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Consumer Alerts
Wellness brand canned cat foods have been voluntarily recalled PDF Print E-mail

March 3, 2011

Wellness brand canned cat foods have been voluntarily recalled because certain lots may contain less than adequate levels of thiamine (vitamin B1).

All flavors and sizes with “BEST BY” dates from 14APR13 through 30SEP13 and all sizes of Chicken & Herring with “BEST BY” dates of 10NOV13 and 17NOV13 have been recalled.

If you have purchased these products from the Co-op, you may return them for a refund.

Why are farmers and consumers worried about GE Alfalfa Deregulation? PDF Print E-mail

On January 27, the Obama Administration made the damaging decision to approve the unrestricted cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. This means GE alfalfa can be planted without any federal requirements to prevent contamination of organic and non-GE crops. It also means that GE alfalfa does not have to be labeled, making it difficult for consumers to identify and avoid.

Most of the alfalfa grown in America will eventually become feed for dairy cows.  A cow’s diet affects the milk its body produces, which is consumed as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc.

There are many reasons why farmers and consumers should be concerned about this decision and encourage the USDA and President Obama to reconsider.

  • GE Alfalfa will make organic dairy more expensive to produce.  Almost all alfalfa seed grown in North America is grown in limited geographic areas, which means there is a high likelihood that all alfalfa seed will eventually be contaminated with this genetically modified material.  In order to meet organic standards of no genetically modified material, organic dairy farmers might be forced to either buy alfalfa seeds from foreign sources or switch to another, more expensive legume.
  • There’s no insurance against cross-contamination. At this time, insurance companies do not issue coverage for a liability such as GE contamination of crops.  Farmers who grow what they believe to be an organic crop cannot sell their product as organic if it has been contaminated.
  • More GE seeds mean more pesticide-resistant weeds for everyone. Conventional farmers are also concerned about GM seeds, not least because a side effect of their spread is an outbreak of Roundup Ready- resistant weeds.  Costs for conventional farming would then increase because farmers have to use greater amounts of chemicals to fight back against these weeds.

Learn more, voice your opinion and support the legal effort to stop the imminent planting of GE alfalfa seed:

DeBoles Organic Lasagna Recall PDF Print E-mail

DeBoles has issued a voluntary recall for their Organic Lasagna to correct a labeling issue. This recall affects DeBoles Organic Lasagna that has an expiration date of August 21, 2012. If you have purchased this product with this expiration date, please bring it back to the store for a full refund.

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The Center for Food Safety criticized the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers USDA acknowledged in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).  On a call today with stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack reiterated the concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed, yet the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters.

“We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

On Monday, the Center sent an open letter to Secretary Vilsack calling on USDA to base its decision on sound science and the interests of farmers, and to avoid rushing the process to meet the marketing timelines or sales targets of Monsanto, Forage Genetics or other entities.

CFS also addressed several key points that were not properly assessed in the FEIS, among them were:

  • Liability, Implementation and Oversight -- Citing over 200 past contamination episodes that have cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales, CFS demands that liability for financial losses incurred by farmers due to transgenic contamination be assigned to the crop developers.  CFS also calls on USDA to take a more active oversight role to ensure that any stewardship plans are properly implemented and enforced.
  • Roundup Ready alfalfa will substantially increase herbicide use – USDA’s assessment misrepresented conventional alfalfa as utilizing more herbicides than it does, which in turn provided a false rationale for introducing herbicide-promoting Roundup Ready alfalfa.  In fact, USDA’s own data shows that just 7% of alfalfa hay acres are treated with herbicides.  USDA’s projections in the FEIS show that substantial adoption of Roundup Ready alfalfa would trigger large increases in herbicide use of up to 23 million lbs. per year.
  • Harms from glyphosate-resistant weeds – USDA’s sloppy and unscientific treatment of glyphosate-resistant (GR) weeds ignored the significant contribution that RR alfalfa could make to their rapid evolution.  USDA failed to analyze how GR weeds fostered by currently grown RR crops are increasing herbicide use; spurring more use of soil-eroding tillage; and reducing farmer income through increased weed control costs, an essential baseline analysis.
  • “We in the farm sector are dissatisfied but not surprised at the lack of courage from USDA to stop Roundup Ready alfalfa and defend family farmers,” said Pat Trask, conventional alfalfa grower and plaintiff in the alfalfa litigation.

The FEIS comes in response to a 2007 lawsuit brought by CFS, in which a federal court ruled that the USDA’s approval of GE alfalfa violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa, the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased use of glyphosate herbicide, sold by Monsanto as Roundup.  The Court banned new plantings of GE alfalfa until USDA completed a more comprehensive assessment of these impacts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on GE alfalfa planting.  In June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa until and unless future deregulation occurs.

“Last spring more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the USDA highly critical of the substance and conclusions of its Draft EIS on GE Alfalfa,” said Kimbrell.  “Clearly the USDA was not listening to the public or farmers but rather to just a handful of

Neotame: Threat to Organics Sponsored by Monsanto or Internet Hoax? PDF Print E-mail

Courtesy of the Cornucopia Institute

We have received several inquiries about the artificial sweetener Neotame, and the Internet rumor that this synthetic additive is allowed in certified organic foods.  Neotame, as a synthetic additive, is not allowed in organic foods, contrary to the Internet rumor.

None of the bloggers who perpetuate this anti-organic myth reference primary, sources to substantiate their claims.  As their sources, they reference one another instead of going to the source - such as the Code of Federal Regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration indeed considers Neotame to be a direct food additive (21 CFR 172.829), but this does not mean that it can be added to organic foods.  Organic foods cannot contain synthetic additives, unless these additives have been petitioned and approved to appear on the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances (7 CFR 205.605).  Emily Brown Rosen, Standards Specialist at the USDA's National Organic Program, writes about neotame: "For organic food, all additives must appear on the National List."  Neotame has never been petitioned or approved for inclusion on the National List, and therefore cannot legally be added to organic foods.

We see no evidence, and see no reason to suspect, that any organic certifying agents would allow organic food manufacturers to violate the federal standards by adding this synthetic sweetener.

Moreover, as a direct food additive, neotame must be listed on the ingredients label, contrary to suggestions that this could be added to food in a stealth-like manner (21 CFR 101.100).  We have not seen any evidence to suggest that neotame is being added covertly to organic foods.  Not only would organic manufacturers be breaking the law by adding this synthetic sweetener to organic foods, they would also be breaking the law by not including Neotame on the ingredient label.

Charlotte Vallaeys
Farm and Food Policy Analyst
The Cornucopia Institute

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