Founder of the Organic Consumers Association

Ronnie has been a friend, colleague, and ally for over 30 years. I met him in the early 1990s when we collaborated along with others in fighting Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH).

He represented the interests of consumers through his work with the Foundation on Economic Trends, along with another longtime friend and colleague, John Stauber. I was a lobbyist for the Farmers Union at that time. We were joined by others I still revere, like Dr. Michael Hansen at Consumers Union and Tim Atwater, who at the time also represented family-scale dairy farmers at Rural Vermont.

Ronnie, John, and I applied what we learned, endeavoring to build a more just and equitable food system. John launched the Center for Media and Democracy in 1993, Ronnie and his wife Rose founded the Organic Consumers Association in 1998 and Will Fantle and I founded The Cornucopia Institute in 2004 (more recently transferring our hard-earned skillsets to OrganicEye).

Ronnie was tireless in his search for justice, with an emphasis on the dysfunctional system of producing food in our country that disadvantages eaters and farmers alike. He never gave up his passion for investigating the genetic engineering, novel food technologies, and production systems that turn us all into lab rats.

Our phone calls and emails were never exchanged frequently enough. But any time I called him for help, he was always willing to back my efforts. Always. 

Before the pandemic, we used to cross paths somewhat regularly when we were both speaking at food and farming conferences around the country (sometimes appearing on the same panel, such as at Ecofarm in California). Ronnie was a rock star when it came to educating stakeholders about what was at stake with the control of our food and health in the hands of corporate agribusiness, big Pharma, and the biotechnology industry.

Ronnie was a giant in his own right and I, for one, will miss him sorely.

Mark Kastel