Organic Bytes #138: 7/7/2008
Twenty-Nine Nations Cut-Off Food Exports
While U.S. consumers struggle to cope with steadily rising food and energy costs, a billion rural farmers and low-income families are suffering from what can only be described as a global food crisis. The New York Times reported last week that at least 29 countries have sharply curbed or completely cut-off grain exports to make sure their own populations have enough to eat. According to the article, "When it comes to rice, India, Vietnam, China and 11 other countries have limited or banned exports. Fifteen countries, including Pakistan and Bolivia, have capped or halted wheat exports. More than a dozen have limited corn exports."
Watch this inspiring message from Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, along with an amazing song by progressive hip-hop artist Head-Roc and great images from the "real food" movement.
In the video, Ronnie talks about the Grassroots Netroots Alliance, a project the Organic Consumers Fund created to survey every local, state and federal politician on their position on organic food and farming and what they're going to do to support safe, affordable, and sustainable food systems.
As food grows less safe and more expensive, we can't continue to let candidates side-step this important issue. The current crisis requires that candidates address all of the interconnected life-and-death issues that face us from food, jobs, housing, health and energy to climate change and war.
Genetically Engineered Sugar to Hit Supermarket Shelves This Year
The Organic Consumers Association's (OCA) and allies are calling for a boycott of all Kellogg’s products after Kellogg’s refuses to source only GE-Free Sugar.
Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready Genetically Engineered Sugar is due to hit stores this year, exposing millions of consumers to untested and unlabeled “Franken Foods” that threaten human heath, the environment and farmers' rights everywhere.
- Take Action—Join the Boycott!
- Sign OCA's Petition to Kellogg's
- Make a Free Call to Kellogg's and let them know how you feel
- Send a Letter to the editors of your Local Newspapers about the Boycott
White House Lies to the World About Biofuels
A new report from the International Monetary Fund estimates that biofuels are responsible for as much as 30% of the global food shortage. Despite this fact, at the United Nation's emergency food summit in Rome, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Edward Schafer, defended the U.S. government's decision to spend billions of dollars subsidizing corn and soybean-based ethanol and biofuel, falsely claiming that biofuels contributed only 2% to 3% of the overall increase in global food prices over the past year. According to USDA spokesman, Jim Brownlee, Mr. Schafer was unaware that his statistics were off by nearly 90%. Take Action: Click to Sign OCA's Biofuel Moratorium Petition
Organic Farming Can Feed the World
"The $1.2 billion the World Bank says will solve the food crisis in Africa is a $1.2 billion subsidy to the chemical industry. Countries are made dependent on chemical fertilizers when their prices have tripled in the last year due to rising oil prices. I say to governments: spend a quarter of that on organic farming and you've solved your problems."
-Vandana Shiva, an Indian physics professor and Organic Consumers Association Advisory board Member, speaking in Italy in response to the the U.N. food summit in Rome last month, where the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion in grants to help with the food crisis, most of which is earmarked for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops.
Genetically Modified Crops Cannot Feed the World
In a revealing interview with the Guardian UK last week, Martin Taylor, the chairman of one of the world's leading sellers and promoters of seeds for GM crops, Syngenta, admitted that biotech foods cannot feed the world. Taylor told the Guardian, "GM won't solve the food crisis, at least not in the short term." This is in stark contrast to the biotech industry's ongoing propaganda that the world must embrace genetically engineered crops in order to feed the world's growing population. Although Syngenta and other biotech giants like Monsanto regularly also claim that GM crops are environmentally sustainable, Syngenta's chairman confessed the biotech industry's real focus is on lucrative crops and high-priced seeds and pesticides with "hardly any environmental benefits".
"Assessment of the GM technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable."
Source: A report released earlier this year from the United Nations World Food Program. The study was funded by the biotech industry and 60 nations, including the U.S., and clearly admits that genetically modified crops are not the solution to the food crisis. Upon finding out the results, the US, UK, Australia and Canada refused to endorse the international study. The study also warns that biofuels and climate change are leading causes of the global food crisis.
Read study here: www.agassessment.org/
Positive Solutions - from Panic to Organic
While consumers struggle to fuel their cars and put food on the table, oil companies (like Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips) and seed companies (like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM) are raking in record profits. In a fiery essay posted on the Common Dreams website and circulated widely on the internet, The Organic Consumers Association's National Director, Ronnie Cummins, shows how the food, climate and energy crisis are connected and how the time for positive change is now:
"Fortunately, there are hopeful signs that we can move beyond crisis to positive solutions. Connecting the dots in our food-climate-energy crisis, millions of green consumers are voting with their dollars for foods and products that are healthy, locally produced, energy efficient, and eco-friendly. A growing number of politicians, mainly at local and state levels, are also waking up. Organic food and farmers markets are booming. Chemical-free lawns and gardens, green buildings, solar panels, wind generators, "buy local" networks, and bike paths are sprouting. A critical mass of organic-minded Americans are waking up to the fact that we must green the economy, drastically reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas pollution, re-stabilize the climate, and heal ourselves, before it's too late."