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Coalition for Sustainable Organics responds to hydroponic lawsuit

SAN DIEGO, CA March 3, 2020 – The Coalition for Sustainable Organics (CSO) is saddened by the latest attempts by the Center for Food Safety and their allies to limit fair competition and organic supplies in the market through legal action.

Lee Frankel, the executive director of the CSO stated, “It is disappointing to see groups target pioneering organic farmers that use the most appropriate organic growing methods adapted to their site-specific conditions on their farms to meet the needs of consumers. The members of the CSO are strongly committed to the integrity of organic standards and the organic label. The groups behind the lawsuit failed to convince the members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to prohibit container and hydroponic production methods after significant industry debate and submission of public comments. Instead of unifying the industry after the decision made by representatives of the organic community at the NOSB, the CFS is seeking to eliminate public input to achieve their goals of restricting competition to drive up the price of organics for organic consumers to allow favored producers to increase their profit margins.”

Frankel continued, “Growers using containers adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards under the National Organic Program (NOP) and have been allowed to grow certified organic produce since the initiation of the NOP more than 25 years ago. After extensive study in 2010, the USDA through the NOP opted not to change these high standards for certifying organic produce – and affirmed that organic produce can be grown through containerized methods. After additional review in 2015-2017, the National Organic Standards Board voted to reject a proposed prohibition on container and hydroponic systems.”

Karen Archipley of Archi’s Acres of Escondido, CA, added “Our production systems are managed in accordance with the federal organic law. We chose to incorporate hydro-organic methods at our operations since it is the most appropriate way to promote ecological balance by drastically reducing our water use, conserve biological diversity by preserving valuable habitat while still incorporating the microbial processes described by organic pioneers to recycle nutrients to nourish our crops. Every choice we make and every input we use must be audited and approved by USDA-accredited certifying agents like any other Organic Farmer.”

Archipley continued “Changing the rules now would limit the amount of organic produce available to the public – just as the public is demanding more organic produce. This is not an issue that should be settled in the courts or politicized. If a grower meets USDA standards for organic certification, they should be able to market organic produce, whether they grow in soil or any other sustainable, certified organic growing media.”

Lee Frankel, Executive Director