Urgent: Organic Standards At Risk!

I've always recommended organic produce. Not only is organic produce grown without chemicals, it also has more nutrients, is good for our environment and just plain tastes better.

Well now, the "organic" foods standard is at risk of being lowered by a "sneak attack", a combination of large corporations, agri-business interest groups (lobbyists) and our government. Below is the background of this threat directly from the Organic Consumers Association. Please take a moment and take action to help maintain the highest standards for organic farming as possible. If the standards are lowered organic integrity will be comprimised and consumers will lose faith in organic foods. Our health, the health of all Americans are at stake. Thank you!

After 35 years of hard work, the U.S. organic community has built up a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture, based upon strict organic standards and organic community control over modification to these standards.

Now, large corporations, such as Kraft, Wal-Mart, & Dean Foods--aided and abetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and members of the Organic Trade Association, are moving to lower organic standards by allowing Bush appointees in the USDA National Organic Program to approve a broad list of synthetic ingredients and processing aids that would be allowed in organic production. Even worse these proposed regulatory changes will reduce future public discussion and input and take away the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) traditional lead jurisdiction in setting standards. What this means, in blunt terms. is that USDA bureaucrats and industry lobbyists, not consumers, will have near total control over what can go into organic foods and products. (Send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online here)

During the next week, acting in haste and near-total secrecy, the U.S. Congress is being lobbied by industry to vote on a rider in the House/Senate Conference Committee to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that could take away control over organic standards from the National Standards Board and put this control in the hands of federal bureaucrats in the USDA (remember the USDA proposal in 1997-98 that said that genetic engineering, toxic sludge, and food irradiation would be OK on organic farms, or USDA suggestions in 2004 that heretofore banned pesticides, hormones, tainted feeds, and animal drugs would be OK?).

For the past week in Washington, OCA has been urging members of Congress not to reopen and subvert the federal statute that governs U.S. Organic standards (the Organic Food Production Act: OFPA), but rather to let the organic community and the National Organic Standards Board resolve our differences over issues like synthetics and animal feed internally, and then proceed to a open public comment period. Unfortunately most members of Congress seem to be listening to industry lobbyists more closely than to us. We need to raise our voices. (Send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online here)

In the past, grassroots mobilization and mass pressure by organic consumers have been able to stop the USDA and Congress from degrading organic standards. This time Washington insiders tell us that the "fix is already in." So we must take decisive action now. We need you to call your Congressional Representatives and Senators today. We need you to sign the following petition and send it to everyone you know. We also desperately need funds to head off this attack in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for your support. Together we will take back citizen control over organic standards and preserve organic integrity.

Call the Capital Switchboard here: 202-224-3121, and tell your Congresspersons not to support any ammendments to the ag appropriations bill that would lower organic standards. You can send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online here: www.organicconsumers.org/rd-ofpa.htm

Read more about the status and what's at stake at the Organic Consumers Association web site.

To your best health!

Mark
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