Current Action Alerts

ACTION ALERT: Stop the Corporate Takeover of Organics

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

After years of pillaging the conventional dairy industry, Dean Foods recently spun-off their branded products division (WhiteWave), including the Horizon and Silk labels.  The company has cheapened organics and its brands.

CI_CorpOrganicsTakeAction

Now, at the nation’s largest organic farming conference, the company will again have a prominent role.  This Saturday, at the MOSES Conference, WhiteWave’s corporate representative will seek to teach farmers how to communicate with organic consumers and understand “consumer demographics, behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets.”

How will this WhiteWave executive help us better understand today’s organic consumer?  Will she encourage us to cheapen production costs by sourcing feed and ingredients from China or factory farms?  Will she instruct us on how to break contracts with family farmers? Or market new non-organic products with the same name and nearly identical packaging that’s already familiar to organic consumers?

Enough is enough!  Sign the petition asking the MOSES board of directors to cancel WhiteWave’s workshop.  Please tell MOSES’s leadership that we love this conference but it should not be for sale to the highest corporate contributor.

For too long Dean Foods/WhiteWave has purchased influence with many nonprofits running farming conferences across the U.S. and in the organic community.  It’s estimated that over the last 10 years, they have been the largest corporate contributor to organic nonprofits.  They buy influence in the organic community and access to farmers the same way their lobbyists buy influence in Washington with large campaign contributions

Help protect the reputation of the nation’s largest organic farming conference.  Please ask the MOSES board to cancel this inappropriate workshop or substitute marketing expertise from companies that truly believe in the values that have helped build the organic business industry.

To the MOSES Board of Directors,

I believe that the organic industry is about more than just increasing sales. Ethical farmers need ethical marketing partners in order to bring wholesome food to the tables of conscious eaters around the country.

In the case of Dean Foods and WhiteWave (Silk and Horizon), the corporations have premeditatively chosen to conduct their business like other large corporate agribusinesses. These multibillion-dollar enterprises, and their executives, seem more interested in maximizing profit and “selling the sizzle not the steak,” rather than upholding the ethical precepts the organic community was founded upon.

As an organic stakeholder I respectfully request that you cancel the workshop or substitute a more appropriate presenter on organic marketing at your 2014 organic farming conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Money buys access in Washington. And it’s obvious that one of the reasons some powerful corporations contribute handsomely to nonprofits in the organic sector, and sponsor conferences, is that it buys them goodwill and ready access to farmers.

Please protect the reputation and integrity of your very important conference by recognizing the discomfort that many of us have with the business practices of this particular company, and the potential that their money has to corrupt in the nonprofit sector.

Sincerely yours:

(Signatories will be listed)

We will not sell or share your email address with any other organizations.

ACTION ALERT: Protect Organic/Non-GMO Farmers and the Purity of Our Food Supply

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Comments Due March 4

Credit: USDA NRCS

Organic and Non-GMO agriculture has shouldered the burden of GMO contamination for too long.  This is our opportunity to tell the USDA that it must use its authority to:

1. Implement mandatory contamination prevention measures to avoid the problem and protect the organic and non-GMO sector;

2. Ensure shared responsibility for the unwanted spread of genetically engineered (GE) products, including a fair compensation mechanism that does not further burden those who avoid, and sometimes are harmed by, contamination.

The USDA published a request for public comments last November (FR Vol. 78, No. 213, Nov. 4, 2013) on how agricultural “coexistence” in the United States can be strengthened.  The deadline for comments is March 4, 2014.

Comment online at Regulations.gov Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047 (click here for the comment page and here for the background documents). Read Full Article »

Subterfuge: FDA’s Phase Out of Antibiotics for Animal Growth Purposes Ineffective — Will Disadvantage Small Farmers

Friday, January 31st, 2014

[Please note that we have updated the previously incorrect docket number on the sample letter.]

On December 11, 2013 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a new draft guidance that asks animal-drug makers to voluntarily discontinue marketing antibiotics to farmers for faster livestock growth, limiting their use strictly to therapeutic uses. Will this billion-dollar industry make voluntary changes in order to protect the efficacy of important antibiotics used to treat human illnesses?

CI_FDAAntibioticsTakeActionWe need your help to push the FDA into addressing the draft guidance’s shortcomings.

According to the FDA an estimated 80% of all antibiotics manufactured in this country are administered to livestock — and most to promote weight gain and “feed efficiency.”

The draft guidance, written as nonbinding recommendations, calls for a voluntary three-year transition of medically important antibiotics to no longer allow their use for food-animal growth or feed efficiency purposes. However, some veterinarians and animal producers suggest drug manufacturers will instead start calling the continued use of antibiotics a “preventative strategy” to stave off bacterial outbreaks in their confinement facilities. Read Full Article »

CRUSHED NUTS/ROTTEN APPLES: “Pasteurized” Nuts and GMO Apples — TELL THE FDA and USDA NO

Friday, December 6th, 2013

This Action Alert is Over.

GMO Apples?

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is poised to approve a genetically engineered apple, called the Arctic Apple®.  The public comment period runs through Monday, December 16. Click here to read Cornucopia’s submitted comments.

You can comment directly here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS-2012-0025-1938

gmo.applesOkanagan Specialty Fruits has developed a GMO Golden and Granny Smith apple that is designed not to brown when sliced and exposed to the air.  Browning reflects an apple’s freshness – something all consumers are interested in.

The actual genetic engineering process includes insertion of nptII, neomycin phosphotransferase type II gene from E. coli Tn5.  This gene allows the transformed apple tissue to grow on a medium containing the antibiotic kanamycin but confers no benefit to the apple plant.

