>Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 11:26:12 -0600
>From: email@example.com (Ronnie Cummins)
>Subject: The Guardian (U.K.) on USDA's Bogus Organic Standards
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
>The [London] Guardian March 5 1998
>US plans would banish genuine organic produce
>OPRAH WINFREY is an unlikely hero of the battle against big business. Yet
>the case she won last week, in which she established her right to express
>an opinion about the merits of eating beefburgers, ranks with the
>McDonald's libel trial as one of the few serious setbacks suffered by the
>agro-industrial combines seeking to monopolise world food production.
>She had been sued, by a syndicate of monster cattle ranchers, under the
>surreal "food disparagement" laws introduced in 14 American states to
>prevent people from questioning such practices as feeding bovine offal to
>These laws are a compelling demonstration of the lengths to which US
>legislators will go to defend the interests of corporations against the
>interests of the citizen. We can only be thankful that there's an ocean
>between us and American plutocracy.
>Our happy state won't last, however. Winfrey might have won her battle,
>but the war waged by an industry that can tolerate no dissent has only
>just begun. Its latest attempt to silence criticism and eliminate good
>practice is already well-advanced, and this time the consequences for
>Britain are just as profound as the consequences for America.
>ON MARCH 16, the US Department of Agriculture will close its consultations
>on a new national standard for organic farming. Its proposals have
>horrified small farmers, consumer groups and animal welfare campaigners.
>If adopted and implemented as protesters predict, they will outlaw genuine
>organic production all over the world.
>The USDA would allow fruit and vegetables to be labelled "organic" in the
>United States which have been genetically engineered, irradiated, treated
>with additives and raised on contaminated sewage sludge. Under the new
>proposals, "organic" livestock can be housed in batteries, fed with the
>offal of other animals and injected with biotics. "Organic" produce, in
>the brave new world of American oligopoly, will be virtually
>indistinguishable from conventionally-toxic food.
>The solution would seem to be obvious: genuine organic producers should
>call their food something else. But the USDA is nothing if not
>far-sighted. The new proposals prohibit the setting of standards higher
>than those established by the department. Farmers will, in other words,
>be forbidden by law from producing and selling good food.
>The next step, if these standards are adopted in the United States, is not
>hard to anticipate. American manufacturers will complain to their
>government that the European Union is erecting unfair barriers to trade,
>by refusing to allow them to label the poisonous produce they sell here as
>organic food. The US Government will take the case to the World Trade
>Organization. The WTO will refer it to Codex Alimentarius, the food
>standards body dominated by corporate scientists. The Codex panel will
>decide that they cannot see -any difference between American organic
>produce and European organic produce, and the WTO will threaten Europe
>with punitive sanctions if it continues to maintain the higher trading
>standard. This is precisely the means by which European consumers are
>being forced to eat beef and drink milk contaminated with injectable
>There's no mystery about why US agribusiness wants its Washington
>subsidiary, the USDA, to set these new standards. The consumption of
>organic food is rising by 20-30 per cent a year and, in some countries, is
>likely to become the dominant land use. Organic farming is labour
>intensive. It responds best to small-scale production, matched to the
>peculiarities of the land.
>Big business simply can't operate in an environment like this. There is
>no potential for hegemony. What it can't control, it must destroy. The
>United States government claims to be the champion of free trade, but it
>is, in truth, emphatically opposed to it. It seeks instead to exercise a
>coercive power of central control and legislative diktat, on a scale which
>makes the command economies of the old Soviet Union look like a village
>I've long believed that we should be allowed to vote in US elections, as
>their outcome affects us almost as much as it affects the Americans.
>British people now have a brief opportunity to do the next best thing, and
>demand of the USDA that it drops this attempt to smother the seeds of
>rehabilitation. There are no second chances. Once the new standards come
>into force, our own Government will be powerless to protect us from the
>** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
>is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
>in receiving the included information for research and educational
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command