ACTION ALERT: Bush Administration moving to allow corporate takeover of organics!

Over the past few weeks America's organic standards have once again come under heavy attack. First the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) announced on April 14 that they would no longer monitor or police "organic" labels on non-agricultural products, literally opening the door for unscrupulous companies to put bogus organic labels on products such as fish, body care products, pet foods, fertilizer, and clothing.

In the case of seafood and body care products, the marketplace is already starting to become flooded with products bearing the organic label, even though the production methods (industrial fish farms) or content ("organic" shampoos with organic claims based upon added water) in many of these products violate traditional organic principles. Besides giving the green light to bogus organic labels the new USDA "scope policy" penalizes genuine organic companies that have begun sourcing, certifying, and labeling their products as organic.

Corporate agribusiness and the biotech lobby have apparently decided that strict organic farming practices and the booming organic market constitute a threat to their bottom line, and have called on their friends in the Bush administration USDA to degrade organic standards and prepare for a restructuring of organic production so as to facilitate the use of industrial agriculture practices such as pesticides, antibiotics, non-organic feed, growth hormones and even genetically engineered animal drugs.

USDA's NOP announced on April 28 controversial new directives/guidance statements on national organic standards including:

"Organic" Crops Raised with Pesticides?

The USDA has now stated that as long as the farmer and the organic certifier don't know the specific ingredients of the pesticides applied to the "organic" plants, the crops can be sold as "organic". To make matters worse, it is not required by law for pesticide companies to list the ingredients on their products (it's considered proprietary information), so the farmers rarely know what the specific ingredients are.

"Organic" Dairy Cows Injected with Antibiotics and Synthetic Hormones?

The USDA has announced that individual cows can be treated with any kind of drug at any time, including synthetic growth hormones, but milk can only be sold from that cow 12 months after that treatment. The problem with this directive is that it opens up the door for split operation factory style dairy farms, whereby organic and non-organic dairy operations are carried out simultaneously, and hundreds if not thousands of "organic" dairy cows are kept in intensive confinement. Not only are industrial sized dairy farms bad for the environment, but they inevitably give rise to sick cows who have to be treated with drugs. Of course many of these drugs build up in the body fat and are released in the milk and meat from these animals.. If this new directive is allowed to stand, organic milk could potentially contain residues of drugs and hormones.

Mercury and PCBs Allowed in "Organic" Beef?

The USDA also stated on April 28 that non-organic fishmeal can be fed to cattle and the beef can still be sold as "organic". Fishmeal is used as a protein supplement on conventional cattle ranches, but it frequently contains mercury, PCBs and other synthetic chemicals. Mercury and PCBs are "bioacculmulators" meaning they are concentrated and stored in the "meat" of the animal.

The Organic Consumers Association is working hard to stop the degradation of organic standards by the USDA and head-off the takeover of the organic market by corporate agribusiness and biotech interests. We are now launching a national campaign called SOS--Safeguard Organic Standards, to make sure that strict organic standards are maintained and that organic monitoring, certification, and policing extends to the full range of consumer products, including body care, clothing, pet food, fertilizer, and other items. But to Safeguard Organic Standards we need your donations and we need your grassroots volunteer energy. Join us, and ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same.


Informant: garden beekeeper


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Mai 2004

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