Tasty Bite!
An edible fall flower, Hollyhock, with stamen removed and filled with: Saffron Risotto, Butternut Squash, topped with Sprouted Black Lentils and Micro Leeks

The Population Myth + GMO Hamsters

Frankenfoods & Sterility, Monsanto & the Supreme Court

#226, May 28, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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Quote of the Week

Genetically Modified (GM) Foods Cause Sterility

"We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs."
-Dr. Alexei Surov, a Russian biologist describing the results of a study of hamsters fed genetically modified soy for two years over three generations. By the third generation, most the hamsters lost the ability to have babies. The pups who were born suffered slower growth and a high mortality rate. Inexplicably, some grew fur inside their mouths (click the link below for pictures).
Read More

Alert of the Week

Monsanto & the Supreme Court: Urge President Obama to Withdraw Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Nomination

Kagan goes to bat for Monsanto
U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, is the most recent in a long line of pro-biotech Obama appointees.
As Solicitor General, Kagan submitted a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court in favor of Monsanto's appeal in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms.
Monsanto is trying to get the Supreme Court to force genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa onto the market, despite passionate opposition from organic consumers and farmers, and despite the fact the USDA never did a proper Environmental Impact Statement. Geerston Seed Farms made the case that GE alfalfa would permanently contaminate their GE-free alfalfa seed, prompting a California US District Court to effectively ban Monsanto's GE alfalfa.
As Solicitor General, Kagan is supposed to represent the interests of the American people in matters that come before the Supreme Court. Instead, she went to bat for Monsanto Co.
Take action now! Tell President Obama to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who will stand up to the Monsanto and the biotech lobby and defend organic farming and democracy.
Take Action


OCA Needs Your Help to Fight Monsanto and Spread the Organic Revolution

OCA and our growing network of organic consumers and farmers understand that we have a positive life-affirming solution for the global food, health, and climate crisis: organic food, farming, and ranching. But to fight Monsanto and Food Inc. and get out our all-important message we need your support. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today and we'll send you a free "Millions Against Monsanto" bumper sticker so you can help spread the word in your community.
Note: please put "Monsanto Bumper Sticker" in the comment field to receive yours. Thanks!

Video of the Week

Hammy the Hamster Goes Organic

If you need a pick-me-up after learning the depressing news that GMO-fed hamsters become sterile, have higher rates of infant mortality, and have cubs that grow fur in their mouths, watch this terribly cute video that shows that, when not being force-fed GMOs by Russian biologists, hamsters will choose organic.


Little Bytes

Will the BP Oil Spill Be the Spark?
Peak Oil Production Coming Much Sooner than Expected
OCA and Allies Expose Best, and Worst, Laundry Detergents with 1,4-Dioxane Contamination
Big Soda Wants to Keep America Fat: Here's How to Fight Back
How to Shrink Corporate Tumors With Immunogentility


MO - Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in MO here.
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Message from our Sponsors

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The Population Myth

People who claim that population growth is the big environmental issue are missing the obvious
By George Monbiot
It’s no coincidence that most of those who are obsessed with population growth are post-reproductive wealthy white men: it’s about the only environmental issue for which they can’t be blamed. The brilliant earth systems scientist James Lovelock, for example, claimed last month that “those who fail to see that population growth and climate change are two sides of the same coin are either ignorant or hiding from the truth. These two huge environmental problems are inseparable and to discuss one while ignoring the other is irrational.” But Lovelock is ignoring a huge part of the equation here.
A paper published yesterday in the journal Environment and Urbanization shows that the places where population has been growing fastest are those in which carbon dioxide has been growing most slowly, and vice versa. Between 1980 and 2005, for example, Sub-Saharan Africa produced 18.5% of the world’s population growth and just 2.4% of the growth in CO2. North America turned out 4% of the extra people, but 14% of the extra emissions. Sixty-three per cent of the world’s population growth happened in places with very low emissions.
Even this does not capture it. The paper points out that around one sixth of the world’s population is so poor that it produces no significant emissions at all. This is also the group whose growth rate is likely to be highest. Households in India earning less than 3,000 rupees a month use a fifth of the electricity per head and one seventh of the transport fuel of households earning 30,000 rupees or more. Street sleepers use almost nothing. Those who live by processing waste (a large part of the urban underclass) often save more greenhouse gases than they produce.
Many of the emissions for which poorer countries are blamed should in fairness belong to us. Gas flaring by companies exporting oil from Nigeria, for example, has produced more greenhouse gases than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa put together. Even deforestation in poor countries is driven mostly by commercial operations delivering timber, meat and animal feed to rich consumers. The rural poor do far less harm.
The paper’s author, David Satterthwaite of the International Institute for Environment and Development, points out that the old formula taught to all students of development - that total impact equals population times affluence times technology (I=PAT) - is wrong. Total impact should be measured as I=CAT: consumers times affluence times technology. Many of the world’s people use so little that they wouldn’t figure in this equation. They are the ones who have most children.
While there is a correlation between global warming and population growth, it's a weak one. There’s a much stronger correlation between global warming and wealth. A typical yacht owner can do more damage to the biosphere in ten minutes than most Africans could inflict in a lifetime. 
Someone I know who hangs out with the very rich tells me that in the banker belt of the lower Thames valley there are people who heat their outdoor swimming pools to bath temperature, all round the year. They like to lie in the pool on winter nights, looking up at the stars. The fuel costs them £3000 a month. One hundred thousand people living like these bankers would destroy our life support systems faster than 10 billion people living like the African peasantry. 
In May the Sunday Times carried an article headlined “Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation”. It revealed that “some of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly” to decide which good cause they should support. “A consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.” The ultra-rich, in other words, have decided that it’s the very poor who are trashing the planet. You grope for a metaphor, but it’s impossible to satirise.
James Lovelock, like Sir David Attenborough and Jonathan Porritt, is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). It is one of dozens of campaigns and charities whose sole purpose is to discourage people from breeding in the name of saving the biosphere. But I haven’t been able to find any campaign whose sole purpose is to discourage people from making too much money.
The obsessives could argue that the people breeding rapidly today might one day become richer. But as the super wealthy grab an ever greater share and resources begin to run dry, this, for most of the very poor, is a diminishing prospect. There are strong social reasons for helping people to manage their reproduction, but weak environmental reasons, except among wealthier populations.
The Optimum Population Trust glosses over the fact that the world is going through demographic transition: population growth rates are slowing down almost everywhere and the number of people is likely, according to a paper in Nature, to peak this century, probably at around 10 billion. Most of the growth will take place among those who consume almost nothing.
But no one anticipates a consumption transition. People breed less as they become richer, but they don’t consume less; they consume more. As the habits of the super-rich show, there are no limits to human extravagance. Consumption can be expected to rise with economic growth until the biosphere hits the buffers. Anyone who understands this and still considers that population, not consumption, is the big issue is, in Lovelock’s words, “hiding from the truth”. It is the worst kind of paternalism, blaming the poor for the excesses of the rich.
So where are the movements protesting about the stinking rich destroying our living systems? Where is the direct action against superyachts and private jets? Where’s Class War when you need it?
It’s time we had the guts to name the problem. It’s not sex; it’s money. It’s not the poor; it’s the rich.