OTA Members can view the task force’s White Paper and Fact Sheets here. Non-Members may only access the Executive Summary.
A recently published study by researchers at Dartmouth College called into question the presence of arsenic in some organic products. While the study itself focused on toddler formula, health bars and high-energy foods, the resulting interpretation of the findings failed to address arsenic in the wider context of its presence in the environment and food supply in general.
In fact, arsenic in the environment reflects a challenge for all food production. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in soil, water and air, and all plants take up arsenic, including fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether the farming method is conventional or organic.
As a result of interest in and questions raised about arsenic in our foods, the Organic Trade Association in February 2012 organized a task force to determine what is known about arsenic in foods and what areas still need to be addressed. Although arsenic-laden pesticides and animal feed arsenicals are prohibited in organic agriculture, the organic industry recognizes the need to monitor and manage levels of arsenic in organic foods because arsenic is present naturally in the environment. The organic industry is committed to maintaining the safety of U.S. organic products and is committed to working proactively on solutions to help minimize the presence of arsenic in organic products.
The OTA Arsenic in Foods Task Force’s initial role has been to draft a White Paper to serve as the basis of policy development and best practices recommendation(s) for the organic sector. This White Paper is intended to facilitate the development of a common-shared body of knowledge among OTA’s membership. Serving as co-chairs for the Task Force are Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms, and Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director.