Organic Consumers Association
September 23rd, 2005
Consumers and the organic community are called upon to apply pressure to their House of Representatives members as well as their Senators to stop the Conference Committee from degrading the organic standards, which are being threatened by a proposed Bill in Congress. In addition we urge everyone to start applying pressure to the Organic Trade Association, who are unfortunately spearheading this Sneak Attack. We ask everyone who has read our SOS Action Alert and signed our petition to Congress to call your House of Representative member at this toll free number: 877-762-8762, as well as the OTA: 413-774-7511.
Background of the Sneak Attack
After 35 years of hard work, the U.S. organic community has built up a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture, based upon strict organic standards and organic community control over modification to these standards.
Now, large corporations, such as Kraft, Wal-Mart, & Dean Foods--aided and abetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and members of the Organic Trade Association, are moving to lower organic standards by allowing Bush appointees in the USDA National Organic Program to approve a broad list of synthetic ingredients and processing aids that would be allowed in organic production. Even worse these proposed regulatory changes will reduce future public discussion and input and take away the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) traditional lead jurisdiction in setting standards. What this means, in blunt terms. is that USDA bureaucrats and industry lobbyists, not consumers, will have near total control over what can go into organic foods and products. (Send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online here )
During the next week, acting in haste and near-total secrecy, the U.S. Congress plans to vote on a rider in the House/Senate Conference Committee to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that could take away control over organic standards from the National Standards Board and put this control in the hands of federal bureaucrats in the USDA (remember the USDA proposal in 1997-98 that said that genetic engineering, toxic sludge, and food irradiation would be OK on organic farms, or USDA suggestions in 2004 that heretofore banned pesticides, hormones, tainted feeds, and animal drugs would be OK?).
For the past week in Washington, OCA has been urging members of Congress not to reopen and subvert the federal statute that governs U.S. Organic standards (the Organic Food Production Act: OFPA), but rather to let the organic community and the National Organic Standards Board resolve our differences over issues like synthetics and animal feed internally, and then proceed to a open public comment period. Unfortunately most Senators seem to be listening to industry lobbyists more closely than to us. We need to raise our voices. (Send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online here )
In the past, grassroots mobilization and mass pressure by organic consumers have been able to stop the USDA and Congress from degrading organic standards. This time Washington insiders tell us that the "fix is already in." So we must take decisive action now. We need you to call your U.S. Senators today. We need you to sign the following petition and send it to everyone you know. We also desperately need funds to head off this attack in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for your support. Together we will take back citizen control over organic standards and preserve organic integrity.
Call the Capital Switchboard here: 877-762-8762, and tell your Congresspersons not to support any ammendments to the ag appropriations bill that would lower organic standards. You can send a quick letter to your Congresspersons online.