The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Organic Consumers Association,
Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090

ORCA to Attack 'Natural' Products Intentional Mislabeling

New Alliance of Organic Retailers and Consumers to Demand Truth-in-Labeling


The million-strong Organic Consumers Association (OCA), North America's leading watchdog over organic and fair trade standards, announced today at the national Expo-West Natural Products convention, along with its allies in the organic and natural health community, a new nationwide campaign: the Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA). This new alliance of public interest groups and food producers and retailers, including co-ops, natural food stores, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) buying clubs and wholesalers, will aggressively promote organic food and products, and expose and eliminate the misleading practice of "natural" labeling and marketing that has slowed the growth of America's $30-billion dollar organic sector.

"Routine mislabeling and marketing has confused millions of U.S. consumers, and enabled the so-called 'natural' foods and products sector to grow into a $60-billion dollar a year powerhouse, garnering twice as many sales in 2012 as certified organic products," said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's National Director. "By exposing these misleading tactics, and promoting truth-in-labeling, we believe we can rapidly grow sales of certified organic and authentically natural food and products."

Polls and surveys indicate that the majority of America's health- and environmentally conscious consumers are confused about the qualitative difference between organic foods and items and so-called "natural" products. The majority of consumers believe, contrary to fact, that the cheaper foods, supplements, body care, clothing, and other products bearing the "natural" label are "almost organic," while many consumers actually believe that the "all natural" label means a product is better than organic.

"This is outrageous," said Cummins, "given that organic food and products, by law and by third-party certification, are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, animal drugs, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), irradiation, nanoparticles, or sewage sludge, whereas so-called "natural" products are unregulated."

ORCA members will ORCA members will use a combination of public education, marketplace pressure, boycotts, class action lawsuits and state legislation to end misleading labeling practices in the "natural" products sector. Member will agree to:

  • Promote organic foods and products, especially local and regionally produced organic, as well as products in transition to organic, rather than so-called "natural" products. ("Transition to organic" means a producer has signed a contract with an accredited organic certifier to begin making the transition to organic.)
  • Promote truth-in-labeling by demanding signed, legally binding affidavits from "natural" product and ingredient suppliers stating whether or not their products contain genetically engineered ingredients. Voluntarily label or inform consumers about which "natural" or "conventional" brands or products contain GMOs.
  • Educate customers and the public about the qualitative superiority of organic and truly natural products (i.e. 100% pastured and free-range meat and animal products), as opposed to bogus "natural" products, which in most cases are no different than "conventional" chemical-intensive, factory-farmed products.

Public interest organizations, producers, and retailers wishing to join the Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance should contact the Organic Consumers Association by email or telephone: 218-226-4164.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.