>Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 17:41:11 -0800 (PST)
>From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Libby J. Goldstein)
>To: NE community food systems <email@example.com>
>Subject: US Organic Standards Debate forward
>> 1. Organics Bulletin Update Please Heed (4)
>> 2. USDA BULLETIN Fwd: Food Bytes #3 (Nov.4, 1997) (3)
>>Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 22:39:01 -0800
>>From: connie hoy <bmprc@MICRON.NET>
>>Subject: Organics Bulletin Update Please Heed
>>I am forwarding ,following this announcement,the current news as
>>involves the USDA Organics(?)proposed Regulations ,I.E allowing
>>genetically engineered seed to be offered as organic...
>>If you disagreee with this concept, please read the bulletin,(which I
>>will forward in its entireity)and share this information with your
>>friends and loved ones.
>>We can make a difference if we'll make an all out effort.
>>Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 22:40:58 -0800
>>From: connie hoy <bmprc@MICRON.NET>
>>Subject: USDA BULLETIN Fwd: Food Bytes #3 (Nov.4, 1997)
>>Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 21:15:02 -0600 (CST)
>>From: alliance@MR.Net (Ronnie Cummins)
>>Subject: Food Bytes #3 (Nov.4, 1997)
>>News & Analysis on Genetic Engineering & Factory Farming
>>Issue #3 (November 4, 1997)
>>by: Ronnie Cummins, Pure Food Campaign USA
>>Recent Developments of Note:
>>* USDA Will Propose Controversial National Organic Standards in November
>>* Organic Foods Boom as Consumer Food Safety Concerns in US Increase
>>* Activists in 16 Nations Carry Out Successful Global Days of Action
>>USDA To Publish Proposed National Organic Standards in November
>>The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to publish its long-awaited
>>and controversial federal rules on national organic food standards by
>>late-November, according to informed sources in Washington. The 600 pages
>>of proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register, as
>>required by law. Following official publication, the public will have 90
>>days to send in their comments and criticisms on the standards. Comments
>>will be accepted via email, fax, or regular mail. Under federal statutes
>>the USDA is required to take into consideration and make available for the
>>public record all comments submitted by consumers or industry. At the close
>>of the comment period the USDA will then publish a revised, final version
>>of the rules for final Congressional approval, with likely implementation
>>of these regulations by the summer of 1998. As soon as the USDA proposed
>>standards are published in the Federal Register, you will be informed via
>>this newsletter. The USDA has announced that it will be posting the full
>>text of the proposed organic standards on the internet at:
>>In 1992 several thousand people submitted official comments in regard to
>>the FDA's interim rules on gene-altered foods and crops, objecting to the
>>U.S. government's decision not to require mandatory labeling or special
>>pre-market safety testing. The Pure Food Campaign estimates that this time
>>the USDA will need to receive at least 25,000 comments objecting to the
>>weakening of national organic standards before they become sufficiently
>>alarmed to even reconsider their proposals.
>>Under heavy pressure from factory farm and biotechnology interests, the
>>USDA intends to decisively weaken current organic standards, which are
>>presently upheld and enforced by 40 private and state organic certification
>>boards. The most controversial proposed regulations to be put forth in
>>November by the USDA will include: (1) allowing genetically engineered
>>foods and crops to be eventually considered on a case-by-case basis as an
>>allowable "synthetic" and thus be labeled as "organic"; (2) allowing
>>inhumane, intensive confinement of farm animals, and not explicitly
>>prohibiting factory farm-style operations; (3) precluding "private label"
>>and state organic certification programs from upholding and enforcing
>>stricter organic standards than those required by the USDA.
>>Finally the USDA plans, according to government sources, to work with the
>>Congress and the Clinton administration to amend the 1990 Organic Foods
>>Producion Act so as to weaken or eliminate the present "veto power" of the
>>National Organic Standards Board, an official advisory group, over what can
>>be considered as an allowable "synthetic." The fourteen member NOSB
>>currently supports relatively strict organic standards, at least in
>>comparison to what the USDA advocates, including a recommended prohibition
>>on considering genetically engineered foods and crops as an allowable
>>As soon as the proposed regulations appear in the Federal Register,
>>accompanied by an official "docket number," address, email address, and fax
>>number, the PFC urges everyone to flood the USDA with critical comments.
>>Natural food stores, farmers markets, and community restaurants are urged
>>to turn their businesses into centers of letter-writing and activism, and
>>to mobilize their workers, members, and customers to take action both
>>during and after the 90 day official comment period.