Every cell of every GE apple tree, including the fruit and the tree roots, will show resistance to kanamycin.  Kanamycin is a commonly used antibiotic in human medicine, used to treat a wide variety of infections.

  • Eating an Arctic Apple could transfer the gene for kanamycin resistance into your digestive system.  A similar transfer has been demonstrated with GE soy.   There is a real possibility that bacteria in the human digestive systems could develop kanamycin resistance.  Antibiotic resistance is a major concern among medical professionals.
  • Furthermore, the GE apple’s DNA can also spread to bacteria on the plant and in the soil.  Orchardists might very well find that controlling diseases of special concern like fireblight in orchards may become much more difficult.  And in the soil environment, the GE DNA can persist for at least a year, where it can be taken up by natural soil bacteria and then incorporated into their genetic structure.

There is no proof that Arctic Apples are harmless, but there is certainly reason to suspect that they may be harmful to humans, wildlife, and the soil environment.  Urge the USDA to reject approval of the Arctic Apple.  The unknown risks far outweigh the cosmetic value of an apple that doesn’t brown when sliced.

For additional information, click on the links to read the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Environmental Assessment (EA) and Plant Pest Risk Assessment (PPRA) for the GE Arctic apples.

Crushed Nuts

almondsThe FDA is gathering information concerning the Salmonella risk associated with the eating of “tree nuts.” According to the FDA notice:

“… outbreaks, published reports of Salmonella in tree nuts destined for human consumption, and recalls emphasize the need to assess the risk of salmonellosis associated with tree nuts intended for human consumption, and to evaluate the appropriate risk-based preventive controls needed to reduce the risk of human salmonellosis….

The FDA says that almonds, desiccated coconut and pine nuts have been associated with Salmonella outbreaks. And they point to cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios, shelled hazelnuts and walnuts as other nuts associated with Salmonella.

The FDA is accepting public comments on the risk and its evaluation through Monday, December 16.  You can comment electronically at:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2013-N-0747-0010  

When the USDA mandated a post-harvest treatment for California raw almonds in 2007, the impact was severe for many raw nut growers and distributors.  They were required to treat their nuts with a toxic fumigant (propylene oxide) or steam heat the nuts before they could be sold as “raw” to American consumers.  Imports were not subject to this mandate nor were domestic producers outside of California.

ohnoalmondMany producers lost sales (at least one reporting millions of dollars lost) to untreated imports as consumers rebelled against the controversial treatment of a nutritious raw product for a variety of reasons, including a reported change (by some) in the texture, the nutritive value of the treated nut, and potential use of a toxic gas on their food.

The USDA almond mandate slipped through almost unnoticed, although it created a rather large uproar following its implementation.  This information gathering effort by the FDA could very well be the first step towards mandating a similar treatment scheme, or even one including irradiation, for all consumable raw nuts.

If you prefer, you may mail written comments, postmarked by December 16, to:

Division of Dockets
Management (HFA–305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852.

Make sure you reference Docket No. FDA–2013–N–0747 with any comments sent by mail.

What the FDA seems willing to ignore, in its zest to squelch potential contamination of foods by infectious human pathogens like salmonella, are the primary sources of many of the fecal associated pathogens found on food.  The massive amounts of manure stored at the nation’s industrial-scale livestock facilities are such source.  The escape of the highly infectious pathogens via air-blown dust, water, and run-off that contaminates neighboring lands and our rural countryside.  Responsibility for control of these disease causing pathogens should be undertaken at the source.

The FDA has also been unwilling to look at issues of scale.  In the case of mandatory almond pasteurization the only trace-back of a salmonella outbreak implicated Paramount Farms, the nation’s largest almond and pistachio producer.  In order to bring massive operations into compliance regulators are willing to promulgate “one-size-fits-all” rulemaking that create onerous requirements and costs damaging family-scale producers.

ACTION ALERT: Defend Our Safest Farms/Food – Comment Today to FDA (deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern)

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

(This Action Alert is Over)
FDA Food Safety Comment Closes Today, Nov. 22
 

Your Electronic Voice Can Help Save the Family Farms
Producing Our Nation’s Best Food

You can make a difference!  It’s the last hour.  If you have yet to do so, you have until 11:59 PM Eastern Time today, November 22 to comment directly on the FDA’s food safety web page to help save our nation’s organic/local produce farmers from potential ruin!

There are two open dockets (farm production and processing).  Please submit your electronic comments to the FDA in these federal government webpages to the Produce Rule and to the Preventive Controls Rule (this is important because these issues affect both rules).  Then click on the “Comment Now” button on the upper right side of the regulations.gov web page.

fsma.goodfarmers

(You can also mail written comments, postmarked today, if you so choose – mailing contact information can be found here.)

The FDA’s proposed food safety rules threaten to ensnare many of the country’s safest farmers in a tangle of expensive, misdirected regulations that may force many of our best farmers out of business. For help with talking points and full background information, click here.

Even if you sent in a signed proxy letter to Cornucopia for us to hand deliver to the FDA, you can add more comments on the FDA’s food safety web page.  You can cut and paste the talking points but just a few personal lines, or a paragraph or two, will add a lot of weight in making your input “original.”

Better food safety oversight of factory farms and giant agribusinesses is needed — and appropriate — but it appears that the FDA and corporate lobbyists are using these food safety proposals to simultaneously crush the organic and local farming movements.  Together we can defend those farmers producing local, fresh, safe and nutritionally superior food.

We know you enjoy the bounty of nutritious, healthful food produced by our nation’s best farmers.  Please help protect family-scale farmers and maintain this alternative in the marketplace. Read Full Article »

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