Nature’s Path Parts Ways With Organic Trade Association

Nature’s Path Foods has left the Organic Trade Association due to a series of recent decisions that Nature’s Path feels proves the Association does not share its philosophy of the organic food movement.

In a recent press release, Nature’s Path cites “concerns the OTA is shifting its commitment from supporting and representing the core principles of the organic food movement, to begin pushing a non-organic agenda which threatens the future of organic.”

“Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness of our concern that the important role organic plays to support the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised,” says Nature’s Path founder and co-CEO Arran Stephens. “We believe giant food corporations, that also happen to own small organic brands, use the OTA to influence policy decisions to protect the best interest of their large, non-organic food portfolios.”

Specifically, Nature’s Path called out the OTA’s support of the new federal GMO labeling law, which Nature’s Path dubs “vague and misleading.” Nature’s Path has long been a proponent of clear labeling, but the proposed regulations, which were released in May, have been criticized as problematic by numerous outlets including Civil Eats. As written, the regulations could exclude almost three-fourths of products with genetically engineered ingredients from being labeled.

The regulations are currently open for public comment through July 3; Nature’s Path encourages consumers to make their thoughts known in that time.

“We believe organic can protect and enhance the health of people and planet. Organic can build a better world, free from food with chemical residues, free of toxic environments for farmers, and free of catering to big business at the expense of real people,” says Stephens. “We’re alarmed the new bill works against our basic human right for food transparency which exists in 64 other countries around the globe with clear GMO labels.”

Nature’s Path also points to OTA’s tacit support of hydroponics falling under the organic certification label as problematic. The National Organic Standards Board voted against banning hydroponic growing systems from the organic label late last year, and while the OTA released a statement that the Association would have supported a ban if the definition of hydroponics had not been changed, the inclusion of container production in the category that also includes hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics influenced the Association’s decision not to support the ban.

Nature’s Path was one of the first certified organic companies in North America. It produces breakfast foods that are distributed in over 50 countries. Nature’s Path intends to continue its membership with the Canadian Organic Trade Association and to fund research by the Organic Center, Organic Farmers Association and the Rodale Institute.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco