martes, mayo 11, 2004


The organic foods business, which started with 1960's idealism and peace-and-love and eco-sustainability rhetoric, is metamorphing into a corporate, anti-labor, union-busting bully:

For Organic Stores, Unrest Blooming over Labor Practices

By Lisa Fernandez
San Jose Mercury News (California)

When their favorite clerks went on strike this year, many Southern California shoppers showed worker solidarity by boycotting Safeway and patronizing alternative grocery stores.

But if shoppers are serious about supporting workers, union advocates say, they might do better back in the corporate world of Safeway. Many organic food stores, born in the 1960s with the promise to bring ``conscious capitalism'' to the marketplace, lag behind the big chains when it comes to labor relations. Some clerks in organic stores charge that baby lettuce is treated better than they are.

Workers have brought complaints to the National Labor Relations Board against Berkeley Bowl, a now-closed Real Foods in San Francisco and Whole Foods in Madison, Wis., for allegedly firing, threatening or bribing employees who sought to unionize.

Speaking of corporate organics, the Organic Consumers Association warns that the Bush administration intends to facilitate the corpo takeover of organic food:

ACTION ALERT: Bush Administration moving to allow corporate takeover of organics!

Over the past few weeks America's organic standards have once again come under heavy attack. First the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) announced on April 14 that they would no longer monitor or police "organic" labels on non-agricultural products, literally opening the door for unscrupulous companies to put bogus organic labels on products such as fish, body care products, pet foods, fertilizer, and clothing.

In the case of seafood and body care products, the marketplace is already starting to become flooded with products bearing the organic label, even though the production methods (industrial fish farms) or content ("organic" shampoos with organic claims based upon added water) in many of these products violate traditional organic principles. Besides giving the green light to bogus organic labels the new USDA "scope policy" penalizes genuine organic companies that have begun sourcing, certifying, and labeling their products as organic.

Corporate agribusiness and the biotech lobby have apparently decided that strict organic farming practices and the booming organic market constitute a threat to their bottom line, and have called on their friends in the Bush administration USDA to degrade organic standards and prepare for a restructuring of organic production so as to facilitate the use of industrial agriculture practices such as pesticides, antibiotics, non-organic feed, growth hormones and even genetically engineered animal drugs.


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