Save the Organic Standards: Sign-on Letter to OTA and Organic Industry
A court decision in January 2005 in the "Harvey lawsuit" noted three areas of USDA Organic Regulations that were in contravention to principles of the Organic Law: the Organic Foods Production Act.
Since that time, the organic community has been attempting to figure out how this decision will affect the farmers, consumers, and industry of organic, and what to do about it. The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, Beyond Pesticides, and many other NGOs have been attempting to find some consensus solutions, including proposing a regulatory fix, and meetings with industry.
On September 19, 2005, an amendment to OFPA was floated by the Organic Trade Association as a possible rider on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill. A different bill was passed by the Senate later that week calling on USDA to do a study on the effects of "Harvey".
Despite massive efforts by thousands (over 320,000!) of organic farmers, consumers, industries, and activists, the OTA Amendment to the Organic Foods Production Act passed in a closed-door, Leadership-only Agriculture-Appropriations Conference Committee on Friday, October 28, 2005.
As passed, the amendment allows:
Numerous synthetic food additives and processing aids, including over 500 food contact substances, to be used in organic foods without public review.
Young dairy cows to continue to be treated with antibiotics and fed genetically engineered feed prior to being converted to organic production.
Loopholes under which non-organic agricultural ingredients could be substituted for organic ingredients without any notification of the public based on emergency decrees.
Below are documents for the community to view which both explain the situation, and provide factual background for the discussion. We hope it serves to provide the community with background with which to make your own decisions.