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    Program ID - bo111605

    Organics Under Attack?

    If you eat organic food, you'll want to listen to this week's show.

    The question: are organic standards - and the process which guides their evolution - being undermined by corporate greed or are those same standards being protected to promote booming growth that benefits farmers and consumers?

    It's a complex issue which has organizations traditionally allied in an "Us v. Them" argument.

    The debate stems from a single lawsuit and subsequent legal actions primarily over the use of synthetic ingredients – such as baking soda and carbon dioxide - in food processing.

    "Synthetics are really a proxy for a bigger question about the future of the organic food industry," says Samuel Fromartz, journalist and author of the upcoming book, Organic, Inc. "For if you ban synthetics, you ban big food and organic remains a pristine, pure niche."

    On this week's show, host Jerry Kay facilitates a conversation between the Organic Consumers Association and the Organic Trade Association, two leading organic advocates who are taking very different stances in this contentious debate.

    This Week's Guests:

    Katherine DiMatteo — Executive Director, Organic Trade Association

    DiMatteo has served as the executive director of the Organic Trade Association (formerly the Organic Foods Production Association of North America) since 1990.

    She is recognized internationally for her efforts to build consensus on organic standards and practices, and for making the connection between organic agriculture and a sustainable future. A founding board member and interim executive director for The Organic Center for Education and Promotion, DiMatteo currently serves as its secretary. She has served on a number of committees and task forces of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

    DiMatteo has received the Heart In Business Award, a peer-evaluated natural products industry honor. In 1999, she was named one of Self Magazine’s “Food Influentials.” In 2000 and 2001, she served on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade (APAC), charged with advising senior government officials on policies that affect agricultural trade issues. She is also a recipient of the National Nutritional Foods Association’s Rachel Carson Environmental Achievement Award.

    Ronnie Cummins — Founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA)

    The OCA is a non-profit, U.S. based network of 600,000 consumers, dedicated to safeguarding organic standards and promoting a healthy, just, and sustainable system of agriculture and commerce. The OCA¹s primary strategy is to work on national and global campaigns that integrate public education, marketplace pressure, media work, litigation and grassroots lobbying. Cummins has been active as a writer and activist since the 1960s, with extensive experience in human rights, anti-war, anti-nuclear, labor, consumer and sustainable agriculture campaigns. Over the past decade he has served as director of US and international efforts such as the Pure Food Campaign and the Global Days of Action. In 1998, Cummins organized the SOS (Save Organic Standards) Campaign, leading to a large scale consumer grassroots backlash against the US Department of Agriculture. Cummins has published numerous articles and authored a series of children¹s books called Children of the World. Cummins most recent book is Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.

    Steve Sprinkel — Owner, The Farmer and The Cook

    Sprinkel and his wife Olivia Chase own and operate an all organic restaurant/bakery/grocery in California’s Ojai Valley called, The Farmer and The Cook. Sprinkel has been a commercial organic farmer since 1975 producing in California, Texas and Hawaii. He has served as an organic certification inspector for 20 years and was on the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) statewide certification committee from 1986-90.

    He is a founding member of the Organic Farmers Marketing Association. For the past eight years has written a monthly column for ACRES, USA (the alternative agricultural journal) commenting on organic certification, regulations and organic trade. Sprinkel also farms on 17 acres, growing seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruit for the store not including 180 tons of citrus that he wholesales every year. In addition he sells vegetables to other outlets including the local school system and independent buyers.

    Phil Margolis — CEO, Neshaminy Valley Natural Foods Distributor

    Margolis has been involved in the organic community since 1977 working to increase the distribution of organic foods and, for the past 13 years, learn the art of small-scale organic farming and manufacturing. In the last few years, Margolis has worked with all the groups in the organic business community - retailers, distributors, manufacturers, farmers, certifiers, inspectors, ingredient & input suppliers - to develop guidelines, training programs, standards and regulations which attempt to codify and protect organic practices across the supply chain and try to help every participant in the organic community to understand each other’s needs.

    Neshaminy Valley Natural Foods Distributor is one of a handful of certified organic distributors in the United States. Margolis also serves on the Organic Trade Association’s board of directors and its quality assurance committee.

    More information:

  • Organic INC

  • Reuters – "US Lawmakers Okay Some Synthetics For Organic Food"
  • San Jose Mercury News – "Congress Weighs Overriding Organic Ruling"
  • New York Times – "What is Organic? Powerful Players Want a Say" (subscription required)

    Web Resources:
  • Organic Trade Association
  • Organic Consumers Association
  • The Farmer and The Cook
  • Organic Provisions
  • USDA National Organic Program

  • Resources for Journalists:

    Journalists who are interested in researching stories related to any Beyond Organic show topic are encouraged to contact Straus Communication for additional resources, including trend data, background materials, experts, statistics, images and more. The service is free.

    Please contact Michael Straus at 415-777-1170 x 302 or email for more information.



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