Promoting Economic Justice for Family-Scale Farming

NEWS FROM THE CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE

News From the Cornucopia Institute

April 23, 2016

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Live Organic Policy Coverage from DC Next Week

Next week Cornucopia codirector Mark Kastel and lead scientist Dr. Linley Dixon will report live from the NOSB meeting in Washington, D.C. You can get the play-by-play on Twitter or on our website for the three-day meeting that starts Monday, April 25. Cornucopia participates in these meetings to ensure a voice for family scale farmers and committed organic consumers. Cornucopia champions organic integrity by supplying the NOSB with independent research on materials and organic policy items. Prior to the meeting, many organic stakeholders, and agribusiness interests, submit comments for consideration by the Board. You can find our submitted comments, an analysis of all public comments, and a synopsis of public testimony given during a pre-meeting webinar here.

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Cornucopia to Present More Research on Toxic Carrageenan

Cornucopia’s new report, Carrageenan: New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer, and Diabetes, summarizes research on the common food additive carrageenan, exposing industry data which shows all food-grade carrageenan contains a carcinogenic contaminant called poligeenan. Carrageenan, harvested from red seaweed, is a highly effective thickener/stabilizer found in many processed foods including infant formula, plant-based beverages, deli meats, and some dairy products, including cream. Cornucopia has reviewed and synthesized dozens of publicly-funded studies to aid NOSB deliberations, calling on them to ban carrageenan from organics.

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Cornucopia Lawsuit: Business Executives in Seats Reserved for Farmers

Source: NEC Corporation of America

Source: NEC Corporation of America

In the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), Congress reserved four of the 15 seats on the NOSB positions for individuals who “own or operate” an organic farm. Cornucopia recently filed a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s appointment of non-farmers to two of these seats reserved for farmers. Carmela Beck, a grower liaison for Driscoll’s, was appointed to the NOSB in 2011, although the company does not grow any of its organic fruit. In 2014 Arkansas Egg’s corporate compliance officer, Ashley Swaffar, was appointed to the board. She has since left that position with Arkansas Egg. Cornucopia contends these appointments are part of the USDA’s pattern of making the NOSB and the National Organic Program (NOP) friendlier to big agribusiness at the expense of authentic organic farms and farmers.

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Cornucopia Alleges NOSB Policy and Procedures Manual Rewrite is Illegal

Cornucopia has released an in-depth review of recently proposed changes to the NOSB’s Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM). The PPM, developed in 2002 with public input, is an important document that guides how the NOSB functions, and how organic policy is set in this country. Updates in 2012 were made only after thousands of hours of board and public work and debate. The current proposed update was written by the USDA without NOSB or public input, and includes troubling changes that would weaken organic standards by institutionalizing the controversial changes to Sunset and give the USDA authority over the NOSB’s Policy Development Subcommittee. The PPM update will be discussed and potentially approved at next week’s NOSB meeting. Cornucopia has requested that the NOSB table the update. Cornucopia is one of 15 stakeholders suing the USDA, claiming that some of the changes to the PPM are already being enacted illegally.

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Cornucopia Board President to NOSB: Do Not Give Away Your Authority

Helen Kees

Helen Kees

Helen Kees, a longtime organic farmer and president of Cornucopia’s board, presented testimony during the NOSB webinar this week. On behalf of her colleague Dr. Barry Flamm, Cornucopia board secretary and past NOSB Chair, Kees implored the Board to recognize the consequences of the proposed update to the PPM. “To say that Dr. Flamm is alarmed at the possibility that you may actually vote to codify this hijacking of your authority into your PPM is an understatement.” She reminded the NOSB that they, not the USDA, were vested by Congress with the leadership role, and that federal bureaucrats are mandated not to interfere with decision-making by any independent advisory committee.

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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