There has been a ton going on in the organic food world lately, so let me get you caught up.
The other day I wrote about the trick that major food companies were employing in Washington State’s GMO-labeling campaign. They funneled their money through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) in order to avoid disclosing their opposition to GMO-labeling. Why did they do this?
In last year’s Proposition 37, California’s ballot initiative to label GMOs, these companies faced HUGE backlash and didn’t want to receive that negative publicity all over again.
Well, the Attorney General in Washington believed that this maneuver violated state laws and filed a lawsuit to force disclosure of who donated money to defeat his state’s GMO-labeling initiative. The GMA quickly folded and made the donor names public. Not surprisingly, it was many of the same players who were against Proposition 37 in California.
We got some positive news from Hawaii where legislators on the island of Kauai in Hawaii have approved a bill that would restrict the use of pesticides by companies developing genetically-engineered crops. (By the way, if you haven’t watched this video “Stop Monsanto From Poisoning Hawaii: Genetic Engineering Chemical Warfare”, please do so. You will be shocked at what is going on there.)
The new food safety rules are going to be very costly for small organic farmers and will force many of them to abandon organic production. To help fight against these new rules, please help these farmers and sign Cornucopia’s proxy-letter by clicking HERE.
In Wisconsin, important organic subsidies have been lost and this may lead to a decrease in the number of organic farmers.
Organic distributor UNFI has acquired Trudeau Foods in Minnesota, and farm-to-table grocery start-up GoodEggs landed an $8.5M investment from Sequoia Capital, arguably the top venture capital firm in the world.
In terms of innovation, New Hope launched its NEXT Accelerator at Expo East last month. This virtual product is going to be a serious game-changer in the organic industry and will greatly help facilitate commerce, growth, and connections. When Diana Mercer from New Hope showed me a demo of it in Baltimore, I was blown away. It’s brilliant. (To learn more, click HERE.)
Not to be outdone, AHPA and QAI have launched an Organic Toolbox for the organic supplement market.
Lots of interesting organic news around the globe.
An eco-friendly school will open in Dubai that has a huge organic farm, and there is a super-cool program called Farm Up Jamaica to spur growth of organic food on the island. I was really touched by the story about the Thai organic farmer who the World Food Day Award.
Sales of organic products in England are finally starting to recover. The organic food industry in India is expected to grow approximately 20% per year for the next 5 years, and more farmers in the Philippines are going organic .
Organic production in the Dominican Republic is growing at 30%, with bananas leading the way. Yet, it isn’t all positive banana news. Banana Freckle eradication in Australia has hit organic farmers very hard, and organic banana production is expected to fall by 20% in Peru because of red spot and scale plagues.
Lastly, there have been serious changes in regards to the process of how prohibited substances (such as synthetics) are allowed to remain in organic standards.
In a joint statement released by Consumers Union, The Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and Beyond Pesticides, these groups said that the USDA has “gutted” the National Organic Law and that the public process regarding this rule change has been circumvented.
While she doesn’t refer to these groups directly, Melody Meyer, the new president of the board of directors at the Organic Trade Association (OTA), has said that these accusations are “lies” and went on to defend this new move in her blog post.
In response to Melody Meyer’s defending this rule new change, former National Organic Standards Board president James Riddle resigned from the OTA and wrote a scathing piece on Cornucopia’s blog where he said that Melody Meyer “displayed an alarming lack of understanding of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and the National Organic Program (NOP) Final Rule, as well as disrespect for public interest groups who have been part of the organic movement from the beginning.”
I am still in the fact-finding stage to give my opinion on the entire matter, but I can tell you this.
Consumers Union, The Center for Food Safety, and Food & Water Watch are some of the most trusted watch-dog organizations that we have in the organic industry. I know the people who run these non-profits, and the work that they do is absolutely impeccable.
So, if they are all joining forces and calling out the USDA on this move, it raises a very serious eyebrow that the OTA is defending the USDA’s action, especially in light of OTA’s checkered past.
At the end of the day, we must defend the organic seal, and what it stands for, at all costs. The integrity of organic can never be compromised.
Stay tuned, as there will be more to come on this incredibly important subject.