News | October 22, 2018

Organic Industry Watchdog, Cornucopia, Shuffles Leadership, Squares Off With Powerful Lobbyists

Fracking Water, Synthetic Ingredients on Agenda at This Week's USDA Meetings

Cornucopia, WI /PRNewswire/ - On the eve of the biannual meeting of the USDA's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), in St. Paul, Minnesota, The Cornucopia Institute has formally submitted a citizen's petition requesting the USDA ban use of wastewater from the oil and gas industry in organic crop production.

Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, is requesting that the NOSB prohibit the practice as the wastewater has been found to be contaminated with hydrocarbons, other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals like benzene, and heavy metals.

"Organic regulations already prohibit using sewage sludge because of contamination with toxins and heavy metals," said Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia's executive director. "A loophole has existed whereas potentially contaminated wastewater from sewage treatment plants is being used to irrigate land in drought prone areas like California, as is processed fracking water. Both should be banned on an immediate basis."

The NOSB is a 15-member expert advisory panel set up by Congress to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act.

Cornucopia staff are additionally commenting on three non-organic materials designed as antimicrobial processing aids (such as washing produce after harvest) and to fumigate soil: silver dihydrogen citrate, allyl isothiocyanate, and natamycin.

"The foundational philosophies in organic management call for creating a healthy and diverse environment, through crop rotation and nurturing the microbiota in the soil –rather than resorting to chemical fixes," stated Marie Burcham, a Cornucopia farm policy analyst and attorney. As for meat carcass disinfectants, Burcham said, "Processing plants should practice better sanitation instead of trying to clean up fecal contamination after the fact."

Cornucopia's Anne Ross will ask the Board to promulgate regulations preventing unaddressed conflicts of interest where the revolving door allows former USDA officials, charged with overseeing the independent organic certification agencies, to immediately go to work for the certifiers that might have benefited from their favorable rulings.

Cornucopia also announced that one of its two cofounders has retired to "emeritus" status. "I have known and worked with our codirector Will Fantle for almost 30 years," said Kastel. "I'm delighted that he will continue, on a part-time basis, his commitment to our mission."

Cornucopia has elected three prominent leaders in the organic farming movement and former NOSB members to its formal Policy Advisory Panel.

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SOURCE: The Cornucopia Institute

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