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Organic Consumers Association

Organic Trade Association Holds Elections for Board of Directors

  • By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director
    Organic Consumers Association, June 28, 2011

From the Organic Trade Association:
On July 1, OTA will mail ballots and prepaid return envelopes for the OTA Board elections to all trade member primary contacts. Votes may be cast by mail or online. Voting instructions and candidate bios will be included in the mailed packages. OTA is the only organic organization serving the North American business community with a democratically elected Board of Directors. The election process is a means for OTA members to select the trade association leadership and to have a voice in policies that affect the well-being of the organic sector. We have a terrific and enthusiastic group of candidates ready to serve. They are:
  • Tony Bedard, CEO, Frontier Natural Products Coop, and current Board member
  • Sarah Bird, Vice President of Marketing, Annie's Homegrown, Division of Annie's Inc., and current OTA Board member
  • Samantha Cabaluna, Director of Communication, Earthbound Farm
  • Ricardo D. Crisantes, General Manager, Wholesum Family Farms
  • Katrina Heinze, Manager of Global Regulatory Affairs, Small Planet Foods Inc.
  • Pauline McKee, Vice President and Co-Founder, Wholesome Sweeteners Inc.
  • Matt McLean, President, Uncle Matt's Organic Inc., and current OTA Board member
  • Melody Meyer, VP of Global Initiatives, UNFI, and current OTA Board member
  • Scott Nash, CEO, MOM's Organic Market
  • Arjan Stephens, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing, Nature's Path Foods Inc.
  • Shane Towne, Marketing & New Business Development, Indianapolis Fruit Company
  • Curt Valva, General Manager, Aubrey Organics Inc.
Here's what the Organic Consumers Association thinks all OTA members should learn before they vote:

Which of the companies represented by these candidates are 100% organic and which sell non-organic products and/or genetically modified foods?

100% Organic - Earthbound, Wholesum Family Farms, Uncle Matt's, and Nature's Path
Organic & Natural - Non-GMO - Annie's, Wholesome Sweeteners
Organic & Natural - Personal Care Products - Aubrey (as a result of Organic Consumers Association's Coming Clean Campaign, Aubrey no longer labels its personal care products as organic unless they are USDA certified)
Organic & Natural - Some GMO - Frontier, UNFI, MOM's Organic Market
Organic & Conventional - Some GMO - Indianapolis Fruit Company
Organic & Industrial - Mostly GMO - Small Planet Foods (0.2% of General Mills' U.S. retail sales, the other 99.8% being industrially processed foods, almost all of which are produced using genetically modified organisms).

What are the political contributions and lobbying activities of these candidates and companies?
  • Tony Bedard, CEO, Frontier Natural Products Coop, and current Board member
None found.
  • Sarah Bird, Vice President of Marketing, Annie's Homegrown, Division of Annie's Inc., and current OTA Board member
None found.
  • Samantha Cabaluna, Director of Communication, Earthbound Farm
Since 2004, Earthbound Farm employees have donated $20,855 to candidates and PACs: $10,900 to Democrats, $9,705 to Republicans, and $250 to the United Fresh Produce Assn. Cabaluna donated $1,500 to Chris Dodd in 2009.
  • Ricardo D. Crisantes, General Manager, Wholesum Family Farms
Crisantes gave $250 in 2009 to the United Fresh Produce Assn.
  • Katrina Heinze, Manager of Global Regulatory Affairs, Small Planet Foods Inc. (General Mills)
General Mills spends up to $1 million every year on lobbying and up to $300,000 each year in contributions from its political action committee to candidates.

General Mills was part of the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law, a group of companies that worked against Oregon's Measure 27, which would have required the labeling of GMO products sold in that state. The company donated over $88,900 to defeat the Measure.

General Mills is a supporter and trustee of the International Food Information Council, a front group for the top agribusinesses, food processors, chemical and biotech companies, including Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Elanco, Pfizer, Dannon, Smucker, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg, Kraft, McDonald's, Nestle, Sara Lee, and Unilever. The International Food Information Council is anti-organic ("Organic is simply a type of food production method and, despite common perceptions, does not equate to being more healthful.") and pro-GMO ("According to FDA, USDA, and EPA, foods produced through biotechnology are identical and are no less nutritious than foods produced through other methods. Biotechnology can also help decrease food loss and the amount of pesticides used in farming through the development of resistant crops.").
  • Pauline McKee, Vice President and Co-Founder, Wholesome Sweeteners Inc.
None found.
  • Matt McLean, President, Uncle Matt's Organic Inc., and current OTA Board member
None found.
  • Melody Meyer, VP of Global Initiatives, UNFI, and current OTA Board member
Since 2004, UNFI employees have donated $9,130 to political candidates and PACs, including $7,000 to the National Assn of Wholesaler-Distributors, $1,000 to Republicans and $800 to Democrats. No contributions were found for Meyer.
  • Scott Nash, CEO, MOM's Organic Market
None found.
  • Arjan Stephens, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing, Nature's Path Foods Inc.
None found.
  • Shane Towne, Marketing & New Business Development, Indianapolis Fruit Company
Since 2002, Indianapolis Fruit Company employees have given $2,750 to PACs and political candidates, all Republican. No contributions were found for Towne.
  • Curt Valva, General Manager, Aubrey Organics Inc.
Since 1999, Aubrey Organics employees have given $2,000 to political candidates, all Democrats. No contributions found for Valva.

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