Is the USDA organic seal losing credibility?
A group of organic farmers and advocates feel that the National Organic Program standard has strayed from the original values associated with organic farming and lost its integrity. They have created the Real Organic Project (ROP) in response.
Requirements to meet the standard include basic organic certification, along with no use of hydroponics and no involvement with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Initially, the product must also originate in the U.S.
Dave Chapman, a Vermont farmer and co-founder of ROP, says the “basic intent is to create a label that will stand for traditional organic farming. We are not trying to destroy the organic label. We are just trying to create transparency.”
The board aims for greater representation from the organic community, including non-profit organizations, retailers, scientists, certifiers, and consumers. The ROP standards are being developed and will be pilot-tested on a small number of farms to begin. Organic farmers from over eight U.S. states have quickly offered support, and even some from Australia. Chapman said the organic community has worked hard with the USDA but that partnership has broken down, especially as USDA has increasingly sided with big corporations over issues. The vote in November to allow hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farms to carry the organic seal was the last straw. Prior to the vote, signs were sported at rallies reading, “Real Farmers Do It in the Dirt” and “Don’t Water Down Organics with Hydroponics.” Another concern is large-scale CAFO farms that are being certified organic.
“We tried very hard to reform the NOP (National Organic Program) and we failed,” he said.
Source: IEG Policy
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