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Bovine Growth Hormone info from AP, article

The FDA approved the hormone in 1993, ruling that there's no difference between milk produced by hormone-injected cows and conventionally bred ones.

Demand for milk labeled RBS-free continues to grow, though the controversy has largely subsided. Ten years after the technology was supposed to revolutionize milk production, a Department of Agriculture survey found that 22 percent of the nation's milk in 2002 was derived from treated cows.

Monsanto, the artificial hormone's only producer, doesn't release sales figures for Posilac, but analysts estimate that it accounts for about $300 million, or 5 percent, of the company's annual sales.

The production cutback isn't expected to significantly alter Monsanto's profits.

Posilac is made by splicing a bovine growth-hormone gene with bacteria brewed in great quantities in giant vats. The hormone produced in the bacteria is extracted, purified and injected back into cows, stimulating them to produce more milk.

Organic farmers and animal welfare organizations argue that no scientific consensus exists about the hormone's health consequences for people and cows. Canada and the European Union ban the hormone, mostly out of concern that it makes cows more prone to illness.


Toxic Chemical list:

  Toxic Chemical list:
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Will the Central American Free Trade Agreement Fly?  (an agreement was signed in December 2003)

by Larry Weiss

In January, representatives of the United States, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica met in San Jose, Costa Rica, to begin formal negotiations for the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The current deadline for completing the deal is the end of the year.

CAFTA would be a souped-up and extended version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which covers Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The agreement is of only mild interest to U.S. corporations, and the Bush administration appears to be prioritizing it as part of a larger strategy to box Brazil and some other nations into the U.S. version of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The FTAA would be NAFTA-on-steroids for the entire hemisphere, minus Cuba. Negotiations for it, underway for several years, have a completion deadline of December 31, 2004.

The U.S. intention in CAFTA is to create new rules governing foreign investment, along with trade in manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services. Services and agriculture are the key targets of the Bush administration. In part that's because most manufactured goods out of Central America already cross U.S. borders duty-free-laws such as the 807 program and the Caribbean Basin Parity law make that happen. Three-quarters of Central American manufactured goods wind up on the shelves of U.S. retail outlets already, mainly clothing made in the region’s large maquiladora (sweatshop) industry.

More important to the Bush administration is establishing a blueprint for the FTAA, one that anticipates the expected negotiating position of Brazil, now governed by the center-leftist Workers’ Party, and other South American and Caribbean nations. Those nations are part of the global south's growing opposition to the “Washington consensus,” a consensus that prescribes free trade, deregulation and privatization as the best and inevitable future for the region. Known as neoliberalism in much of Latin America and economic globalization in the North, this set of policies has produced more damage than benefit for most of the hemisphere’s people.

Brazil is insistent that the FTAA will only become reality if the U.S. government vastly reduces its subsidies to U.S. agribusiness. These subsidies allow the industry to sell its goods significantly below the cost of production-a practice known as “dumping” in trade parlance, and one that is supposedly antithetical to free traders such as the Bush Administration. But the recent U.S. farm bill locked in some $170 billion in such subsidies over the next ten years.

The U.S. position in CAFTA negotiations is to exclude the issue of agriculture subsidies from negotiations altogether. If the U.S. prevails with this position, as it almost surely will in discussions with its much weaker negotiating partners, it will have successfully used CAFTA to establish a precedent against Brazil's position in FTAA talks.

Similarly, U.S. goals for rules on investment and trade in services are very controversial. If the U.S. succeeds with its goals in the FTAA and CAFTA, governments would be dramatically restricted in their right to legislate in the public interest, and citizens would have more difficulty using democratic processes to press for positive change. Governments and citizens would be bound to trade rules that supercede their own laws. For example, a set of provisions called “disciplines on domestic regulation” would limit regulation of the service industry-which comprises more than 70 percent of the overall U.S. economy. Supply and quality of services could be ensured by regulation under these provisions, but many things that citizens expect government to regulate would be forbidden: health and safety, quality of life, the well-being of minors, economic justice, and racial equality, among others. That means many current laws would run afoul of FTAA or CAFTA rules, including prevailing wage laws; living-wage ordinances; laws forbidding discrimination in health insurance or health care based on a patient’s genetic characteristics; set-asides for minority and women-owned firms for government contracts; and many more.

The trade-in-services rules would also mandate large-scale privatization of public services, regardless of the will of citizens. Water collection, distribution and treatment; energy; telecommunications; health services; higher education; and postal services are just some of the services U.S. negotiators aim to privatize via the FTAA and other trade deals currently being negotiated. CAFTA is viewed as a way to legitimize these new rules and win them in FTAA negotiations.

While Washington hopes for a quick wrap-up to CAFTA talks, it is unclear if they can be completed within the year. And as civil society in Central America increasingly pressures those governments to consult with and negotiate in the public interest, it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the process.

In the U.S., most groups opposed to the corporate model of globalization believe that if CAFTA negotiations conclude in time for the deal to be brought to the current Congress for approval, there will be no chance of defeating it. Accordingly, most of those groups are focused on building a broad coalition to oppose the FTAA and the expansion of WTO powers that will likely come before the U.S. Congress in 2005. But if Central American public opposition to CAFTA significantly impacts its progress there, it may be a winnable battle in the U.S. as well.

Take Action!
Demand the agreement be made public: CAFTA would devastate the economy of Central America and build momentum for the proposed Fair Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Contact members of Congress and the U.S. trade representative and demand they disclose the draft text of CAFTA. For a sample letter, more background, and contact information go to Campaign for Labor Rights <>.

Martel, Yann, 

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