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Organic Trade Association: Wolf In Sheep's Clothing?

By Theodora Filis

In the US and Canada, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) claims there mission is to promote consumer ethics, protect and promote the benefit of organic trade environment, and promote the economy of the public and farmers as a whole. OTA is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).

“Organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. It includes a system of production, processing, distribution and handling to maintain the organic integrity that starts on the farm. Governed by government standards, organic requires that products bearing the organic label are made without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering or other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation.

Sixty percent of OTA members are micro and small business trade members. The OTA originally went under the name Organic Foods Production Association of North America or OFPANA which was established in1985. Consumers have relied on the OTA for protecting and promoting organic advocacy and standards, instilling confidence in the production of certified organic produce.

The following documentary by Organic Spies tells how the OTA purports to represent organic food companies and farmers, big and small, but is dominated by the organic and so-called "natural" boutique brands of a few big multinational food companies -- whose real stake is in genetically modified foods, industrial agriculture, and factory farms.

This films helps to explains why the OTA has consistently worked to weaken organic standards and has never taken a strong stance against genetically modified crops that threaten to destroy organic seed stocks through contamination.

Providing your family with quality foods that do not contain artificial colors, artificial hormones, and artificial preservatives, or GMOs should not be a guessing game, or a game of Truth or Dare. So, how can you be sure the food you're buying is in fact organic? In order to be labeled organic, foods must fall into one of the following categories:

100% Organic: All ingredients, with the exception of salt and water, must be produced organically. The agency certifying the product must be clearly stated on the label. The USDA organic seal may also be included on the label.

Organic: This label applies to products with at least 95% organic content. The balance of the ingredients must be all natural ingredients not commercially available organically, and must be listed on the USDA's National List of non-organically produced products not available in organic form. The agency certifying the product must be clearly stated on the label. The USDA organic seal may also be included on the label.

Made with organic ingredients: This label applies to products with at least 70% organic content. The balance of the ingredients can be made up of all natural ingredients or items listed on the USDA's National List of non-organically produced products not available in organic form. The label may state "Made from Organic" and list up to three of the organic ingredients. No other organic claims can be made on the package other than the designation of specific organic ingredients in the ingredient statement. The agency certifying the product must be clearly stated on the label. The USDA organic seal may not be included on the label.

Cosmetics: not regulated by any government agency, which means there are no specific federal standards for such products. However, personal-care products are allowed (but not required) to display the US Department of Agriculture’s Organic seal if at least 95 percent of their ingredients were organically produced.Some health and beauty products might reflect the basic ideas of an organic lifestyle. For example, they might contain no artificial ingredients or additives. But the only way to know if a health or beauty item is truly certified organic is to look for the USDA Organic seal.

An international Food Label battle, involving more than 100 countries that comprise the Codex Alimentarius Commission, ended on July 5, 2011 in Geneva when the US "surprisingly" withdrew its objection to listing GMO ingredients on food labels. However, If you think US food packaging is about to provide consumers with full disclosure of genetically modified ingredients… think again. The US ended the stalemate with conditions...

The new Codex agreement allows any country to use food labelling that advises consumers a product contains genetically modified ingredients -- this disclosure is not the law -- it is completely voluntary, and at the discretion of the country.

Since the US is the largest producer of Genetically Modified foods in the world, it remains more than likely consumers in the US will remain in the dark about exactly what they are eating.

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