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Senate repeals exception to organic rule.

The Senate has repealed an exemption that allowed chicken farmers to call their product organic even if the chickens never ate organic meal, as long as the farmers could prove there was a shortage of the feed. The repeal had the support of the organic foods industry, environmental groups and Bush administration officials.

The exemption originated in the House in February as part of a giant spending bill for virtually all of the government's nonmilitary programs. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) had persuaded his colleagues to allow companies to label their products as organically fed if they could prove to the Agriculture Department there was a shortage of organic meal. Deal's aides did not return calls after the reversal.

Government organic labeling standards that went into effect last November require farmers to certify that they do not use conventional pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, antibiotics or growth hormones.

"If a few beef, poultry, pork and dairy producers are able to label their products 'organic' without using organic feed, which is one of the primary inputs, then what exactly is organic about their products?" said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who led the effort to repeal.

The amendment including the repeal was attached by the Senate to a nearly $80 billion bill to pay for the war in Iraq, new homeland security measures and another airline bailout.
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Title Annotation:for chickens
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 21, 2003
Words:223
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