kathryn marsh wrote:
> >Content-Type: message/rfc822
> >Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
> >Content-Disposition: inline
> >Message-ID: <34B1ED20.1515F679@acnet.net>
> >Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 02:36:51 -0600
> >From: "Douglas M. Hinds" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >Reply-To: email@example.com
> >Organization: CeDeCoR
> >X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.04 [en] (Win95; I)
> >MIME-Version: 1.0
> >To: firstname.lastname@example.org,
> > Jane Sooby <email@example.com>
> >Subject: Re: Will USDA label be obsolete?
> >References: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
> > Hi Jane et al,
> >Jane Sooby wrote:
> >> Hello, all--
> >> As we all struggle to work through the USDA's proposed organic rule and
> >> understand all of the implications, I have a question and a comment or 2 in
> >> response to Fred Kirschenmann's statement and Douglas Hinds's comment.
> >> First, the question, first brought up by Sal, is: in a state that has a
> >> state certification program, will 2 inspections and certifications really be
> >> required?
> >If your state's certification program is obligatory and your buyer accepts only
> >certifications performed by certain certifying agencies which do not
> >include the state's, you may have to.
> >> It appears to me that in such a state, the state would apply to be
> >> a USDA-approved certifier and then would inspect for compliance to the
> >> organic rule plus any additional requirements it adds on. It would not
> >> certify separately from USDA, nor would other "certifying agents."
> >That's true, but USDA doesn't certify. Certifiers register with USDA, and
> >NO ONE
> >can dictate equivalency to a given customer if he/she (literally) doesn't
> >buy it. In other words, USDA is off base, out of it's element; and the same goes
> >for OFPA's prohibiting an INDIRECT statement that a given product or
> >is anything other than organic if and when that statement implies that it's
> superior to
> >organic. This is because there are other ways of saying that something is
> >more than USDA organic, without implying that it is more organic than organic
> >according to USDA/OFPA, now that the word "organic" is restricted to the use OFPA
> >has set for it. My point is that neither USDA nor Congress has the power to
> construe as
> >"indirect", anything that isn't explicitly stated.
> >For instance: If I say that: "My product was cultivated according to the
> >traditional, pre-OFPA definition of the word organic, using only pure natural
> >substances and methods of cultivation that surpass OFPA's own standards
> >for organic; but since OFPA has now reserved the word organic exclusively for
> >certified by OFPA's standards (which are in my opinion inferior to mine), I'm not
> >going to use the word organic any more (because OFPA/USDA won't let me, because I
> >prefer not to certify in order to keep my costs down and be able to pass on the
> cost of
> >certifying to my customers), and for that reason and that reason only, my
> products will
> >hereafter be labeled SUPER O" (or whatever); there isn't much USDA or
> >anyone else can do about it, because I stated a fact. I'm not saying my product
> >organic / OFPA organic - I'm saying what I'm saying within a carefully qualified
> (if not
> >elegant - at least in this example) framework that preserves my right to
> >do so. And I am sure enough about this to state that I plan on doing just that.
> >> The USDA rule claims to try to be as flexible as possible, so that the USDA
> >> standards are not rigid absolutes but are minimum standards for certification.
> >According to OFPA, only states can implement additional standards. Others
> >may do so only if they don't claim their standards are more organic than OFPA
> >According to my example above however, they COULD claim their stands were more
> >something OTHER than "OFPA organic", because the "indirect claim"
> >prohibition is un legally unenforceable in any court that can call itself a court
> (and that
> >statement is just as rhetorical as OFPA's, but a damned sight more reasonable).
> >> However, not being an attorney, I am not sure that my interpretation is
> >> correct.
> >Neither am I. But law is logic and both are founded on precedents. (more
> >> Since the labeling rules allow display of the USDA and the state seal, as
> >> well as "information about the certifying agent used," states with more
> >> stringent certification requirements than USDA would be recognized as such,
> >> and would be in higher demand from those who prefer products produced in a
> >> certain way.
> >In other words, the way it already is now for certain certifying agencies.
> >> Also, "certification agents" that have more stringent
> >> requirements for certification--OCIA might be an example--would also be
> >> recognized as holding the high organic standards that consumers prefer.
> >> Thus, my reading of the labeling regulations puts the USDA in the odd
> >> position of setting a loose minimum likely to be surpassed by most other
> >> certifying bodies so that the USDA seal becomes almost irrelevant: consumers
> >> will instead look at the "information about the certifying agent used" or
> >> the state seal.
> >You got it. Purchases are a private matter between buyer and seller, as
> >long as no fraud was committed.
> >> This presupposes that major objections to the rule--allowing
> >> genetically engineered organisms and product irradiation--are not fixed
> >> after the public comment period.
> >One, those objections will be fixed. Two, they are the most obvious but
> >not the only major inconsistencies contained in OFPA. The approach was wrong.
> >apparently no competent jurisprudence expert was involved.
> >> These interpretations of the rule address the following concerns expressed
> >> by Fred Kirschenmann:
> >> "The proposed rule also proposes regulations that would prohibit private
> >>organic certification companies from certifying or labeling products that
> >>differentiate "any farming or handling requirements other than those provided
> for" in the
> >> government's regulations. (Sec. 205.301) This means that if the government
> >> insists on allowing sewage sludge, irradiation, genetically engineered
> >> organisms, piperonyl butoxide and other materials and technologies that the
> >> National Organic Standards Board specifically rejected for use in organic
> >> production, than no one can certify any product that is free of these
> >> Nor could certifiers certify a product as meeting the requirements for
> >> biodynamic farming, since its methods include requirements not "provided
> >>for" in the rule."
> >I say that they can, if they don't say their products are more "organic"
> >that "OFPA organic". But no one needs these legal hassles - not the feds, and
> >certainly not any farmer who chooses to raise crops according to a higher
> standard due to >a personal preference or conviction.
> >> This sort of information could be incorporated into the certifier's or
> >> state's seal. If this is an internal inconsistency within the proposed rule,
> >> I doubt anyone would be surprised, and it's up to us during the comment
> >> period to point it out and clarify it.
> >> Finally, a response to the following by Douglas Hinds:
> >> "Once again, the simplest way to prevent these and other abuses in to make
> >> certification voluntary; an issue that involves a contract or covenant
> >>between buyer and seller and which conforms to a legal minimum definition of
> what is
> >> organic - whether certified, CSA, uncertified or whatever; and which includes
> >> sanctions for misrepresentation. It would not be difficult to for any
> >>interest party to prove fraud (he/she'd need to submit valid and conclusive
> >> including analysis), and the changes to OFPA that this would require are
> >> minimal."
> >> Certification is and always has been voluntary.
> >That's where OFPA deviates from the past state laws. It OBLIGATES
> >> I doubt that anyone has ever been forced to be certified through OCIA or
> >>FVO or OGBA or any other certifying organization.
> >The only force is what YOUR buyer demands, which is as it should be.
> >> It may be, as I've pointed out, that a USDA seal
> >> becomes largely irrelevant to consumers if certifying agents surpass the
> >> USDA regulations and assure the quality of production that the consumers
> >> desire. The idea, though, is to have a minimum standard so that no one can
> >> spuriously claim their product is organic when it's been produced
> >> conventionally.
> >If the standards USDA develops are legitimate and consistent with the
> >traditional definition, the USDA seal could be an asset, if a given buyer thought
> it was.
> >> I thought that the main reason that certification organizations have sprung
> >> up over the past 20-odd years is that there was so much room for fraud and
> >> misrepresentation in the organic market, regulation and standardization were
> >> seen as necessary and beneficial for the industry. To my knowledge, most
> >> legitimate organic growers voluntarily submit to the certification process
> >> in order to have that 3rd party assurance to the consumer that the product
> >> has been grown or processed in a certain way. If there is no difference
> >> between certified and uncertified organic, why go through the certification
> >> process?
> >Precisely because the buyer may want it. And though a certifier can be just as
> >corrupt as a grower or distributor, it may have more credibility, at least in a
> >larger circle. (And most well known ones will certainly have more
> >credibility than the USDA in this matter, the way things are going).
> >> Thank you for your time and interest in pondering these difficult questions.
> >They are difficult because they are circular. (It's like chasing your tail). I
> >think therefore I am. Faith precedes logic, because logic requires a
> >given. So where do we begin? By believing in whatever we want to believe. (In
> Spanish: >Querer es Poder - To want something is to be able to do or have it. The
> >supposition is that your desires are realistic - that they are really yours).
> >> Sincerely,
> >> Jane Sooby
> >> University of Nebraska-Lincoln alternative crops research technician
> >> Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society western organizer
> >> High Plains Ag Lab
> >> 3257 Rd. 109
> >> Sidney, NE 69162
> >> 308-254-3918
> >> 308-254-2402 (FAX)
> >> 308-254-0725 (HOME)
> Having carefully read the proposed USDA rule I can imagine that most
> overseas certifying bodies, such as the one I'm a director of, will simply
> not recognise US certification as equivalent but will continue to look at
> individual certifiers instead before we license our processors and
> importers to use US product.
I think you're right. And most buyers would do the same. Pardon my ignorance, but
what does iol represent? (Nor am I sure which country is represented by the .ie
> I presume the USDA thinks
It may be that the USDA doesn't think.
> it can use US govt muscle to force other countries to accept these bastardised
> standards but I suspect its in for a shock.
It also may be that it thinks it can't open up organic to obviously anti-organic
elements (as you suggest) or perhaps destroy the organic movement - all of which are
> As buyers the consumers here have been educated
> to expect that organic produce is free of GMOs, pesticide residues etc and
> they are not going to change their minds. Is it possible that the USDA has
> really been convinced by lobbies that the american consumer can't read and
> doesn't want to?
> kathryn marsh
Their position is so incredible that I can only suppose it's been taken out of
profound and insensitive ignorance. However, I'll suspend judgement untill the
results are in. It may also be part of a ploy, a distraction, to focus atention on
obvious issues that will mobilize and unify U.S. organic forces around those issues
while ignoring others that may stand a better chance of survival if they escape
attention. However, my gut feeling is that they just don't know what they're doing
- that it's just another disjointed, incongruent hodgepodge like U.S. junk food (and
perhaps society) already is; with the good and the bad, the poison, the freaks (i.e.
GMO's or grafted trees) and the real thing all in the same bed. It's related in
some way to being a representative democracy, modulated by forces that elevate
mediocrity and force homogenization; at least during certain phases of the evolution
Do you mind if this gets copied or forwarded to any list servers? I think I'm
going to do so, so I hope you don't (since you didn't indicate not to).
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) e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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