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Organics: one hand clapping. (Updates).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic labels hit the shelves on October 21 (see "Food Porn," Currents, May/June 1998). A week earlier, the Center for Food Safety and others filed a legal petition to force the USDA to create a peer review panel to supervise organic certifiers' accreditation. Though the new law requires peer review, the panel has not been established.

Now there are four official categories of organic foods. When produced using solely organic methods, they're labeled "100 percent organic." If 95 percent or more of the ingredients (by weight) have been organically produced and processed, it is labeled "certified organic." Products with "made with organic" contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients, three of which can be listed on the front label. Products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients can identify the organic components on the ingredient panel. No organic products can contain genetically modified, irradiated or synthetic ingredients or hormones or antibiotics.

Some organic producers and retailers are glad to finally see a national organic standard. The Organic Consumers Association argues that the USDA failed to include key factors, like a definition of humane treatment of farm animals, and consideration of farm worker equity, social responsibility and environmental stewardship. CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association, (218) 226-4164,
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Author:Hightower, Eve
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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