Cornucopia News Archive

Controversial USDA National Organic Standards Board to Meet in Tucson

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Possibly the Least Consequential Meeting in Its 26-Year History

When members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) assemble in Tucson later this week, it will be the first meeting since it has become painfully obvious to the organic community that their power, created by an act of Congress, has been almost entirely stripped away.

Above:The NOSB at the Fall 2017 Meeting
Below: USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue

Unusual for a federal advisory board, the NOSB was endowed with specific statutory power by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), with its members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.  The undermining of the NOSB’s authority began during the Obama administration, when it was stripped of the ability to set its own agenda. The agency has since been embroiled in ongoing litigation challenging the undercutting of NOSB power.  Now, during the Trump Administration, NOSB decisions are being disregarded on a wholesale basis under USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Prominent on the agenda at the spring meeting will be a review of the safety and essentiality of a number of non-organic materials for use in organic production and a discussion of long-overdue plans to crack down on documented fraud in the importation of organic feed grains.

Although successive Republican and Democratic administrations have paid lip service to the NOSB’s authority while frequently ignoring its recommendations, in a series of unprecedented decisions, Perdue has rendered the board’s expert advice nearly obsolete. Read Full Article »

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

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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 »

As the Crow Flies

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

A Straight Line to Sustainable Agriculture

[This article was previously published in the winter issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Rachel Zegerius,
Communications and Development Associate at The Cornucopia Institute

Courtesy of FreddyMillerPhotography.com

“Turns out,” says Teresa Kurtak, “there’s really nothing else that comes close to being as satisfying as being a farmer.”

Although much of her childhood was spent on her family’s cattle ranch in eastern Washington, Kurtak did not expect that she would find her own life’s work in farming.

Having dedicated years to academic pursuits, envisioning a career in food policy, Kurtak feared that by deciding to farm she would be letting go of something she held close to her heart—her passion for changing the world.

What she didn’t expect was her ability to effect positive change through organic farming and the sense of reward that would follow. Read Full Article »

Mark Kastel on Facebook Live: USDA Reapproves Carrageenan, Betrays Public Trust, and Ignores Own Advisory Board

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Codirector Mark Kastel describes the history and process of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as well as recent disturbing developments in USDA oversight of the NOSB. The NOSB voted to disallow carrageenan, an additive known to cause intestinal inflammation, in organic production beginning this year.

Carrageenan is used as an emulsifier, a thickener, and to improve “mouth-feel” of products—meaning to make watery products, like plant-based beverages, taste creamy. It is not essential to the production of any product on the market, as evidenced by the number of companies that have been able to remove it from their formulas.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has interceded on behalf of industry lobbyists and reapproved carrageenan, betraying the public trust and the recommendations from the NOSB.

Many of us seek out organic food as the last bastion of safety for our families, and this confidence is being compromised. Watch the video below to understand more:

Read Full Article »