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Effort to Stop Congress from Weakening Organic Now Underway
(from February 26, 2003)

Consumers, organic companies, and trade groups are weighing in from across the country to turn back a provision in the Appropriations Bill passed by Congress on February 13, 2003 that pollutes and weakens the legal standards for organically labeled food, according to food safety advocates. As reported in Daily News last week, in its $397 billion Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Congress attached a last-minute rider allowing an exemption to the requirement that organic livestock be fed 100% organic feed. The language allows farmers to feed livestock conventional feed if organic feed is more than twice as expensive and still label the meat as organic.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the original co-sponsor of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act, announced at the time that he would launch an effort to repeal the rider and restore the intent of the law. A repeal bill is expected to be introduced by Senator Leahy and Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) today and they are seeking co-sponsors in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Beyond Pesticides is asking people to contact their two Senators and one Representative to sign-on as a co-sponsor of the legislation being introduced by Senator Leahy and Rep. Farr. The bill will stop the weakening of the organic label by repealing Section 771 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Members of Congress should be encouraged to sign-on and support the legislation even after the bill is introduced today, as part of the process of building support for passage.

Consumers and supporters of organic food are a powerful force behind a $10 billion organic industry. They showed their influence in Washington, DC, when in 2000 a record number of people stopped a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to allow in organic production genetically http://www.ota.com/SUAaction.htmengineered organisms, sewage sludge, and irradiation.

Two websites provide additional information that can assist you further with this effort, http://www.ota.com/SUAaction.htm and http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/issues/org_feed02-03.html.

To read the exact language of the rider, see http://www.ota.com/FeedLanguage.htm.