Newest Sneak Attack on Organic Standards


Newest Sneak Attack on Organic Standards

This from the Organic Consumer's Association:

Thanks to all of you who joined thousands of organic consumers in late May and signed OCA's petition to the USDA opposing the agency's latest "Sneak Attack" to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products labeled as "USDA Organic".
read full petition here

USDA's controversial proposal to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products labeled as "organic" has fueled the anger of organic consumers and generated a backlash of negative press coast to coast. Over the weekend the New York Times and the L.A. Times (as well as a number of other major news outlets) ran feature stories on the debacle.

The New York Times noted that the mega-brewer Anheuser-Busch pressured the USDA into allowing them to use hops grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers in their "Organic Wild Hop Lager" beer. In the Los Angeles Times, Ronnie Cummins, OCA's National Director, was quoted as saying, "This proposal is blatant catering to powerful industry players who want the benefits of labeling their products 'USDA organic' without doing the work to source organic materials."

Although industry was given the better part of two years to work with the USDA in developing this proposal, the agency only gave the public a brief 7-day comment period. During that short time, the OCA generated over 8,000 petition signatures telling the USDA to back off on allowing non-organic hops, factory-farmed animal intestines, tainted fish oil, and other problematic ingredients in organic products.

On Friday June 8, the USDA took its third swing at organic standards and struck out, violating federal law by refusing to respond to a federal court order to stop allowing companies to use the 38 non-organic ingredients proposed for inclusion in products labeled "USDA Organic". Unprepared for the firestorm of protest against their latest Sneak Attack, the USDA has been refusing to talk to the press.

January 2005 (Strike One): Federal court rules that the USDA has violated federal regulations in allowing conventional and synthetic ingredients in products labeled as "organic".

May 2007 (Strike Two): After heavy lobbying from industry, USDA proposed to allow 38 conventionally grown ingredients in foods labeled as organic. One of those ingredients, fish oil, has never undergone review, which is a violation of federal law.

June 2007 (Strike Three): A federal judge had given the USDA until midnight Friday (6/8) to post its final ruling, which the agency failed to do.

We need to put a lot more pressure on the USDA, demanding they re-open the public comment period on this issue. Industry was given two years, and the public was only given 7 days. Through that process, it appears the organic standards will be significantly weakened unless we can generate enough comments to force the USDA to reconsider its proposal to weaken organic standards.

Please forward this email to all interested friends and colleagues and send a letter to the USDA here: