Well here is the official notification of USDA's flanking maneuver. First
they are telling us they will make significant changes in the standard and
releasing a second proposed standard with another comment period. Later,
they will give us the bad news I am sure. We should start preparing
ourselves and those we try to keep informed for a very large, detailed
critique of the more fundamental issues that plague the proposal:
mandatory certification, restriction of labeling, usurpation of NOSB
authority, inclusion of numerous synthetic substances, intensive
confinement, outrageous costs, inclusion of non-organic foods for
livestock, pressure-treated wood, the lack of an evaluation of all
ingredients in organic pesticides, and on and on.
Now would also be a good time to bring pressure to bear on Congressional
Representatives and Senators to turn the screws on the agency. They should
be told that their constituents demand a strong standard; they should also
be urged to begin an investigation of how USDA could have spent so much
time and money and come up with such an egregiously weak and illegal
proposal. It is time for the heads to roll at USDA. I see no way that
anyone involved with this process could still be employed after
demonstrating such a mighty example of either incompetence or malfeasance.
It is also important that those of us with legal experience, or access to
legal experience, begin exploring ways to sue for redress of grievances.
That will likely be the next step in this tango.
Lastly, we should also be working hard on an independent industry standard
to save the term. I know that some have begun this process and I hope that
we can all join in the fun.
I think that these are the topics that I would like the listserve to focus
on now that the comment period is closed. What do others think?
Release No. 0205.98
Andy Solomon (202) 720-4623
Brad Marman (202) 720-8998
USDA TO MAKE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES IN REVISED PROPOSED RULE ON ORGANIC
WASHINGTON, May 8, 1998--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced
today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make fundamental
revisions to its proposed national organic standards as a result of the
200,000 comments USDA received on the initial proposal. "USDA is committed
to developing national organic standards that organic farmers and
consumers will embrace," Glickman said. "Thousands of commenters requested
that USDA issue revised proposed standards, and we intend to do so. Most
importantly, the revised proposal will contain fundamental changes from
our initial draft."
The earlier draft, published on December 16, 1997, proposed standards
for growing, processing, labeling, importing, and certifying organically
grown food. But it did not take a position on certain controversial
issues; instead, the proposal asked for public comment on these items. The
the extraordinary number of comments opposed including the products of
biotechnology, the use of irradiation in food processing, and the
application of biosolids (municipal sludge) in organic food production.
"Biotechnology, irradiation, and biosolids are safe and have important
roles to play in agriculture, but they neither fit current organic
practices nor meet current consumer expectations about organics, as the
comments made clear," said Glickman. "Therefore, these products and
practices will not be included in our revised proposal, and food produced
with these products and practices will not be allowed to bear the organic
Similarly, many of the comments asserted that national organic
standards must be rigorous and credible. Otherwise, commenters expressed
concern that consumers will lose faith in the organic label.
"If organic farmers and consumers reject our national standards, we
have failed," Glickman said. "Our task is to stimulate the growth of
organic agriculture, ensure that consumers have confidence in the products
that bear the organic label, and develop export markets for this growing
Before publishing the revised proposal, USDA will evaluate the
comments submitted in response to the December 1997 proposal. This record
will guide the drafting of the revised proposal, which USDA will issue for
public comment later this year.
"This additional opportunity for public comment will assist us in
crafting rigorous, credible national standards for organic farming and
handling that organic farmers and consumers can support," said Glickman.
NOTE: USDA news releases and media advisories are available on the
Access the USDA Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.usda.gov
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