News and analysis on genetic engineering & factory farming
by Ronnie Cummins, Nov 8, 1998
There are conflicting factions inside the Clinton administration. While some have heard the thunderous response from consumers, others apparently are as ready as ever to:
TOTAL GOVERNMENT CONTROL
The USDA will possess a "legal monopoly" over the word "organic." Only one organic label, "USDA Organic" will be allowed. The USDA will have the sole power to appoint members to the National Organic Standards Board, giving them the ability to weaken standards by "stacking" the NOSB with appointees sympathetic to industrial agriculture, food irradiation, and genetic engineering.
OUTLAWS HIGHER STANDARDS
The new laws will make it illegal for private, non-governmental organic certifiers to uphold higher standards than the minimum standards dictated by the USDA. The rules will also ban "eco-labels," making it illegal to even imply through labeling or advertising that a product exceeds USDA standards.
"USDA Organic" will allow inhumane, intensive confinement of farm animals and a host of other industrial, factory farm production practices (non-organic feed, toxic inert ingredients in pesticides, antibiotics, additional synthetic chemicals, etc.).
THREATENS SMALL FARMERS
The USDA's proposed fees for government certification and/or residue testing will be prohibitively expensive for small and medium-sized farmers, certifiers, and producers.
JOIN Organic Consumers Action (OCA) in your local area. If you want to become a member or a volunteer -- or make a donation -- call 218-726-1443 or e-mail us. Before the USDA issues its new proposed organic regulations, you will be contacted by an OCA volunteer in your local area.
VOLUNTEER to become part of an OCA Coordination Team in your area. Help us mobilize consumers and retailers, carry out public education and events, and generate media coverage.
ASK your local natural food stores, coops, community restaurants, and farmers markets to contact the OCA campaign so that we can send them posters and literature.
SUBSCRIBE to Food Bytes, our free electronic newsletter, by sending an email with the simple message in the body: subscribe pure-food-action. If you want to receive Food Bytes and our Action Alerts by mail, send us $20 for a year subscription.
SEND us a letter, fax, or e-mail which we will forward to your Congressional Representative, your U.S. Senators, and the White House. Tell your elected public officials that you want the USDA to preserve strict organic standards, and that any final rule must not contain any of the objectionable provisions outlined in this leaflet. Demand especially that the USDA allow private, non-governmental organic certification bodies to maintain and publicize stricter organic standards than the minimum standards proposed by the USDA.
Respond to the USDA's October 28 Official Position Paper -- published in the Federal Register -- on Factory Farming, Antibiotics, and Decertification by filling out the comment form enclosed below. Fax, e-mail, or mail your comments on organic standards by December 14, 1998 to the USDA (referring to Docket Number TM-98-00-7):
Form letter: Keep factory farming out of organic food production and ensure consumer protection against organic fraudEarly last year, an outraged public flooded the USDA with nearly 280,000 comments opposing the agency's proposal to allow factory farming, sewage sludge, genetic engineering, and irradiation in organic food production. Despite this outpouring of public outrage, the USDA is again thinking of diluting organic standards. We need your input now on three critical issues:
Your Name:________________________ E-mail:_____________________
City:______________________________ State:____ Zip Code:_________
Phone:(H)_______________ (W)______________ (Fax)______________
USDA ISSUE #1. Livestock Confinement in Organic Production Systems.
USDA ISSUE #2. The Use of Antibiotics and Parasiticides in Organic Livestock Production.
USDA ISSUE # 3. Termination of Certification By Private Certifiers.
Please send your comments into USDA Docket #TM-98-00-7. The comment period ends December 14, 1998, so please contact USDA immediately:
WARNING! If you visit the USDA's National Organic Program web site or obtain printed copies of the Federal Register notice, please be aware that the issue papers posted there contain inaccurate information about the current NOSB recommendations as well as misleading information about the legal rights of private certification agencies to suspend or terminate certification. DO NOT rely on the information in these papers to frame your comments!
City:_____________________________ State:_____ Zip Code:_________
Phone: (H)_______________ (W)_______________ (Fax)_____________
Send our Campaign office in Washington a copy of your comments to the USDA as well:
Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action
860 Highway 61
Little Marais, Minnesota 55614
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