The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.
July 24th, 2014
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
WASHINGTON D.C. – A draft chapter of the U.S-EU trade agreement leaked today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) reveals public health and food safety could be at risk, according to an accompanying analysis. The leaked chapter concerns Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues—those surrounding food safety and animal and plant health—in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated. Only TTIP negotiators and security cleared advisors, mostly corporate representatives, can read and comment on draft negotiating texts.
According to the IATP analysis accompanying release of the leaked document, “This leaked draft TTIP chapter doesn’t tell us everything about where negotiations are headed on food safety, but it tells us enough to raise serious concerns.” Read Full Article »
July 24th, 2014
Market research shows organic claims have dropped on restaurant menus, which may reflect the profusion of other claims in the food industry.
‘Green noise’ confuses consumers, research finds
By Mateusz Perkowski
Restaurateurs are reducing organic claims on their menus in favor of claims related to geography, allergens and other features, according to market research.
The term “organic” remains the top ethical claim on restaurant menus but its usage has dropped 28 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the Mintel market research firm.
Meanwhile, menus are more likely to contain claims like “gluten-free” that provide nutritional information or details about where products were grown, according to Mintel. Read Full Article »
July 23rd, 2014
USDA Asked to Make Public All Nominations
to National Organic Standards Board
Industry Watchdog Releases List of Known NOSB Applicants
The Cornucopia Institute has called upon USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public all candidates for appointment to fill the four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB, a 15-member board of organic stakeholders representing farmer, consumer, environmental, retail, scientific, certifying and organic food processing interests, was established by Congress to advise the USDA on organic food and agriculture policies and review materials allowed for use in organic food production and processing.
Past investigations by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, found that prior appointments, during the Bush and Obama administrations, violated the letter of the law, and congressional intent, by appointing agribusiness executives to fill slots on the NOSB reserved for farmers and other independent stakeholders. Public interest groups have suggested that these extra agribusiness representatives on the board have voted in favor of weakening the organic standards.
“Transparency has been a hallmark of organic food and agriculture. We think that letting the organic community know who has applied for the vacant positions will allow for feedback and help the Secretary make the best possible appointments,” said Cornucopia’s Will Fantle, the organic industry watchdog organization’s Codirector. Read Full Article »
July 23rd, 2014
National Organic Coalition
The National Organic Coalition (NOC) encourages your participation in a national seed survey conducted by Organic Seed Alliance. This survey is conducted every five years to monitor organic seed availability and use, challenges in sourcing organic seed, and organic plant breeding needs, among other topics that inform the organic community’s understanding of the barriers and opportunities in improving organic seed systems in the U.S. If you are a certified organic crop producer, please take this survey.
Your responses are voluntary and will be held confidential by Organic Seed Alliance. NOC will not see your responses. Your responses will not be identified by individual or farm. All responses will be compiled and analyzed as a group. You can access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QQ73TMW. Read Full Article »
July 22nd, 2014
Commentary by Mark Kastel
As Yogi Berra said, “It seems like déjà vu all over again.” In 2006 The Cornucopia Institute released a report accusing Walmart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory farms and developing countries, including China.
At the time, Walmart announced that they would greatly increase the number of organic products they offered and price them at a target of 10% above the cost for conventional food. They failed miserably at that first attempt, eventually removing many of the organic items from their stores.
This past May, Walmart announced they will once again enter the organic arena, in earnest, with the goal of eliminating the premium price for organic food.
Since the announcement, Cornucopia has received numerous press inquiries asking if Walmart’s organic expansion is “good news or bad news” for the industry. My stock answer has been, as it was in 2006: If Walmart lends their logistical prowess to organic food, both farmers and consumers will be big winners by virtue of a more competitive marketplace. However, if the company applies their standard business model, and in essence Walmarts organics, then everyone will lose. Read Full Article »