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CU Derides Dark-of-Night Weakening of Organic Law

October 27, 2005
Contact Information
Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., 914-378-2211

Consumers Union Derides Dark-of-Night Weakening of Organic Law

YONKERS, NY — Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, is deeply disappointed with the Agricultural Appropriations Conference Committee’s weakening of the organic label, which was done without any public input. The decision to allow synthetic (chemically derived) ingredients—some without careful, independent review—was made even after members of Congress heard from more than 325,000 of their constituents and more than 200 organic companies opposing this very action.

“The real losers today are America’s organic consumers who do not expect food labeled as “organic” to contain artificial (or synthetic) ingredients. Consumers Union will be mounting a widespread public education campaign to help consumers look for additional, meaningful labels on organic food products, such as ‘no-synthetics used’ or ‘100% grassfed’, so that they get the most value for the premium price they are willing to pay,” says Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at Consumers Union.

The amendment added by the Agricultural Appropriations Conference Committee was aggressively pushed by the Organic Trade Association. The amendment overturned Harvey vs. Johanns, a recent court decision that upheld the organic law by barring the use of synthetic ingredients in the non-organic portion of food labeled “organic.” These are food products that must be made with at least 95% organic material but can have 5% non-organic ingredients.

“While consumers don’t get to vote in the halls of Congress, they do get to vote in the marketplace where the success of “organic” is ultimately dependent on consumer confidence in the integrity of the label. We’ll be doing everything in our power to educate consumers on which organic product lines deserve this trust—and which ones don’t,” adds Rangan.

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