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OrganicEye Mission Statement
The organic farming movement started as a values-based industry. It was built on a loving, collaborative relationship between family-scale farmers and shoppers willing to pay for food produced based on superior environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry and economic-justice for the people who produce our food. OrganicEye’s mission is ensuring these values and commitments are not compromised in the modern food system.
OrganicEye endeavors to leverage the extensive experience of our management and staff, in farm policy, scientific research and political and marketplace education/advocacy, acting as corporate and governmental watchdogs, educating the public and preventing the erosion of the foundational precepts that the organic movement was founded upon.
OrganicEye is a project of Beyond Pesticides. For almost 40 years it has been a public interest group overseeing the conduct of the Environmental Protection Agency and advocating for the elimination of toxics in food production, our homes, schools and communities.
Beyond Pesticides is Organic.
Who We Are
MARK A KASTEL
Mark Kastel is a founder of OrganicEye.
Mark Kastel has spent most of his professional life advocating for family farmers and working to ensure the integrity of organics. He spent his early career working for agribusiness giants International Harvester, J.I. Case, and the FMC Corporation, but made a paradigm shift to organic agriculture in the early 1980s after suffering a debilitating illness. His adherence to an exclusively organic diet was instrumental in restoring and maintaining his good health.
That shift led him to start farming organically on his own and to establish an industry-related consultancy. As president of M. A. Kastel and Associates, Inc., his professional practice included political consulting and lobbying efforts on behalf of family farm groups, and business development work benefiting farmer-owned enterprises. Mr. Kastel played a key role in several cooperative ventures designed to empower farmers in the marketplace.
He was hired by the Board of Directors of the CROPP Cooperative in 1989, where he conducted their initial market research and coordinated the corporate identity work and production of their early marketing materials and cheese labels — the first steps in the establishment of the Organic Valley brand. He also assisted with the initial research and launching of what is now the largest certified organic agronomic seed producer, Blue River Organics. His other clients included farmer-owned sheep, goat, and cow dairy cooperatives, and an organic maple syrup co-op. He did policy work and acted as a lobbyist for the Farmers Union, as well.
While at the Farmers Union, Mr. Kastel played a crucial role in the farm community’s response to the introduction of Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH). His watershed research garnered extensive media attention when he documented the fact that cows were dying and whole herds were suffering from serious illnesses soon after they were injected. He was also personally involved at numerous stages during the development of the bill to regulate organic farming in Congress and the subsequent rulemaking process at the USDA.
In 2004, he co-founded The Cornucopia Institute and built a reputation as one of the most recognizable and effective organic industry watchdogs.
Mr. Kastel lives on a 160-acre organically managed farm in the rugged hills of southwestern Wisconsin, near the tiny burg of Rockton, where, as director of Beyond Pesticides’ OrganicEye project, he continues to advocate for economic justice for family farmers and to preserve the foundational precepts of organic farming. He did his undergraduate, and work towards a Masters degree, both in business, at night at Northwestern University (funded, in part, through an 80% tuition reimbursement program provided by his initial corporate employers).
Terry Shistar is a founder of OrganicEye.
Terry Shistar holds a Ph.D. in Systematics and Ecology from the University of Kansas, where she also taught seminars in hazardous materials policy, risk assessment, and environmental ethics, and challenged students to find new paradigms for environmental policies. She is a hands-on board member, getting involved in project work, in addition to traditional board activities. She is a regular contributor to Pesticides and You and Beyond Pesticides’ reports, such as Ending Toxic Dependency (2007), and formal comments on regulatory issues, with an emphasis on issues before the National Organic Standards Board. Terry has been a member of the Beyond Pesticides board of directors since 1984; board president from 1988 to 1993; and currently serves as board secretary.
Terry’s involvement with organic production includes almost 50 years of organic gardening, writing Beyond Pesticides reports like Unnecessary Risks: The Benefit Side of the Pesticide Risk-Benefit Equation, and many years of in-depth examination of synthetic/nonorganic materials proposed for use in certified organic production. She considers her scientific understanding of ecology to be informed by her organic garden, where she observes cooperation in nature to be the rule.
Jay Feldman is a founder of OrganicEye.
Jay Feldman, executive director of the national environmental and public health group Beyond Pesticides, has a 38-year history of working with communities nationwide on toxics and organic policies, and agricultural and land management practices that maintain ecological balance, biodiversity, and avoid reliance on toxic chemicals.
Mr. Feldman’s has successfully fought for the removal of some of the most hazard chemicals ever on the market and helped draft the Agricultural Productivity Act, which established the Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) program at USDA that became the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and later the Organic Foods Production Act.
In 2010, he was appointed by the Obama administration to a 5-year term on the National Organic Standards Board, a expert stakeholder panel that advises on federal organic policy and determines allowable synthetic and non-organic materials. He currently serves on the executive board of the National Organic Coalition.
He launched an effort to take pesticides out of hospitals with the publication of Healthy Hospitals (2003) and then successfully implemented nontoxic management strategies at hospitals in the Baltimore area, including Johns Hopkins Bayview and Howard County and the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Mr. Feldman identified pesticides as a significant cause of honey bee deaths and colony collapse disorder (CCD), as far back as 2006, starting a campaign, now called BEE Protective, to native and domesticated pollinators.
He has overseen the development of the world’s most comprehensive web-resource on pesticide hazards and alternative strategies for managing pests, including the databases Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management, which receives over 4 million hits monthly, the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, and Eating with a Conscience.
Mr. Feldman has written extensively in his organization’s journal, Pesticides and You, and in opinion pieces from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, about the unnecessary use of pesticides given the effectiveness of sustainable and organic practices. He headed up a project with the National Park Service to adopt sustainable turf management throughout the system. He has testified before numerous congressional committees and is regularly referenced in major newspapers worldwide and has been seen on television shows ranging from the Today Show to 20/20 news magazine. Jay has dedicated his life to working with local people and community groups to empower and support action where government and chemical companies failed to provide adequate protection of health and the environment.
Prior to his founding Beyond Pesticides in 1981, he served as the health programs director of Rural America, an advocacy group for rural areas and small towns. Jay serves on the board of directors of Earth Share, a federal employee giving program, where he served as past chair. He has a Masters in urban and regional planning with a focus on health policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1977), and a B.A. from Grinnell College (1975).
A message from OrganicEye leadership: Mark Kastel, Terry Shistar and Jay Feldman —preserving organics as an alternative to chemical-intensive farming and food production, destroying our environment and health.
WE WON’T BACK DOWN.
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