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The Aftermath of the DARK Act Continues: Dr. Bronner’s and OSGATA Quit the OTA. However, the Organic Farmers Association is Formed

A few months after the DARK Act passed, which many in the industry called a massive betrayal of organic by the Organic Trade Association, the fallout continues.

As I shared the news on Facebook recently, Dr. Bronner’s, one of the leading and most vocal GMO-labeling advocates in the country, has quit the Organic Trade Association in protest.

On its website, the company released this statement:

Dr. Bronner’s, North America’s leading natural brand of soap and organic body care products, has resigned from the Organic Trade Association, citing the association’s betrayal of the consumer-led GMO labeling movement, and general drift away from the core principles that drive the organic movement. The OTA compromised their initial position of opposition to the DARK Act and lent the crucial support that allowed anti-labeling legislators to push that same legislation through the Senate and be signed into law by President Obama this summer.

David Bronner, the company’s CEO, wrote a lengthy piece in The Huffington Post on August 3rd explaining his take on the entire situation. And with the company no longer supporting the OTA, it “has pledged to instead use its organizational resources to help power consumer, farmer and industry organizations that more authentically and courageously represent the vision of regenerative organic agriculture, versus the disaster of soil destroying industrial agriculture.”

Dr. Bronner’s quitting the OTA was hardly the only fallout.

  • Nature’s Path, another incredibly dedicated GMO-labeling advocate, resigned from the OTA board of directors. And for those keeping score at at home, this is the second time that Nature’s Path has quit the OTA board of directors. The first time was more than five years ago.
  • OSGATA, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, withdrew its membership from the OTA, citing “OTA’s duplicity towards organic farmers and consumers”.
  • More than 60 groups have called on members of the Organic Trade Association to cancel their membership in the OTA. These groups include many of the leading organic consumer non-profits including the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now!, Cornucopia Institute, and Food & Water Watch, among many others.

Yet, one of the most interesting developments over the past few weeks has been the announcement of the Organic Farmers Association.

Launched by the Rodale Institute, the world’s leading organic agriculture research organization, and supported by Dr. Bronner’s as well, the new Organic Farmers Association will exist to provide a voice for organic farmers on policy issues, help organic farmers network and share information, and serve as a resource center for organic farmers to succeed.

Elizabeth Kucinich (Photo courtesy of Rodale Institute)

Maybe the most significant aspect of the Organic Farmers Association is that it will have a physical presence in Washington, D.C, with Elizabeth Kucinich spearheading the lobbying efforts. As a Board Policy Chair for Rodale Institute, Kucinich has extensive policy experience in the nation’s capital including serving as the former director of policy at the Center for Food Safety and former director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). She is also an advisory council member of DC EFF, the world’s largest environmental film festival, and is a producer of GMO OMG and Organic Rising.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring organic farmers’ voices and their experience with agriculture to policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” said Elizabeth Kucinich. “Policymakers have not yet grasped the significance of organic agriculture for resilient, reliable, non-toxic food production, and its ability to mitigate climate change while restoring our nation’s soil health. We have an opportunity to benefit organic farmers, while positively impacting our nation’s health and mitigating our climate crisis.”

The other thing that policymakers have failed to grasp is that the Organic Trade Association does not represent all interests in the organic industry. Certainly, the OTA represents a segment of the organic industry. But in my view and that of many others as well, the OTA does not represent the interests of organic consumers or farmers.

Let’s hope that this new Organic Farmers Association can change that perception among policymakers and having a full-time presence in Washington, D.C. is the only way to do it.

Jeff Moyer, Executive Director of the Rodale Institute, says “A lot of people say they speak for farmers, but there are no national organizations that exist specifically for organic farmers, by organic farmers. A lot of organic farmers are still isolated in their communities. We’d like to unite the nearly 20,000 organic farms around the country to provide that voice, provide a network, and provide the resources that farmers need to be successful.”

In a sea of negativity surrounding the DARK Act, the Organic Farmers Association is a very positive development.

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson Sued Monsanto and Won $289M from a California Jury

Last weekend, I had the special opportunity to interview Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, the groundskeeper who sued Monsanto for giving him cancer and was awarded $289M from a California jury.

Dewayne Johnson was in town to attend the premiere of the documentary Ground War — a filmmaker’s investigation into the death of his father takes him deep into the world of golf, chemical lobbying, and citizen activism, where he learns that the rampant use of pesticides around the world may be far more damaging than he thought.

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A message from E3Live

"My Everyday, Must-Have Green Organic Aquabotanical"

The best testimonial that I can give is that I drink this every single day, as it impacts my mood in an incredibly positive way.

E3Live + BrainON is certified organic, fresh-frozen AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) with a concentrated, aqueous, organic extract of Phenylethylamine and Phycocyanin.

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The Shameful Truth About the Naked Juice Class Action Lawsuit Settlement and What American Consumers Can Do About It

Last week, Naked Juice agreed to settle a very important class action lawsuit which accused the company of deceptive labeling.

The primary basis of the lawsuit stemmed from the company’s use of the words “All Natural” on products that contained Archer Daniels Midland’s Fibersol-2 (“a soluble corn fiber that acts as a low-calorie bulking agent”), fructooligosaccharides (an alternative sweetener), other artificial ingredients, such as calcium pantothenate (synthetically produced from formaldehyde), and genetically-modified soy.

Since these ingredients are either genetically-engineered or synthetically produced and do not exist in nature, it is completely misleading to consumers for these juices to claim to be “All Natural.”

As part of the settlement, Naked Juice, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, has agreed to remove the label “All Natural” from all of its juices and to pay a $9 million settlement to the class action group.

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Living Maxwell

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Top 5 Organic Products of Expo East 2022 in Philadelphia

For the second year in a row, Natural Products Expo East returned to Philadelphia, and I enjoyed my time in the city much more than I ever anticipated.

Not only was it great to see all of my friends again in the industry, but I ate incredibly well at two phenomenal restaurants — P.S. & Co. and Vedge.

I also saw some fantastic and innovative products at the show, with a few of them in the condiment category.

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