(NaturalNews) The Cornucopia Institute has announced a wave of class action lawsuits against the Boulder, Colorado-based Aurora Organic Dairy Corporation, which it says is engaged in, "the largest scandal in the history of the organic industry." The lawsuits allege that Aurora Organic Dairy Corporation, which supplies organic milk to Wal-Mart, Wild Oats, Target, Costco, Safeway, and other retailers, is engaged in "consumer fraud, negligence, and unjust enrichment" by failing to adhere to USDA organic standards even while selling its milk under the organic label.
Federal investigators have already found Aurora in violation of organic standards, according to the Cornucopia Institute, and the USDA has warned Aurora over multiple "willful" violations of organic standards. "Aurora was taking advantage of the consumer's good will in the marketplace toward organics, and the USDA has allowed this scofflaw-corporation to continue to operate," said Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, which has been following Aurora's activities for several years and first alerted the USDA to Aurora's practices in 2005.
The lawsuits are the latest round in a battle of wills between Aurora Dairy, the Cornucopia Institute (www.Cornucopia.org) and the Organic Consumers Association (www.OrganicConsumers.org). In the last few weeks, Aurora Dairy threatened to sue the Cornucopia Institute and Organic Consumers Association for their continued publicizing of Aurora's reported failures to meet organic standards. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association refused to back down, insisting on holding his ground on this issue and rallying readers for financial support to defend the OCA against Aurora's potential lawsuit.
In a press release distributed today, Aurora essentially declared it had no idea what the OCA and Cornucopia Institute were talking about and said that, "There is absolutely no basis for claims we defrauded consumers by selling milk that isn't organic -- none whatsoever. Our milk has always been organic." Aurora has announced its intention to fight the class action lawsuits and claims it has been "falsely accused" by the OCA and Cornucopia Institute.
The USDA, for its part, has bewilderingly declared that it has no jurisdiction over these organic standards! Playing right into the hands of the $100 million-a-year Aurora Organic Dairy Corporation, the USDA -- which has long since abandoned any mission of actually defending the interests of the public -- announced it would not take any action against Aurora and would allow Aurora to continue selling its milk as "organic" even though the company has clearly been found engaging in practices that no reasonable person would consider "organic."
As the Organic Consumers Association explains:
In a mind-twisting manipulation of logic, the new acting Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Connors, a notorious cheerleader for biotech and corporate agribusiness, announced last week that this issue, regarding Aurora's violation of the USDA National Organic Standards, falls outside the scope of the USDA National Organic Standards.
"We believe that there are tens of thousands of consumers across the United States who have been directly impacted by Aurora's practices," said Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association. "We are pleased to see this legal action. We will do what we can to ensure that organic continues to mean organic and that consumers get exactly that when they are paying premium prices for organic food."
The Health Ranger's view
In my view, this case is a classic David vs. Goliath battle that's pitting a wealthy corporation against the high integrity, grassroots philosophies of the OCA and Cornucopia Institute. Based on what I know about this situation, I believe Aurora to clearly be in the wrong here, and I think this corporation is lying to consumers by playing games with the definition of "organic." It's getting away with it because the USDA favors corporate interests over consumer interests and has no real intention to enforce genuine organic standards.
I've philosophically supported the OCA for years, and I trust the judgment of Ronnie Cummins, who I know to be a champion of grassroots consumer protection. Ronnie does not carelessly accuse a $100 million corporation of fraud, and he has worked tirelessly over the years to speak out for the interests of consumers.
I see these events as a large, powerful corporation attempting to steamroll small consumer protection organizations that are reporting the truth about Aurora's milk products. As such, I fully support the boycott of organic milk products made by Aurora, and I urge all NaturalNews readers to send financial support to the OCA so that it may have the means to defend itself against Aurora's legal onslaught.
It's also worth mentioning that I don't support the consumption of processed dairy products at all (raw milk is a different story), and it is my opinion that homogenized, pasteurized dairy products directly promote heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and many other health problems in humans. I personally consume no processed dairy products (organic or otherwise), and I encourage consumers to switch to raw almond milk as a healthy alternative to milk products acquired from cows. Still, for consumers who are buying a product labeled as "organic," I agree that such products should be honestly labeled, and if the USDA refuses to enforce commonsense organic requirements, then it is up to consumers to be the ultimate judge of a corporation's actions and to punish those corporations that dishonestly label their products.
Support the Organic Consumers Association and the Cornucopia Institute! Boycott Aurora's "organic" milk from Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, Wild Oats and other retailers. Pester the USDA with concerned letters and refuse to be suckered by a wealthy dairy corporation that has now made the Organic Consumers Association its enemy.
One final question: If Aurora really cared about being organic, why wouldn't they simply agree to meet the standards described by the OCA? Why does Aurora send in the legal team instead of upgrading its operations in a way that would earn the goodwill of the OCA? There is nothing, in my opinion, being asked by the OCA that isn't reasonable. But it appears that Aurora has no intention of changing its ways. Rather, it appears the company would prefer to bully its way around the industry, threatening those who dare to report what they see as really happening at the Aurora dairy feedlots. Look at the aerial photo of the Aurora "organic" feedlots at www.cornucopia.org and decide for yourself? Does this look like an organic dairy operation populated by happy, healthy cows? Do you see large fields of green grass anywhere in that photo?
It looks like a filthy feedlot dairy factory to me.
Regardless of how it looks, I have no desire to swallow a liquid product that even the USDA openly admits contains pus and blood. The only remaining question in my mind is whether it's organic pus and blood or just conventional pus and blood. Because if consumers are going to drink pus and blood, they have every right to know whether it's organic or not, don't you think?
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About the author:
Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.
In addition to being the co-star of the popular GAIAM TV series called Secrets to Health, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
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