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oleic acid -fatty acid found in animal and vegetable fats. Used in soaps and cosmetics. 
oleostearin – solid derived from *tallow and used in soaps and candles. 
organic – has a legal definition. British farms using the label must be registered and approved by one of several certification bodies eg the *Soil Association. Pesticide and fungicide use is hugely reduced, compared to that of intensive farms; GMOs are banned; farmed animals are reared less intensively and drug use on organic farms is greatly restricted. Unlike conventional farms an annual inspection is required. About 75% of Britain’s organic consumption is imported. Viva! and VVF recommend that organic fruit and vegetables are used as much as possible. 
oestrogen – female sex hormone, used in cosmetics, hormone medicines and creams as well as bodybuilding supplements. Produced from cow ovaries and horse urine eg *HRT. 
ostrich – see *volaise 
oysters - oysters are shellfish which live on sea beds. They are now increasingly intensively farmed. There are two types of oyster farming: suspension culture farming - in which oysters are grown off the sea bottom in floating trays (this method is labour intensive) and bottom culture farming, in which an area of the sea floor, that provides natural food and environment for the oysters, is selected. Oysters are then stocked in the selected area and left to grow and then harvested using a bottom drag from boats. Intensive farming of oysters means that these animals are kept in crowded and unnatural conditions. Fresh oysters are bought alive and often eaten living, although some people choose to cook the living creatures. To open live oyster shells a knife is used to cut internal muscles – this is extremely painful and distressing for the oyster. Depending on the oyster breed they will live for a few days to two weeks out of water. The French squeeze lemon on the opened oyster to assure themselves that it is still alive by watching the muscular reaction to the acidic lemon. For humans there is a high risk of food poisoning through eating raw/live oysters. As oysters live in the sea they also contain harmful toxins such as dioxins and PCB’s. See also *pearl.