I'm afraid that the word "organic", like too many other once good
words, has already become meaningless because of its being used in too many
ways with too many different meanings, so some might deem it their right
to apply whatever definition suits their fancies. ("Gay" & "recycle",
are a couple of other grossly misused words). In chemistry for example, "organic"
refers to any chemical including carbon. One definition of "organic" in
my small dictionary. is "relating to or derived from living things" which
could include sewage or other animal offal. Couldn't another word or combination
of words more adequately specify what, specifically, "organic" livestock
Original Message -----
Wednesday, February 26, 2003 8:06 AM
E-M:/ Organic under attack, agribusiness mission is to make the term "Organic"
FYI Samuel DeFazio, Praxis
Organic under attack, agribusiness mission is to make the term
Action Alert: U.S. Organic Standards Threatened
February 24, 2003
The new U.S. organic standards, which went into effect in October of
2002, are in serious danger of being weakened. Originally the standards
required organic livestock to be raised on 100% organic feed. Recent changes
will allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to certify meat,
chicken and eggs as "organic" even if the animals have been fed on conventionally
produced grain. A last minute amendment to a spending bill passed by the
U.S. Congress on February 13, 2003, would not require enforcement of the
100% organic feed requirement if the USDA confirms that organically produced
feed costs more than twice as much as conventional feed. Organic advocates
urge U.S. voters to contact their representatives and urge them to support
a repeal of these changes.
The New York Times reports the rule change was added to the massive spending
bill at meeting held behind closed doors with only Republicans in attendance.
The rider was slipped in at the request of Representative Nathan Deal,
a Republican from the state of Georgia, who received US$4,000 in campaign
contributions from employees of a poultry producer seeking an exemption
to feed his chickens a mix of conventional and organic feed.
"The language is a threat to the organic label," said spokeswoman Holly
Givens of the Organic Trade Association, which consists of organic suppliers
and sellers. "And the fact that it was done in an underhanded way should
not be allowed to stand as a precedent for other people to try."
When the changes were made public, Senator Patrick Leahy, (D-VT) one
of the authors of the 1990 "Organic Foods Production Act," announced that
he would introduce a bill to reverse the change after Congress re-convenes
February 24, 2003. Leahy asserts, "Getting the organic standards that are
behind the 'USDA Organic' label right was a long and difficult process,
but critically important to the future of the industry. Along the way,
some tried to allow products treated with sewer sludge, irradiation, and
antibiotics to be labeled 'organic.' The public outcry against this was
overwhelming. More than 325,000 people weighed in during the comment period.
The groundswell of support for strong standards clearly showed that the
public wants "organic" to really mean something. Those efforts to hijack
the term were defeated, and this one should be too."
In the days since the changes were slipped through Congress, major food
firms with organic products such as General Mills and Tyson's Foods have
denounced the rollback in the standards, but officials at USDA attending
the closed-door session remained neutral. "This department did not take
a position on this" said Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary
Ann Veneman. "The department is ready to enforce the clause. We have to
meet the will of Congress, so we will add a price component to a study
that we began last year on the availability of organic feed."
"I think this jeopardizes the whole organic industry in the Unites States,"
Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) said of the provision. Senator Leahy and
Representative Farr are drafting legislation to repeal the changes that
will need a wide number of sponsors in both the Senate and House in order
The National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture and the Organic Trade
Association Organic are asking people to urge their legislators to sign
on to a repeal of Section 771 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
Contact your legislators through a direct link at the Organic Trade Association
website at http://www.ota.com.
Weakening of Organic Standard Is Considered, New York Times, Feb. 14,
National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture press release, February
14, 2003, http://www.sustainableagriculture.net/organicRelease.php.
Agri-Business Examiner, and Associated Press, Even Bush Administration
and Producers Back Away from Organic Standards Bill Change While USDA Remains
"Neutral," Issue 223, February 22, 2003.
National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture, P.O. Box 396, Pine Bush,
New York 12566; phone (845) 744-8448; fax (845) 744-8477; http://www.SustainableAgriculture.net,
Organic Trade Association, http://www.ota.com.
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