Illegal Organic Certification Of Hydroponics Continues

NOSB Split 8:7 Favoring Industry Lobbyists over Farmers


Published:

Agriculture Secretary Perdue tours the Lef Hydroponic Farm in Loudon, NH.

© Lance Cheung; Courtesy USDA, Flickr

 

Can conventional, GMO, glyphosate-sprayed soybeans be certified USDA Organic? Of course not.

Can a farming system that relies on conventional, GMO, glyphosate-sprayed soybeans for fertility be certified USDA organic? Yes, according to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and some organic certifiers, including the nation’s largest, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

If you think that’s absurd, hypocritical, or even illegal under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA), you are not alone.

Thousands of organic farmers, many of whom showed up to protest these hydroponic practices at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting earlier this month, agree.

Organic, by law, depicts a way of ecological farming that fosters biodiversity to control pests, cycle nutrients, attract natural insect pollinators and predators, protect animal welfare, and build fertility by capturing carbon and incorporating organic matter into the soil.

The law clearly requires fostering careful soil stewardship as a prerequisite for organic certification. How do you improve soil fertility...without soil?

But massive industrial hydroponic operations like Driscoll’s (berries), Wholesum Harvest (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), NatureSweet (tomatoes), and other agribusinesses have been gaining organic status without meeting these legal biodiversity and soil fertility requirements.

While not all hydroponic operations rely on conventional, GMO, glyphosate-sprayed soybeans for fertility, the largest operations do.

They also rely on hundreds of acres of plastic—plastic weed barriers, plastic pots, plastic tubing, and plastic ceilings. Plastic everything, and plastic everywhere.

Despite the clear intent of the law, hydroponic “container” growing was given the green light in a corrupt decision by the former director of the USDA National Organic Program without consulting the NOSB as the law requires.

Many organic farmers testified at the NOSB meeting that the organic standards require “in-the-soil, in-the-ground” growing to be compliant, given requirements for cover cropping, soil fertility, and biodiversity. Many were the pioneering, family-scale farmers who have toiled, in the soil, for as many as 40 years helping build the organic industry.

The grassroots growers were joined by larger organic soil-based farmers, including Gerald Davis, a former NOSB member himself.

Davis, representing Grimmway Farms, the largest grower of organic produce in the United States, whose brands include Bunny-Luv and Cal-Organic, testified that plants in containers require constant liquid feed, causing plants to be vulnerable to insects and disease.

Tom Beddard of Lady Moon Farms testified that hydroponic systems will be ripe for cheating; systemic pesticides and fungicides could be easily delivered through the feeding tubes.

Despite voluminous compelling testimony, the system was rigged against the organic farmers from the beginning. The NOP, having already illegally allowed certification of these hydroponic “container” operations without NOSB approval, forced the NOSB to vote on a “ban” of organic hydroponics, rather than voting on a proposal to “allow” certification.

Since a supermajority (at least ten out of 15 board members) is required for a decisive vote, a proposal to “allow” hydroponics would have failed, and the organic farmers would have gone home victorious. Instead, as it was worded, the proposal to “ban” hydroponics failed, eight-to-seven, and the hydroponic industry won.

Between the illegal allowance of hydroponic certification, without NOSB approval or standards, and the stacking of the board with agribusiness representatives, USDA leadership was able to successfully ensure the hydroponic industry would prevail in organics.

Veteran industry observers noted that convincing the NOSB to take a stand against illegal hydroponic production was an exercise in futility and would ultimately have to be arbitrated in federal court.

In an additional note of irony, the NOSB voted unanimously to prohibit aeroponic production (i.e., the feeding with liquid fertilizer through a fine mist).

The difference between aeroponic and hydroponic systems essentially comes down to the droplet size used to deliver liquid fertility.

This contradiction, allowing hydroponics but not aeroponics, is likely due to the fact that there is no aeroponic industry lobby in the organic sector—yet.

Cornucopia members will be interested to hear how the eight NOSB members that voted in favor of hydroponic production can simultaneously justify the exclusion of aeroponic production.

So where do authentic organic farmers go from here? Some are calling for the abandonment of the USDA’s National Organic Program altogether. Others are calling for certification using only high-integrity certifiers, while dropping the green USDA organic logo in protest of NOP’s failure to enforce the law.

In the midst of fraudulent imports and the illegal organic certification of giant factory-farm poultry and dairy operations (CAFOs), the failure of the container proposal was the tipping point for many farmers.

In strongly worded closing remarks to his fellow NOSB members, completing his five-year term on the board, Dr. Francis Thicke (a certified organic dairy farmer with a back - ground in soil science) called for the creation of an add-on label, stating that USDA Organic is no longer the gold standard .

Thicke began, “I learned, over time, that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement.”

For now, ethical farm operations, which are truly innovative in developing systems that comply with OFPA, will continue to be competitively injured as more industrial- scale hydroponic operations shift to organic certification.

Consumers can get involved in Cornucopia’s campaign to put pressure on major retailers to identify, with signage, “organic” hydroponic produce. We have the right to make informed decisions.

Stay tuned. Cornucopia will come up with additional web-based tools so you can make careful decisions in the supermarket, providing your family with the most flavorful and nutritious organic food while simultaneously protecting farmers who follow the spirit and letter of the law.

