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Certifier to Uphold
Higher Organic Standard

Farm Verified Organic decides not to accept watered-down organic rules.

Medina, N.D. -- Annie Kirschenmann, executive director of Farm Verified Inc. (FVO), announced recently that FVO would continue to maintain the high standard of organic certification for which her company has become known around the world, regardless what USDA or other government or private entities do.

"The standard for organic proposed in [USDA's] proposed organic rule is simply not acceptable," said Kirschenmann.

In addition to not specifically banning the use of sewage sludge, genetically engineered organisms or irradiation in organic production and processing, the rule also allows the use of numerous synthetic materials which the National Organic Standards Board specifically prohibited. (See Time running out for organic rule comments.)

What's more, the proposed rule would also prohibit private certifiers such as FVO from certifying product to a higher standard than USDA's. "That is a clear violation of commercial free speech," said Kirschenmann. "Our trademark is simply not for sale, nor is it available for the taking."

FVO's position may put it on a collision course with USDA. "We realize that this may be David taking on Goliath," Kirschenmann observes. "But we don't believe we have a choice. Our covenant is with farmers and others we certify, who rely on FVO standards for their worldwide marketing.

"We also have a convenant with consumers who expect a high standard from FVO," she adds. "We believe the consumers have the right to choose what they want in the marketplace, and that growers have a right to differentiate their product in that marketplace by having it certified to a standard consumers want. And we will do what it takes to protect that right."

Kirschenmann said FVO invites other private industry players to join them in their stand to protect this right. She also announced that the firm will dramatically expand its services and change its name to International Certification Services Inc.

The first of these new services will be a certification service for food produced without genetically engineered organisms (GEOs). In '97, FVO certified its first organically managed golf course. That and requests from other enterprises led the company to consider expanding its services.

Additional certification services "will provide more growers with the opportunity to add value to their product and get rewarded for their efforts, and it will provide consumers with the opportunity to confidently select quality food products in the marketplace based on the methods by which they were produced," Kirschenmann added.

"This will enable consumers to not only select food products based on the quality they want, but also to support the farming practices they prefer."

Source: News releases from Farm Verified Organic

For more information:

Farm Verified Organic
email: farmvo@daktel.com
701-486-3578, fax 701-486-3580

R.R. 1, Box 40A
Medina, ND 58467

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