientists have pointed out that this remarkable behavior should alert us to pay closer attention to a wide range of warnings from the animal kingdom, not only in regards to natural disasters, but also in relation to danger signs of the impact on animal and human health of environmental pollution, such as the recent outbreak of frog mutations, species extinctions, and drops in mammalian fertility.' (full story)


'Activists in California's Sonoma County, have successfully placed an initiative on the ballot for a 10 year moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) crops. After 500 grassroots volunteers collected a record 45,387 petition signatures, proponents of the ballot initiative are optimistic the vote will turn out in their favor. The proposal is considered slightly more moderate than bans that passed in Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin counties last year, since it calls for a 10 year moratorium on commercial cultivation of GE crops, rather than a permanent ban.' (more)


'Monsanto, the leading global producer of genetically engineered seeds and crops, has been found guilty of bribing government officials in Indonesia. The Justice Department has fined Monsanto $1.5 million for bribing the Indonesian Ministry of Environment to allow the company to ignore required environmental impact studies before proceeding to plant genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, in the U.S., bribery seems hardly necessary for the Gene Giant, given that the Bush administration and regulatory agencies are stacked with former Monsanto employees and pro-biotech bureaucrats. Monsanto strengthened its grip on U.S. policymaking last week when one of its former lobbyists, Martha Scott, was appointed as Staff Director of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Other Monsanto boosters in the Washington power elite include former Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman (formerly head of the Monsanto subsidiary Calgene), Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (formerly CEO of a Monsanto pharmaceutical subsidiary, Searle) and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (formerly a Monsanto lawyer).'

Monsanto in bribery scandal? Surely not! (read more)


'“The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the USDA National Organic Program against an "organic" dairy farm in Colorado. The industrial sized feedlot, Aurora Dairy, claims its milk is organic, despite the fact the facility houses 5,600 dairy cows in a factory farm setting with no real access to pasture (which is required by the National Organic Standards).' (full story)


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