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Top 10 USDA Organic Crimes

Dear good food advocates,

I’ve always said that the organic seal is the best guide to good food when you can’t talk to the farmer directly. I still say that, and I mean it.

If you follow the work we do at Cornucopia, you know we’re vocal watchdogs of organic policy because we want to ensure a level playing field for family-scale farmers.

And we want to ensure that consumers can trust the authenticity of the organic label, meaning humane animal husbandry, environmental stewardship, and fair treatment for farmers.

Your partnership assures Cornucopia’s continuing rigorous oversight.

That’s why I want you to know about the letter (PDF) we wrote last week requesting an independent audit of the USDA National Organic Program. I want everyone who cares about good food and farms to know about the corruption that is happening.

That audit request letter details ten ways the National Organic Program is acting illegally or unethically:

  1. Not stopping organic commerce from known factory-farms
  2. Allowing “organic” poultry production without outdoor access for birds
  3. Allowing extraordinarily obvious conflicts-of-interest among members of the National Organic Standards Board
  4. Appointing agribusiness employees to farmers’ seats on the board
  5. Allowing incompetent organic certifiers to audit themselves
  6. Failing to investigate public complaints against incompetent certifiers
  7. Allowing the organic certification of soil-less (hydroponic) growing systems
  8. Allowing hexane-extracted DHA oil to be used in “organic” foods
  9. Keeping its investigation and enforcement actions secret
  10. Squandering taxpayer dollars fighting lawsuits demanding documents that should already be public

We have to stop this corruption from spreading any further.

I hope you’ll join me by making a donation, at any level, to fight back against policy-industry corruption.

Your donation helps you stay informed, speak out, put pressure on policymakers, and know which really ethical organic businesses and farms to buy from.

Thank you for caring as much as I do about the promise of organic and local foods! Together, we can do this!

Mark A. Kastel
The Cornucopia Institute

P.S. The USDA would like us—you, me, and everyone who cares about good food and farms—to go away, quietly. Please, help underwrite the work that shines a spotlight on organic industry and policy corruption. Make a donation today in any amount at Thank you!


I applied for a job listed by Cornucopia and they never even replied to my application which is not a practice I respect but I do respect the work they do.  Their list of 10 is pretty interesting, huh? If you’re looking for an end of year donation – consider this one.

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