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WASHINGTON - Organic advocacy groups are protesting a bill passed by Congress on Wednesday, which they say contains a provision that would legally allow non-organic meat to be labeled and sold to the public labeled as organic.
The move comes less than four months after national USDA organic standards were implemented on Oct. 21, 2002.
Section 771 of the $397 billion spending bill specifies that if the cost for organic feed for cattle and other livestock becomes twice or more the cost of regular, non-organic feed, meat suppliers can legally use the non-organic feed and sell their products under the organic label without revealing the difference to the public, according to opponents of the bill.
"This is an example of someone doing an end run to manipulate the government with disregard for the public's wishes," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.
"Rather than comply with regulations which uphold the integrity of organic food, corporate-run factory farms, who want a piece of the $11 billion a year organic industry, are manipulating the USDA and Congress to change the rules to suit their toxic-industrial style of farming," stated Ronnie Cummins, National Director of Organic Consumers Association. "Allowing non-organic, and potentially genetically engineered, feed to be included under the definition of organic is a major setback for the integrity of what is the fastest growing sector of the food industry in this country."
The Organic Consumers Association represents 400,000 consumers across the United States.