Congress OK’s Industry Attack on Organic Standards
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Despite receiving more than 350,000 letters and phone calls from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) members and the organic community, on October 27 Republican leaders in Congress attached a rider to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Bill. This rider weakens the nation’s organic food standards, in response to pressure from large-scale manufacturers.
“Congress voted last night to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label,” said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association. “The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multi-billion-dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years.
As passed, the amendment sponsored by the Organic Trade Association allows:
u Numerous synthetic food additives and processing aids, including more than 500 food contact substances, to be used in organic foods without public review.
u Young dairy cows to continue to be treated with antibiotics and fed genetically engineered feed prior to being converted to organic production.
u Loopholes under which non-organic ingredients could be substituted for organic ingredients without any notification of the public based on “emergency decrees.”
OCA will work to reverse this rider with an “Organic Restoration Act” in Congress in 2006.
Background of the Sneak Attack
After 35 years of hard work, the U.S. organic community has built up a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture, based upon strict organic standards and organic community control over modification to these standards.
Now, large corporations, such as Kraft, Wal-Mart, and Dean Foods—aided and abetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and members of the Organic Trade Association—have moved to weaken organic standards by allowing Bush appointees in the USDA National Organic Program to take away the
National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) traditional lead jurisdiction in setting standards. What this means, in blunt terms. is that USDA bureaucrats and industry lobbyists, not consumers, will have near total control over what can go into organic foods and products.
Call your Congressional Representatives and Senators today. Together we will take back citizen control over organic standards and preserve organic integrity. n
This report appears on the website for the Organic Consumers Association, www.organicconsumers.org. For more information, contact Sam White, Agriculture and CAFO Chair, at 301-264-4162, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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