60 groups call on Organic Trade Association members to cancel memberships

Wisconsin State Farmer
Groups representing millions of consumers condemn OTA’s role in passing the DARK Act


About 60 organizations representing millions of U.S. consumers have called for companies to withdraw from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in protest over the OTA’s role in passing a federal law that nullified Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law. The groups, many of which for years worked to pass state laws requiring labels on GMO ingredients, signed a letter asking OTA members to show solidarity with consumers by dropping out of the OTA.

“OTA’s leadership betrayed the more than 90 percent of Americans who support mandatory labeling of GMOs by working behind the scenes with federal lawmakers to craft a federal law that ensures food corporations will never have to reveal, in plain English on product labels, the GMO ingredients in their products,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), lead author of the letter.

According to the letter, which was signed by many of the organizations involved in the GMO labeling movement, including Food Democracy Now!, Center for Food Safety and Food & Water Watch:

"In a purely self-serving move, OTA Executive Director Laura Batcha, and board chair Missy Hughes (who also serves as general counsel for Organic Valley), with support from Organic Valley CEO George Siemon, endorsed the Stabenow-Roberts DARK Act. Why? Because powerful members of the OTA, and multinational food corporations selling so-called “natural foods” do not want the public to know what’s in their non-organic brands. And so certified organic products could make a label claim that they are GMO-free."

Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law took effect July 1, 2016. National food brands had already begun labeling GMO ingredients in order to comply with the law, which was opposed by the multi-billion-dollar Grocery Manufacturers Association whose members include biotech and food corporations.

On July 29, President Obama signed a federal law preempting Vermont’s law. Lawmakers misrepresented the federal law as a “federal uniform mandatory labeling solution,” when in fact the law exempts most GMO ingredients and allows food companies to hide GMOs behind confusing and discriminatory electronic barcodes.

The letter from the 60 groups states that without help from the OTA, the federal law would not have passed.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization advocating on behalf of more than two million consumers in the U.S. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.