Hello Anita, nice to hear from you again.
Interesting idea, but as you previously discovered, many countries
(including Mexico) lack a developed market for Organic food products
and their patterns of consumption are also much different than those
prevalent in the U.S.
I am unaware of the existence of a significant market for organic
products outside of the US/Canada, Europe and to a lesser degree,
Japan. (While Japan seems to show a strong preference for foods free
from toxic elements, specifically "organic" food as such is of less
relative importance than it is in the U.S. and Europe).
Neither Japan nor Europe adheres to US standards. On the contrary, in
order for US products to find acceptance in those markets, they must
adhere to the respective Japanese or European standard. In view of
this, within the context of foreign trade, OFPA is important NOT in
the sense that you suggest, but rather for the purpose of regulating
IMPORTED organic products.
I'm sure you're aware of OFPA's stipulation to the effect that any
country exporting organic food products to the USA MUST have a similar
(to OFPA) set of regulations in place, in order for those products to
be given entry into the US.
THIS is exactly why Mexico has such a structure in place, and that is
exactly why none of the government people you talked to before
consulting with the writer of this note, knew anything about the
existence of such regulations. They simply are not intended for the
Mexican market, they were created to satisfy the requirement OFPA
imposes on imported goods, so that Mexico can export organic tropical
and off season fruits and vegetables to the US market, the biggest
market in the world for organic products, and one that continues to
grow exponentially. (I recall explaining this to you many months -
over a year - ago. Perhaps being the "Market Development of National
Organic Products" person there at the U of G has made assimilating it
In order for the OFPA legislation enacted en 1990 to actually take
effect and become implemented, several significant issues that remain
unresolved must be successfully dealt with. These include: What is the
proper role of the federal government in relation to the cultivation
and marketing of organic food products, and how can it perform that
role without preventing farmers, consumers and others from exercising
their right to the freedoms that the constitution guarantees them?
(Among others): The freedom of speech (to impart and receive
meaningful and truthful information), freedom of association and the
freedom to earn a gainful living!
When one is dealing with the right to drive on public roads and
highways, governments can limit the right to drive on those
thoroughfares to those holding current licenses issued by that state.
But even this obviously appropriate privilege of governments (after
all, they own the roads and have clear purview over public safety
issues), becomes complicated when they must respect the licenses of
drivers in transit who reside in different state or country. And where
private property is concerned, governments are even further removed
from holding authority over the events that occur there.
The problem with OFPA is that it didn't address the appropriate task,
that of arriving at a widely held consensus defining a consistent,
national minimum threshold for organic products and then (and only
then) have that consensus become written into law, to (hopefully) make
the meaning and quality of organic foods more precise and (presumably)
minimize abuses, while upholding the newly and more precisely defined
But no, that hasn't happened (& from the looks of things it may NEVER
be accomplished, but let's not be pessimistic). Instead, the law was
created but the task has yet to be done. What happened was, the
legislature decided to a create a CONTROL mechanism for something that
it (collectively) clearly failed to minimally understand, and the same
mentality that gave us conventional agricultural practices, gave us
OFPA. (Should we be surprised at that)?
The concepts OFPA puts forth: Dominate (or appear to) that which you
neither fully identify with or comprehend, manipulate (rather than
work with or sustain) it until it reflects your own limitations and
contradictions, fence it off and box it in (rather than encourage or
help it grow), chop it up, make it change it's nature and direction,
poison it, make it much more complicated (and more expensive) that it
needs to be, until it becomes incapable of performing the function for
which it was originally intended, created, and/or evolved, create
doubt and place the burden of proof on those that least deserve it...
AM I OR AM I NOT TELLING IT LIKE IT IS?
Instead of directing it's energies toward reaching a consensus and
arriving at a working definition of "organic" that's consistent with
the tradition, spirit and principles and practice of organic
agriculture, a definition that would legally define the State of Being
Organic, the legislation decided to emphasize: That which is organic
is organic when I or my cronies say it is. You bet. And then the
emperor said: How do you like my new clothes? (Probably made with
organically grown cotton, invisible except to the truly enlightened).
Instead of being a big help, what resulted was a big cop out - a gross
abdication of responsibility. A convoluted trip to nowhere. And this
dear readers, is all that lies behind the decision to control the O
word (as if that were where the answer was to be found). Instead of
doing the job at hand, someone wanted to put it off and create a
bureaucracy around that. Anyone here really believe that this is going
OFPA didn't put much stock in or give much attention to defining the
State of Being, it elevated the certification and the "Word" that the
certification certifies. However, the truth (State of Being) is not in
the certification, and certifying something doesn't make it so. The
certification simply states that whoever certified verifies, confirms
a given claim. However, a more substantial foundation is required for
any real degree of security. Otherwise, we have a closed circuit here.
