The Organic Consumers Association is joining forces with the Organic & Natural Health Association, a new trade group committed to bringing together “a broad coalition to work towards preserving and advancing the health and well-being of people, animals and plants, and the planet as a whole.”
“The Organic & Natural Health Association fills a void in today’s market for a trade group that is dedicated to serving the needs of suppliers, retailers and consumers who seek truthful, unbiased and credible information, based on the latest health- and nutrition-based science and research, about organic and natural products,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s International Director. “America’s 100 million organic consumers and 100 million natural health consumers, working together, can be a mighty force for positive change, moving society toward a future which is organic and regenerative, while fighting off the increasing attacks against organic foods and natural health from Big Ag, Big Pharma, and their indentured scientists, propagandists, and political officials.”
The Organic & Natural Health recently held its first annual conference, where Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director, announced that group’s board has decided against advocating for development of a certification or seal for the word “natural” on product labels, in favor of instead strengthening the current definition of “organic.” The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently extended the public comment period on whether or not the agency should define “natural.”
Howard said, “Our research clearly shows that the majority of consumers do not differentiate between ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ and expect products labeled natural to also be organic. So, after careful consideration, we determined that introducing a new ‘natural’ certification seal would not be in the best interest of consumers and could contribute to further confusion. At this juncture, encouraging people to go organic is more important, so we will focus on the existing organic certification seal and do whatever we can to strengthen that program.”
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, a majority of consumers falsely assume that products labeled “natural” are produced without the use of pesticides, and are free of genetically engineered and artificial ingredients.
“Confusion around product labeling and false marketing claims makes it difficult for consumers to know which companies and brands are trustworthy. OCA supports the Organic & Natural Health’s mission to eliminate confusion and to hold brands to the highest of standards relating to product integrity,” Cummins said.
In addition to educating consumers about the false assumptions around the “natural” label, the Organic & Natural Health will collaborate with IFOAM International, OCA and other organizations to promote Organic 3.0, a more inclusive definition of organic, which takes into account the role agriculture plays in the global issues of hunger, inequity, energy consumption, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural resources.
“We can no longer talk about food out of context,” Cummins said. “Food and agriculture are inextricably linked to a host of environmental and social issues, all of which are intertwined. The OCA fully supports Organic & Natural Health’s commitment to raising the bar for organics, and to holding all of those involved in the food supply chain accountable for the role they play in society as a whole. Our interaction with consumers leads us to believe that they understand these issues, support higher standards, and will support those brands that adhere to Organic 3.0 standards and Organic & Natural Health’s values.”