Letter From the OTA


Letter from the Organic Trade Association

Sept. 26, 2005

Dear OTA members:

In light of misinformation that is circulating about the amendments OTA is supporting in Congress, OTA has posted a public letter on its web site (www.ota.com). The letter (also shown below) sets the record straight about how OTA is working to save the national organic standards.

We encourage you to circulate this letter to others (your employees, members, clients, customers and vendors).

Thank you for your assistance in helping to clarify OTA's position on restoring the national organic standards.

Remember that all of the background information on the lawsuit and the current news as it enfolds is posted at: www.ota.com/m/LawsuitHome.html.

OTA staff

Setting the Record Straight
An Open Letter from the Organic Trade Association

Saving the Standards We All Worked So Hard To Get
OTA would like to set the record straight concerning misinformation that is currently circulating about the amendments it is supporting in Congress.

For the past 20 years, the Organic Trade Association has worked diligently to develop standards to safeguard the integrity of the term "organic" for products sold in the United States. Getting National Organic Standards was a major accomplishment for all of us in the organic community.

OTA continues to support strict organic standards. And this is why OTA is supporting action by Congress that will uphold the standards as we know them. The only change to the rule that OTA's amendment would make is to make it more difficult for manufacturers to claim that ingredients are not commercially available as organic by proving it to USDA. This, in fact, would strengthen the rule.

What is OTA doing? OTA wants to keep the standards that are in place. Companies will still have to be certified by accredited certification agencies in order to market products as organic, and labeling will remain the same: 100 percent organic, Organic (95 percent or more organic ingredients by weight excluding added water and salt), and Made With Organic Ingredients (for products in which at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic).

The existing organic standards allow specific materials essential to making numerous organic processed products. These are non-agricultural materials that are necessary in certain production and processing practices that have been used in producing foods for decades, such as baking powder, a type of pectin and carbon dioxide. OTA is advocating that products currently labeled as certified organic remain the same products that consumers have been purchasing for the past three years.

Because of a recent court ruling, without the amendments OTA supports, the following examples are a few of the products that will not be able to be labeled as "Organic" and will not be able to carry the USDA Organic seal:

most bread, crackers, and breakfast cereals
milk, cheese, yogurt and tofu
any products containing sugar

Even bananas and lettuce will not be able to be sold as "Organic" because common handling practices for those products require materials that are disallowed by the recent court ruling.
As a result, there will be fewer "Organic" products available to consumers in the marketplace, "Organic" products will be more expensive, and there will less incentive for manufacturing companies to buy organic ingredients, thus reducing markets for organic farmers.

OTA stands behind the National Organic Standards Board as the citizen advisory board and its process to issue regulations and guidelines. These technical corrections do not change NOSB's status.

OTA will work with NOSB on regulatory changes that are within the context of the law and the amendments