Opinion/Editorial Archive

Owner of Vermont Organic Dairy Farm and Harvard Biology Graduate Educates the NOSB on the Meaning of “Organic”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Greg Jackmauh holds a Harvard degree in biology and owns a Vermont organic dairy farm. He’s a longtime member of The Cornucopia Institute.

Greg Jackmauh

My name is Gregory Jackmauh. I am a resident of Barnet, Vermont and live on an Organic pasture-based, intensive rotational grazing dairy farm that has been certified since 2003.

I graduated from Harvard College with an Honors degree in Biology and am a member of The Cornucopia Institute.

My premise is simple: The word “Organic” has a meaning that has existed long before the USDA began to consider the term.

In my 1924 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary it says “organic” means “acting as an instrument of nature” and “forming a complex, self-determined, unity”. To me and to many others here today and watching from a distance this definition is quite easily understood. “ORGANIC” means a naturally occurring relationship between land, plant, micro-organism, and animal that is harmoniously in balance and self-sustaining.

Modern agricultural processes have gotten away from following an “organic” model throughout the decades and centuries, and there are those of us who passionately feel that returning to an “organic” approach to agriculture is a critical step to stabilizing our environment and our planet. Read Full Article »

Another Example of a Federal Agency Operating by Fiat

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Capital Press

USDACorruptCritics say the head of the National Organic Program is keeping secret the names of experts used to formulate policy, has failed to vigorously enforce regulations and punish violators, and is acting at the behest of large corporations.

We’ve grown used to regulators in the Obama administration taking arbitrary, heavy-handed action, so we weren’t surprised to hear another agency has come under scrutiny.

But we were a bit surprised to hear the charges are being leveled at Miles McEvoy, the head of the National Organic Program, by the same organizations that sang his praises when he was appointed to run the program in 2009.

McEvoy has a long resume in the organics industry. He was Washington state’s first organic inspector. He was running that state’s organics program when he was tapped by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to lead the national program. Read Full Article »

Keep the Soil in Organic

Friday, October 9th, 2015

by Dave Chapman

MilesHydro USDAcaptionThis is my effort to keep you up to date on what has been happening. Our efforts to keep hydroponic produce out of organic certification continues. There are now several lawsuits against the NOP (National Organic Program), brought by a number of national organizations that fear we are losing the integrity of the national standards. As the USDA continues to water down the organic standards, customers continue to lose confidence in the organic label.

In September the USDA created a Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force. I was selected to serve on this task force. The stated intention is to “explore hydroponic and aquaponic production practices and their alignment with USDA organic regulations.” Miles McEvoy, head of the NOP, has said several times that he hopes that the task force will be able to clarify the language of the 2010 NOSB recommendation banning hydroponic, which he said was too unclear for him to make a rule on.

The task force was originally limited to people with at least 3 years of experience in “hydroponic organic” growing.  Later the NOP responded to a public uproar, and opened it to all interested people. A number of highly qualified volunteers with lots of experience in organic farming were not selected for the task force, including organic greenhouse growers David Miskell from Vermont and Ken Kimes from California. I am one of the five members of the task force selected who I know represents the values of traditional organic farming. Read Full Article »

Is the Organic Label Worth Saving?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

by Mark Kastel

Big Food/USDA Collusion Undermines the Seal, but the Fight Continues

Cornucopia board president Helen
Kees and her family operate
Wheatfield Hill Organics, a fifth-
generation, diversified farm in
west-central Wisconsin. She was
one of the state’s first certified
organic beef producers.

We are getting more correspondence from our farmer-members, and consumers, asking whether it’s time to give up the fight to save the integrity of the organic label from corporate plunderers and their all-too-accommodating federal regulators. Many suggest that it’s time to create an alternative label and/or an alternative certification system.

My standard reply to this suggestion is: “Too many good people have worked too hard, for too many years, to grow organics into a marketplace force with real economic value (now $40 billion/year) to hand over the label to a pack of corporadoes out to make a quick buck.”

Although many people around the country have access to local food that is produced under organic management, most citizens still need a reliable retail alternative to the dominant, toxic agricultural paradigm  that is conventional food.

We thought that the USDA organic seal would equate to a Cliff Notes version of ethical food research. Sadly, it’s just not good enough anymore. The USDA has sat back and greased the skids for corporate agribusiness to redefine what organic farming means.

That’s why Cornucopia has created several in-depth reports and associated scorecards rating the ethical approach brands take to creating organic dairy products, eggs, soy foods, breakfast cereal, yogurt, and more. Read Full Article »

The Future of GMOs, Meat Safety and Organics Under the Influence of the Same Corrupt, Corporate-Lapdog: the USDA

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

by Jérôme Rigot, PhD

VilsackChickenCan we be sure that the “organic” in the USDA Certified Organic seal retains its meaning and remains true to its mandate of assuring consumers that food under this label is truly healthy and grown or raised with minimal impact to the environment and respects the health and well-being of the workers and animals involved?

There are growing concerns that the organic label may be losing its meaning.

Indeed, the Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, recently downgraded their rating of the USDA’s organic seal and label.  Dr. Urvashi Rangan, the director of the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Center for Consumer Reports, told the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) late last year, “Organic is slipping. And as a result, we have downgraded its rating from highly meaningful to meaningful.” Dr. Rangan explained that the role of Consumer Reports “is to help educate people about what organic means as well as what it doesn’t mean.”

What is fueling such concerns? Read Full Article »