Supporters of Regenerative Farming Mourn the Loss of Ronnie Cummins, Founder of the Organic Consumers Association
Supporters of Regenerative Farming Mourn the Loss of Ronnie Cummins, Founder & Director of OCA
Ronnie Cummins worked tirelessly to make the world healthier and safer for all. He criticized the food industry for producing genetically modified foods fighting for the rights of the consumer.
By Mark Zuleger-Thyss
Ronnie Cummins (1946-2023), the Founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), has passed away from bone and lymph cancer complications.
Known as the world's foremost activist for organic food, Cummins was a dynamic critic of America's food industry. He was director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and its global affiliates, Regeneration International (RI) and Vía Orgánica.
Cummins applied his considerable organizational skills to his pursuit of justice. He used his brilliance and eloquence to remind food producers of the responsibility entrusted to them by the consumer. He was passionate, courageous, and tenacious in all his efforts.
Mr. Cummins called Finland, Minnesota; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, his homes. He traveled to all parts of the globe, where he forged relationships with activists working on organic food, climate, and health freedom issues.
Mr. Cummins sought to save Mexico's native corn from contamination by the transgenic industry.
Cummins knew the way agriculture had been done since its inception was not working. He believed in a concentrated effort to restore biomass and biodiversity and return organic matter to the ecosystem. Via Orgánica establishes regenerative agriculture hubs to restore degraded lands and create replicable models for repairing entire ecosystems.
As an author, he published several books, including Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.
One work, Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal, "should be in the hands of every activist working on food and farming, climate change, and the Green New Deal," said activist Vandana Shiva.
In 1998, he and his wife, Rose Welch, founded OCA to safeguard organic standards and promote more just agriculture systems. Today, the organization's education campaigns reach an estimated 2 million consumers.
And in 2015, Cummins co-founded Regeneration International. This global network mitigates climate change through regenerative farming and land use.
Cummins railed about milk produced by hormone-treated cows after moving to Finland, Minnesota, in 1998.
"Recombinant bovine growth hormone is bad for dairy cows, literally burning them out in three or four years, causing terrible physical stress and a long list of medical problems including reproductive complications," Mr. Cummins wrote in 2008.
Though there are questions about the effect of modified organisms on biodiversity, scientists have a near-universal consensus that genetically modified foods are safe.
A longtime goal of Mr. Cummins's was for the government to require labeling on modified food.
Mr. Cummins called brands like Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms "organic traitors." He accused the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Whole Foods supermarket chain of surrendering "to Monsanto and a corporate agribusiness" by backing the legislation restricting labeling.
"In other words, business as usual," he added, then used a buzzword for genetically modified products — "Shut up and eat your Frankenfoods."
Ronnie Cummins grew up in "Cancer Alley" and thought he had a good chance of dodging the cancer bullet because of his diet of organic food, connection to nature, and all the laughter and time spent with family and friends.
Mr. Cummins passed away in April 2023 in San Miguel de Allende, where he lived and worked.
His death is especially saddening, considering that he dedicated his life to exposing the link between disease and environmental toxins. The world is much more aware of the connection between health and food due to his influential platform. He found his passion fighting to improve the quality of food for the planet as a whole.
Cummins is survived by his wife, Rose, and son, Adrian.
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