The National Organic Standards Board will be holding their biannual meeting at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto in Savannah, Georgia, November 29 – December 2, 2011. “We think this meeting may well decide the fate of organic food and agriculture in this country,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute. The mission of the Cornucopia Institute states that they are “dedicated to the fight for economic justice for the family-scale farming community. Through research, advocacy and economic development [their] goal is to empower farmers both politically and through marketplace initiatives.”
During this NOSB meeting, the Cornucopia Institute will be presenting formal testimony on several subjects including genetically modified and synthetic additives that have been petitioned for use in organic foods and drinks, including baby foods and formula. Part of their testimony will include findings from a consumer survey done by PCC Natural Markets, the largest member-owned food cooperative in the United States, that shows more than three fourths of consumers are opposed to such synthetic additives in their food.
The Cornucopia Institute is also concerned about a petition to the NOSB to allow the use of the synthetic preservative sulfur dioxide (sulfites) in wine. “Approving sulfites, not only a synthetic preservative but a common allergen, would represent another blow to consumer confidence in the organic label, which has always signified the absence of artificial preservatives,” Kastel noted.
The Cornucopia Institute also has something to say to the NOSB Livestock Committee, who seem to be caving to pressures from large factory farms. According to Tim Koegel, a nationally prominent certified organic farmer producing pastured eggs and chickens, “The NOSB has an opportunity to make organics the true gold standard in terms of animal husbandry but instead might choose to make the organic label a joke.” One concern is the proposal that chickens could be given as little as one square foot of living space.
Concerned consumers and farmers are invited to sign a letter to the NOSB found here.
The NOSB is a panel of 15 citizens, appointed by Congress, to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on organic policy and rule making. Concern has been raised that many of representatives work for corporations like General Mills and Campbell Soup. The USDA Secretaries under both the Bush and Obama administrations have been criticized for appointing a “significant number of corporate representatives, whose primary interest appears to be loosening the federal organic standards, allegedly in pursuit of enhanced profits,” according to the Cornucopia Institute.