10 January 2019 — Organic Consumers Association
|TOP NEWS OF THE WEEK
Nothing like starting the year with some good news, for once.
We’re happy to report that consumers have won round one in our legal battle to hold Ben & Jerry’s accountable for its advertising and marketing claims.
Last summer, OCA sued Ben & Jerry’s for deceptive marketing and advertising. (We explained why, in this article we wrote last July).
Ben & Jerry’s tried to get the case dismissed—and lost.
From our press release:
In its ruling, the court agreed that consumers may have been misled by Ben & Jerry’s environmental responsibility statements into believing that the company’s ice cream products would be free of glyphosate.
The court also agreed that Ben & Jerry’s general messages about humane treatment of cows in the “Caring Dairy” program and “values-led sourcing” may mislead customers into believing that Ben & Jerry’s uses ingredients only from dairy farms with higher-than-average animal welfare standards, when the evidence may suggest otherwise.
This doesn’t mean the legal battle is over. But the court’s decision is a big win for consumers.
To all of you who have signed petitions, called Ben & Jerry’s, posted on social media and just generally kept up the pressure, thank you!
A recent New York Times article on the fight to save the traditional Mexican tortilla reminded us to remind you: Let’s keep up the pressure on Maseca, the company selling pesticide-contaminated GMO tortillas, in Mexico, the U.S. and beyond.
Maseca, the leading global brand of Mexican corn flours, plainly states on its website:
“MASECA is made of 100% natural corn and is vital for the good diet, its high nutritional value and is synonym of health and energy.”
And yet, our tests showed that samples of both white and yellow Maseca brand flours contain traces of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Tests also show that most of the flours are made with GMO corn.
That’s bad news for U.S. consumers. It’s even worse news for consumers in Mexico, who might rightly assume that the Mexican brand of corn flour they use to make tortillas wouldn’t be made from GMO corn—because open-field growing of GMO corn is prohibited in Mexico.
As the Times article reports, a good tortilla, made from scratch, through the traditional process known as nixtamalization, “makes the tortilla a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and protein. Industrially produced corn flour is also nixtamalized, but further processing strips it of nutrients, resulting in an inferior tortilla, according to tortilla purists.”
A tortilla made from GMO corn and laced with weedkiller? Not so much.
BLOG POST OF THE WEEK
If you live in an urban area, should you be concerned about the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in U.S. deer herds?
CWD has caused hundreds of captive deer to be euthanized on commercial deer farms in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Pennsylvania. The disease has also spread to non-captive (wild) deer herds.
CWD hasn’t been widely publicized. So it’s no surprise that many people, whether they live in rural or urban areas, are unaware of the issue. But among those urban dwellers who are aware, there’s often little concern—because most people think CWD affects only rural areas, namely hunters and Departments of Natural Resources (DNRs) that depend on hunting licenses for revenue.
In fact, recent scientific reports suggest that whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the country, you should be concerned about CWD—and you should take precautions.
SUPPORT OCA & CRL
Lights, Camera, Action!
The New York Times reported last month that in two short years, the Trump administration has rolled back 78 environmental rules intended to protect the environment, and by extension, humans who inhabit the environment.
On the way out are laws governing air and water pollution, drilling and extraction and laws intended to protect consumers from toxic substances.
It doesn’t appear that the situation will improve anytime soon. This week, Trump officially nominated Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Times made this bleak prediction:
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could lead to at least 80,000 extra deaths per decade and cause respiratory problems for more than one million people, according to a separate analysis conducted by researchers from Harvard. That number, however, is likely to be “a major underestimate of the global public health impact,” said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health.
If you care about clean water, clean air and safe food, you could easily despair.
We prefer to embrace the wisdom of activist and singer-songwriter Joan Baez: “Action is the antidote to despair.”
We hope you’ll join us in 2019 as we ramp up our game to hold lawmakers and government agencies accountable. If you contributed to our year-end fundraising campaign, thank you! We promise to put every dollar to good use.
Not yet a donor? Please consider pitching in this month, so we can get off to a strong start. Thank you!
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Sweet, But Bitter
Who doesn’t love biting into a sweet, juicy pineapple?
Lots of us do—which is why on average, consumers worldwide eat about 26,000 tons of pineapples each year, according to the Global Markets Research team.
But where do those pineapples come from? And how were they grown?
In their film, “The Bitter Price of Tropical Fruits,” Arne Lorenz and Petra Pommerenke expose the dark side of the pineapple growing industry—an industry associated with heavy pesticide use, water pollution, deforestation and exploited farmworkers, forced to work in risky conditions and for low wages.
Can consumers buy pineapple with a clear conscience? The filmmakers head to Costa Rica to find out.
As it has since 2015, our sister organization, Regeneration International, sent a delegation to the international climate summit. This year’s, COP24, was held in Katowice, Poland.
Two of our delegates, Andre Leu and Hans Herren, were interviewed by Grist about their personal farming experiences, and also the role of organic regenerativeagriculture in solving the climate crisis.
Leu, RI’s international director, talked about his lifetime of farming in Australia. Herren, a member of the RI Steering Committee, described the impact of climate on his farm operations in California.
Leu and Herren both called for more farmer-to-farmer training to help farmers become part of the climate solution—and in the process, become both more resilient and more profitable.
Camp, Work, Restore!
Want to make a difference and have fun at the same time?
Volunteer with OCA, EcoSystem Restoration Campsand Regeneration International for two weeks (March 3-15) at the land-restoration camp at Vía Orgánica Ranch, a regenerative teaching farm and ranch near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. (Vía Orgánica is a project of OCA).
Camp activities will include restoration work such as tree planting, composting, seed collecting, earthworks, cooking, listening to music, campfires, making new friends and much more.
John D. Liu, founder of EcoSystem Restoration Camps, will be on hand on the first day to share his vision. The working trip will also include a workshop by OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins, on global land regeneration.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week’s Essential Reading