Agriculture Department Planning Revision Of National Standards for 'Organic' Food
By Bradley Graham
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced yesterday that foods that had been irradiated, genetically engineered or grown in sewage-sludge fertilizer would not be permitted to be labeled as "organic" under upcoming national standards.
Although the initial organic standards proposed in December by the Agriculture Department did not address irradiation, genetic engineering or sewage-sludge fertilizer, the organics industry feared those techniques could find their way into the rules and blur the line between high-tech conventional food processing and their back-to-nature approach.
The Agriculture Department received intense pressure from the organic industry and receiving a record 200,000 letters, faxes and e-mails from consumers opposing allowing the use of the term organic on those foods.
The Agriculture Department now plans to propose a revised set of standards later this year. Organic groups have objected to other sections of the first rule, including treatment of livestock, control of the list of organic definitions and whether states could impose their own tougher standards.
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