News Release Contact: Barbara Haumann, 413-774-7511, Ext. 20
For Immediate Release Sue McGovern, 781-648-7157
National Organic Standards are a Success at One-Year Mark
Opens New Era of International Cooperation & Consumer Choice
Greenfield, MA -Oct. 14, 2003-The national organic program has met and exceeded its one-year goals, according to the Organic Trade Association, the business organization representing the $13 billion organic industry in North America. The organic standards were implemented nationwide on October 21, 2002.
"At the one-year point of the organic standards, we can clearly proclaim them a success for consumers and the international community. The foundation has been set for the development of a strong and vibrant organic industry, both at home and around the world," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director, Organic Trade Association.
DiMatteo emphasized the following areas of accomplishment:
(1) Integrity Maintained- Over the last year, the quality of the organic standards - among the most stringent in the world - were maintained despite being challenged by proposed legislation (Section 771) that would have eliminated the organic livestock feed requirement. "The defeat of Section 771 showed that the system works. Special interests were not able to make exceptions to the rule," said DiMatteo.
(2) Consumer Choice Increased-The implementation of the organic standards gave birth to entire new food categories, such as organic meat, that had never been available to consumers. Additionally, they provided consumers with a tool to use when shopping for foods made without the use of genetic engineering, which is forbidden by the standards.
(3) Legislative Progress Achieved-Significant progress was achieved in both the House and Senate. An Organic Caucus was formed in the House, and an informal organic working group started in the Senate. "The organic industry is grateful for the increasing awareness and support of Congress, especially Senators Patrick Leahy and Olympia Snowe, and Congressmen Ron Kind and Sam Farr," said DiMatteo.
(4) International Relations Forged - "The European Union and other countries are in serious negotiations with the U.S. about equivalencies of organic programs and other organic trade issues," said DiMatteo. "While other international trade talks are at a standstill, the positive framework established by the international organic community delivers a message of hope for the world community."
(5) Organic Industry Growing - Spurred by the implementation of the standards, additional major food companies are entering the organic marketplace.
(6) Tracking System Model Works - The intensive food traceability and tracking systems modeled by the national organic program are able to serve as a model for other sectors of the food industry, especially in light of increasing concerns about food safety and the world political situation.
The national organic regulations: prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production; reflect National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) recommendations concerning items on the National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Natural Substances; prohibit the use of antibiotics in organic meat and poultry production; and require 100% organic feed for organic livestock. They allow four different labeling options based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product: 100 percent organic; Organic (contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients by weight, excluding water and salt); Made with organic (contains between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients); Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients list the organic items in the ingredient panel. To assist consumers, USDA has designed a seal that may be used on products labeled as "100 percent organic" or "Organic." Use of the seal is voluntary.
Representing the $13 billion organic industry in North America, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association. Its mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade. OTA's approximately 1,200 members include growers, shippers, retailers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants and others. Learn more at the OTA website: www.ota.com or its consumer website: www.theorganicreport.org
October 14, 2003
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