The USDA has recently proposed a set of rules that would allow chemical companies such as Dow and Bayer/Monsanto to determine the safety of their own products. The proposed rules, now open for public comment, would further deregulate an untrustworthy industry.
If the rules are enacted, manufacturers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will decide for themselves whether or not to report experimental testing of their genetically engineered (GE) crops to the USDA. This move will sanction a glaring conflict of interest and allow GMOs to go directly from the lab to the market for consumption.
Chemical companies have repeatedly attempted to bury evidence of harm caused by their products, including Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate. GE crops cannot be contained and often cross-pollinate organic crops and wild species. When organic crops are contaminated, organic farmers must dump their harvest into far-less-profitable non-organic markets.
Allowing GMO manufacturers to forego evaluation under federal health and environmental laws would encourage the introduction of untested GE crops, increase the likelihood of contamination on organic farms and in the wild, and embolden the reckless use of pesticides which these crops are typically engineered to withstand.
Your public comments matter. Let the USDA know that self-regulation is not regulation at all!
If you are a certified organic farmer or business owner, please consider printing and filling out the proxy letter below. If you return it to Cornucopia, we will send it on to your certifier along with proxies from other farmers who share your certifer.
Here is the letter text:
Dear (Name of certifier) CEO,
As my certifier I need you to be fully supportive of my efforts as a responsible farmer in protecting the integrity and reputation of the organic label in the eyes of my customers.
If you wish to retain my business the next time I renew my certification, I respectfully request that you go on the record and join me in retaining and protecting the true meaning that the organic farming and food movement was founded upon. My requirements are simple:
1. Instead of standing with other members of the accredited certifier trade group, I ask that you be transparent with Cornucopia researchers by filling out their survey and having an officer of your organization sign and stand behind the representations you make.
2. If you have certified any dairy CAFOs please institute a moratorium on certifying any with a stocking density of more than three cows per acre, any fields that are counted as “pasture” that are planted with annuals in desert-like climates, any operations milking more than two times per day, and any dairies that bring in cattle that were not managed organically from the last third of gestation as the regulations clearly require.
3. If you have certified any egg laying operations that substitute an enclosed porch to meet the legal requirement for “outdoor” access, I ask that you place an immediate moratorium on certifying any additional operations of that nature. The law states that all organic livestock must have access to the outdoors. In addition, hens in most of these aviary systems cannot access the outdoors.
4. The Organic Foods Production Act and the federal regulations both clearly require careful soil stewardship as a prerequisite for organic certification. If you have certified any hydroponic operations, you should immediately implement a moratorium on certifying any produce that does not have its roots in the ground (with the exception of sprouts and other similar vegetables and plants, seedlings, or culinary spices that are sold in their initial containers).
It is critical that ethical certifiers breakaway from their unethical peers that skirt the rules and diminish the value of the entire industry for their own personal gain. These are simple requests and certainly not anything radical. Managing livestock with a more humane level of welfare has always been part of organics. And the mantra “feed the soil not the plants” has been a foundational precept of organic growing since the movement was formed.
Please side with my family and the other ethical farmers, ranchers, and growers whose livelihoods depend on the reputation of the organic label.
Sincerely yours, (You may sign the letter or, if you are concerned about possible retribution, you may choose to sign anonymously. In that case, please provide Cornucopia with your identifying information so that we can verify your farm on the NOP list of organic farms. We will share your letter anonymously with your certifier)
Sample images of chicken and distributor information
Cornucopia’s scorecard ratings help you choose the best food for your family while rewarding the most ethical organic producers.
We are starting investigative work to develop a new scorecard to rate brands of organic chicken and turkey, and we need your help!
In order to include all possible brands on the poultry scorecard, we need to know what brands of certified organic chicken and turkey are available at retail in your local grocery store or co-op.
Here’s how you can help: the next time you are food shopping, note the organic turkey or chicken brands available in your grocery store. Take a photo of the label or write down the following information:
The brand name
The organic certifier’s name
The processor or distributor’s name (if different than the brand name)
The name and location of the store
All of this should be available on the poultry package or on store signage.
[The Sierra Club and The Cornucopia Institute have formally requested the USDA prohibit the use of wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations in organic food production. Read the letter here.]
Sign the Petition to Ban the Use of Frack and Sewage Wastewater for Growing Organic Food
The USDA needs to tighten federal standards to prohibit the use for crop irrigation of fracking wastewater from oil and gas drilling, and from the nation’s municipal sewage treatment systems, in organic food production.
Research shows that the copious amounts of frack wastewater, a byproduct of the hydraulic fracturing technique in gas and oil production, are contaminated with toxic chemicals and oil. And recent reporting has indicated its use in growing organic food in California.
Effluent from sewage plants, which co-mingles waste from domestic and industrial sources, can contain pathogens and drug residues in addition to heavy metals and toxic chemicals and should similarly be prohibited for use in the growing of organic food.