> Thanks for pulling this together. Kristin Hyde, Media Director, has made
> some edits which look good to me. Neil -- feel free to use this. The DC
> media team has supplied me with a list of Texas media outlets that I can
> share with you & we can blast fax it to the Texas media as well. Let me
> know if that would help. Mamatha Gowda
> Texas Curtain Raiser for "Organic" Food Hearings --
> Sierra Club says proposed rules trash integrity of
> "Organic" label for consumers
> Thursday, February 12, 1998
> Austin, Texas -- As the first of four hearings on the U.S. Department of
> Agriculture's long-awaited organic standards is scheduled to begin here
> today, environmentalists joined organic growers and consumers in protesting
> the proposed rules.
> "If USDA's proposed rules are adopted as written, consumers will lose all
> faith in the 'organic' label, and a $3.5 billion industry in organic
> products will be threatened, " according to Sierra Club Executive
> Director Carl Pope.
> Pope called on Sierra Club members and other environmentalists and consumers
> nationwide to flood USDA with comments. "Federally-set organic standards
> must reflect what the public understands 'organic' to mean. The USDA
> proposed rule is so deeply flawed that it must be withdrawn and
> "There is no place in organic agriculture for sewage sludge,
> irradiation, genetically engineered organisms, inert materials not yet
> safe, or other forms of contamination," said Sierra Club Lonestar Chapter
> staff Neil Carman. Carman is expected to testify today in Austin, Texas and
> will outline the following problems with the new rule:
> - The new rule governing organic standards directly conflicts with
> current practices, consumer expectations, and international trade.
> - The new rule ignores the authority granted to the National Organic
> Standards Board (NOSB) by Congress, and gives the U.S. Department of
> Agriculture latitude to loosen standards for organic production.
> - The new rule should require higher standards for livestock
> operations, including allowing animals access to outdoors, prohibiting the
> refeeding of animal parts and manure, excluding antibiotic-treated animals
> from organic production, and requiring that all livestock feed be
> - The new rule should not price small farmers and certifiers out of
> business with a regressive flat fee structure. Instead a sliding scale fee
> system should be adopted to ensure small farmers share a fair burden.
> - The new rule should not allow the USDA to get into the eco-label
> business by prohibiting the use of terms such as "pesticide free" or "no
> antibiotics or hormones" while allowing synthetic pesticides and antibiotics
> in "organic" agriculture.
> - The new rule must be consistent with the Organic Food Production
> and the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board.
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