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Charges of Corruption Taint Organic Trade Association

A new short film claims that the board of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is undermining the ethic of of the organic movement. The film, embedded below, was released by an anonymous person or group called Organic Spies, suggests that at least four current board members of the OTA are in conflict of interest because the companies they represent overwhelmingly rely on genetically engineered ingredients, something that is anathema to the organic movement.

I love a shadowy figure as much as the next guy, but I also checked with former OTA director and board member Arran Stephens, CEO of the still independent and fiercely organic cereal company, Nature's Path, to get his take on this breaking scandal.

" My comments are based upon my own experience as a former Board Member of the OTA: I served as a director and Board Member of the OTA and helped with the long process of developing the organic standards that were adopted by the National Organic Program and eventually, the launching of the USDA organic seal. I was proud of the fact that the OTA had worked with the USDA in establishing legal guidelines for organic, so that everyone was under similar obligations: playing on a level field. Please note that prior to the USDA NOP rule, many of the so-called organic product companies were cheating or stretching the rules. Then, there were no laws to enforce compliance, and because Nature's Path did follow all the organic guidelines to the letter, we were at an economic disadvantage to competitors who were buying cheap non-organic ingredients and labeling them as "organic").

The reason I resigned my role on the Board was because there was a tight-knit group of four or five at the top which did not listen or respond to me whenever I urged the OTA to take a firm stance against GMOs--which I considered to be the greatest-ever threat to organics, but I was consistently ignored. Although a couple of other Board members quietly supported me, they didn't have the courage to take on the cabal at the top."