The opportunity for further recourse must exist, and must be grounded
in a both congruent set of principles and the method that can be used
to confirm this for the process of certification, but not for creating
the State of Being, which precedes this. The certification can't
confirm the State of Being, only that the certifier himself followed
a given set of procedures for arriving at the conclusion he arrived
The methods for legally determining the State of Being must ALSO be
defined, as well as the procedures that determine when and if doing
that is appropriate or necessary, but this is not related to the
certification (although it could be, if the certification was suspect)
so much as to a separate claim instituted by an interested party. In
other words, this event can occur ONLY as a result of a claim being
made, which itself must conform to a reasonable standard.
Sal's point is that the interested party who institutes a claim should
bear the cost of same, if his claim is not substantiated. Otherwise,
the innocent are being prejudged as guilty, and in fact this is
exactly what is happening. Things are turned around.
And my point is that words are pointers to States of Being, and not
subject to decrees (or acts) that lose track or their purpose. They
are not so easily controlled as public, governmentally owned highways.
They have a life and traditions of their own, that spring from the
people that created and used them.
Yes dear friends, that is how the leopard got it's spots, the USA got
it's OFPA, sanet got this post, and the U of G got ...
Friday, November 05, 1999, 10:19:45 AM, Anita Graf wrote:
AGS> Excuse me if these ideas have already been covered. I am very behind
AGS> in reading the Sanet posts.
AGS> I wonder why there couldn't be just a USDA "certified organic FOR
AGS> EXPORT" program for those who want to be able to participate in
AGS> international markets, and those who only want domestic certification
AGS> could opt for a cheaper private label certification?
AGS> It seems to me that the most compelling reason for national
AGS> standards is to facilitate international trade. For example, without
AGS> national standards, trade with the EU is quite a bit more involved,
AGS> less efficient (and for that reason more expensive) because we do not
AGS> have a federal govt program, and there is always the chance that the
AGS> EU will do what the Japanese have done and say "until you get
AGS> national govt-instituted standards, we won't accept your organic
AGS> label." (This is what I have been told is the latest stand of the
AGS> Japanese, though I don't have a reference for this info.) Let me
AGS> repeat this: there is tremendous pressure from external markets to
AGS> have a national organic program that is put out by the government.
AGS> This is not something that AMS invented just to make everyone's life
AGS> more difficult! Organic export markets are lucrative (and
AGS> potentially even more so) so this is an important issue. (Lawrence
AGS> and Sal, if you want to know why it is that the EU and Japan and
AGS> who-knows-next wants a stamp of approval from USDA rather than IFOAM
AGS> or OTA, that is a whole other discussion/dilema.)
AGS> However, in most cases, I'd guess (don't have stats) that the
AGS> products of the vast majority of organic producers never get near
AGS> international markets. Even now, most producers know that if they
AGS> want to sell abroad, they better certify with one of the big,
AGS> internationally recognized certifiers like Oregon Tilth, QAI, OCIA,
AGS> etc. They wouldn't certify with Podunk Certified Organic
AGS> Organization, even though the standards with Podunk might be rigorous
AGS> and respectable. So I think that there is already a precident for
AGS> this sort of two-tier certifying.
AGS> I think it should be recognized that not all organic producers look
AGS> alike. Bart has pointed out several time now that there is a wide
AGS> range of quality and integrity. So I guess we shouldn't do away with
AGS> the inspectors yet, as Sal suggests. But we could organize things a
AGS> bit and allocate extra costs to those who will benefit from extra
AGS> certification.. I don't see why a farmer who just wants to market at
AGS> the farmer's market or to national stores with a certified organic
AGS> label should pay the extra expenses incurred so that someone else can
AGS> produce a product (or an ingredient of a product) that is intended
AGS> for export.
AGS> These are some of my thoughts as to the arrangement of the deck
AGS> chairs, as long as we're consigned to life on the Titanic. I have to
AGS> say that if we have the choice of changing boats, I much prefer
AGS> Roberto's idea of putting the inspection burden on those who choose
AGS> to farm with chemicals. Maybe the "sick" farm should have to get a
AGS> "prescription" for his agro-chemicals! And while I'm designing this
AGS> new LIFE boat.... Let's put the ideas of that design guy that Ann
AGS> mentioned in charge of the Land Grant Schools of Agriculture
AGS> curriculae. I just love the whole change of perspecitive offered in
AGS> this scenario.
AGS> Anita Graf
AGS> Market Development of National Organic Products
AGS> University of Georgia
AGS> make a difference: http://www.thehungersite.com
AGS> To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
AGS> "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
AGS> "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest".
AGS> To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
AGS> "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".
AGS> All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
Douglas Hinds, Dir. Gral. - CeDeCoR, A.C.
Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural, Asociacion Civil
(Center for Rural and Community Development, a non-profit organization)
Cordoba, Veracruz; Cd. Guzman, Jalisco & Reynosa, Tamaulipas Mexico
Apdo. Postal No. 171
Fortin de las Flores, Veracruz 94471 Mexico
Tel: 011 522 713 2888 (Direct at present)
U.S. Voicemail (email linked) 630 300 0550
U.S. Fax Mailbox (email linked) 630 300 0555
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: