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USDA changes in organic label may lose public trust

The organic label will be undermined by changes that USDA announced on its website on March 6.
The organic label will be undermined by changes that USDA announced on its website on March 6.
Beyond Pesticides

Organic means healthier food production for you, the environment, and those who farm. So, ensuring that the public trusts the organic food label is critical to the growth of organic. Please join the Save Our Organic campaign, by Beyond Pesticides, to defend the organic food label from USDA changes.

Unfortunately, the organic label will be undermined by changes that USDA announced on its website on March 6.

Here are the changes:

· Reduce the rigor of the ongoing review of allowed synthetic materials in organic production;

· Take away transparency in the decision making process;

· Limit public participation in policies and procedures governing organic practices and standards;

· Undermine the responsibility of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and organic community to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on organic issues;

· Change organic policy making from one driven by the public process to one controlled by USDA, which can choose to dismiss critical issues.

Trust in the organic label over the last 20 years has been built on principles of collaboration among the stakeholder groups (farmers, consumers, and producers) and USDA. Because of the democratic and open decision making process, public trust in the organic label has grown rapidly along with the tremendous growth of the organic market. Healthy Americans want this to continue!

Congress established the NOSB, bringing together the diverse interests in the organic community, to adopt recommendations on policy and what materials are allowed in organic production. Through this process, the interest groups represented on the NOSB must concur that the allowance of a synthetic material is based on the latest science and an evaluation of its need, given alternative practices and natural materials. The process is based on the understanding that without concurrence from key groups –from farmers and processors to consumers and environmentalists– the organic label may lose the public’s trust. However, this will all change under the USDA-announced changes.

We need to tell the USDA to set a moratorium on the adoption of the new policies announced on its website on March 6 and in the September 16, 2013 Federal Register, and allow time for open public discussion and input. Ask your Congressional representatives, President Obama, and the organic companies whose products you buy, and the places where you shop to support you in asking for this moratorium.

You can send a message asking for a moratorium on USDA changes to your elected representatives, President Obama, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack by clicking here.

And, you can copy a letter asking for support of the moratorium that you can send to producers of products you buy and the places where you shop by clicking here.

For more information, read The "Age of Organics."

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