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Organic Trade Association works to address issues raised concerning national organic standards
GREENFIELD, Mass. (Jan. 27, 2005)--The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today said it will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help address issues concerning the National Organic Program (NOP) raised by yesterday’s rulings in the lawsuit brought by Arthur Harvey against the Secretary of Agriculture (Harvey v. Veneman).
Handing down its decisions yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit based in Boston, MA, ruled in favor of three of the seven issues Harvey raised concerning technical inconsistencies between the national organic standards implemented in 2002 and the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. In its ruling, the court called for the following changes to National Organic Program (NOP) regulations:
1) For multi-ingredient products labeled as “Organic” (at least 95 percent organic ingredients), OFPA bars synthetic substances. NOP regulations have allowed 38 synthetics, such as baking powder, to be used in these organic processed foods on a limited basis after strict review. Most of the synthetics that have been approved up to now would no longer be allowed.
2) NOP regulations have allowed whole dairy herds transitioning to organic production to use 80 percent organic feed for the first nine months. However, because OFPA requires all organic dairy animals to receive organic feed for 12 months prior to the sale of milk or milk products, this provision no longer can be followed.
3) For multi-ingredient products labeled as “Organic” (at least 95 percent organic ingredients), agricultural products not available commercially as organic must have individual reviews in order to be used in the 5 percent not required to be organic.
“OTA is very proud that in the two years since national organic standards were implemented, U.S. organic acreage and production have grown substantially, organic product sales have increased, and there have been many environmental benefits as a result. The court decision may hamper that growth rate in the short term, but OTA is optimistic that its members and others in the organic community can pull together to maintain the momentum for organic agriculture,” said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.
If USDA chooses not to appeal the decision, the process for changing the regulations will take time during which those within the industry expect to have opportunity to give input and comment. “OTA intends to play an active role in this process, to help work toward continuing to grow the organic market and provide consumers with the products they want,” DiMatteo added.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association representing the organic agriculture industry in North America. Its nearly 1,500 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.
January 27, 2005
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