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Tag: organic consumers association

Should Genetically Modified Foods be Labeled as Such?

Today, with the click of a button, I was able to lobby my congressional representatives about a topic I care deeply about: the labeling of genetically-modified foods.

In a nutshell, the biggest GMO manufacturer, Monsanto, is fighting tooth and nail against labeling laws that would require the origin of the ingredients to be listed. Monsanto claims their laboratory manipulations of our food supply are safe to consume. There are those of us who either disagree or believe the jury is still out on that claim, but regardless, the information should be made available so that you, the consumer, can make the choice to eat GMOs or not for yourself.

Right now, we do not know which foods we are eating are GMOs and which are not because there is not a labeling requirement in this country regarding GMOs. Knowledge is power, and without the knowledge we are powerless to make our own decisions. lobby against monsanto and GMO

The Organic Consumers Association made it easy for me to send off the following letter as part of their “Millions against Monsanto” campaign:

Like most consumers, I want to avoid foods that contain genetically modified organisms, but they are not labeled.

In fact, the federal government does nothing to regulate, or guarantee the safety of, agricultural crops — and now food animals — that have been altered with foreign genes. There has never been a longitudinal scientifically rigorous health study on the impacts of eating genetically altered foods.

The little science there is shows that GMOs are more likely to trigger novel allergies, are less nutritious, sprayed with more herbicides, and contain elevated levels of hormones that correlate with common cancers. And, there’s no doubt that the most common GMO foods are linked to epidemic levels of obesity and diet-related diseases. These include artery-clogging meat and milk products from animals fed GMO grains, trans fats from GMO vegetable oils, and high fructose (GMO) corn syrup.

Public health depends on labeling GMO foods so consumers can avoid them. Mandatory GMO labels are popular with consumers, consistently earning polling numbers politicians dream of.

I am hoping that you and your colleagues in the state legislature can help. Please stand up for consumers’ right to know and truth in labeling by introducing a bill to label GMO foods this year.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important topic.

Join the Millions against Monsanto campaign here and use your voice to demand transparency in our food supply so that we can make our own choices about what we want to eat when it comes to our health.

What do you think? Do you think we should have the right to know if a food is a GMO or not? Does it matter to you?

Whole Foods Raises Organic Skin Care Bar

I love it when a company goes out of its way to right deceptive practices, especially when profits up against consumer health.

Whole Foods Marketplace Inc. announced that it is raising the bar on organic skin care products, meaning that it will only carry items claiming to be organic that are actually organic and contain organic ingredients.

Back in January, I posted about so-called organic cheater brands and how deceptive labeling is allowed on skin care products because they are not regulated. Thanks to the watchdog group the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to our attention.

According to the statement, starting next June, Whole Foods will require that its suppliers of personal-care products making organic claims meet the same U.S. Department of Agriculture standards as food does. That means products labeled as “organic” must be made with more than 95% organic ingredients. If the label says the product is made with organic ingredients, it actually must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.

While I wish that the USDA would require “organic” to mean 100% organic, I’m quite pleased that Whole Foods will make it easier for me to trust more of the products on its shelves. Right now, quite frankly, I’ve frequently questioned their personal care product selection after carefully reading the labels and wondered if I were in a Walgreens rather than a health food market.

Maybe Whole Foods will become more like Vitamin Cottage, a smaller health food grocer chain that adheres to much stricter organic standards, and where I always feel much more comfortable when selecting new skin care products.

I count this as a win in the war to reclaim the guarantee that the products we eat and use on our bodies are safe.

Organic Cheater Brands: Watch Out for Toxic Skin Care Products

I don’t know about you, but I’m always personally disappointed when brands I thought I could trust turn out to contain ingredients that are hazardous to my health. It makes me feel disgusted with big companies and the way they play fast and loose with our health, especially when they know better.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has prepared a spreadsheet summarizing “Organic Cheater brand” products and their Hazard Rankings according to the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” Cosmetic Safety Database.

The tabs at the top of the spreadsheet list various brands horizontally: click each tab to view that brand’s product scores from the Skin Deep” database. By far the majority of fake organic products score in the “Moderate Hazard” category.

Conversely, Dr. Bronner’s Skin Deep product scores show that the vast majority of true NOP-certified (USDA’s National Organic Program) organic personal care score in the safest “Low Hazard” category.

A couple of brands, Jason “Pure, Natural & Organic” and Nature’s Gate “Organics”, even had some of their fake organic products score in the unsafest “High Hazard” category.

Perhaps even more disturbing, two of the “organic cheater” brands who are the subject of OCA’s Complaint to USDA NOP, have reneged on their signed promise to provide product and ingredient information to Skin Deep so that their products’ safety can be assessed. Those brands are Eminence “Organic” Skin Care and Head “Organics”.

Another two brands, while they have not reneged on any promises, have also decided to not submit product and ingredient information to Skin Deep: Ilike “Organic” Skin Care and Surya Sapien “Organic”.

As noted in the Complaint, all these brands utilize surfactants made in part or entirely from petrochemicals as primary cleansing ingredients, which contain no organic agricultural material whatsoever. Eminence in particular deceptively claims that Alpha Olefin Sulfonate, the primary cleanser in its “Organic Stone Crop Bodywash”, is from a “plant source,” when in fact this cleanser is commercially available only in pure petrochemical form.

Both Nature’s Gate and Eminence do produce a few true USDA NOP certified organic products under their respective brands. However, the vast majority of their product lines are not certified under the USDA’s National Organic Program, because their main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are generally based on conventional or petrochemical, rather than organic agricultural, material.

As a general rule when shopping for organic personal care, check for the USDA seal to be sure you’re buying true organic personal care rather than fake organic products.


Does voting with your food dollars make a difference?

I love to remind people that each time we choose an organic item over it’s conventional counterpart, we are voting with our dollars. In a capitalist market-driven economy, where there is demand the supply will increase to meet that demand.

In her Huffington Post article, “Vote First, Eat Later,” Susanne Freidberg reminds us that the dollars we spend on food purchases don’t necessarily influence farm legislation, food safety inspections, or desperately needed corporate oversight of the mega food producers.

” But as foods labeled organic and local become more available,” she notes, “it’s worth remembering that these alternatives do not guarantee better working conditions for farm and packhouse workers. They do not touch the crop subsidies that fuel overproduction at home and hunger abroad. They do not fix the weak food safety laws that sent consumers searching for alternatives in the first place.”

I agree, Susanne. Thanks for bringing up a good point. It’s easy to focus on the trees and forget the forest around us.

Susanne points out that many groups are working to overhaul the USDA, strengthen farm workers’ rights, and counter the agribusiness lobby. “These activities deserve our support, yet tend to get overshadowed by shopping tips aimed at “changing the world with every bite.” Wouldn’t it be better if we did not feel obliged to do this? Informed consumer buying power is not trivial. It is also no substitute for political actions to empower everybody to worry less about their food, and enjoy it more.”

Here are some of my favorite groups to support in this mission. Share your favorites in the comments below!

– Environmental Working Group and their Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

– Organic Consumers Association

– Oceana

Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.)

Slow Food