Thanks for your thoughts re: organic standards.
My understanding is that there have been and will be opportunities for public
comment on the national organic standards, and I'd encourage you and all others
who have insights on what's necessary for their success to use these
opportunities for feedback.
I'm going to try to find out more about exactly how to do that and forward it to
the list, and I encourage anyone on the list who knows the mechanism to do the
same. For instance, I know there was a recent meeting of the NOSB (National
Organic Standards Board) in Indiana that had public comments, and may have had
written comments too. And I know there will be a chance to give input to the
final rules (although personally I'd suggest giving input before then, because I
think it'll have more impact). Or one might just contact the Ag Secretary
(Daniel Glickman, Secretary USDA, firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 202-720-2166) with your
insights (of course, constructively presented, as a reasonable
In any case, this is a great time to give this input, before the standards are
laid into place (it's a lot easier to impact something as it's being created,
rather than after it's in place).
I think having good national standards could be of great benefit to the
marketplace, organic farmers, and consumers. Bad ones, as you and others have
pointed out, can do various degrees of harm to the same. The people who
participate in the process help to shape the final form. I happen to know that
some of those currently participating are wanting solid strong standards, while
others are arguing for watered-down standards (like some antibiotic use allowed
in organic meat!). So your participation now on those issues that matter to you
could make a big difference in what's ultimately decided.
I'll let you know when I know more about the process....
--------------- Forwarded Message ---------------
From: Bart Hall, INTERNET:email@example.com
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (SANET)
Date: Mon, Dec 2, 1996, 10:27 AM
Subject: Organic Standards, national and otherwise
I haven't yet noticed anyone pointing out the glaring weakness in the
current approach to organic standards -- virtually nothing is done
about the retail level.
In my experience, whenever there is a 'break in bulk' (ie,
repackaging of some sort) there is the potential for fraud.
I'll be blunt. When I go into a store, particularly a regional
chain, like Dominicks, Stop & Shop, or even Whole Foods, I simply
don't believe them when they describe a product as organic.
California Code veggies (maybe, maybe not even) removed from their
box, which I never see, and they suddenly graduate to "organic."
With an organic price, of course.
Or, little one pound bags of millet (or whatever) packaged in the
back of the store, and magically appearing as organic out on the
shelves in front.
In my opinion, there is probably more out-and-out organic fraud at
the retail level then in the rest of the system combined -- and that
includes some mighty shady processors.
There is simply too much money to be made by labelling stuff as
organic at the retail level. AND, it's the one area where nobody in
the organic surveillance system is minding the store, so to speak.
Draw you own conclusions, but it hasn't been hard for me to draw
Too bad the probable federal regulations are likely to avoid it
completely -- it means they're probably wasting their time with the
rest of it, if consumer protection has anything to do with it.