I'm filling in responses to your comments that reflect what the proposed
rule actually does say, with hopes that this can clear up some of the
USDA National Organic Program Staff
>>> email@example.com@i 03/09/98 10:31am >>>
Dear SANet friends -
Reviewing comments on proposed fed organic regs: Aside from the Big
bothers me most is the prohibition against private certification and
labelling using the word organic.
GG: There is no such prohibition in the proposed rule. You may be
thinking of the prohibition against certifying agents using their logos to
represent "higher" standards than those that will be established under
the national program.
Organic certification agencies have been at work for many years in
states. Consumers have come to rely on their labels. In most cases,
perhaps all, the requirements for certification are more stringent than the
proposed fed rules.
If these agencies and the producers they certify were to go right on
what they have been doing, is it really possible the USDA could bring a
against them? Presumably it would go to the US Supreme Court, get a
publicity, and be very interesting to watch.
GG: Currently existing certifiers will be able to become accredited and
continue certifying. The proposed standards will be revised after public
comment is received, and there will probably be very little difference
between these standards and the ones now being used by most
certifiers (which also have a few differences between them).
In other industries (cars, non-prescription drugs, breakfast cereals)
seem to get away with making public (advertised) allegations that their
product is better than one or more named products from other vendors.
the issue in organic labelling is supposedly not one of safety, how could
our industry be singled out as requiring stricter compliance?
GG: As in any industry, individual producers and manufacturers will
continue to be free to make any truthful claims about their products and
how they are produced. The proposed rule does not change this. If
certifiers were allowed to use their seals to represent different
standards, we would be right back where we are now, with conflicting
claims that serve to confuse consumers. The proposed rule would also
allow certifiers to verify any additional label claims made by any client,
such as "grown without botanical pesticides," so long as the certifier did
not try to represent that their seal meant "grown without botanical
Then there is the question of copyright law, or the common law
thereof. Since the word organic has been used for so many years by
agencies and producers who in general agree on what the word means,
see how the USDA can appropriate the word for its own exclusive use.
If nothing else, seems as though the grandfather clause approach ought
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