The Organic Trade Association (OTA), the industry’s lobby group, has launched a campaign they call “Organic Myth-Busting Month.” The majority of what they are communicating seems pretty accurate in portraying the advantages of choosing an organic diet.
However, two of their social media subjects are a direct damage control effort to counter the work of The Cornucopia Institute and other organic industry observers.
For years we have been filing legal complaints against giant factory farms that we allege are breaking the law. They are doing so, we allege, by confining thousands of cows in desert feedlots or up to 1 million laying hens in giant buildings on “organic” factory farms. In 2014 we submitted documentary and aerial photographic evidence indicting 14 operations: dairies, egg factories, and one broiler chicken operation were gaming the system. Most of them had no animals outdoors as the law requires — and the USDA refused to even investigate.
In response, instead of joining Cornucopia in demanding that the USDA protect the integrity of the organic label, which we all own — farmers, business owners and consumers, big and small — the OTA is out to convince consumers that they shouldn’t pay attention to how their “organic” food is being produced.
And how about imports? The OTA would have you believe that countries like China and former Soviet bloc states, with endemic histories of commercial fraud (pirating intellectual property, counterfeit trade brand merchandise, adulterated and dangerous food, etc.) are perfectly responsible to do business with. Past Cornucopia research has shown that the USDA is doing an inadequate job of oversight — if we are going to do business with suspect countries we should be allocating abundant resources to assure their safe compliance with the law. That’s just not the case currently.
Should we be surprised? The primary funding of the OTA comes from giant corporate agribusinesses like General Mills, WhiteWave (formerly Dean Foods), Smucker’s, and others that are all too happy to depend on factory farms and imports for a large percentage of their ingredients.