Purity of federal 'organic' label at risk

The purity of federal 'Organic' label is questioned in a Washington Post article by Kimberly Kindy and Lyndsey Layton.

Three years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees determined that synthetic additives in organic baby formula violated federal standards and should be banned from a product carrying the federal organic label. Today the same additives, purported to boost brainpower and vision, can be found in 90 percent of organic baby formula.

The government's turnaround, from prohibition to permission, came after a USDA program manager was lobbied by the formula makers and overruled her staff. That decision and others by a handful of USDA employees, along with an advisory board's approval of a growing list of non-organic ingredients, have helped numerous companies win a coveted green-and-white "USDA Organic" seal on an array of products.

Learn more about USDA Organic Standards

This kind of big business manipulation, if unchecked, will result in the 'organic' label losing its credibility. The organic industry was built on integrity and relies on credibility with consumers, if the label says 'organic' then it should be organic. The USDA organic program was launched and supported by the industry in order to get federal government oversight to prevent a patchwork of different rules in different states and to ensure the integrity of the term 'organic'. Unfortunately, the downside of the USDA control over the label is what we are seeing here, the ability of big business and government officials to water down the meaning and integrity of organic. This is a major concern for us, and an issue we take seriously.

Mark Fergusson