New York, NY (Sept. 19, 2002) --- At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, leaders of the scientific, children’s rights and organic communities gathered today to call on parents and other concerned citizens to protect our children by supporting organic agriculture and the new organic standards that go into effect nationwide on October 21st.
"For children, being born into a healthy Earth is a fundamental right. Yet their vulnerable bodies are repeatedly exposed to pesticides, chemicals, hormones and other persistent and dangerous chemicals," said Raffi, children's troubadour and ecology advocate. "Alternatives like organic farming do exist and it is time they received society’s full support. If children had a say, they’d vote organic."
Raffi was joined by fourth graders from P.S. 87 in singing "Naturally," his ballad about growing tasty foods in pure, healthy soil.
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., ecologist, cancer survivor and author of Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, shared her decision as a mother to buy organic groceries for her two young children: "Buying organic is a way of redirecting our food dollars to support non-toxic agricultural practices and, as such, protects not only our own children’s health, but the health of farmers’ children who suffer from higher rates of cancer than average. Choosing to buy organic is one of the few lifestyle changes we can make that actually has profound social and political implications as well."
"Like using a bicycle helmet or a car seat, choosing organic products is an easy way to protect our children," said Katherine DiMatteo, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association’s 12-year effort to win passage of the organic standards. "Organic agriculture minimizes children’s exposure to toxic and persistent pesticides in the foods they eat--- as well as in the soil in which they play, the air they breathe and the water they drink."
DiMatteo explained that the national organic standards going into effect next month ensure that consumers get what they pay for when they choose organic. Certified organic crops must be grown on certified farmland that has not been treated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other prohibited substances for at least 3 years. Certified organic farmland is kept healthy through regular crop rotation to maintain natural soil health and eliminate the need for toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organic standards strictly prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, antibiotics and growth hormones.
The most stringent organic standards in the world, the US standards also control labeling of organic food and agricultural fibers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved four categories of organic labels, based on the percentage of organic content:
1. 100 Percent Organic – all of a product’s content is certified organic
2. Organic – at least 95 percent is certified organic
3. Made with Organic – at least 70 percent is organic
4. Less than 70 --- products with less than 70 percent organic content may identify organic content only on the product label’s ingredient list.
The USDA’s organic seal may only be displayed on products with at least 95 percent certified organic content. Consumers will start seeing the labels on organic products on October 21st.
Tips for Buying Organic Foods
To help make it easy for families to begin buying organic, the Organic Trade Association has drawn up a guide entitled "Seven Tips for Buying Organic Foods," available on The O’Mama Report, its consumer web site (www.theorganicreport.org). The guide suggest ways to begin incorporating a variety of organic products that can be found on most family’s shopping list --everything from cereal, peanut butter and chocolate milk, to hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob and ice cream.
"Buying organic doesn’t require a big lifestyle change. The aim is progress, not perfection," said DiMatteo, grandmother of two. "Families can start by picking one organic item a week. Start with organic apples, then try organic yogurt or milk the next time you shop. All it takes is one new organic item a week!"
The Organic Trade Association’s "Organic for Kids" educational initiative is part of its national celebration of "Organic Harvest Month," a tribute to organic agriculture held nationally since 1992. This month’s celebration also marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the scientist whose work is widely credited with starting the modern environmental movement. September 2002 also has been proclaimed "Organic Harvest Month" by many governors throughout the country in recognition of the final implementation of the U.S. organic program.
September 19, 2002
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