Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another Sneak Attack on Organic Standards:

WASHINGTON, DC- The USDA has announced a controversial proposal, with absolutely no input from consumers, to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products bearing the "USDA Organic" seal. Most of the ingredients are food colorings derived from plants that are supposedly not "commercially available" in organic form. But at least three of the proposed ingredients, apparently backed by beer companies, including Anheuser-Busch, and pork and food processors, represent a serious threat to organic standards, and have raised the concerns of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as well as a number of smaller organic companies and organic certifiers.

Specifically, OCA disagrees with what we are calling the "Budweiser exemption," allowing conventionally grown hops produced with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, to be used in beers labeled as "USDA Organic". Also, OCA strenuously objects to the USDA's proposal to allow the use of conventionally raised factory-farmed animals' intestines as casing for sausages labeled as "organic." OCA is also disturbed that the USDA public comment period on this proposal is only seven days, leaving concerned consumers little time to mobilize. “We are outraged about this latest sneak attack from the USDA. 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. If passed, this proposal will weaken the organic seal and show the public that the USDA represents the interests of industry and not consumers," says Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of OCA.

In response to the USDA proposal, OCA has written a petition that will be presented to the USDA towards the end of the public comment period. The petition reads:

Speaking from the perspective of organic consumers, we support the NOP for clarifying to producers that if an item is not on the National List, it cannot be used in conventional form. However, we do not support a number of the NOSB's 38 recommended additions to the National List. Notably, we are opposed to the addition of casings from processed intestines, hops (without specific listings), fish oil, beet juice, lemongrass, rice starch and whey protein.

AMS-TM-07-0062 claims that these exceptions must be added to the list to offer concessions to countless companies who have violated the National Organic Standards in the past by using conventional ingredients that were not on the National List. These same companies have been given months to petition the NOSB for inclusion of desired conventional ingredients on the
National List. In contrast, the general public has only been allocated 7 days to comment.

The full petition text is available online at: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca...

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ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
6771 SOUTH SILVER HILL DRIVE
FINLAND, MN 55603
USA
Telephone: 218-226-4164
Fax: 218-353-7652
email: adam@organicconsumers.org;
http://www.organicconsumers.org

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