The Cornucopia Institute, a watchdog organization safeguarding organic farms and food, has charged that there is a conspiracy between corporate agribusiness interests and the USDA that is undermining the integrity of US-certified organic farms and food.
Since 1990 when the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was established, the US government has for all intents and purposes owned the word organic. With possession of that word, the government also laid claim to the trust of citizens who want food free of industrial chemicals and genetic modification. That trust has been steadily eroded, the Institute alleges, as multinational agribusiness corporations have climbed into bed with the NOSB.
In a 72-page white paper, Organic Watergate, Cornucopia details violations of federal law and a pattern of callous disregard for congressional intent, that has created a climate of regulatory abuse.
Cornucopia’s white paper charges that the NOSB has been stacked with agribusiness operatives. This stacking is a steadily complicating and corrupting influence that violates the spirit of the organic movement and undermines the integrity of the organic standard.
The report underscores the need for people to step forward and restore the integrity of the organic label so that it will mean something sure, steady, clean and strengthening. The report also plants relevant seeds of doubt in the minds of consumers, and may motivate more households to secure food directly from local producers via CSAs and farmers markets and other emerging models.
Cornucopia’s challenge of NOSB ethics and standards will reach a cresendo this week (May 22-25, 2012) at the meeting of the NOSB in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
FULL DISCOLOSURE: My wife Elizabeth Wolf is an employee of The Cornucopia Institute.