>>People sending in their comments by email are urged to make "hard copies"
>>of these comments as well and mail them in to USDA with the appropriate
>>address and docket number in Washington, D.C. Sympathetic government
>>officials have warned that the USDA cannot always be trusted to make an
>>honest count of all comments received (especially those sent by email) and
>>to make them available for public inspection by activists, attorneys,
>>journalists, and other concerned citizens. People are also urged to send
>>their comments in the form of a constituent letter to their state and
>>federal legislators, and then to follow this up with a phone call asking
>>legislators to contact the USDA officials directly and tell them not to
>>weaken present organic standards and not to take away the power of states
>>and private certification bodies to uphold stricter standards than the USDA
>>Since June, when the USDA handed over its proposed rules to the Office of
>>Management and Budget (OMB), controversy over organic food standards has
>>been steadily building. (See "Whose Organic Standards: USDA Prepares for an
>>'Unfriendly Takeover' of the Natural Foods Industry" and "Preserving Strict
>>Organic Food Standards: Six Steps to Begin 'Live Wire' Networking and
>>Public Education in Your Local Area" on the PFC website
>><http://www.geocities.com/Athens/1527>. Hundreds of retail food coops,
>>natural food stores, buying clubs, community-supported agriculture
>>organizations, organic farmers, community restaurants, public interest
>>organizations, and natural food manufacturers have vowed to fight USDA
>>moves to significantly degrade current organic standards, with the Pure
>>Food Campaign, Greenpeace, Sustain, Mothers for Natural Law and other
>>non-governmental organizations (NGOs) preparing themselves for an extended
>>battle on the issue. The PFC and other NGOs, along with a national network
>>of food coops, have recently launched a campaign called "SOS" (Save Organic
>>Standards), which is designed to build up a natiowide "Live Wire Network"
>>of activist-inclined consumers, farmers, progressive retailers,
>>community-oriented restaurants, and food professionals.
>>According to Washington insiders, the USDA, the USTR (U.S. Trade
>>Representative's office), and the OMB have clashed over the USDA's proposed
>>national organic standards. The OMB has lobbied basically to keep the
>>current set of (private and state certification) rules in place and not
>>have national regulations, while the USTR bureaucrats predictably have
>>argued that we shouldn't have process-based (i.e. genetic engineering etc.)
>>rules at all, since these types of regulations "inhibit free trade."
>>Despite these internal disagreements, the USDA viewpoint has prevailed.
>>The USDA, reacting to unexpectedly determined resistance, has decided on a
>>more subtle strategy than what they initially envisioned to deal with the
>>genetically engineered foods controversy. Instead of using relatively
>>explicit language in the proposed federal rules that would allow
>>genetically engineered foods to be labeled organic on a case-by-case
>>basis--a move opposed by nearly everyone in the natural foods industry--the
>>USDA has decided on a different tactic: basically to use ambiguous language
>>for the moment (an outright prohibition has never even been seriously
>>considered) and then wait for Congress to weaken or eliminate altogether
>>the veto power of the National Organic Standards Board. With the passage of
>>time the USDA will be able to "stack" the NOSB with more agribusiness and
>>biotech-friendly appointees. With this more sophisticated strategy the USDA
>>intends to divide and coopt its critics, including those on the NOSB, get
>>its new proposed rules in place, and then to lift the gene-foods
>>prohibition, with or without the support of the NOSB, when it is more
>>As organic foods consultant Bill Wolf, past president of the Organic Trade
>>Association, explained in an article written by Nancy Nachman-Hunt in the
>>October issue of Natural Business, a leading natural foods industry trade
>>publication, "since the Clinton administration has come out in favor of
>>genetic engineering for conventional agriculture, the development of
>>organic standards has become a battleground for the larger worldwide social
>>issue... The reason the regulations have been delayed so long is because
>>they present a difficult issue for the administration." Natural Business
>>then went on to point out that "If the standards come out banning GMOs in
>>organic agriculture, the administration's EU policy could backfire."
>>As soon as the USDA's proposed regulations are published in the Federal
>>Register, the PFC and other groups will issue a nationwide Action Alert.
>>Meetings are already being planned for December and January to organize a
>>nationwide Save Organic Standards (SOS) campaign.
>>U.S. Organic Sales Boom as Consumer Alarm Over Food Safety Increases
>>A hard-hitting new book and several recent national consumer surveys
>>underline the fact that America's food safety crisis continues.
>>Predictably the Clinton administration and agribusiness absolutely refuse
>>to address the underlying cause of the problem (i.e. the industrialization
>>and globization of food production) and instead are opting for a
>>authoritarian "solution" that includes stripping away consumers' rights to
>>know what's been done to their food and using nuclear waste to irradiate
>>feces and bacterial-contaminated foods. As a corollary to their "nuclear
>>option," America's food giants, joined by the White House, have launched a
>>national PR campaign called "Fight BAC" (i.e. Fight Bacteria), which
>>basically blames consumers for poisoning themselves with unsanitary
>>hygiene, kitchen, and cooking practices. The only positive note in all this
>>is that grassroots food activism is increasing and natural and organic food
>>sales continue to climb.
>>Nicols Fox's new book, Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone
>>Haywire, <http://www.harpercollins.com> provides ample evidence that the
>>routine U.S. practices of feeding antibiotics, steroids, hormones, rendered
>>animal parts, and feces to intensively confined animals, using them
>>essentially "as garbage dumps for agricultural waste" is literally
>>poisoning the nation and laying the groundwork for disaster. As Fox points
>>out, by fundamentally industrializing and dehumanizing the way we produce,
>>process, distribute, store, and prepare food, we are evermore rapidly
>>moving toward an ecological catastrophe, a "Chernobyl of food safety."
