OTA Fires Back at Organic Critics with Full-page Ad in Wall Street Journal

For Presence Marketing Newsletter, October 2018
By Steven Hoffman

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Responding to an Op-Ed titled “The Organic Industry is Lying to You,” written by anti-organic and pro-GMO provocateur Henry Miller and published in the Aug. 5, 2018, edition of the Wall Street Journal, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) said enough is enough. Adding insult to injury, on August 7, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb followed up on Miller’s op-ed with a series of tweets essentially agreeing with the misinformation and pledging to review organic claims.

On September 12, OTA put its money where its mouth is, placing a full-page, black and white ad in the Journal’s Washington, D.C./Baltimore regional edition titled, “Here’s a long list of chemicals you should never have to read.” The advertisement, a push-back by OTA against what it calls misleading and disparaging attacks on organic food, calls out the hundreds of chemicals that are prohibited in organic farming, production and processing.

“We will not let these charges go unanswered,” OTA CEO Laura Batcha told Sustainable Food News, adding that its full-page ad is “an aggressive push-back against misleading and derogatory attacks on organic. It is the mission of the Organic Trade Association to protect and promote organic, and it is our responsibility to get the facts out. It’s critically important to push back against these attacks,” Batcha said in a statement.

“Consumers deserve to know the truth,” Batcha added. “Organic’s strength is its transparency, and organic farmers and businesses work hard every day to uphold the standards of organic and to honor the trust that we’ve earned from consumers everywhere. 

Henry Miller, formerly with the Hoover Institution and currently a Senior Fellow with the Pacific Research Group, has a history of arguing for deregulation of hazardous products and taking positions outside the scientific mainstream, reports Gary Ruskin, Director of U.S. Right to Know. “He has claimed nicotine ‘is not particularly bad for you,’ argued that low levels of radiation may be beneficial to health, and has repeatedly called for the re-introduction of the insecticide DDT. He is perhaps the most prolific and best-known promoter of genetically engineered foods,” writes Ruskin, who also reported that in August 2017, Forbes deleted all columns authored or co-authored by Miller in the wake of revelations that Monsanto ghostwrote a column that Miller published under his own name in Forbes.

Photo: Organic Trade Association