The Cornucopia Institute

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.

Suspicious Organic Grain Shipment Intercepted at U.S. Port

April 19th, 2018

Russian Corn Rejected; Lawsuit Filed

An organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, which has been monitoring imports after investigations in 2007 discovered wholesale fraud, reports that twenty-five thousand metric tons of purportedly organic corn, grown in Russia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, currently sit idle on the M/V Mountpark, a United Kingdom-flagged vessel lingering off the coast of California.

A previous shipment of suspect imported grain
being unloaded in Indiana

Whether the shipment, which also contains organic soybean meal, is ultimately allowed entry into the United States rests on a ruling by a federal district judge in California. On March 29, 2018, Sunrise Foods International, Inc., a Canadian-based importer, sued the USDA and U.S. Customs for rejecting the shipment, which Sunrise attests is worth millions of dollars.

Farmer-owned cooperatives in the United States contend that domestic grain producers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in recent years, facing competition from fraudulent grain being imported to feed certified organic livestock in the U.S. Despite a decade of pressure from Cornucopia, the USDA’s National Organic Program did not start paying attention to the massive alleged improprieties until The Washington Post published an investigative story last year.

In this case, it wasn’t organic inspectors who intercepted the dubious shipment, but U.S. Customs that targeted the shipment for physical examination. Customs officials contacted the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division of the USDA, to inquire about the country of origin of the corn on the M/V Mountpark. Read Full Article »

Spring 2018 NOSB Meeting – Webinar: Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19th, 2018

Cornucopia staff members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinar today, where the NOSB heard comments from the public. Cornucopia’s notes from this meeting are below.

You can also view our notes from the Tuesday webinar.


Eleven NOSB members present
(2 missing, environmentalist and handler NOSB positions have not been filled)

Source: gdsteam

Edward Field, Natural Merchants, Inc.

Elimination of Sulphur dioxide would be detrimental for business and for organic wine producers.
In Europe all of our wine would be considered organic.  Since ruling on sulphites in 2012, we have followed guidelines to the letter.   Organic wine sales continue to grow between 10-20% by volume.  Sulphites are a key part of that production.   Majority of our portfolio must continue to have sulphites.  No viable alternative.  Use does not threaten integrity of organic label and should retain Sulphur dioxide on the National List.
Read Full Article »

Spring 2018 NOSB Meeting – Webinar: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 17th, 2018

Cornucopia staff members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinar today, where the NOSB heard comments from the public. Cornucopia’s notes from this meeting are below.

You can also view our notes from the Thursday webinar.


Thirteen NOSB members present:
(note: environmentalist and handler NOSB positions have not been filled)

The NOSB at the Fall 2017 Meeting

Harriet Behar
Asa Bradman
Scott Rice
Ashley Swaffar
Jesse Buie 
Emily Oakley
Steve Ela
Dan Seitz
A-dae Romero-Briones 
Sue Baird 
Tom Chapman
Lisa de Lima 
Dave Mortensen

Review logistical info:
Asked everyone to reveal their name and affiliations.

[In Cornucopia staff notes on individual comments below, our staff has included the commenter’s name and affiliation] Read Full Article »

Companies That Modify Livestock Genes Want to be Regulated by the Friendlier USDA Instead of the FDA

April 17th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The FDA is slowing company bids to create hornless cattle and tailless pigs, seeking regulations for the possible animals of the future. Some of these companies are working with the White House to be (less) “regulated” by the USDA, given Secretary Perdue’s recent statement on gene editing in plants. Gene editing is not allowed in organic agriculture.


Farmland gene editors want cows without horns, pigs without tails, and business without regulations
MIT Technology Review
by Antonio Regalado

Gene-edited hornless dairy cow
Source: USDA, Courtesy of Recombinetics

The lobbying effort to get the FDA out of the way of biotech animals is under way.

The home page of the Minnesota biotech company Recombinetics shouts “The Gene Editing Revolution Is Here.”

Or it would be, if only those pesky regulators would get out of the way.

The company is using gene editing, a new kind of precise molecular scissors, to create farm animals with useful properties. Gene editing, unlike its controversial cousin, transgenic modification, tweaks an organism’s DNA but doesn’t introduce any from other species.

Recombinetics and its partners have already used gene editing to make black-and-white Holstein dairy cattle with no horns and male pigs that never reach sexual maturity, avoiding the “boar taint” that can make pork chops unpleasant. Read Full Article »

‘Add-on Labels’ Designed to Show Which Farmers Employ the Spirit of Organic

April 13th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Continued frustration with the USDA’s watering down of organic standards and the lack of enforcement against giant scofflaws has spurred interest in an alternative food labels. We too believe that we have devolved into two organic labels. Cornucopia remains neutral on other labels, so that we can impartially evaluate them while we work to protect authentic organic farming.


More organic than thou? Rebel farmers create new food label
The Washington Post
by Lisa Rathke

Linley Dixon, PhD
Cornucopia’s Senior Soil Scientist
Source: Real Organic Program

Was your tomato grown in dirt or water? Organic shoppers might notice additional labels this summer that will give them the answer — and tell them whether their choices align with what a rebellious group of farmers and scientists deem the true spirit of the organic movement.

About 15 farmers and scientists from around the country met in Vermont late last month to create the standards for an additional organic certification program, which they plan to roll out nationally to between 20 to 60 farms as a pilot this summer.

Under the current U.S. Department of Agriculture program, the organic label means that your tomato has been produced without synthetic substances — with some exceptions — and without certain methods, like genetic engineering. The additional label, which does not yet have a name or wording, would indicate that a tomato, for example, has been grown in soil, and that meat and dairy products came from farms that pasture their animals. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000
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