Daily News Archive
From December 20, 2001

USDA Announces New National Organic Standards

Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Dan Glickman announced the Final National Organic Program Rule, the national standards for the production, handling and processing of organically grown food in the United States. A proposed organic rule was released last March, but was met with much criticism and sparked an unprecedented 325,603 public comments.

According to USDA, the new rule will prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge, and will include the National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Non-Synthetic Substances. The new rule also increases the minimum percentage of organic ingredients in products labeled "Made with Organic Ingredients" from 50% to 70%. Products labeled "Organic" must be 95% organic, based on the Environmental Protection Agency's 5% pesticide residue tolerance. 100% organic products may be labeled as such.

At a press conference held in a Washington, DC Fresh Fields Supermarket, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), author of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act said he felt like a proud father and was optimistic about the opportunities the rule would bring to organic farmers. "Today will long be remembered as the certified beginning of the next growth phase of American organic agriculture."

Check back for Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP's critique of the new organic standards. Visit the USDA National Organic Program website to download a copy of the rule.