Organic Consumers Association
|Motto||Campaigning for Health, Justice, Sustainability, Peace, and Democracy|
|Purpose||Consumer protection and organic agriculture advocacy group|
|National Director||Ronnie Cummins|
|Policy and Advisory Board||Will Allen
Jim and Rebecca Goodman
Julia Butterfly Hill
Frances Moore Lappe
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a consumer protection and organic agriculture advocacy group based in Finland, Minnesota. It was formed in 1998 in the wake of opposition by organic consumers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's controversial proposed regulations for organic food. The OCA is an online non-profit public interest organization that has over 850,000 members in its database. The members include subscribers, volunteers, supporters, and 3,000 cooperating retail co-ops, such as in the natural foods and organic marketplace. The OCA is one of the only organizations in the U.S focused on promoting the interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic consumers.
The OCA deals with wide range of current crucial issues for health, justice, and sustainability. The campaigns are issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, fair trade, environmental sustainability and other crucial topics.
One of OCA's positions is that large corporations are undermining the intent of "organic" as an identifier by influencing the legislation and implementation of government standards, or by directly failing to meet existing standards. Through the OCA's Safeguard Organic Standards (SOS) Campaign and other organizations' cooperation, the organic community has been able to mobilize a great many consumers to pressure the USDA and organic companies to preserve organic standards. One of their campaigns in this regard is a call to boycott Dean Foods' Horizon Organic and Aurora Organic Dairy; as well as Dean Foods subsidiaries Silk and White Wave Foods, and private label milk supplied by Aurora.
- 1 Current campaigns
- 2 Charity efficiency
- 3 Similar organizations
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
Breaking the Chains
The Breaking the Chains campaign is geared toward making healthier choices, both morally and bodily, by supporting local businesses and farmers, purchasing fair trade and sweatshop-free products, and depending on local products as opposed to corporate products, which often have many hidden issues that may be problematic. This campaign is concerned with outsourcing, sweatshop labor, public health, environmental damage, unknown chemical usage and other issues.
SOS: Safeguard Organic Standards
Since 1972, various groups have worked to ensure a certain quality of organic foods. The Safeguard Organic Standards campaign is concerned with large corporations which want to lower standards to claim their foods are "organic" and can market them accordingly and sell them to an unaware public. The campaign targets various companies, including Horizon and Aurora organic dairy products, such as the brand Silk (soy milk). Horizon's parent company, Dean Foods, makes White Wave Foods' tofu and Silk. Much of the soy in these products is sourced abroad, primarily from Brazil and China where environmental standards and workers' rights are routinely violated.
"In late 2005, despite receiving over 350,000 letters and phone calls from OCA members and the organic community, Republican leaders in Congress attached a rider to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Bill to weaken the nation's organic food standards in response to pressure from large-scale food manufacturers."
GE Free Zones
According to the OCA website, approximately 70% of the foods (from corn to milk to meats) in supermarkets have some component that is genetically engineered (GE). However these foods are not labeled, leaving consumers unable to make informed decisions about their purchases. This campaign is aimed at creating laws that would require companies to label foods which contain GE ingredients. The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 5577) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 23, 2010.
Mad Cow USA
Only one out of every 2,000 cows is tested for mad cow disease by the USDA. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the disease's scientific name, is a degenerative disorder affecting the nervous system in cattle. When transmitted to humans via beef consumption it can ultimately cause death, and there is no cure. The OCA is calling for the United States to adopt and enforce strict standards, like those in force in Japan and the European Union.
Children's Environmental Health
Appetite For Change is a program advocating for the reduction of children's exposure to pesticides, toxins and junk food. Through this campaign, OCA aims to stop schools from spraying their playgrounds with pesticides and remove lunch containers that may contain toxins (such as plastics). This campaign is also concerned with the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally assisted meal program offered across the United States, tasked with providing a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch to 27 million children each day.
This campaign is concerned with the proper labeling of food. The USDA now has a clear label to distinguish true organic products with the highest percentage of organic ingredients from those products with lower organic ingredient content and/or those containing any range of synthetic ingredients.
Millions Against Monsanto
The OCA's "Millions Against Monsanto" campaign is an effort open to the public and directed to the company's President and CEO, Hugh Grant. It has also been created to allow those concerned to voice their opinion regarding the company's actions regarding "... sustainable agriculture and farmers' rights." The campaign also highlights other current, pressing issues such as labelling of GMOs available to the public and the intimidation of smaller farmers who are currently being charged with patent infringement by Monsanto.
Although the campaign itself is about specific issues, the OCA also claims that Monsanto is responsible for the following:
- Persecuting small family farmers (see Percy Schmeiser)
- Bovine Growth Hormone
- PCBs, Agent Orange
- Poisoning the Third World
- Roundup pesticide
- Water privatization
- Genetically engineered crops
- Farm bankruptcies
Clothes for a Change
This campaign is focused on avoiding sweatshop-produced clothing and advocating for organic sweat-free items. The organization teams up with farmers, consumers and companies to promote fair-trade clothing.
OCA began advocating a boycott of Starbucks Corporation in 2001 over their use of dairy products produced by cattle injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Starbucks announced in 2008 that their products would no longer contain rBGH.
According to the Charity Navigator organization, based on OCA's 2010 financial information, OCA's program expenses accounted for 73% of the organization's spending. Charities typically allocate at least 75% of their revenue towards programs. OCA has a modest budget, approximately $1,250,000 annually.
Other organizations comparable to the OCA include:
- SOS: Safeguard Organic Standards Retrieved 14 September 2006.
- "OCA Launches Breaking the Chains Campaign: Buy Local, Organic & Fair Made; Volunteers to Organize 1,000 Organic Dinners for Earth Day Week". Common Dreams. April 11, 2005.
- "Break the Chains this holiday season". New Life Journal. December 1, 2005.
- "Organic Consumers Association Endorses Solution for Organic and Non-GMO Natural Products". Digital Journal. August 26, 2011.
- "SOS Campaign". Organic Consumers Association. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- "Industry Sneak Attack on Organic Standards Rammed through Congress". Organic Bytes #68. Organic Consumers Association. October 28, 2005.
- Carr, Heather (July 30, 2010). "The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act – H.R. 5577". Eat Drink Better.
- Monsanto Corporation: A Biotech Company Responsible for Roundup Ready Soybeans
- "Fair Trade vs. Starbucks". Organic Consumers Association. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "Organic Consumers Association". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Delserone, Leslie M. (2008). "Organic Consumers Association". Volume 9, Issue 1. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information. pp. 3–9. Retrieved 18 October 2013.