GREENFIELD, Mass. (March 7, 2000) – The Organic Trade Association (OTA) greeted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) unveiling of its long-awaited proposed national organic standards with cautious optimism. The proposed rule is designed to implement the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
"The Organic Trade Association has sought national organic standards for over a decade. Unlike some industries, the organic industry truly wants such standards in place to give consumers the assurance they desire for certified organic products," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.
OTA, which represents the organic agriculture industry in North America, has had industry guidelines in place since 1988 and has long sought national organic standards which would expedite global acceptance for U.S. organic products. In anticipation of USDA’s proposed rule, OTA on Oct. 20, 1999, adopted the American Organic Standards (AOS) which represent an industry consensus of accepted practices for organic agriculture. USDA officials used the American Organic Standards among its references for developing its proposed rule.
In contemplating the regulation, DiMatteo noted, "Some of the requirements may prove to be a challenge to the industry, particularly for smaller operations. For instance, will the supply of approved materials be sufficient to allow production of the organic products consumers clamor for?"
OTA was disappointed with USDA’s first proposal published in December 1997. That version would have allowed genetically modified organisms (GMOs), food irradiation, antibiotics in livestock and dairy production, and use of sewage sludge in organic production. After receiving more than 275,000 comments in response, USDA promised it would not include irradiation, GMOS, or sewage sludge in organic production in this latest attempt; it appears USDA has kept its promise.
Over the next several months, OTA committees and leaders will carefully review the proposed rule, and will file an official response during the 90-day comment period.
Further information about proposed national organic standards is available at the Organic Trade Association’s web site (www.ota.com). OTA’s more than 1,100 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. Founded in 1985, OTA encourages global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade.
March 7, 2000
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