"Stay tuned to Food Bytes for details on an innovative two-track strategy
that organic certifiers, the Organic Consumers Association, the Center for
Food Safety, and others in the organic community are undertaking to ensure
strong organic standards no matter what the USDA does.
The above statement is something I have been wondering about for awhile. It
seems clear that the USDA organic standards are nothing more than a
marketing tool for large agri-business. Well what do we have now Large
agri-business and The organic groups. So if the new USDA standard are
unexceptable to the organic groups (which about 20+ years ago the
unexceptable farming practices of conventional farms lead to the organic
movement) simply remain "a group" it appears unfortunately the word organic
might be stolen but we could be "some other word" Easier said than done of
course to let the general public know which food it which. Guess what I am
saying is if all the people now involved in the organic movement: farmers,
consumers, health food stores simply refuse to bend to the pressure wouldn't
conventional farming still be them and organics still be us with very little
changed (besides the headache of getting definitions smoothed out).
Thank-you, Beth CSA Farmer"
Response from Eric:
With some investigation and not too detailed analysis, I think most involved
and interested individuals and organizations will agree that a US National
Organic Standards and an implementation program for farming and handling are
emphatically needed to protect everyone concerned, customers, farmers, small
businesses. And with some intensive reading of the Organic Foods Production
Act of 1990 (OFPA) and its supporting documents, the NOSB recommendations that
are consistent with the Act, OFPA in its language and intent will be found to
be an excellent national program for all concerned. OFPA is the only
encompassing national organic program that has every been developed in the US.
Furthermore, the National Organic Standards Board, NOSB, is an authorized
forum in the US for recommendations to enhance and improve the National
Organic Program standards, policies and procedures over time. The NOSB's
further responsibility under OFPA is to be the first step in petitioning
substances for consideration for the USDA's National List. An inherent
problem with the NOSB (as with all public sounding boards) is it is only as
worthwhile to the organic community as the willingness of its members is to be
"states persons" and make unbiased, informed recommendations to benefit the
whole organic community in the long run.
No entity in the private organic community has developed the capability of
implementing National Organic Standards for food and fiber, national
procedures for organic certification and public transparency and criteria for
determining equivalency of imported products to those produced domestically.
It is possible that an "organic congress" could be developed, but such a
"congress" has proven illusive for 20 years. There may be more potential for
organic community consensus in 1999 than every before, but the trail is long,
costly, arduous and very difficult for those that really produce the US
organic food and fiber, the organic farmers, to participate in. If National
US Standards are attempted outside of the NOSB/USDA/OFPA forum, many of the
same problems encountered by the NOSB and the USDA will exist for the private
community. We have many standards, but besides lacking national consistency
and uniformity, we, everyone in the organic community, know that enforcement
is neither uniform now nor even uniformly possible without a central
regulator. And lastly, the concept of creating standards for farm production,
business processing and handling, for consistent certification procedures,
public access to certification documents and residue testing and import
equivalency is a challenge for anyone, any group and any consensus within the
organic community to accomplish, just as it is a challenge for the NOSB and
And how does this play out in terms of organic community leadership?
The private organic community's inability to materialize national organic
standards appear to be caused by:
-The inability of "organic community leaders" to grasp the many faceted and
complex issues that have been spun by their desire to be all inclusive in
redefining healthy farming and processing and assuring the customer they are
getting just that, pure and unadulterated food and fiber, and
-The unwillingness of existing "organic community leaders" to seek out, read
and understand the detailed work, almost all volunteer, that has been done by
other well informed organic farmers and individuals leads to spinning wheels
and few advancing accomplishments. Additionally, there is lack of support by
almost all "organic community leaders" of those knowledgeable and capable in
the organic community of designing and then implementing workable National
Organic Program. It is valuable to form community consensus on issues, but
when no consensus can be formed in a reasonable time frame; closer inspection
usually identifies ego problems preventing its formation.
The above two points are the same reasons neither the USDA nor the NOSB are
functioning as effectively as they should be in implementing a National
What are possible and workable solutions? These are my suggestions:
-A grass roots effort of organic community members, lead by certified organic
farmers, capable and willing to perfect National Organic Standards based on
OFPA, written in a Code of Federal Regulation format, followed by
-This organic community consensus petitioning the USDA to adopt this CFR
"Standard" as the Rules for the National Organic Program. To be affective the
petitioned CFR must encompass all the significant issues necessary to
implement an effective National Organic Program.
-A continuing grass roots attempt to formulate private sector National Organic
Standards outside of the federal government's regulatory process.
The second choice I believe will lead nowhere fast. Moreover, special
interest will continue to invade the public sector opportunities of being on
the NOSB, influencing USDA and dominating through sheer brazenness in labeling
products "organically produced" in the vacuum of no national program.
It is time to capitalize on our unity of 280,000 comments and get behind
qualified organic community leadership to accomplish the first choice above,
rapidly and efficiently.
Referencing "Food Bytes" listing of who is working on the two track strategy,
one will notice that the certified organic farmer is not mentioned and
certainly is not even implied to be at the forefront of the twin track
strategy. Every strategy for a National Organic Program needs to emphasize
organic customers, but lets get for real folks, certified organic farmers are
the practices and systems knowledgeable participants. Certified organic
farmers built and continue to build organic farming and certification, which
provides the base for organic processing, marketing and input supply
businesses to flourish.
The problem is certified organic farmers already have a time and half job, but
for any National Organic Program to provide pure and unadulterated food and
fiber to customers, organic farmers with organic customers absolutely must be
the leaders in the "organic community leadership."
When the NOSB, the USDA, the organic certifiers, the consumer activist
organizations start directing their support and energies towards following the
leadership of certified organic farmers, actively involving them in all
processes and decision making as the leadership, a National Organic Program
will finally get someplace.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: