National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, NCAMP, 701 E Street SE,
Washington, DC 20003
Organic Farmers Marketing Association, OFMA, 8364 S SR 39, Clayton, IN 46118
ORGANIC FOODS AND FARMING IN PERIL:
Exercise Your Right To Get Pure And Unadulterated Food,
Become Educated On New USDA Standards Defining "Organic" And Comment.
Cissy Bowman, Organic Farmers Marketing Association
317-539-4317, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Feldman, National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
202-543-5450, email: email@example.com
Washington, DC (January 10, 1998) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
has announced proposed new standards governing the production and labeling of
organic food and fiber. The USDA has been directed by Congress to implement
the National Organic Program with Rules that are consistent with the Organic
Foods Production Act of 1990 and the principals of organic farming and
handling. Unfortunately, the USDA's Proposed Organic Rules fall far short of
the standards embraced for years by certified organic farmers and expected by
consumers in the marketplace. If implemented as proposed, these new standards
would rapidly undermine the confidence in the organic label. The rapidly
expanding community of organic farmers and consumers has responded with shock
at the USDA's Proposed Organic Rules.
The Proposed Organic Rule is filled with contradictions to the Organic Foods
Production Act of 1990, generally and specifically. The USDA proposes the
introduction of synthetic substances in organic farming, processing and
handling long rejected by consumers and farmers. The 17 points outlined below
illustrate the need for massive consumer and organic farmer and handler public
comment to correct the situation. Personal commitment to broad consumer
education is needed in order to retain quality standards for organic
production and to support the international movement for environmental
responsibility, quality farm stewardship, and health and safety for consumers,
farmers and farm workers.
Implementation of such Proposed Rules would destroy the Organic Foods
Production Act, an outstanding Act of Congress, and irredeemably devalue the
meaning of "organic" for organic farmers and customers alike. Support for
lawful implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 is the
greatest opportunity in the near future that we, as a national community, have
to institute a labeling choice that will represent pure and unadulterated
food. Certified organic farmers, handlers and interested consumers are the
guardians of this opportunity. Informed and active public involvement is
needed during the Public Comment period to ensure that the Final Rule rejects
provisions that "contaminate" organic food production. Each of the 17
violations of OFPA listed below need strong public comment.
A Proposed Rule becomes a Final Rule after the Secretary of Agriculture's
staff reviews all the comments and responds to the substantial comments.
There are 90-days (until March 16, 1998) for the public to provide email,
postal or fax comment. The Proposed Rule was published in the December 16,
1997 Federal Register, found frequently at public libraries. Copies of the
Federal Register can be bought by calling 202-512-1800. The Proposed Rule is
also available on the National Organic Program's Website at
The Organic Farmers Marketing Association, Inc. has composed a document, a
Side by Side, that compares the language of the USDA's Proposed National
Organic Program Rule with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA).
The document discusses parts of the "Supplementary information," the document
published by USDA that offers supporting evidence of why they wrote the
Proposed Rule as it reads. In the Side by Side there are additional
references to the House-Senate Conferee Report, the document published by
joint houses of Congress upon final passage of an Act and the Senate Report, a
committee report that discusses the legislative objectives concerning the
Senate version of what became OFPA.
The OFMA Side-By-Side Comparison was composed to assist the public in making
informed and timely comments on the Proposed Rule. The Side-By-Side, prepared
on a volunteer basis by certified organic farmers, is available on the Organic
Farmers Marketing Association, Inc. homepage at http://www.iquest.net/ofma/.
Persons interested in commenting are encouraged to obtain a copy of the
Proposed Rule. To facilitate commenting, The Organic Farmers Marketing
Association has identified 17 violations worthy of concern (listed under
category A. comments.) Persons can feel comfortable commenting on these
issues with out reading the entire Proposed Rule. The section numbers can be
found in the descriptions of the USDA violations that follows.
In each category of comment topics should be selected from the following list:
Applicability (section 205.3), Crops, Livestock, Handling, National List,
Labeling, Certification, Accreditation, State Programs, Fees, Compliance,
Appeals, and Equivalency, General, Proposed Effective Date, Regulatory Impact
Assessment, Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, Paperwork Reduction Act,
All comments submitted by email, postal mail or faxed should be identified
with this docket number [Docket Number: TMD-94-00-2]. Multiple page comments
submitted by regular mail should not be stapled or clipped.
Interested persons are invited to submit on or before March 16, 1998.written
Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator
Ag Stop 0275
P.O. Box 96456, Washington, DC 20090-6456
Comments also may be sent by fax to (202) 690-4632.
Additionally, comments may be sent via the Internet through the National
Organic Program's Website at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop
During the public comment period, there are two kinds or categories of
A. DIRECT COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED ORGANIC RULE. In this category, the public
should state the docket number, identify the topic being commented on and the
section number. Pointing out that a specific section is in violation of OFPA,
or that that section would detrimentally affect consumer support for organic
products will make you part of the public comment period and your thoughts
heard by USDA. An example follows on the last page.
1) The USDA's Proposed Rule violates the general prohibition on the use of
synthetic substances in organic farming and handling mandated in the Organic
Foods Production Act: by proposing the use of toxins derived from genetically
modified bacteria sec. 205.22(d), Piperonyl butoxide (a toxic synergist) sec.
205.22(c)(9), amino acids used as growth promoters sec. 205.13(a)(3) and
205.22(c)(5), antibiotics used as pesticides sec. 205.22(c)(6), synthetic
animal drugs and other animal health care substances sec. 205.14(b) and (b)(1)
and (2), 205.24(d), synthetic and genetically modified sec. 205.26 food
additives and processing aids sec. 205.2, 205.17(a) are radical deviations
from the Act.
2) Sec. 205.22, 205.24 and 205.26 violate the authority and role of the
National Organic Standards Board's responsibilities and powers to limit USDA
consideration of allowed and prohibited substances for inclusion on the
3) Sec. 205.22(c)(1) etc. violates OFPA requirements by allowing active
synthetic substances in organic farming that can not be considered for use
under the National List procedures. The National List procedure only allows
for the consideration of active synthetic substances in 10 specific
categories. Considerations of such substances are subject to technical and
scientific, health and environmental review and evaluation.
4) Sec. 205.20(b)(3)(ii) violates the OFPA requirement to review and evaluate
all pesticide product ingredients in botanical pesticides, including
undisclosed "inert" but toxic substances. The Proposed Rule allows synthetic
inert ingredients to be used on organic farms without review for toxicological
concern that includes EPA's List 2, Potentially Toxic Inerts and List 3,
Inerts of Unknown Toxicity.
5) The USDA's Proposed Rule violates the Act by proposing new definitions,
criteria and exceptions that would allow wide use of synthetic substances in
organic foods. The new terms defined in the Proposed Rule that are meant to
circumvent OFPA are: "non-synthetic," rather than "natural" sec. 205.2
defined, 205.3(b)(2), 205.7(c), "incidental additive" sec. 205.2 defined,
205.17(a), "synthetic amino acid additives" sec, 205.13(a)(3), "non-active
residue" sec. 205.2 defined, 205.7(b)(4), "non-agricultural ingredient" sec.
205.2 defined, 205.28(a)(4)(i), "non-organic agricultural ingredient or
product" sec. 205.2 defined, 205.20(b)(2), 205.16(2)(iii), "active ingredient
in any input other than pesticide formulations" sec. 205.2 defined, "inert
ingredient in any input other than pesticide formulations" sec.205.2 defined.
Other terms only used in the Supplementary Information are "inconsequential
additives," "extraneous additives," "unintentional additives." The use of
such terms indicates the Department does not support existing organic farming,
processing and handling standards.
6) Sec. 205.16 violates the clear prohibition of using synthetic substances in
processed organic foods. The proposal creates new illegal categories in the
National List to allow synthetic processing aids, food additives, enzymes and
genetically modified organisms (GMOs). OFPA and the National List process
calls only for consideration of non-synthetic, but not organically produced
ingredients in up to 5% of processed foods labeled organically produced.
7) The USDA's Proposed Rule violates the National List procedures by opening
for public consideration the use of "ionizing radiation," "biosolids" (sewage
sludge) (both only mentioned in the Supplementary Information for public
comment on whether acceptable) and GMOs in organic farming and handling
(mentioned for public comment in the "Supplementary information" and also in
contradiction to OFPA and the NOSB entered on the National List sec. 205.22(d)
and 205.26 chymosin.)
8) Sec. 205.14(b), (b)(1) and (b)(2), 205.24(d) violate the prohibition
against use of synthetic medicines, antibiotics and parasiticides from birth
for livestock, poultry and dairy animals whose products are sold as
"organically produced," if the synthetic substances are not on the National
9) Sec. 205.13(a)(1) and (a)(1)(i) violate the requirement of feeding only
organically produced feed to livestock raised for "organically produced" meat,
dairy and egg production.
10) Sec.205.13(a)(1)(iii) violates the requirement of feeding dairy animals
organically produced feed for 12 months prior to producing milk and dairy
products labeled as organic.
11) Sec. 205.15(b) violates the organic standards of providing organically
raised livestock adequate space for movement and access to the outdoors.
12) Sec. 205.430(a) violates the legislative language and intent by proposing
reliance on residue testing for synthetic substances rather than conforming to
OFPA, which prohibits any use of synthetic substances, that are not properly
placed on the National List.
13) Sec. 205.16 and 205.26 violate the exemption granted when using the term
"made with (certain) organic ingredients" for processed food from all
requirements of the Act. Small businesses choosing to enter organic
processing using only a limited number of organic ingredients are unduly
burdened by such a proposal. Under the Act, products using the label language
"made with (certain) organic ingredients" do not have to be processed,
packaged or stored by a certified organic handling operation.
14) Sec. 205.201(a) violates the requirement for the certification of all
handling operations that contract to process, package and store certified
organic products by illegitimately proposing to exempt those handling
operations that work for no more than three certified operations.
15) Sec. 205.202(b)(2) and (3) violate the requirement to certify all handling
operations, including restaurants and retail establishments, that process
products and sell them as "organically produced," by proposing to provide an
exemption from certification for these operations. Processing, as defined in
OFPA, includes all the normal culinary arts, food manufacturing and packaging.
16) Sec.205.2 definition violates OFPA by creating a new category of
certification, the "certified facility." The language and intent of OFPA
requires that farms and handling operations can be certified as utilizing a
system of organic farming or handling. In the proposed rule, USDA is
proposing to accept perpetual and intensive confinement livestock operations
as an organic "certified facility." Sec. 205.12(a)(1) through (5),
17) Sec. 205.421, 205.422 violates the intent and spirit of the Act to
encourage and promote organic family farming and small businesses by proposing
excessive fees and by promulgating a proposed rule wildly out of conformance
with OFPA. The Act describes not just a system of farming and handling, but
incorporates progressive concepts providing for the institutionalization of a
public/private partnership based on mutual respect. The National Organic
Program will receive virtually all its income from organic farmers, handlers
and certifiers it serves and will not receive substantial annual operating
appropriations from Congress. The NOSB needs to have oversight powers on
spending and efficiency in the future.
B. USDA REQUESTS FOR COMMENTS, the second type of comments. USDA requests
comments on 44 specific issues. For these comments, do not include the
section number, but do include the docket number and the category of comment
topic. To facilitate commenting, the Organic Farmers Marketing Association
has compiled a succinct listing of these Requests which are available on the
OFMA Website, http://www.iquest.net/ofma/ or can be requested from Ms.
Bowman. The Requests for Comment, on the OFMA Website, are set up for anyone
to review easily and comment simply.
This is an example of the format of a category A. comment.
Docket Number: TMD-94-00-2
The Department is using this definition to allow the use of synthetic
substances in organic farming and handling that are not allowed under the
Organic Foods Production Act.
Quoting the Department's Preamble to the Proposed Rule:
"Incidental additive is defined so that handlers clearly know that the
substances included in this category may be used in handling organic products,
even though the incidental additive itself may not be included on the National
The Department does not stop with defining the term "incidental additives" but
uses numerous other terms as found below meaning the same or similar to
"incidental additives" to introduce synthetic substances in organic farming
and handling that are prohibited under OFPA.
The new words, some defined in the Rule some not proposed by USDA are "non-
synthetic," rather than "natural," "incidental additive," "synthetic amino
acid additives," "non-active residue," "non-agricultural ingredient," "non-
organic agricultural ingredient or product," "active ingredient in any input
other than pesticide formulations," "inert ingredient in any input other than
pesticide formulations" and some terms only used in the Supplementary
Information, "inconsequential additives," "extraneous additives,"
Simultaneous with the Department defining new categories of allowed synthetic
substances that are illegitimate under OFPA, the Department is reclassifying
some substances in the 10 categories of active synthetic substances that can
be considered for the National List as "incidental additives" or one of its
many variations in the Proposed Rule. The Department is using new definitions
to eliminate any need to examine synthetic inert ingredients from the OFPA
mandatory review and inclusion on the National List. The Department likewise
uses new definitions and terms to introduce all manner of synthetic substances
in processed organic food.
The Department, contrary to OFPA, is proposing to allow all kinds of synthetic
substances that will lead to the imminent demise of trust in the "organic"
The definition and the rationale leading to acceptance of this concept should
be removed from the Proposed Organic Rule.
We encourage you to consider supporting the work of OFMA and NCAMP by
contacting the organizations and reviewing their membership options.
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