Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Smelly Networks and the Threat to Organics

I knew there was some malodorous ownership of organics going on, but I had no idea it was this extensive. Some of my favorite products - Arrowhead Mills flours and grains, Muir Glen canned tomatoes, Silk soy milk, Stonyfield Farms yogurt - are owned by ExxonMobile, Phillip Morris, and Walmart! Ugh.

Here's a visual. 1 (Click for larger.)

In this graphic, which is not at all inclusive, you can see, for example, that the blue bubble, Hain, owns many green-bubble organic offshoots. A few of Hain's principle stockholders are ExxonMobile, Phillip Morris, Citigroup, Pfizer, Merck, etc.

Here are some details: I can't blame big industry for wanting to get involved in the growing multi-billion dollar organics industry, especially when it directly competes with their established brands. But when big business, with bigbucks, and big pools of lobbyists start to throw their weight around, things like this happen:

The USDA and industry lobbyists are (right now!) pushing a bill in Congress to lower organic standards. The rider to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill would allow undisclosed synthetic ingredients in organic foods, and most disturbingly, would shift control over organic standards away from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and into the hands of the federal government (who in the past have recommended that genetically modified foods, irradiated foods, and foods containing previously banned pesticides, hormones and other drugs fall under the umbrella of "organic".)

If you're interested in sending a letter to your representatives, the Organic Consumers Association has made it easy:

Send a Letter!
1 Thanks to Phil Howard from The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, the Organic Consumers Association, and Slashfood.

No comments: