The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Organics Under Attack

The OCA has a long history of defending the integrity of organic standards.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from corporate interests represented by the Organic Trade Association, made our job harder.

They also made it more important than ever for consumers to do their homework, even when buying USDA certified organic products.

Without any input from the public, the USDA changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic. The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.

The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.

Read the essay


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Cornucopia Institute Supports Ecological Principles Underlying Sustainable and Organic Agriculture

If you are interested in abating the cruelty perpetrated on animals by industrial agriculture, I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the Cornucopia Institute, which audits and rates dairy and egg producers on a wide range of ethical standards. They go far beyond “free range” or “organic” labeling and identify producers that really do avoid some of the worst practices, such as the debeaking of egg-laying hens.

The Cornucopia Institute engages in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute provides needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media.

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Symbio Vanilla is not Natural

synbio vanilla to replace real vanilla in natural products

In Eco Childs Play, Jennifer Lance warns of a new product, Synbio Vanilla, being labeled as “natural” that is anything but:

As a consumer, I do depend on the term “natural” to identify products I feel comfortable feeding my family. I do read labels. Even my kids read labels.  I trust in ingredients I can pronounce and have heard of before.  Vanilla, is obviously, one of those ingredients that gives me assurance over the synthetic, gluten containing vanillin.
Now, the FDA is poised to approve an “extreme” genetically engineered version of vanilla called Synbio that could be allowed in products labeled “natural”.
What is Synbio Vanilla? Continue reading

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Anti-GMO Movement Flourishing

Lots of news today on the anti-GMO front. NASDAQ notes that the right-to-choose movement is gaining strength and may be negatively impacting Big Food Stocks:

Companies like Monsanto — the dominant producer of most genetically modified corn, soybean, and cotton seeds — see its revenues tied to extreme weather conditions that affect crop yields, not consumer sentiment. In fact, analysts predict a rise in corn seed pricing in fiscal 2014, which will likely lead to higher Monsanto revenues. Yet when Monsanto slipped below its 200-day moving day average of $97.94 in late May, following the announcement of this fall’s “March Against Monsanto,” scheduled for October 12, 2013 in 250 cities and 36 countries, some analysts said that the drop was a result of the extreme negative sentiment. Others pointed to the fact that it was also a time when the market as a whole was weak. Either way, the stock never recovered and is currently trading at around $95.10 as of August 15. Some predict that momentum has weakened in the face of negative press, which continues to escalate. The company is also subject to a court ruling against it in Brazil where it stands accused of overcollecting royalties. Currently the decision is under appeal, but if it fails, the case could result in a $2 billion payout due for restitution.  Continue reading

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Key summit set in genetically modified food label fight

Published in The Hill by Ben Goad:

Major players in the food industry have scheduled a crucial meeting for next week that could become a turning point in the regulatory battle over genetically modified foods.

Challenges to the use of biotechnology have created an “unprecedented period of turmoil” for food producers, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) said in a letter circulated among trade groups that was obtained by The Hill.

“We have reached a pivotal point in this effort and believe now is the time to bring together a broad coalition to confront these challenges,” the GMA wrote in the letter, which invited CEOs and top industry officials to a Wednesday summit in Washington.

Just how the food industry might move forward appears up for debate. Though organizers of the GMA summit were tight-lipped, advocates and industry officials said the options could ultimately range from a coordinated attack against labels to acceptance of a national standard.

The GMA’s membership list includes more than 300 companies, including food giants Kraft Foods, Coca Cola and General Mills. The group declined to discuss the meeting or whether it would propose a particular strategy. Continue reading

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Greenpeace exhorts FDA to stop misleading the public

Greenpeace calls on the FDA to stop feeding the public propaganda about the safety of eating GM products:

‘The FDA should stop feeding the public with propaganda. They are not truthful in saying that GMOs are safe for consumption. There is no scientific proof that GMOs pose no danger to human health and the environment. Even the scientific community is divided on whether GMOs are safe,’ said Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture and genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The group sent a letter this week to the state agency urging it “to be more forthright in providing public information on the propagation of GMOs by disclosing that 80 percent of the GMOs in the world are planted only in four countries, namely the (United States), Canada, Brazil and Argentina.”

Amid a growing debate on its consumption, the FDA announced last week that eating GM foods is safe, citing the Codex Alimentarius or the United Nations’ regulations on the safety of eating them.

Greenpeace said these are just protocols for risk assessments of GMOs and that there are no set standards in the consumption of food with GM ingredients.

‘…We call on the FDA to maintain its role as a regulator and to protect the welfare and health of the people by being more discerning in assessing the safety of GMOs. We ask that the FDA retract its statement about GMOs being ‘safe’ and to stop making conclusive statements that may mislead the public into thinking that the safety of GMOs has already been established,’ Ocampo added.

The entire article by Jovan Cerda in The Phillipine Star can be found here.

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The Truth About Organic Foods from China

The information provided by Dr. Josh Axe in his post  The Truth About Organic Foods from China is disturbing but not surprising.  There has been one scandal after another regarding the substandard quality of products imported from China.  Why should organic foods be any different? As long as shoddy standards, little regulation and rampant corruption exist, these scandals will continue.  I’ve posted Dr. Axe’s entire article and links to his sources:

There are articles all over the Internet right now about “fake organic” food from China. Wanting to keep you informed, I read through many of them. The problem was, they all seemed to quote other sources and reading on, I found that these sources quoted other sources and so on. There didn’t seem to be any credible first-hand sources for this information. Was this all just rumor run rampant, as Whole Foods claims?

