Today we need your help now more than ever. You and your family's right to honest organic food is under attack. This morning a vital meeting that will determine the future of organic standards is currently taking place in San Antonio, Texas, with organic farmers and activists facing off against USDA officials and corporate representatives seeking to permanently undermine organic standards.
This National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting was already set to be contentious, with a strong show of force by organic farmers and consumer activists, but earlier this morning, organic activist Alexis Baden Mayer of the Organic Consumers Association was arrested after leading a spirited protest of the imminent watering down of organic standards by the USDA employees and corporate organic interests.
That's right, the Obama USDA called in local San Antonio police to arrest organic activists who dared to stand up for organic integrity earlier this morning.
Even worse, USDA representative Miles McEvoy has illegally taken over the meeting by appointing himself as meeting “co-chair” in an effort to erode the authority of, and control the decisions made by allegedly independent, NOSB members as spelled out in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.
McEvoy has currently filibustered the meeting for the past hour, instructing the NOSB members that they are simply an "advisory board" and that the USDA controls all agenda items and decisions. That's right, the corporate coup of organics has begun! This outrageous powergrab to destroy organics must be stopped!
Click here to save organic integrity! Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to reject the new corporate power grab over organic standards! It’s time to reverse the NOSB’s new rules that seek to weaken organic standards forever. Every voice counts!
Right now one of the biggest assaults on the integrity of organic foods is taking place at the USDA that has ever been conceived, with high-level Obama political appointees working behind the scenes with giant corporate organics to gut 20 years of precedent in the congressionally-mandated National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
USDA Undermines Sunset Provision: Wants Synthetics Permanently Allowed in Organics
In September 2013, Miles McEvoy, the Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP) at the USDA issued a controversial memo that overturns 2 decades of rulemaking and self-governance at the NOSB in an effort to permanently weaken organic standards.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a 15-member advisory committee appointed by the USDA Secretary to make decisions about synthetic and non-organic materials allowed in certified USDA Organic food, as petitioned by Industrial Organic. For the past twenty years, the NOSB has served as the final arbitrator over sunsetting of synthetic ingredients allowed in organic foods, with each non-organic material being reviewed every 5 years in a Sunset Process.
But last fall, USDA Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy unilaterally announced a set of new rules, violating due process without consulting the NOSB board members in an illegal power grab that is in direct violation of Congressional mandate given to the NOSB under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.
Under the new proposed policy, exempt synthetic materials would be permitted indefinitely unless a two-thirds super majority of the NOSB votes to remove an exempted (synthetic) substance from the list. Incredibly, the new policy allows USDA to relist exemptions for synthetic materials without the recommendation of the independent board and outside of public view in direct violation of current law.
In addition, McEvoy violated due process by disbanding NOSB's Policy Development Subcommittee without public discussion or consultation and indicated in private meetings that he will personally usurp NOSB’s meeting by taking over the meeting and by promoting himself “co-chair” in order to micromanaged the NOSB agenda to fit the USDA and Big Organic's ulterior motives in destroying organic standards.
3 Former NOSB Board Chairs Outraged Over Vilsack's Corporate Coup of Organics
McEvoy’s actions are so outrageous and beyond the pale of 20 years of NOSB operating procedure that 3 former past NOSB board chairs have written a public letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to protest these intentional violations.
The letter was published by the Wisconsin-based organic consumer watchdog group Cornucopia Institute, and details the list of concerns that are shared by millions of organic consumers who rely on organic as an essential part of their daily diet. The letter was signed by Minnesota organic farmer Jim Riddle, former NOSB board chair, 2005; expert in organic crop production systems Jeff Moyer, former NOSB board chair, 2009; and Barry Flamm, former NOSB board chair 2012, first certified organic sweet cherry grower in Montana.
According to the letter, the 3 former NOSB board chairs expressed their “grave concerns” regarding the recent changes enacted by the USDA, which they claim will “significantly erode the authority, independence and input of the NOSB.”
In addition, the letter stated that the USDA’s new policies where “a radical shift away from the collaborative governance of the organic industry that Congress had clearly intended” in the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
While significant differences exist in our current food system, corporate lobbyists should not be allowed to weaken organic standards simply so they can sell more food at the grocery store.
As a national movement of farmers and consumers, we are united in our desire for strong, meaningful standards that will allow families to always trust the USDA Organic seal. Tragically, rather than protect the integrity of organic standards for future generations of farmers and consumers, the National Organic Program (NOP) is in the process of permanently undermining consumer confidence by weakening organic standards to appease industry pressure.
The Organic label is more than just a label to many Americans. It is a way for those wanting to avoid pesticides, synthetics and GMOs to do so by eating organic. Therefore, it is important that the integrity of organic standards be maintained and protected.
Take a stand for organic integrity! Tell Secretary Vilsack not to allow organic standards to be destroyed by corporate lobbyists. It means too much for mothers and farmers to allow our strong organic standards to be destroyed. Every voice counts.
To follow events at the NOSB as they unfold by following these groups on Twitter:
Food Democracy Now! @food_democracy
Cornucopia Institute @Cornucopia_Inst
Organic Consumers Association @OrganicConsumer
Remember, democracy is like a muscle, either you use it or you lose it!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team