Last month, we reported on the Rodale Institute’s Organic Pioneer Awards for 2018 honoring peach farmer Mas Masumoto, research scientist William Liebhardt, and North America’s largest organic breakfast company, Nature’s Path. This business, founded by Arran and Ratana Stephens and still family-owned, has recently announced its resignation from the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
According to a press release issued by the company, OTA has shifted its commitment from supporting and representing the core principles of the organic food movement to begin pushing a non-organic agenda which threatens the future of organic. The Wikipedia page for the Organic Trade Association sums up criticism of the OTA. Citing the Organic Consumers Association and The Cornucopia Institute (Cornucopia), OTA is viewed by many as an agent of big business interests working to undermine the credibility of the organic movement.
Similarly, Arran Stephens, Nature’s Path co-CEO, in explaining his company’s resignation from the OTA, noted that giant food corporations, that also happen to own small organic brands, use the OTA to influence policy decisions to protect the best interest of their large non-organic food portfolios. In particular, Stephens points to OTA’s allowing hydroponics to fall under the organic certification label where there is no organic agriculture nor soil present and its support for a vague and misleading national GMO labelling law. (A compelling slogan on Nature’s Path home page is Get Goodness, Not Glyphosates in noting that its organic oats give you all the good stuff and none of the toxins, like glyphosate, in your bowl of granola.)
Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at Wisconsin-based Cornucopia, a nonprofit which acts as a governmental and corporate watchdog in the organic industry, sharing Stephens’ concerns, notes that When there are billions of dollars at stake, time and time again, the OTA has sided with conventional agribusiness interested in liberalizing the working definition of organics. Allowing plants grown in liquid fertilizers to be considered organic, despite the clear requirement in the Organic Foods Production Act that soil fertility (the historic basis for organic plant nutrition) must be maintained or improved, is being legally challenged by Cornucopia.
(Frank W. Barrie, 7/10/18)