Target: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Goal: Call on regulatory officials to revise the charter of the National Organic Standards Board to maintain its independence in the face of intense corporate pressure
Until recently, organic farmers and consumers have had a voice in determining standards for organic foods in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed the charter of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), undermining the independent authority of organic farms and consumer groups to set these standards. These groups are demanding that government regulators revise the charter to protect the NOSB’s autonomy and the public from wealthy corporate interests.
The NOSB was established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and safeguards the integrity of the organic foods label. It is comprised of individuals representing diverse organic interests including farmers, consumers, environmentalists, processors and retailers. The NOSB was given independent authority to, for example, approve the list of materials that can be used in organic production. This group is important in upholding the legitimacy of organic foods, as it operates independently from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is therefore less influenced by politicians and the corporate interests that back them.
The NOSB aims to involve consumers in setting the standards behind the organic label. In order to maintain this important safeguard, the National Organic Standards Board must be kept separate from the USDA. Call on the USDA to immediately revise the NOSB Charter and uphold the group’s independent decision-making authority.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
The USDA has changed the charter for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), undermining the independent authority of organic farms and consumer groups to set organic standards. A range of food producers and interest groups are protesting these changes and demanding that the USDA revise the charter to protect the NOSB’s independence and the best interests of consumers.
It is important to keep the authority for setting organic standards independent from the USDA in order to uphold the integrity of the organic label. In recognition of this fact, the NOSB was given independent authority by congress under the Organic Foods Production Act. The NOSB operates outside of the preferences and interests of the USDA and is comprised of individuals representing diverse organic interests. Farmers, consumers, environmentalists, processors, a retailer and a certifications officer all participate on the board.
By undermining the authority of the NOSB your agency is defying the Organic Foods Production Act and acting against the interests of organic farmers and consumers. I must insist that the USDA revise the charter of the NOSB to allow the group to remain autonomous in setting the standards for organic foods.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Booyabazooka via Wikimedia Commons