Saturday, May 19, 2007

Keep Organic Foods Organic- Public Comment Needed Now

If you're interested in the purity of food labeled organic this will be of interest to you. It matters to me. Frankly, I don't mind a product having nonorganic ingredients in it -- I eat in major restaurant chains like most of the rest of us -- as long as I know what I'm paying for. But if I'm going out of my way to buy organic -- and paying a premium price because of it -- I want to know that the food I'm buying really is what it claims to be.

I recently received an email from an organization opposed to the proposed amendments to the National Organic Program at the USDA that were given an unusually short public comment period -- only 7 days were allowed until May 22. Supposedly this new amendment may allow nonorganic ingredients to be added to products labeled as organic when an organic substitute is not available. For example it would allow Anheiser Busch, one of the key lobbyists for these changes, to add nonorganic hops to beer it wants to promote as organic. It would also allow non-organically raised natural food colorings like annatto and beta-caratein to be added to products labeled as organic. Not a small issue for people with children who have autism, ADHD and other conditions that get significantly worse when a child eats food with additives of various kinds.

Personally, the organization that sends me these emails —The Natural Solutions Foundation—rubs me the wrong way with their fear-mongering over the top rhetoric. You can read and add your name to a petition they're sending (I did) by clicking here.

But I think it would be ultimately more effective to go directly to the USDA itself (I did that, too) so here's the information on how to do that:

Document ID AMS-TM-07-0062-0001
Document Title National Organic Program (NOP)--Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing)
How to Comment Interested persons may comment on this proposed rule using any of the following procedures:
• Mail: Comments may be submitted by mail to Robert Pooler, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA/AMS/ TMP/NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250.
• Internet:
• Written comments on this proposed rule should be identified with the docket number AMS-TM-07-0062. Commenters should identify the topic and section number of this proposed rule to which the comment refers.
• Clearly indicate if you are for or against the proposed rule or some portion of it and your reason for it. Include recommendation changes as appropriate.
• If desired include a copy of articles or other references that support your comments.

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