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Great Lakes Article:

The Truth About Pot, Coke and Coffee

Local environmental news tidbits

By Craig Minowa

For more info about area environmental organizations, issues and events, go to www.eagle-ecosource.org

 

Local Organization Mounts International Rally Against Starbucks

Next week marks the largest global rally of its kind in history, and it has been organized by a nonprofit organization right here in Northern MN. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is spearheading protests against Starbucks Coffee in over 300 locations around the world. 

OCA and thousands of volunteers are pressuring Starbucks to stay away from genetically engineered ingredients, rBGH milk, and to show better support for Fair Trade coffee. (Fair Trade coffee is a product that skips “middlemen” to insure the small family farmer gets a fair share of the final coffee sale. Starbucks sells a pound of its coffee for an average of $8.49. The farmer who grew it gets less than 35 cents per pound. Small family farmers around the world are struggling to feed their families on this pocket change, while Starbucks CEOs are receiving record profits. Next time you order a cup of coffee, ask for Fair Trade).

OCA’s focus on Starbucks has disturbed some environmental advocates, who say Folgers, Kraft, and Nike are more deserving targets. OCA’s Director, Ronnie Cummins, defends the organization’s strategy saying Starbucks advertises themselves as being a socially and environmentally responsible company. Starbucks is enjoying heavy profits partially because of this image of responsibility, and therefore needs to live up to its own claims. In fact, according to a recent marketing study, Starbucks is the fastest growing brand name in the world.  Starbucks owns 4,000 cafes worldwide, buys 32 million gallons of milk (in the US alone) and brews or sells more than 100 million pounds of coffee each year.  Starbucks has twenty percent of the coffee shops in the US.  By removing genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone and other GE ingredients from their beverages and foods and brewing Fair Trade once a week they can significantly impact the entire food market.

Due to pressure from OCA in 2001, Starbucks claims to now provide rBGH-free milk in its stores, a controversial hormone that is banned in every industrialized Country in the world, except for the US. OCA volunteers assessed Starbucks shops and found that a very small minority of the stores actually provided the rBGH-free dairy, and almost none of the shops advertise this option.

Starbucks has also responded to OCA pressure, saying it now supports Fair Trade farmers. Cummins counters this statement, saying “Your so-called ‘enormous commitment to buying Fair Trade coffee amounts to a grand total of one-tenth of one percent  of your company’s total coffee purchase.”

Here in Duluth, leafleting will be taking place at the Starbucks on Miller Hill (attached to the Barnes and Noble) on the 28th. For more info, contact connie@organicconsumers.org or go to www.organicconsumers.org/starbucks/starbucks.html

 

Local Forests Under Attack

The national chapter of the Sierra Club has officially recognized our nearby Superior and Chippewa National Forests among their “Midwest Critical Lands and Threatened Habitats”. A recent Sierra Club report cites the fact that this is the largest remaining tract of wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains, “yet they are threatened by irresponsible logging practices and unnecessary motorized intrusions”.

 

Increasing the Power of the Wind

Jesse Ventura recently called on Minnesota to quintuple the amount of energy generated on wind farms, saying the state should aim to produce 10 percent of all power from wind. Minnesota ranks ninth nationally for wind generating potential and now generates nearly 300 megawatts of electricity via wind power---enough to power more than 100, 000 households. According to Commerce Commissioner Jim Bernstein, the governor’s goal could be achieved by the end of the decade.

 

When the Environment Goes to Pot

It’s one of the most environmentally fibers around, but under the Bush administration, hemp is under attack. As of February 6th, if you are in possession of hemp food products, you are now a criminal under a new DEA federal law. Possession of one hemp candy bar or hemp-seed bagel can land you in federal prison. Fortunately, hemp fiber products (rope, clothing, etc.) are still legal, but the DEA’s new hemp food law suggests future uncertainty for these eco-friendly materials, as well.

 

Milka-Cola

According to the Earth Island Journal, the Coca-Cola Company is now developing a new line of sweetly-flavored milk drinks for kids. The new “milka-cola” is already being tested in Europe and Latin America under the corporate code name “Project Mother”. Opponents claim such a powerful international corporation could quickly globalize factory farmed rBGH milk, thereby speeding the destruction of the small family farmer and further spreading the controversial rBGH hormone that leaves cow udder puss in milk.

 

Protect Our Water!!!!!

We’re called “the Land of 10,000 Lakes” yet we have well over 14,000 lakes in the State of MN. As the Bush Administration slashes federal environmental regulations, our local waterways are increasingly vulnerable to even greater degradation. Over 90% of our lakes already carry mercury warnings, wetlands are paved over on a daily basis, aquatic alien species are spreading at an unprecedented rate, and agricultural/industrial pollutants continue to create ever increasing “dead zones”.

In response to this threat, local environmental organizations are supporting a statewide coalition of more than 70 state and local environmental and conservation groups, in supporting a piece of legislation called “Protect Our Water”.  These groups are asking the 2002 Minnesota Legislature to support this common sense plan that will help protect and restore Minnesota’s rivers and lakes.

Protect Our Water is a smart investment in our state, a fair deal for all Minnesotans, and gets everyone involved.  It includes a $79.4 million investment in water and land conservation, tax incentives to encourage conservation, and policy initiatives that help citizens get involved in monitoring water quality and using phosphorous-free fertilizer.

With support from you, and the more than 500,000 Minnesotans who are members of MEP groups, the 2002 Legislature will make Protect Our Water a cornerstone of responsible stewardship of Minnesota’s natural heritage.

Sign up to attend Lobby Day at the State Capitol (Feb. 28). Folks of all different types of backgrounds will be taking a free bus ride down to St. Paul to attend this citizen’s day and to show our legislators that we need to protect our waters. There will be a free workshop and food on the bus ride. For more info, call Lynne at EAGLE 726-1828. For general information about the legislation, go to www.protectourwaters.info 

 

 

 

 

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