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Lax USDA "Organic" Label Threatens Local Organic Food Industry

"USDA Organic" labeled food can cost twice as much, but under the loose system set up by the Bush Administration, the label may have become meaningless, threatening a lead industry in Oregon and Lane County.

"Purity of Federal 'Organic' Label Is Questioned," a Washington Post article reported today. The lengthy lead story found lax, corporate controlled regulation under the USDA. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who pushed the law to create the federal label, told the Post, "If we don't protect the brand, the organic label, the program is finished. It could disappear overnight."

Here's some of the revelations from the Post article:

• "Organic" beer has non-organic hops.

• "Organic" mock duck has synthetic additives to make it stringy.

• "Organic" baby food has synthetic fatty acids.

• The law required annual testing for pesticides, but USDA hasn't enforced the requirement.

• Corporations Kellogg, Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Dole are big players in "organic" food.

• "Organic" milk can come from factory-like feed lots without grass.

• The National Organic Standards Board has approved 245 non-organic substances for inclusion in "organic" labeled food.

Regulators appear to see their mission as more to grow the supposedly "organic" industry than to actually assure consumers are getting the organic food they paid for.

"People are really hung up on regulations, Joe Smillie a federal organic standards board member and an executive at a corporation that supposedly certifies "65 percent of organic products found on supermarket shelves" told the Post. "Are we selling health food? No," the Post quoted the federal "organic" regulator. "Consumers, they expect organic food to be growing in a greenhouse on Pluto. Hello? We live in a polluted world. It isn't pure."