DENVER, April 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advocates for organic food and farming are, increasingly, victims of their own success. Over the past 25 years this grassroots movement has morphed into a $43 billion industry, turning the biannual National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meetings into a struggle between representatives of organic farmers and consumers, like the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, and powerful agribusiness lobbyists.
The spring meeting in Denver starts on April 19 and could decide who influences the regulations that determine the working definition of the USDA's organic seal.
On the meeting's agenda is the highly controversial question of whether to legalize hydroponic production of organic fruits and vegetables, which are generally grown in industrial-scale greenhouses with liquid fertilizer instead of nutrient-rich soil.
"Few beyond the hydroponic producers, their lobbyists, and certifiers, believe these products should actually be certified organic," said Dave Chapman, a pioneering soil-based greenhouse grower in Vermont. "There is no consumer outcry for hydroponics."
To substantiate Chapman's claim, Cornucopia conducted an analysis of the more than 2,000 public comments submitted to the NOSB prior to the spring meeting. Comments in favor of organic hydroponics were almost entirely from those with a direct economic stake in hydroponics.
"If the thirty thousand acres of conventional hydroponic production gains access to the organic label—with only minimal changes in production practices—that will signal the end of the diversified, regenerative, certified-organic family farm," said Linley Dixon, PhD, Cornucopia's lead scientist and policy director.
The second hot button issue at the meeting is the proposal to allow the use of "biodegradable" plastic "mulch." Instead of removing plastic mulch sheeting from the fields each season, as is currently required by law, a proposed rule change would allow letting it "biodegrade." At a time when the connection between soil health and human health is on the forefront of organic growers' and consumers' minds, introducing potentially damaging soil toxins into organic soil further jeopardizes the integrity of the organic label.
Mark Kastel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-625-2000
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SOURCE The Cornucopia Institute