Dean Foods to market “natural” dairy products under Horizon label

The rumors have now been confirmed. Dean Foods White Wave division has now announced that they will bring out “natural” (conventional) dairy products under the Horizon label. This at a time when organic dairy farmers around the country are in financial crisis due to a glut of milk.

They are in essence creating a new product category, “natural dairy products,” that will directly compete with certified organic farmers and the marketers they partner with.

This move comes on the heels of the recent decision by Dean/WhiteWave to switch almost the entire product offerings of their Silk soymilk and soyfoods line to “natural” (conventional) soybeans. They made the switch to conventional soybeans, in Silk products, without lowering the price.

The likelihood is that they will create this new category and enjoy higher profits than they currently realize having to pay those organic dairy farmers a livable wage.

The news story from the Natural Foods Merchandiser quotes Dean Foods/WhiteWave officials saying these products will be “easier on the pocketbook.” Yes, they will be designed to undercut certified organic on price.

Horizon is the largest, in terms of dollar volume, organic brand in the marketplace. Silk holds the leading market share in soyfoods and was once, prior to Dean Foods acquisition, a 100% organic company and brand. -Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst, Cornucopia Institute


NCGA Seeks Support for Organic Agriculture in Waxman-Markey Bill

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative for 111 consumer-owned natural food co-ops located throughout the United States, is encouraging the U.S. Congress to acknowledge and reward organic agriculture’s role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigating climate change in the current American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Market climate change legislation.

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has stated what many in the food business already know: that organic agriculture systems contribute less to GHG than conventional agriculture, and have greater potential to mitigate carbon emissions,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “We hope that with this historic bill, U.S. Congress will realize the same, and in doing so, reward organic farmers and other organic food producers for their safe and healthy practices.”

With this in mind, NCGA, a charter member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC), is joining NOC in distributing a letter to Hon. Henry Waxman, chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Hon. Edward Markey, chair of the committee’s subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, and other legislators to encourage that they include offset credits in the Waxman-Markey bill for select organic practices. Authored by NOC, the letter requests credits for farmers and producers who practice:

“1) Certified organic agriculture for its demonstrated ability to fundamentally reduce GHGs; 2) Cover cropping and abstaining from fallow fields, particularly with leguminous crops which can reduce synthetic fertilizer use and sequester carbon; 3) Abstaining from synthetic pesticide use; 4) Abstaining from synthetic fertilizer use; 5) Addition of compost and/or manures into soils at an appropriate rate determined by a nutrient management plan; 6) Organically managed and rotational pasture, range and paddock lands for meat and dairy production for their demonstrated ability to sequester carbon.

“In the U.S., in which more than 90 percent of the food is produced through conventional methods, it is estimated that the food system uses 20 percent of our fossil fuels,” Shrader noted. “And, much of it comes from industrial agriculture systems that use 40 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers and one billion pounds of synthetic pesticides. The production of these synthetic fertilizers and pesticides alone accounts for 480 million tons of GHG emissions annually.

“These numbers are astounding and frightening,” she added. “That is one reason that NCGA advocates that the Waxman-Markey Bill strongly enforce conventional agricultural systems to seek methods to reduce their GHG emissions.”

Individuals may download a copy of the NCGA-signed NOC letter on the NOC website: nationalorganiccoalition.org/positionpapers.html -National Cooperative Grocers Association


The American Academy of Environmental Medicine calls for immediate moratorium on genetically modified foods

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in mid-May released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that “GM foods pose a serious health risk” and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” The AAEM calls for:

  • A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long-term safety testing and labeling of GM food.
  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.
  • Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients’ disease processes.
  • More independent long-term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.

“Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health,” said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM. “Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions,” said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. “The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.” The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html. AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health. More information is available at www.aaemonline.org.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water. -American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Organic Consumers Association


Cloud over BPA grows as top hormone researchers warn of health threat

The country’s top endocrine scientists have declared the toxic plastics chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and other environmental pollutants shown to disrupt the endocrine system to be a “significant concern to public health.”

At its annual meeting in June, The Endocrine Society, a professional scientific organization devoted to hormone research, warned that bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen, and ubiquitous plastics component, and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) “have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology.”

The entire scientific statement by The Endocrine Society is available here: www.endo-society.org/journals/ScientificStatements/upload/EDC_Scientific_Statement.pdf.

In the first scientific statement ever issued by the 93-year-old body, The Endocrine Society took the unusual step of declaring its intent to engage in “lobbying for regulation seeking to decrease human exposure to the many endocrine-disrupting agents.”

As well, it called for stepped-up research on links between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and a number of serious health problems, including breast and prostate cancer, neurological and reproductive system disorders, diabetes and obesity.

“The evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is strong,” the statement said, “and there is mounting evidence for effects on other endocrine systems, including thyroid, neuroendocrine, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis.”

The society warned that effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be transmitted to further generations.”

The Endocrine Society’s decision to assume a more active role in shaping public policy on toxic chemicals reform comes on the heels of action by state and local governments. Recently Minnesota and Connecticut passed laws to restrict BPA in products for young children. Suffolk County, NY, and the city of Chicago took similar action. In early June, the California State Senate passed a measure to ban BPA from all bottles and food packaging for children 3 and younger.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found detectable levels of BPA in the urine of 93 percent of Americans over the age of six. In early June Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told congressional leaders she will reassess her agency’s position that BPA exposures at low doses are safe for children. The FDA stance has drawn widespread criticism from a broad range of experts, including the agency’s outside science advisory panel.

“The evidence of BPA’s risks is clear-cut,” said Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Vice President for Research, Jane Houlihan. “The debate is over, the science is persuasive and the verdict is in: BPA should not be in products that people, particularly young children, use everyday.” -Environmental Working Group