Congress voted yesterday to weaken the nation’s organic food standards in response to pressure from large-scale food manufacturers.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and food processors have been pressing Congress to change the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to allow for the use of numerous synthetic substances in products labeled “organic” and to weaken organic dairy standards.
A recent court decision ruled that the OFPA does not allow synthetic (non-natural) ingredients to be used in foods labeled “organic” and that the act must ensure a strong standard under which dairy cows are converted to organic milk production. After rejecting efforts by members of the public interest and environmental community to reach an agreement on these issues, major food processors in the organic food industry, including Smucker’s, Dean Foods, and Kraft, pushed Congress to “quietly” change the law to allow the use of such synthetic ingredients and potentially weaken the organic dairy standards.
“Congress voted last night to weaken the national organic standards that consumers count on to preserve the integrity of the organic label,” said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.. “The process was profoundly undemocratic and the end result is a serious setback for the multi billion dollar alternative food and farming system that the organic community has so painstakingly built up over the past 35 years. The rider will take away the traditional role of the organic community and the National Organic Standards Board in monitoring and controling organic standards. Industry’s stealth attack has unnecessarily damaged the standards that helped organic foods become the fastest growing sector in the food industry.”
More here. I guess in the future, the word ‘organic’ is going to be as meaningless as the word ‘home-made’ on a food label. Or as meaningless as the words ‘honor and integrity’ are to this congress and administration.
There is no reason to change the standards other than to mollycoddle big agribusiness firms who want to continue producing food the way they do yet reap the profits of the niche organic market.
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And, btw, it is small businesses, the ones Republicans claim to love, who will be hurt by this. Most of the locally raised fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy around here are grown and raised by organic farmers. Ruining the organic label will destroy these businesses, which just recently have started up and started to become profitable.
Not to mention it will limit my choices as a consumer.