Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good and Bad News from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The USDA Organic seal is supposed to assure the organic quality of our foods but there are some discrepancies here.

Bad News

USDA Stacks Government Organic Panel with Industry
OCA blew the whistle on the USDA's appointment of four new representatives to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) with strong ties to corporate agribusiness. The NOSB is the organic community's traditional watchdog over organic standards. According to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the USDA is supposed to appoint a NOSB that is broadly representative of the organic community, including environmentalists, consumer representatives and scientists. But the USDA has begun to arbitrarily fill vacant seats with industry representatives from companies such as General Mills and Campbell's, companies whose profits are almost entirely based on nonorganic crops grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Thousands of organic consumers have responded by sending emails to the USDA demanding the removal of these appointees. Organic Bytes #99 12/29/07

Put the Natural Back in Meats labeled as “Naturally Raised” A 2007 Consumer Reports survey found that 83% of consumers assume a "naturally raised" meat label means it came from animals raised in a natural environment who have spent their drug-free lives freely roaming the pastures of a family farm, eating grass and hay, and being (at least somewhat) humanely slaughtered. In stark contrast, the USDA, bowing to pressure from corporate agribusiness, has released a standard for "Naturally Raised" meats that is so weak and misleading it would apply to a cloned animal, weaned on pig or cow blood plasma, raised in the confines of a factory farm, and fed a steady diet of genetically engineered grains. Take action: Organic Bytes #126, 1/18/08

Good News

USDA Bans Cloned Foods from Organic Labels

Although the USDA had previously proposed that the offspring of cloned animals could be considered "organic", after being flooded with complaints from organic consumers, the USDA's National Organic Standards Board voted 12-0 to ban foods from cloned animals and their progeny from the organic market. April 2007

Factory Farm has Organic Certification Yanked

For the first time in USDA history, a massive 10,000 head intensive confinement California feedlot dairy had its organic certification suspended. Prior to OCA's boycott, and complaints filed by the Cornucopia Institute, this factory farm supplied Horizon Organic. June 2007

Today, Horizons is USDA Certified - but 20% of their milk still comes from feedlot cows. However they are purported to be gradually shifting over to more family farm sourced milk. I recommend Organic Valley first but Horizons is better than commercial brands of milk.

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