When the first food manufacturer added Martek’s DHA oil and ARA oil to a certified organic product, the United States Department of Agriculture sent a letter of non-compliance to their organic certifying agent. Rather than take immediate corrective action, the manufacturer hired a powerful corporate lobbyist to broker a backroom deal with a corrupt government official in charge of the USDA’s National Organic Program, during the Bush ministration. The lobbyist developed a loophole in the government rules and the government official ordered her staff not to take further enforcement action.
In April 2010, the current leadership at the USDA publicly stated that this was an “incorrect” interpretation of the organic standards. However, at the request of powerful agribusinesses, the government officials have refused for nearly two years to take enforcement action.
Meanwhile, some companies introduced products with Martek’s DHA algal oil after the USDA publicly declared that these additives were added illegally, for example, Horizon’s fat-free milk with DHA from Dean Foods’ WhiteWave division.
In December 2011, after unprecedented lobbying by powerful industry interests, the National Organic Standards Board voted to allow non-hexane-extracted DHA algal oil and ARA fungal oil in organic foods. The Board members ignored important considerations – that synthetic volatile solvents and microencapsulation are not allowed in organics, that genetic modification is not allowed in organics, that synthetic stabilizers, preservatives and sweeteners are not allowed in organics, etc.