One of North America’s leading organic processors has withdrawn its support from the U.S. Organic Trade Association to protest what it says is a shifting commitment away from the organic movement’s core values.
Nature’s Path Foods, North America’s largest organic breakfast company, made the announcement just days from the July 3 closing of public consultations on the proposed national GMO labelling law planned in the U.S.
Company officials for the Richmond, British Columbia-based company say they will continue to support the Canadian Organic Trade Association as well as support research by the Organic Center, Organic Farmers Association and the Rodale Institute plus continue to look at other groups to invest in supporting organic.
“Recent actions by the OTA that have driven the company’s decision include misrepresenting organic food companies and U.S. consumers to support a vague and misleading national GMO labelling law, and allowing hydroponics to fall under the organic certification label where there is no organic agriculture nor soil present,” the company says in a release.
“Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness of our concern that the important role organic plays to support the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised,” says Nature’s Path founder and co-CEO Arran Stephens. “We believe giant food corporations, that also happen to own small organic brands, use the OTA to influence policy decisions to protect the best interest of their large, non-organic food portfolios.”
In 2016, the OTA actively worked to pass the first-ever national, GMO food labelling law in the US (Stabenow-Roberts Bill) that pre-exempted strong, state-led GMO labelling laws, Stephens said.
The OTA support of the new mandatory bill was without the knowledge or expressed consent of many organic members like Nature’s Path. Public comments on the bill closed July 3.
He said the new law could exclude almost three-fourths of products with genetically engineered ingredients and use confusing new GMO terminology and symbols for on-pack disclosures.
“We believe organic can protect and enhance the health of people and planet. Organic can build a better world, free from food with chemical residues, free of toxic environments for farmers, and free of catering to big business at the expense of real people,” adds Stephens. “We’re alarmed the new bill works against our basic human right for food transparency which exists in 64 other countries around the globe with clear GMO labels.”
As one of the first certified organic companies in North America and a founder of Organic Merchants in 1971, a predecessor of the OTA, Nature’s Path will continue its investment to support the vitality and future of the organic food movement, he said.
“We are committed to rebuilding what we believe is lost, by being a strong voice to ensure that organic continues to change food and agriculture for the better,” says Stephens. “From using our social channels to raise awareness and action, to investing in research, farmers and organic associations that closer reflect our vision for organic, we will publicly work to protect and enhance the health of both people and planet.”
Stephens called on consumers to petition the U.S. government to fight for their right to know what’s in their food and help create a new food labelling law that helps keep them and their family safe.
The company also launched a public campaign on its social channels to help bring consumers into action.