It was typical spring weather in the Mile High City for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) spring meeting last week. A day of piercing sunshine was followed by wind and sputtering rain that cascaded off the Rockies. The unsettled climate mirrored the tone of this biannual meeting. A cloudburst of uncertainties was gathering that could decidedly affect farmers and ranchers, manufacturers and consumers all with the swift vote of this 15-member board. While the lion’s share of this meeting was set aside for discussion, it provided a glimpse of the board’s predilections on future recommendations. Continue reading
The National Organic Standards Board met in Denver last week. The room was packed with policy wonks, farmers and consumer advocates. Public comments are the main reason for these meetings. We all sat in a subterranean ballroom to agree to disagree and perhaps influence the board to make the right decisions in order to grow organic.
My three minute comments were applauded by some and likely criticized by others. Following is how I addressed the board:
The rise of Non-GMO foods has stormed the aisles of almost every supermarket, natural food store and big box outlet, running rip shod over almost every other label claim. I can even find the Non-GMO claim inside my local gas-mart amongst the nuts and chips. Forecasts indicate that the global Non-GMO foods market will grow at a CAGR of 16.23% during the 2017-2021 period.
In July President Obama signed the bill S.764, establishing the first GMO disclosure standard for food in the US. The bill requires that the Secretary of Agriculture establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods. It represents a huge compromise for many on both sides of the debate. Big agriculture has always been against any disclosure standards, so they are disgruntled. The good food movement feels betrayed by the QR code and 800-number options that companies can potentially use.
So now no one is happy. How did we get here and how do we move forward? Continue reading
At the turn of the century, I used to traverse the globe in search of organic producers. I gallivanted off to Ecuador and Peru customarily accompanied by Fair Trade USA. I traipsed and traversed continents to develop direct relationships with banana growers: important because bananas were our biggest single selling item in terms of volume. I remember long dusty drives on bumpy roads through poor villages only to arrive at some overheated office to meet a group of hardworking Spanish-speaking farmers. I often sat a bit dumbfounded, understanding about half of the conversation, I would ask myself “Why am I here, why me?” Continue reading