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Organic Focus
Summer 1998


JULY 1998 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's expects to release this fall the results of its second attempt to craft a satisfactory national standard for organic farms. The USDA's first effort was assailed by more than 200,000 commentators, many of them using the Internet to weigh in against a rule. The critics contend it would have bulldozed the letter and spirit of organic farming by permitting such verbotten items as genetically engineered crops.

A chastened agriculture secretary, Dan Glickman, promised that there will be no loopholes for biotechnology, irradiation or sewage sludge in the second draft of the national standards. But the first draft was so far wide of the market that many remain suspicious and skeptical. When the new proposal is unveiled, the public will be invited once again to offer comments.

To keep posted on developments, check in with the USDA's National Organic Programs web site.

For further information, here is a side-by-side comparison of the NOSB proposal and the proposed rule promulgated by the USDA.

And here is more background on organic advocates' opposition to the federal standard.


Market Survey

uA headcount at California farmers markets found that fewer than 20 percent of vendors are organic, though some markets are more organic than others.



uOrganic Focus

Organic Focus Archives

u The USDA is swayed by avalanche of criticism of its proposed national organic standard, and offers to withdraw the draft and try again..

uSpot inspections begin for registered organic producers in California, but a meager enforcement budget will limit impact of paperwork checks.

uThe long delay in starting inspections in California raised questions about the state and counties' commitment to enforcement, but officials plead poverty.

uWhy organic strawberries cost so much.

uHow reliable are claims about the purity of organic crops? Fact one: no produce is completely pesticide-free.

Copyright 1997 Seasonal Chef