June 8, 2012 - Passions flared at USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting


Passions flared at the meeting of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the federal advisory panel approved a number of synthetic ingredients for use in organics, over the objection of the majority of industry participants.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), requires that the majority of 15 NOSB seats be reserved for farmers, consumer advocates, environmentalists and others public interest representatives as a balance to corporate power.

In their report, The Organic Watergate, issued earlier in May, Cornucopia’s findings illustrated that materials were being evaluated by food scientists working directly for corporate agribusiness and then approved by a body (the NOSB) illegally stacked with agribusiness representatives.

The most controversial material approved at the meeting was carrageenan, a stabilizer and thickener synthesized from seaweed. Carrageenan has been shown to trigger gastrointestinal inflammation, which is known to cause serious intestinal disease, including cancer. "Degraded carrageenan," which is present in all food-grade carrageenan, is classified as a "possible human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health.

One would expect Dean Foods (Horizon and Silk) and Dannon (Stonyfield), to be in favor of the inclusion of carrageenan in its products, but it is interesting to note that Organic Valley also lobbied for its approval.

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