> Doug: The rule is only just out a few days and not in many hands yet. I
> imagine most of us need time to at least skim thru the thing and find
> out what we can about the draft. I imagine the key points of
> opposition will begin to take shape and emerge after people have had
> time to digest a bit. If nothing in the way of opposition solidifies by
> the end of January, I will be surprised and concerned.
As I have stated previously, the rules seem to focus only on issues related
to organic standards, and this is what the mercenaries emphasize - as if it
were possible to shut the door (and so ignore) the flagrant and short
sighted inconsistencies (inconsistent legally, constitutionally, logically,
morally, ethically, etymologically and semantically) of a never implemented
federal Act of Congress affecting all farmers, consumers and in fact
inhabitants (human or otherwise) of this planet.
The Act's focus was misguided. It went too far in areas where it has no
business going, and didn't go nearly far enough toward doing that which is
most urgently needed: Supporting Sustainable Agricultural Technology and
the farms products that are cultivated and handled using it. The word
organic is not even the major issue - but the Act made it so. The wrong
people's opinions were apparently taken into account in relation to these
issues. The act appears to have been drafted as a concession to certain
segments whose concern lies principally in issues related to marketing, not
health, not fraud prevention and certainly not the ecological balance of the
> We need clarity about some legal issues. Can USDA preempt the O word?
> Well, apparently yes, if congress mandates it.
Congress can not mandate anything that contradicts the U.S. Constitution and
the Bill of Rights, nor the total body of laws and legal precedents that
together, form the basis of our cohesive judicial system. This Act will
create a morass of needless conflicts in the courts and cause grave damage
to not only many authentic organic farmers, but to Congress's own
credibility. This is unfortunate, because the Act contains many valid
points and represents much worthwhile effort on the part of those who
constructively contributed to it. In fact, the changes required to resolve
its contradictions are few but far reaching: I believe that removing the
compulsory aspect of certification is the principal issue, along with
increasing the Small Farm Exemption and creating an exempt Consumer Direct
> Can USDA tell certifiers they cannot have higher standards which their
> seal represents? We need some legal opinion on this.
They can not. Organic may be organic as defined by OFPA (except in STATES
that decide to take the standard farther, as OFPA stipulates), but there's
nothing that prevents anyone from stating anything true and pertinent about
the nature of their product. What they can not do is claim that it's more
"Organic" - because organic is defined in OFPA (which as mentioned above,
bows to states rights - perhaps a needless complication, but remember that
there are no plurinominal representatives in Congress - as there are in
Mexico - all are elected at the district or state level).
> There is rumor of extending the comment period to 120 days. USDA has not
> yet announced the time or place of the public hearings. Do you have a
> copy of the Rule?
Yes, I downloaded both the version published in the Federal Register and the
the complete version, both of which are available from the USDA web site
that's been posted on sanet by Andy Clark and repeated by me and others (the
complete version, which supposedly can be downloaded to the clipboard - if
you use windows - is probably to large to fit, so I downloaded it in .pdf -
acrobat - format. It's name is complete .pdf). Or I could send it as an
email attachment to anyone requesting it.
The problem is, the major issues are not there. OFPA ITSELF requires a
thorough re-evaluation and must be amended in order to correct the grave
defects it contains. And as I've stated previously, THE TIME IS RIGHT to
promote WITHIN the provisions of OFPA, the studies needed to determine the
true costs - INCLUDING those relating to energy use and environmental damage
- of the distinct types of agricultural technologies and production systems,
together with a commitment to act (legislate) in consequence once the
results are in. The appropriate body to take charge of this task (surely as
important as the Human Genome Project), may be the Board on Agriculture of
the National Research Council, given the precedent of their report on
Alternative Agriculture published by the National Academy Press in 1989,
when Chuck Benbrook was Executive Director of the Board. (Frankly, I've
been hoping for a comment from Mr. Benbrook in regards to this suggestion,
as I assume his vantage point is such that he could lend credibility or
define the reason why this suggestion may be a more difficult proposition
that I myself believe. And I don't expect it to be easy - just plausible
and eventually, absolutely necessary).
> "Re the Organic Standards Proposed Rule. The full text of the rule will
> on the Web at the AMS web site at following URL:
> " The proposed rule will be published in the Dec. 16 Federal Register.
> must be received by March 16, 1998. Interested persons are invited to
> written comments to: Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator,
> Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, Room 4007-S, Ag Stop 0275,
> P.O. Box 96456, Washington, DC 20090-6456.
> Comments also may be sent by FAX to (202) 690-4632 or via the Internet
> through the National Organic Program homepage:
> I think we need to see where our like-minded colleagues are to know how
> to proceed. Let's give it some time.
Correct. My intention was to determine 1).- Who else is interested in the
same issues (even the mercenaries are opposed to including GE organisms - in
fact that's their main chance to appear as champions of the organic cause -
and so gain market share in what will be essentially a captive market), 2).-
Whether they intend to do anything about it and 3).- Promote the possibility
of developing a loosely (but never the less) coordinated and hopefully more
> Anne Mendenhall
Douglas M. Hinds, Director General
Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR)
(Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit)
Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO
Tel. & Fax: 011 523 412 6308 (direct)
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