GREENFIELD, Mass. (March 19, 2003) A majority (61%) of consumers don’t want milk, eggs, poultry, or meat to be labeled “organic” if they were from animals fed antibiotics, hormones and pesticides, according to a nationwide consumer opinion poll conducted by RoperASW on behalf of the Organic Trade Association, the business group for the organic industry in North America.
The results of the OTA-RoperASW poll fly in the face of last minute legislation hidden in the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Signed into law on February 20, the rider (Section 771) enables the label “organic” to be put on products that come from animals raised on feed containing antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. Immediate outrage over the rider has prompted a bipartisan effort in Congress to recommend the passage of the “Organic Restoration Act” in the Senate (S. 457) and its counterpart in the House (HR 955). Both measures call for repeal of the rider.
The OTA-RoperASW poll also found that consumers prefer meat products labeled organic to have a high organic content, including feed. Most consumers (78%) said milk, eggs, poultry, or meat should be 100 percent organic to be labeled organic. The special interests behind the rider seek to reduce the organic feed content requirements.
“Consumers want the organic label to stand for stringent organic standards, like 100% organic feed for organic livestock,” said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, the lead organization working for the repeal of the rider. “In less than four weeks, thousands of consumers, organic farmers, manufacturers, environmental organizations and other supporters have mobilized to urge Congress to repeal the rider and preserve the integrity of the standards.” DiMatteo noted that in 1998, more than a quarter million consumers successfully worked to defeat similar efforts to diminish proposed organic standards.
The OTA-RoperASW poll found that nearly three quarters (71%) of consumers believe Congress should not be able to change policies on organic agriculture regulations without public discussion. The Section 771 rider was inserted without public comment.
“In a democracy like America’s, citizens have the right to provide input on decisions that affect their families and communities, and this includes policy concerning organic agriculture,” said DiMatteo. “Congress can easily correct this mistake by repealing Section 771 of the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.”
The OTA poll was conducted by RoperASW. RoperASW completed telephone interviews with 1,019 people selected at random. The interviews were conducted March 14- 16. The sample has a margin of error of + or – 3% at a 95% level of confidence.
March 19, 2003
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