Whole Foods has been accused of selling these “fake organic” foods from China but they claim that “any product sold as organic in the US, regardless of where it’s grown, must be certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program standard by a USDA-accredited certifier.”

Well, I wanted to know more about this USDA certification of imported organics. It took quite a bit of digging but what I eventually found was more disturbing than any of those copycat articles.

I found frightening information about all food from China, frightening lack of regulation concerning organic food from China, and, worst of all, shocking information about our National Organic Program (NOP).

Before I go on, I want to reassure you about your options. You don’t have to break the bank buying all of your foods organic. Read which foods are commonly pesticide-ridden and those that usually aren’t in How to Buy Organic. I’ll tell you about the “beyond organic” movement that has arisen in response to NOP problems. Check out this source here to learn more, What is Beyond Organic? Continue reading

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Another State to Require Labeling of GMO Foods

Steve Mistler reports on the status of a new bill, requiring the labeling of GMO products, making its way through the Main State Legislature.  The emphasis at the end of the post  is mine.  The fact that the FDA would “assume” the products are safe until proven otherwise and that the industry can dictate the terms of independent testing further highlights the disproportionate influence these industries have on the government.

The Senate voted 35-0 Wednesday to pass an amended version of the bill, L.D. 718, mirroring a similarly overwhelming vote in the House the day before. Supporters of the bill, including the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, hope Gov. Paul LePage will support a compromise provision that triggers the labeling requirement once five contiguous states, including Maine, adopt labeling laws.
The governor has not taken a position on the bill, but even if it becomes law, the labeling requirement will hinge on whether a bill is approved in New Hampshire, the only state with which Maine shares a border.
A GMO (genetically modified organism)-labeling bill has been submitted to the New Hampshire Legislature. The public hearing was more than five hours long, according to N.H. state Rep. Tara Sad, D-Walpole, chairwoman of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, which is working on the proposal.
Like Maine, the labeling bill in New Hampshire is the product of a growing and well-organized organic food movement that is determined to take on the biotech industry and Monsanto, the agribusiness and biotech industry giant, following an unsuccessful effort to do so in Congress.
Monsanto has threatened to sue states that pass similar labeling laws, one reason lawmakers in several states are passing labeling legislation that depends on other states doing the same. The state compacts could help defray costs of a lawsuit.
Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said Tuesday that the compact creates a higher hurdle for the labeling law and makes passage of L.D. 718 somewhat symbolic until other states join Maine.
“It also sends a message to Monsanto and the biotech industry,” said Harvell, adding that the industry was reeling from legislation that has appeared in at least 18 other statehouses this year.
Proponents of the Maine bill, including the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, said it is up to states to take on industry to ensure that it discloses whether food is bioengineered — meaning its DNA has been spliced with that of an unrelated plant, animal, bacterium or virus — because Congress has failed to enact federal legislation.
Opponents, including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Farm Bureau and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, say the bill would unfairly stigmatize genetically modified foods despite a dearth of research suggesting such products are less nutritious than those conventionally grown.
Advocates of new regulations say scientific evidence is emerging that genetically modified foods can increase health risks and food allergies. They say federal regulators have left testing up to the industry that is producing and profiting from genetically modified products.
Supporters of labeling argue that independent testing of genetically modified foods hasn’t happened because industry patents prohibit it.
The federal Food and Drug Administration regulates genetically modified foods but does not approve them. The agency assumes that the foods are safe until confronted with evidence that they’re not.

His entire article here.


New Flu Vaccines Contain Genetically Modified Protiens


A new vaccine for influenza has hit the market, and it is the first ever to contain genetically-modified (GM) proteins derived from insect cells. According to reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the vaccine, known as Flublok, which contains recombinant DNA technology and an insect virus known as baculovirus that is purported to help facilitate the more rapid production of vaccines.

According to Flublok’s package insert, the vaccine is trivalent, which means it contains GM proteins from three different flu strains. The vaccine’s manufacturer, Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC), explains that Flublok is produced by extracting cells from the fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, and genetically altering them to produce large amounts of hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein that enables the flu virus itself to enter the body quickly.

So rather than have to produce vaccines the “traditional” way using egg cultures, vaccine manufacturers will now have the ability to rapidly produce large batches of flu virus protein using GMOs, which is sure to increase profits for the vaccine industry. But it is also sure to lead to all sorts of serious side effects, including the deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GSB), which is listed on the shot as a potential side effect.

“If Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) has occurred within six weeks of receipt of a prior influenza vaccine, the decision to give Flublock should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks,” explains a section of the vaccine’s literature entitled “Warnings and Precautions.” Other potential side effects include allergic reactions, respiratory infections, headaches, fatigue, altered immunocompetence, rhinorrhea, and myalgia.

According to clinical data provided by PSC in Flublok’s package insert, two study participants actually died during trials of the vaccine. But the company still insists Flublok is safe and effective, and that it is about 45 percent effective against all strains of influenza in circulation, rather than just one or two strains. Continue reading


Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out on the Dangers of Genetically Modified Food

May 6, 2013 by THIERRY VRAIN

I retired 10 years ago after a long career as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada. When I was on the payroll, I was the designated scientist of my institute to address public groups and reassure them that genetically engineered crops and foods were safe. There is, however, a growing body of scientific research – done mostly in Europe, Russia, and other countries – showing that diets containing engineered corn or soya cause serious health problems in laboratory mice and rats.

World GMO production

World GMO production (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have in the last 10 years changed my position. I started paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe, some from prestigious labs and published in prestigious scientific journals, that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food.

I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.

Continue reading