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DON'T PANIC, BUY ORGANIC


Now that analysts have been able to study and digest the long awaited National Organic Program (NOP) Rules issued by the Department of Agriculture in mid-December, we're finding loopholes big enough to drive a chemical fertilizer truck through. The final NOP Rules were mandated by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) passed by Congress back in 1990. The law relegated the primary task of determining the definition of organic along with the allowable products, practices and procedures to a newly created National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), comprised of representative sectors of the industry including fruit, vegetable and livestock farmers, processors, handlers and consumer groups. The NOSB was charged with the task of being the gatekeeper for determining the substances allowable to be used through the creation of a National List of acceptable and prohibited products and practices. After an exhaustive process over a period of years of researching and gathering information, reviewing and reworking present day standards, and holding marathon meetings and hearings around the county, the results -- which under OFPA legally determines what constitutes organic -- were presented to USDA to become finalized in the NOP Rules.

The good news is that in the proceedings of carrying out the process the country's existing 40 plus state and private certifying organizations around the country largely standardized themselves in accordance with NOSB's definitions. They had ample incentive to do so -- under OFPA the existing certifying organizations would themselves have to become certified by USDA in order to remain in business.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE -->Written by: Steve Gilman


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