National organic standards are the result of ten years of dedicated work by the Organic Trade Association, its members, the farming community supporting sustainable agriculture, consumers, and a number of dedicated government employees. Organic agriculture is a production system that’s here to stay. It will contribute tremendously to the growth of family farms, to the U.S. economy, and to a safer environment worldwide.
For the first time, there will be consistent standards for all organic products marketed in the United States. No longer will there be questions concerning what certification stands for, or whether a state recognizes a private certification label. Instead, with national organic standards, there will be guaranteed reciprocity and uniformity among all certifying bodies approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to certify to U.S. organic standards.
Standards clarify and make labeling consistent, protecting the integrity of the organic guarantee.
The rule gives consumers the assurance of what organic stands for. Organic agriculture prohibits the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, irradiation, sewage sludge, and genetic engineering in anything labeled organic.
USDA will finally oversee and enforce the entry of only qualified organic products into the United States, thus preventing false and mislabeled products from entering the country.
For the organic industry:
National organic standards position the organic industry to grow the organic farm community, protecting the environment and protecting future generations.
Having standards in place will facilitate and expand the marketing of organic products, both domestically and globally.
The rule comes on the heels of the Risk Management Act that stated organic is a good agricultural practice. Enforcement and implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act place organic as a recognized, not a fringe, practice in the U.S. agricultural community.
The rule ends any doubts about the credibility or viability of organic agriculture. This regulation acknowledges that organic agriculture is a viable and integral part of U.S. agriculture.
National organic standards will allow the industry to pursue other growth opportunities, such as in fiber, in landscaping, and in organic alternatives to petroleum-based plastics.
Helpful Web Sites:
USDA’s National Organic Program web site (http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/)