This article was republished from The Cultivator.

See also:
Here’s How To Boycott Organic Imposters
How To Minimize Your Chances Of Buying “Organic Imposter” Foods

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

April 24, 2018

Word from a long ago love, friend or acquaintance could arrive this morning. Venus is on the move, transition from the last degree of Taurus into charming Gemini during the noon hour. Don’t be surprised by an encounter that makes your heart sing…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2018

Usui Holy Fire II Reiki I Prerequisite: a desire to learn Reiki Study includes the history of Reiki, the Reiki principles, the hand positions used to give Reiki to yourself and to others,...

Cost: $175 (pre-registration required)

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
View map »


Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Contact Name: The Studio at One Earth
Website »

More information

Sunday yoga is back! Hatha Yoga with meditation to get you ready to tackle your spring intentions. Sign up for series or drop in. 

Cost: $75/5 classes; drop in $17.00

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
Website »

More information

Have you done yoga before but feel a little rusty? Haven't been on your mat in a while? Yoga Basics is a great place to begin again. Do you feel you need motivation to jump-start your...

Cost: $60

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. How do we connect with our hearts? And what keeps us from staying connected? In this...

Cost: $35

Where:
Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Feel the bliss of opening your spine, while being totally supported and meticulously aligned. Great for sciatica and low back pain! Classes also held Saturday mornings.

Cost: $18 drop in

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

As springtime rolls around, many of us get out our trash bags, buckets, and boxes in order to clean out and tidy up our homes and offices. Physically cleaning our spaces is great and all, but did...

Cost: Free

Where:
WeWork
31 St. James Ave
Boston, MA  02116
View map »


Sponsor: The Kabbalah Center
Website »

More information

Ayurvedic practitioner. Presenting a 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and nourishment of your body, mind and soul, inspiring results that can last a lifetime. For...

Where:
Concord, MA


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. What does it mean to be deeply touched inside? To feel something deeply? To be connected?...

Cost: $35

Where:
Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
Website »

More information

Join Mediums Laura Wooster and Andrew Dee for an evening of mediumship! In addition to sharing how you also can become more aware of your connection to passed loved ones, Laura and Andrew will...

Cost: $40

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01835
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

YogaLife studio would like to offer this opportunity to slow it down, step back, notice your breath and sit quietly in community. Join us Thursdays from 5:40-6:30 PM. No Yoga...

Cost: Free

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut Street
Suite A
Exeter, MA  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
View map »


Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
Website »

More information

Friday, April 27 - Sunday, April 29, 2018 April Ropes and Ritu Kapur Sohum’s 3rd Annual Retreat will be offered in Beautiful Berkshires, The Spirit Fire Meditative Retreat Center in...

Cost: $385

Where:
Spirit Fire Retreat Center
407 W. Leyden Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

April 27 - 29, 2018 What if there were 5 love languages in the bedroom…and you had a secret decoder ring? Imagine the erotic satisfaction you could unlock…for yourself and for...

Cost: $1097*/couple; Early bird $997* by Feb 14, 2018

Where:
Angel’s Rest Retreat Center
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01301
View map »


Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Telephone: 415-244-1652
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
View map »


Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
Website »

More information

India Discovery Center is pleased to announce the next seminar in the “Let us explore the Cultural History of India.” The fourth event entitled “Seminar on the Golden Period,...

Cost: $20

Where:
Bemis Hall
15 Bedford Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
View map »


Sponsor: India Discovery Center
Telephone: 781-259-0029
Contact Name: Bijoy Misra
Website »

More information

World Qigong Taichi Day is celebrated globally, and at Eastover, it is a day of free presentations, demonstrations and mini-classes offered by nationally recognized leaders in Taichi, Qigong,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

April 28 - 29, 2018 Led by Marconics Teacher Practitioners:  Josh Brotherton and Nadine Muhammad To register:  From US:  Tel: 774-987-9449 Email: yourhealinglight@gmail.com...

Cost: $450

Where:
Suffield Massage Therapy and Wellness Center
230 Mountain Rd
Suffield, CT  06078
View map »


Sponsor: Marconics
Telephone: 774-987-9449
Contact Name: Josh Brotherton
Website »

More information

With award winning author Nancy Smith. Starts April 28th, 7-month certification program about Akashic records. One Saturday a month, 10am - 4pm. womenofwisdominc.com

Cost: $860

Where:
Women of Wisdom
North Easton, MA


Telephone: 508-230-3860
Website »

More information

Be a part of healing history! The last saturday of April each year in hundreds of cities, spanning over 80 nations, people come together…to breath together and provide a healing vision...

Cost: Free

Where:
Elm Park
Russell St
Worcester, MA  01609
View map »


Sponsor: Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy of New England
Telephone: (774) 321-6611
Contact Name: Sifu Gary
Website »

More information

2018 Eclectic-Fest! Our fourth event that is building community, celebrating all spiritual beliefs and practice. Free parking and free admission. Featuring aura photography by the...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Taunton V.F.W.
82 Ingell Street
Taunton, MA  02780


Sponsor: The Enchanted Forest Taunton
Telephone: 774-208-6195
Contact Name: Brother Granite
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags