Mike Hankin at USDA called me this a.m. to respond to my SANET
question, which someone at the agency had passed along to him, about
docket numbers on the draft federal rule for organics. Mike is the
senior ag marketing specialist who has been coordinator of the staff
that drafted the proposed rules.
He said that if the docket number isn't on a comment, the comment
*will* be considered, anyway. The docket number is primarily for
historical reference--so that certain comments are saved with certain
documents for a certain year in the historical archives. But lack of
a docket number will not impact a comment's getting read or
considered as feedback in the revision process.
He said the National Organic Program has gotten about 1,000 comments
on the Web and about 100 in writing to date. He stressed that the
drafting team is welcoming comments precisely so they have input in
revising the draft. They're also hoping to receive many substantive
comments on the rule. He indicated that they've gotten clear and
strong feedback around GMOs (genetically modified organisms), use of
human sewage, and irradiation.
He didn't say this, but I'd guess they're looking forward to hearing
comments on other parts of the draft as well.
In a related note: plans are in the works to have NOP-related
activities at and around the Upper Midwest Organic Farming
Conference; details coming soon. There is a panel discussion
scheduled for Friday (2/20) at 4:00 p.m. on the standards; Mike will
join Michael Sligh, Tim Sullivan, and Mark Ritchie for that.
Wanted to pass this along to you all. I'm glad to have the
clarification and to have learned something about the process.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
The whole of science is nothing more than
a refinement of everyday thinking. -Albert Einstein
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