While consumers have pressured food companies to resign from the International Dairy Foods Association and the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, an open letter from the Organic Consumer Association is demanding that more companies follow suit and withdraw their memberships.
Written by Ronnie Cummins, National Director of Organic Consumers Association, the open letter puts Aurora Organic Dairy, Organic Valley and White Wave in the hot seat this time around. After pressuring Stonyfield to quit the IDFA in the beginning of December, OCA hopes to put these three organic dairy companies "under fire."
According to OCA, in July, the association and its allies "asked a number of leading organic dairies to withdraw from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), a trade group that is suing Vermont to overturn its GMO labeling law, and lobbying to pass a federal law that would preempt states from passing laws requiring the mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)."
While two of the organic dairy companies—Clover-Stornetta and Stonyfield Farm—withdrew their membership, OCA is following up with the demand asking the other three companies to resign immediately.
"If your company continues to support the GMA and/or IDFA, consumers will have no choice but to seek out alternative brands sold by companies that are on the right side of the GMO labeling issue," according to OCA and its allies.
Organic consumers are pressuring these companies to "do the right thing" and withdraw their membership, which funds the "pro-Monsanto" IDFA.
Here are a few reasons outlined on the OCA's website as to why organic dairy companies should not belong to the IDFA:
• IDFA is a leading force lobbying to outlaw the sales of raw milk and dairy products in the U.S.
• IDFA is a member of the COOL Reform Coalition, which wants to keep consumers in the dark by fighting Country of Origin labels.
• The IDFA wants dairy companies to be able to hide the fact that their products contain aspartame which has been linked to brain cancer and to the accumulation of formaldehyde, known to cause gradual damage to the nervous system and the immune system and to cause irreversible genetic damage at long-term, low-level exposure.
While the "friendly fire" is real, will these remaining organic dairy companies take it seriously and withdraw.
The open letter reads:
Monday, December 8, 2014
Open Letter to:
Marc Peperzak, CEO, Aurora Organic Dairy
Scott McGinty, President, Aurora Organic Dairy
George Siemon, CEO, Organic Valley
Gregg Engles, Chairman & CEO, White Wave
We are following up on the letter we sent you on July 23, 2014.
On behalf of our members and millions of concerned consumers, we would like you to make our Christmas wish come true: Please take a stand on behalf of consumers’ right to know by withdrawing your membership from the International Dairy Foods Association. We also wish that Aurora Organic Dairy and Horizon’s parent company, White Wave, would quit the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
Clover Stornetta Farms and, just last week, Stonyfield Farms, have done the right thing by siding with consumers, not the biotech and processed food industries. Both companies have quit the IDFA. We will urge consumers to support these pro-consumer, pro-labeling brands.
As we wrote in July, and as you well know, U.S. consumers have been engaged in a long and costly battle with corporations, trade associations and lobbying groups for the right to know whether or not their food has been genetically engineered. Our most recent battles—in Colorado and Oregon—to pass state GMO labeling initiatives were hugely expensive.
But, as with past state initiatives, what we spent was nothing compared with the millions spent by our opposition.
In Colorado, the opposition, many of them members of the GMA and IDFA, spent more than $16 million to defeat consumers’ right to know. In Oregon, where a recount is still under way, the opposition dumped $20.7 million into their anti-consumer campaign.
Both the GMA and IDFA are suing Vermont to overturn the GMO labeling law there. And both organizations are lobbying on Capitol Hill to pass a bill that not only tromps on consumer rights, but attacks states’ rights to pass GMO labeling laws.
In July, after we sent our letter and before Stonyfield quit the IDFA, Stonyfield said it had challenged the IDFA to withdraw from the lawsuit and believed they could do more good by keeping their seat at the table in order to exert pressure on the IDFA to withdraw from the Vermont lawsuit.
Clearly, Stonyfield was unsuccessful. As a spokesperson for the IDFA said, the trade group hasn’t “heard much opposition” to its role in suing Vermont.
Has the IDFA heard from you on this issue? Are those who are running the show ignoring you?
The argument that your company doesn’t support the IDFA or GMA’s anti-consumer actions because your dues go toward administrative costs or other projects, is weak and unsatisfactory. If your dues go toward administrative costs, that just leaves more money for these groups to pour into anti-labeling campaigns and lawsuits.
Besides the IDFA’s role in defeating GMO labeling initiatives, suing Vermont and supporting a bill to kill states’ rights to pass labeling laws, there are other compelling reasons to quit the IDFA:
• The IDFA wants to add aspartame to kids' milk without the currently required labeling. Adding aspartame to any child's product is abhorrent based on recent studies showing how it affects the human microbiome.
• The IDFA has a long history of fighting consumers’ rights to purchase raw milk.
• The IDFA continues to fight Country of Origin labels in yet another move to keep consumers in the dark.
Once again we appeal to your companies, as leaders in the organic industry, to support the consumers who have made you so profitable.
‘Tis the season.
National Director, Organic Consumers Association
Will Allen, Co-Director, Cedar Circle Farm (Vermont)
Paul Burns, Executive Director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Gretchen DuBeau, Executive and Legal Director, Alliance for Natural Health USA
Dave Murphy, Founder, Food Democracy Now!
John Roulac, GMO Inside
Steve Rye, CEO, Mercola Health Resources, LLC
Andrea Stander, Executive Director, Rural Vermont