Richmond-based Nature's Path Foods, a leading organic breakfast company in North America, has recently announced its resignation from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), citing concerns that "the association is moving towards a non-organic agenda and away from its commitment to supporting the organic food movement."
According to Nature’s Path, a couple of recent actions taken by the OTA have driven this decision, including supporting a “vague and misleading” national genetically modified organism (GMO) labelling law in the U.S., and allowing hydroponics to fall under the organic certification label, which the company believes has no organic agriculture or soil present.
"Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness about our concerns that the important role organic plays to support the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised," said Arran Stephens, Nature's Path founder and co-CEO, in a press release.
"We believe giant food corporations, who also happen to own small organic brands, use the OTA to influence policy decisions to protect the best interests of their large, non-organic food portfolios."
The company believes that the new GMO labelling law in the U.S. could exclude almost three-fourths of products with genetically engineered ingredients and use confusing new GMO terminology and symbols for on-pack disclosures.
It also accused the OTA of supporting the new national bill without the knowledge or express consent of many organic members like Nature's Path.
"We're alarmed the new bill works against our basic human rights for food transparency which exists in 64 other countries around the globe with clear GMO labels," said Stephens.
"We are committed to rebuilding what we believe has been lost, by being a strong voice to ensure that organic continues to change food and agriculture for the better."
As one of the first certified organic companies in North America, Nature’s Path was a founder of Organic Merchants, a predecessor of the OTA, in 1971.
The company said it will continue its membership with the Canadian Organic Trade Association, and its funding of research by the Organic Center, Organic Farmers Association and the Rodale Institute.
The Richmond News has reached out to OTA for comment but has received no response to date.