The Organic Trade Association is the business association representing approximately 1000 member businesses in all sectors of the organic industry in North America. OTA members include growers, farm associations, farm input and ingredient suppliers, brokers, shippers, processors, distributors, retailers, certifiers, and inspectors.
Our goal is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade.
What is Organic?
Organic production systems are based on specific and precise standards which aim at achieving agro-ecosystems that are ecologically sustainable and promote and enhance agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.
· Support the National Organic Program (NOP) by 1) implementing the Organic Foods Production Act and supporting Kathleen Merrigan’s work as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service of USDA in completing the formal rule; 2) requesting OMB to get the Rule out quickly; 3) adequately funding NOP and its mandated accreditation service.
· Protect organic integrity by controlling genetically-modified organisms. Support Rep. Kucinich’s draft bill (still to be filed) and urge EPA not to re-register Bt corn as a biopesticide.
For more information on the legislative agenda, please see back page
A Growth Industry!
In the last nine years, organic food sales have grown at an impressive 20% per year. Consumers are showing their preferences for the ecological benefits of organic production.
Economically, the organic industry creates:
· $5 billion est. sales, 1998
· good jobs
· increased exports
[graphic: bar chart, growth in organic sales, 1989 to 1999 (projected)]
Support the National Organic Program
Please call OMB and request a timely process for reviewing the Proposed Rule. Please also support adequate future funding.
Kathleen Merrigan, Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural and Marketing Service, is a former OTA member and member of the National Organic Standards Board. She has strong support among the organic community.
There are two major ways to support the National Organic Program—expedite the current process and provide adequate funding in the future.
NOP has had to draw a dozen or so staff from other USDA programs to write the Proposed Rule for organic products. It is NOP’s responsibility not only to write the Proposed Rule but also, when the Rule is in place, to accredit organic certifiers. Given the steady 20% annual growth in the organic industry, NOP will need resources to keep up. Congress should fund NOP not only to write the rules but also to follow up on its responsibilities as accreditor.
Protect the Integrity of Organic Agriculture by Controlling GMOs
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have never been allowed in organic agriculture. GMOs have demonstrated ecological risks and potential human health risks. The use of GMOs such as Bt crops hurts organic farming. Organic farmers use Bt responsibly, in small quantities, and in its natural state. The widespread use of its genes will lead to insect resistance.
GMOs have already contaminated organic products. Genetic trespass of GMOs occurs when modified genes drift from the varieties into which they are inserted into other plants, such as Bt corn pollen fertilizing organic corn. Once the results of this technology are in the field, they cannot be controlled, jeopardizing the integrity of organic products and the ability of organic farmers to meet strict organic standards.
Support Congressman Kucinich’s bill to label foods that contain GMOs. This will allow consumers to make an informed choice, a necessary condition of a free market.
Urge EPA not to re-register Bt corn as a biopesticide, or at least to set conditions which address the following concerns: Bt corn pollen kills beneficial insects in the field, as shown by Iowa State University; refuges, or “refugia,” don’t work as expected, as shown by the effect of Bt on mating cycles of the bollworm in Arizona; and perhaps most important ecologically, resistance will develop quickly once Bt is widely used, also depriving organic farmers of one of the most potent biological controls known.
Watch for OTA participation during the 2002 Farm Bill discussion
OTA is considering the benefits of restructuring federal support for organic production. There are various ways organic concerns can be integrated into the Research, Extension, and Education Title, the Credit Title, and the Promotion Title, among others.
We may also seek legislation declaring organic produce a commodity or a commodity group. This would allow promotion through an agency similar to the Milk Council or Cotton, Inc.
For further information, please contact:
Katherine DiMatteo, Executive Director
Mark Retzloff, Chair, Government Affairs
Bob Gray, Washington Representative