Promoting Economic Justice for Family-Scale Farming

NEWS FROM THE CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE

News From the Cornucopia Institute

April 2, 2016

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No More Fracking Wastewater in Organics

Source: Faces of Fracking

Source: Faces of Fracking

The Cornucopia Institute and The Sierra Club last week called on the USDA to prohibit the use of wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations in organic food production. Water for irrigation has become sparse in areas of California wracked by severe drought and wastewater is a tempting solution. However, research shows oil and gas wastewater is contaminated with toxic chemicals, radioactive salts, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons, even when treated and diluted. The industry has successfully lobbied to keep their chemicals “trade secrets,” and current testing focuses on salinity and boron, rather than risks to the environment, animals, and human health. To learn more and sign a petition opposing the use of frack wastewaster, click here.

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Organic Secrecy

Mark Kastel

Mark Kastel

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 has been grossly disrespected by the USDA and its National Organic Program (NOP). Documents requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are suppressed or released excruciatingly slowly. Additionally, scientists contracted by the USDA to prepare Technical Reviews for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) are frequently associated with Big Ag. When these ties were exposed, the USDA simply made the scientists’ identities secret. The former NOSB chair has also sought to hide individual votes by the NOSB so that Cornucopia can't make the public aware of members’ voting records. Cornucopia will continue to fight for transparency at the April NOSB meeting. Stay tuned.

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Big Food Bows to Vermont

Source: Michel G

Source: Michel G

Vermont’s GMO labeling law is set to go into effect in July, despite Big Food’s legal objections and attempts to federally mandate voluntary labeling. Opponents of Vermont’s law have called it unconstitutional and have claimed label changes will be costly for consumers. In January Campbell’s announced its plan to label GMOs, and General Mills, Mars, and Kellogg recently followed suit. A General Mills executive wrote, “Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines.”

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GMA Guilty of Defeating GMO Labeling with Dark Money

Source: Janeen

Source: Janeen

In 2013 the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade association representing 300+ companies, spent over $11 million to defeat I-522, a Washington state ballot measure calling for GMO labeling. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against the GMA for hiding the sources of the money, calling this “the largest campaign finance concealment case in Washington history.” Click here to learn which companies contributed. A Washington court ruled in March that the GMA broke the law. If a trial court determines GMA staff knew they were breaking the finance disclosure law, the GMA faces a fine of up to $33 million. [Story on website courtesy of Truthout.org]

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Citizens Can Sue for Organic Mislabeling

Source: Adobe Stock

Source: Adobe Stock

Last year the California Supreme Court ruled that citizens can sue food marketers for mislabeling their products as “organic.” Citizens previously could only file a complaint with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). Cornucopia’s 2005 successful complaint against Aurora Dairy resulted in no fines from the NOP, although Aurora did separately settle a consumer lawsuit for $8 million. A similar complaint against Shamrock Farms in 2008 started an investigation and appeals process that continues today. Our recent flyover investigation of 14 “organic” facilities was entirely ignored by the NOP. The California decision offers hope for a new chapter of organic enforcement led by citizens.

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The Cornucopia Institute

is a nonprofit organization engaged in research and educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, The Cornucopia Institute provides needed information to family farmers, consumers, stakeholders involved in the good food movement, and the media.

P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
TEL: 608-625-2000 | FAX: 866-861-2214 | www.cornucopia.org