>>Among other unsavory details illuminated by Fox's book (Harper Collins
>>Publishers $25.00 in hardback) are the following:
>>* A top official at the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Morris Potter,
>>admited publicly in December 1994 that there may be as many as 266 million
>>cases of food poisoning a year in the USA. And among at least 25% of the
>>population (the young, the old, the ill, and those with compromised immune
>>systems) food poisoning can be extremely dangerous, causing chronic
>>illness, and even death. At least 10,000 people a year die from acute food
>>poisoning inthe U.S.
>>* Although many consumers consider it a "healthier" alternative than beef,
>>poultry is the "most contaminated product Americans bring into their
>>kitchens," with a 1995 USDA study finding that 99% of broiler chicken
>>carcasses had detectable fecal e-coli contamination. Other scientific
>>studies reveal dangerous salmonella and campylobacter contamination on up
>>to 80% of all chickens, poisoning and seriously injuring millions of
>>* A USDA microbiologist told Time magazine that processed chicken is "no
>>different than if you stuck it in the toilet and ate it." Salmonella fecal
>>matter in eggs and contaminated raw milk also pose increasing risks.
>>* The genetically engineered L-tryptophan catastrophe in 1989 (39 dead,
>>1500 permanently disabled) and the narrowly averted case of allergenic
>>gene-altered soybeans spliced with Brazil nut DNA nearly going onto the
>>market in the early 1990s are just the beginnings of what will likely be
>>another serious health threat, agricultural biotechnology.
>>* Approximately 3% of all hamburger meat contains the deadly bacterium
>>* Leading U.S. scientists, including Dr. C. Joseph Gibbs and the late Dr.
>>Richard Marsh, have warned USDA officials for almost 10 years that a
>>distinct USA strain of BSE or Mad Cow Disease is likely already present in
>>American cattle; but top officials, concerned about agribusiness profit
>>margins, continue to ignore or try to cover up the problem. Another top
>>scientific expert, Dr. Paul Brown, warned in 1996 that Mad Cow-like
>>infectious diseases may also be spreading among chickens and pigs.
>>* Contaminated irrigation water, lack of hygienic facilities for
>>agricultural workers and food handlers, toxic sewage sludge, and
>>cross-contamination from filthy meat have now begun to taint even fresh and
>>frozen fruit and vegetables with dangerous pathogens.
>>After finishing Nicols' book, Spolied, it comes as no surprise to read in a
>>recent food industry poll by CMF&Z, a leading public relations firm, that
>>52% of American consumers say that they are now more concerned about food
>>safety than ever before <http://www.cmfz.com/foodsafety/>. The survey also
>>found that only 40% of the public "had confidence" that the government and
>>the meat industry were doing a good job in regard to food safety, while
>>73-86% were concerned about safe drinking water, food contamination,
>>unsanitary food processing, and toxic pesticide residues.
>>A recent survey of U.S. consumers by Prevention magazine reveals how
>>concerned consumers are increasingly turning to organic foods. According to
>>poll results, 28% of Americans are already buying at least some organic
>>produce, 43% are checking product labels to see if foods are certified as
>>organic, 35% are willing to pay more for organic foods, 40% would like to
>>buy organic processed foods, and 51% would be likely to buy organic meat
>>and poultry if they were labeled as such. A poll by biotech and
>>pharmaceutical giant Novartis released in February 1997 found 54% of
>>American consumers stating that they would prefer to see chemical-intensive
>>agriculture move toward organic production. In the same poll 93% said that
>>genetically engineered foods should be labeled, with 73% indicating that
>>they felt "strongly" about this.
>>NGOs Carry Out Second Global Days of Action Against Biotechnology Oct. 2-17
>>Activists in 50 cities and at least 16 nations carried out protests and
>>public education events during the Second Global Days of Action Against
>>genetic engineering, life form patenting, and factory farming between
>>October 2-17. The first Global Days of Action took place in April of 1997.
>>Countries where GDA or World Food Day actions took place included, among
>>others, the U.K., Canada, the U.S., Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden,
>>Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Netherlands, Hungary,
>>Ireland, and New Zealand. The most successful and extensive GDA
>>campaigning, as in April, was in Europe and Japan. (See PFC web site for
>>more details on events.) Serving as a global media clearinghouse for the
>>GDA, the Pure Food Campaign received over 100 calls from media
>>organizations around the world seeking information on the GDA. On World
>>Food Day, October 16, Greenpeace International organized several
>>well-publicized events in Luxembourg (where EU environment ministers were
>>meeting) and France and issued an important position paper entitled
>>"Genetic Engineering: Too Good to Go Wrong?"
>>End of Food Bytes #3 (November 4, 1997)
>firstname.lastname@example.org Libby J. Goldstein phone & fax: 215-465-8878
> Philadelphia USDA zone 7A Sunset zone 32
> My garden must be n-dimensional if it's out here in cyberspace.
Sustainable Farming Connection -- "Where farmers find and share information."
"The water will never clear up 'til you get the hogs out of the creek."
-- Jim Hightower
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