Cornucopia News Archive

My Road to Organics: Cycling to Health, Vitality and Purpose

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

[This story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of  The Cultivator, The Cornucopia Institute’s quarterly print publication available to members and online.]

Many of us have had an aha! moment or moments that sparked our decision to farm, garden or eat organically. In this issue, Cornucopia board member Amanda Love tells how a cross-country journey awakened her to an organic lifestyle. Today she offers workshops, classes and retreats on how to prepare delicious, nourishing meals and live a harmonious life.

by Amanda Love, Board Member, The Cornucopia Institute

Amanda Love 2014Was it my grandmother who owned a health food store in New Mexico long before they were popular or my health-conscious mother? Was it reading Emerson and Thoreau in high school that opened my mind to new expanses? Or the college study-abroad trip to Italy, where I experienced real food, real family values and la dolce vita?

I’m not sure which of these had the most influence on me or if they all converged to make me begin to question my way of life and start doing things differently. But I do know that the real turning point for me came the summer of 1997, when I rode my bicycle across the country. This trip unequivocally changed my life. Read Full Article »

Organic Transparency/Respect? We Need Your Intelligence Help.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

We need your help (confidentially) to identify all current candidates for appointment to the National Organic Standards Board.

CI_USDAtransparencyCongress set up specific stakeholder representation on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to assure that corporations and their lobbyists do not dominate organic governance. However, the seats the law designates for independent farmers, scientists, retailers, etc. have frequently been given instead to corporate executives and consultants. (This abuse has occurred during both the Bush and Obama administrations.)

In the interest of transparency, during one past nomination cycle the USDA Secretary made the names of all nominees public. This was an excellent move because it gave organic stakeholders the opportunity to comment, favorably or negatively, on prospective representatives of the organic community. If the USDA Secretary was truly interested in appointing the best and brightest to serve on the NOSB, you would think he or she would welcome input from the most knowledgeable individuals in our industry. Read Full Article »

Protecting Organic Seed Integrity

Friday, June 27th, 2014

by Pamela Coleman, PhD

Protecting-Organic-Seed-Integrity-220x300Organic seed should be free of genetically engineered (GE) DNA, because organic regulations prohibit genetic engineering.  Unfortunately, organic crops are threatened by inadvertent contamination from GE crops.  In response to the threat, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) published a workbook, Protecting Organic Seed Integrity: The Organic Farmer’s Handbook to GE Avoidance and Testing. [1]

Although the workbook itself is geared primarily to seed growers, the integrity of our seed supply is important to all of us.  Contamination of seed planted by organic farmers will result in GE DNA in organic food and feed.  This is an economic loss for the farmer, because buyers may refuse to purchase contaminated seed.  Wide-scale contamination of our seed supply can destroy the genetic purity of seed varieties used by organic farmers.  The workbook claims “OSGATA’s membership believes that contamination of organic seed by GE seed constitutes irreparable harm to the organic seed industry by undermining the integrity of organic seed.Read Full Article »

Robo-Calls Bother Organic Farmers During Spring Planting:

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Latest Push for Check-off by Powerful Organic Lobby Group

CI_RoboCallsOrganicThe Organic Trade Association (OTA) has launched the next phase of its push for an organic check-off program.   The industry lobby group, funded by the likes of General Mills, WhiteWave, Organic Valley and Smucker’s, has been working the phone lines, robo-calling thousands of organic farmers across the country and urging them to watch their mail for informational materials detailing the purported benefits of the check-off and why the program’s assessment would be in the farmer’s interest.

The OTA, with hired help from a well-connected Washington lobbying and public relations firm, the Podesta Group, was able to insert a provision in the Farm Bill recently passed by Congress in February permitting creation of a USDA market order to assess participants in the organic industry for promotion/marketing campaigns and research projects.  The OTA estimates that the proposal would raise $40 million to fund such efforts.  The creation of an organic check-off requires a vote by industry participants with a two-thirds majority necessary for consideration of the marketing order by the USDA. Read Full Article »

Citizen Groups Challenge USDA’s Power Grab “Threatening” Organic Integrity

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Contact: Aimee Simpson, 202-543-5450,
Abigail Seiler, 443-854-4368,
Will Fantle, 715-839-7713,

Legal Petition Filed to Restore Organic Board’s Independent Authority Set by Congress

(June 17, 2014 – Washington, DC) Today, 20 organic farm and consumer groups filed a legal petition with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to protect the authority and permanence of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The petitioners object to recent changes  to the NOSB charter, renewed on May 8, 2014, that undermine the mandatory and continuing duties of the Board as established by Congress under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.

The NOSB, a diverse 15-member stakeholder body, intended to safeguard the integrity of the organic food label, was created by Congress with independent authorities that operate outside the discretion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Petitioners maintain that in renewing the charter under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), USDA mistakenly re-categorized the NOSB as a time-limited Advisory Board subject to USDA’s discretion and a narrowing of responsibilities.

“These changes to the NOSB Charter are significant and directly controvert the specific mandates of OFPA and Congress that NOSB is a permanent, non-discretionary committee that must fulfill a long list of statutorily mandated duties integral to the organic program,” said Aimee Simpson, policy director and staff attorney for Beyond Pesticides.

The NOSB, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is comprised of a wide swath of organic interests, including farmers, consumers, environmentalists, processors, a retailer, and a certifier. It is charged with a number of specific duties, including establishing and renewing the list of synthetic and non-organic materials allowed to be used in organic production, known as the National List. Read Full Article »