Oppose the Weakening of Organic Labeling Laws

  • by: Consumers Union
  • recipient: U.S. Senate & House Appropriations, Agriculture Subcommittees
A recent court decision ruled that only natural ingredients should be allowed in foods labeled as "organic." This ruling reinforces our current organic labeling law by keeping chemically-derived synthetic substances from being used in foods labeled as “organic.”

But industry groups are lobbying Congress to change the law so that artificial ingredients can be included in foods labeled “organic”! Specifically, food producers such as the Organic Trade Association, Kraft Foods and others seek to amend the Organic Foods Production Act (passed in 1990) so that synthetic substances can be used in food products labeled as "organic." They claim that consumers do not care about their use in "organic" food and are trying to slip this change into the law without any public input.

U.S. consumers clearly do care! The nonpartisan watchdog group Consumers Union recently conducted a nationwide survey of 1,200 adults and found that 85% of respondents said they do not expect food labeled as "organic" to contain artificial ingredients.

Send a letter telling Congress that you don’t want to buy “organic” food made with artificial ingredients!

Dear [senate/house appropriations conferees],

I am writing to urge you to support the organic labeling compromise language adopted in the Senate Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate last week and is now in conference. This amendment calls for a study on the impact of a court decision that ruled that food with the organic label may not be made with synthetic ingredients. Please support this language and oppose any attempt to weaken it.

I do not believe that food labeled "organic" should contain artificial or synthetic ingredients. I pay more for these organic food products because organic is the most authentic type of natural-based food that is on the market. Allowing synthetic (non-natural) ingredients runs counter to the fundamental principles of organic production, and violates the spirit and intent of the law.

This differentiation among the three types of organic food labels is meaningful and allows consumers, producers and retailers to have value choices within organic. The law already allows for synthetics to be used in products labeled as "made with organic." Changes to the law that would broaden the use of synthetics to food labeled "organic" would erode the meaning of the "organic" label and consumer confidence. The USDA should promulgate regulations that bring the National Organic Program in line with the law.

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