|Under proposed new rules, food fertilized with sewage sludge that may contain toxic
metals, irradiated with radioactive waste to kill bacteria, or genetically engineered to
include toxins that kill plant pests could still be certified organically
grown. Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a proposal to define
which products can carry the organic food label. But the proposed rules fall
far short of the standards embraced for years by certified organic farmers and accepted by
If the USDAs plan is adopted as written, consumers will lose all
faith in the organic label, and a $3.5 billion industry in organic
products, said Club Executive Director Carl Pope.
The draft standards blur the distinction between organic and conventional foods. They
would allow factory farms to be certified organic and allow rendered animals to be fed to
Thanks to bureaucratic bungling, the proposal creates an unintended advantage for
factory farming by making it easy for big, conventional agriculture to change its
practices slightly to fit the new organic label, said Debbie Neustadt, member of the
Clubs Agricultural Committee. It could be disastrous for the current organic
Let the USDA know that the proposal directly conflicts with standard organic practices
and consumer expectations, and that it is so deeply flawed it must be withdrawn and
- It should require higher standards for livestock operations: Animals should have access
to outdoors, should not be fed animal parts and manure, should not be treated with
antibiotics and their feed should be organically grown.
- It should not allow the USDA to prohibit the use of terms such as pesticide
free or no antibiotics or hormones, especially as the agency allows
synthetic pesticides and antibiotics in organic agriculture.
- It must be consistent with the 1990 Organic Food Production Act and the recommendations
of the National Organic Standards Board.
To take action: The public comment period ends May 1. Send comments to: Eileen S.
Stommes, Deputy Administrator, USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room 4007-S, AG Stop 0275, P.O. Box 96456,
Washington, DC 20090-6456.
Comments can also be faxed via the National Organic
Program home page at www.usda.gov/ams/nop.
Be sure to send a copy of your letter to your members of Congress.
For more information: Contact either Mamatha Gowda, (202) 675-7908,
firstname.lastname@example.org or Debbie
Neustadt (515) 265-2018, email@example.com
www.usda.gov/ams/nop and www.ccof.org.