Update: We want to be clear about the discussion in the commentary below regarding the certifier OCIA and the letter sent to the USDA by the umbrella group Accredited Certifiers Association. In addition to OCIA’s board, the staff of the organization was likewise unaware of this letter being sent by the ACA to the USDA.
In a move truly deserving of the comment “You can’t make this stuff up,” illustrating the widening divide in the organic community the USDA’s National Organic Program announced this week that they would require public interest groups, educators, and the public to get their blessing before using the USDA organic logo in media coverage.
Maybe this edict isn’t entirely Orwellian, and maybe it’s not Stalinistic, but it sure smacks of how the press operates under Premier Vladimir Putin.
After months of pointed criticism
, and press coverage , of a series of allegedly illegal power grabs by the USDA, stripping authority Congress vested in the advisory panel it created, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the USDA has figured out a way to resolve the dispute — control the message.
Their quarterly newsletter, distributed this week, recapped the recent NOSB meeting in San Antonio, Texas. It was one of the most contentious meetings in the history of the organic movement. It included a protest that initially shut down the proceedings and a parliamentary challenge to the illegal power grab by NOP staff director Miles McEvoy.
The protest ended after police came in for an arrest and the challenge, under Roberts Rules of Order, endorsed by a number of board members, only ended after a long adjournment where Mr. McEvoy conferred with his staff (and superiors and lawyers in Washington by phone) and subsequently threatened to shut the entire meeting down and send everyone home if the parliamentary motion challenging his authority wasn’t withdrawn.
But if you read the USDA’s Organic Integrity Quarterly you might question the “accuracy” of their story. There’s not a word of any dispute at the meeting even though, besides the protests, numerous citizens and public interest groups, in formal written and oral testimony, condemned the USDA’s actions. Read Full Article »