GREENFIELD, Mass. (Dec. 20, 2000)— National organic standards finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will strengthen consumer confidence in U.S. organic products both domestically and internationally, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) said today.
"For the first time, there will be consistent standards and labeling for all organic products marketed in the United States. No longer will there be questions concerning what ‘organic’ stands for, or whether the process has been certified," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the trade association representing all segments of the organic industry in North America.
Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. A vital part of U.S. agriculture, organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organic product sales have grown at least 20 percent each year since 1990, resulting in an estimated $7.76 billion in retail sales during 2000.
National organic standards will protect the integrity of the organic guarantee, and prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetic engineering in anything labeled organic. OTA is urging producers of organic products to become familiar with the regulations and to take the steps necessary to obtain certification as soon as possible.
DiMatteo called USDA’s regulations implementing the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 a significant milestone for the U.S. organic industry. "Not only will U.S. consumers benefit, but U.S. trading partners will have the reassurance that products certified as organic have met strict criteria and certification agents have been approved by USDA. Organic agriculture is here to stay, and will continue to contribute to the growth of family farms, to the U.S. economy, and to a safer environment worldwide," DiMatteo added. OTA, she noted, has long sought national organic standards.
The regulations, currently posted on USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s web site (www.ams.usda.gov/nop), are slated to appear in the Dec. 21, 2000, Federal Register.
December 20, 2000
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