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Congress Revisits Original OFPA Standards 31906Congress Revisits Original OFPA Standards

December 5, 2005

2 Min Read
Congress Revisits Original OFPA Standards

Congress Revisits Original OFPA Standards

WASHINGTONCongressamended the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to continue to allow the use ofcertain synthetic materials and other ingredients in food products certified USDAOrganic. The legislation was considered a victory by the Organic TradeAssociation (OTA), which had lobbied for the changes to OFPA; however, various organizations, including the OrganicConsumers Association (OCA), are publicly opposing the rider.

OTA said Congress re-evaluated the use of non-agriculturalcompounds such as baking powder in organic foods following a June 2005 courtruling that the use of synthetic ingredients in organic products is not allowedunder OFPA. According to OTA, the court decision threatened the livelihood ofboth large and small organic companies and farms. OTA asked Congress to amendOFPA to allow the continued use of specific synthetic materials in post-harvesthandling and processing, and to include provisions for dairies converting toorganic production. Congress quickly approved the proposed changes to the act.

We want to thank Congress for responding so promptly forour request for clarification, said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director ofOTA.We took this approach because we honor the public rulemaking process thatcreated the national organic standards that have been in place since October2002. If Congress had not acted, many of the organic products consumers know andlove would have disappeared.

In a released statement, OCA, Beyond Pesticides, NationalCampaign for Sustainable Agriculture and other organizations argued the newruling weakens U.S. organic food standards, accusing Congress of rammingthrough OTAs sneak attack to appease major food processors in the organicfood industry.

The OFPA clarifications include: allowances for food additivesand processing aids, including 500 food contact substances, without publicreview; permission for continued antibiotic treatment and genetically engineeredfeeding of young cows prior to their conversion to organic production; andalllowance of loopholes that emergency substitution of non-organic ingredientsfor organic ingredients without public notification.

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