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Thread: USDA changing organic food standards

  1. #1 USDA changing organic food standards 
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    ""Here in the news biz, we rely on thumbnail descriptions, sparing you the details. We'll tell you, for instance, that organic farmers aren't allowed to use synthetic pesticides and factory-made fertilizer.

    In general, that's true. But there's also a
    long list of pesky exceptions to the rule. And this week, a battle erupted over those exceptions: the synthetic or factory-made substances that organic farmers are still allowed to use because the farmers say they couldn't survive without them. For instance, growers of organic apples and pears are allowed to use streptomycin, an antibiotic, to control a tree disease called fire blight. Egg producers are allowed to use limited amounts of a synthetically produced nutrient called methionine. Both of these substances were on the agenda at a meeting of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board this week in San Antonio, an event that turned into an ill-tempered confrontation between two wings of the organic industry — purists versus Big Organic. One protester had to be carried out of the room by police, while her comrades chanted, "Don't change sunset."

    What provoked this "cryptic chant," as Grist's Nathanael Johnson
    described
    it, was a dispute over how to handle that list of exceptions to the organic ban on synthetics."

    Organic Farming Factions Spat Over Synthetic Substances : The Salt : NPR

    The list of exeptions:
    http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5096045

    --
    Of course this is about big money, competing interest, and the rather non-scientific ideology that anything synthetic is worse for the environment than natural products.


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  3. #2  
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    The fight over natural versus synthetic. Pffft. afaik every country in the world apart from Australia has to deal with fireblight in apples and pears. (It's one of the reasons we don't like the decision to allow NZ fresh apples here. They can't export pears because those trees all died years ago.)

    Does anyone know what the purist organic growers do to keep their apple and pear trees alive? I've only ever heard of it as having a devastating impact on orchards.

    I don't know anything much about the other items apart from copper compounds.


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