Naturally Rockford: Guest Column: Sneak attack on organic standards in Congress—OCA needs your help

Over the past two weeks, Organic Consumers Association (OCA) network members have bombarded the U.S. Congress with more than 100,000 e-mails and 15,000 telephone calls. Our calls and letters have urged elected public officials to reject the now discredited Organic Trade Association’s “Sneak Attack” rider to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would seriously undermine organic standards by removing traditional organic community control over organic standards and centralizing power in the hands of the White House-appointed U.S. Department of Agriculture.

OCA’s allies—such as the Consumers Union, the Center for Food Safety, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, the National Coop Grocers Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Health Freedom network, and several hundred organic businesses—have also generated thousands of e-mails and phone calls. Thank you for taking action. This massive grassroots outpouring prompted the U.S. Senate 10 days ago to reject the industry Sneak Attack rider and propose a 90-day study to determine proper organic standards on synthetic substances, animal feed, and commercial availability of organic ingredients.

Unfortunately, members of the joint House/Senate Conference Committee on Agricultural Appropriations still seem to be listening more closely to powerful industry lobbyists representing Kraft/Phillip Morris, Dean Foods/Horizon Organic/Whitewave, Dole, Smucker/Knudson’s, General Mills/Small Planet, Danone/Stonyfield, Aurora Organic, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and the Grocery Manufacturers of America (Wal-Mart and the supermarket chains), than they are to us. And because this is a last minute, back door Sneak Attack, most of the media, and even most organic consumers, are not yet aware of what’s happening.

We have no choice but to move quickly and raise the volume of our protest, double the number of letters and phone calls pouring into Congress, and aggressively take our message to the media. In 1998, 2003, and 2004, OCA and the organic community successfully mobilized and beat back similar attempts to degrade organic standards. Unfortunately, this Sneak Attack is an “inside job,” organized and funded by powerful pseudo-organic food processors and supermarket chains who have seized control of the Organic Trade Association, hired powerful lobbyists who usually represent big Pharma, tobacco, supermarket chains, and liquor interests, and are moving in for the “big fix.”

We need more letters, and we need money now, to lobby Congress and to take our message to the media. Please forward this Action Alert to everyone you know who is concerned about preserving strict organic standards and organic community control over these standards. Visit to send a letter to your congressman. And please click here to send OCA a tax-deductible donation so we can continue to defend the integrity of organic standards by visiting

Time is running out. We must stop this Sneak Attack in Congress and beat back this unfriendly takeover of the organic industry. For the sake of the Earth and the health of the People, please take action now.

Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and national director of the Organic Consumers Association.

From the Nov. 2-8, 2005, issue

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