>This statement is another of the many myths about the USDA's proposed
>rule. The proposal merely repeated the phrase that is in the law, which
>is: "Any label, labeling or market information that implies directly or
>indirectly that a product, including an ingredient, is organically produced
>and handled may be used only for an agricultural product, including an
>ingredient, that has been produced and handled in accordance with the Act and
>the regulations in this part."
>The preamble to this provision requested comments from the public
>concerning what phrases might be construed to "imply directly or
>indirectly" that a product was organic, and gave examples of terms
>currently being used on products. There was no intent or implication that
>everything on that list would be prohibited. The purpose of a request for
>public comment is just that--we want to know what consumers find
>misleading before putting it in a final regulation.
This is all true, but it doesn't make it right. In this case, blame attaches
to the 1990 Congress and the supporters of the Organic Foods Production Act.
Honest advertising such as "pesticide-free" could indeed be criminalized if
USDA decides that it might mislead somebody.
Some of the problems in the formerly proposed regulations stem from the law
itself, some from the errors of the regulators. But what would you expect?
They work for the USDA, which is overwhelmingly dedicated to the interests of
industrial, non-organic agribusiness.
Neither the OFPA nor the regulations acknowledge the precautionary principle
(which is basic to sustainable ag and alien to federal procedure). And
regulation in any industry favors the larger entities, which have the surplus
time and money to cope with its demands. There is more to this story than the
media have reported. I would be happy to snail-mail copies of my in-depth
article, "Crop Busters," published in the Sept. 25 Chicago *Reader,* to anyone
who wants to follow up.
"When all else fails, read the directions."
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