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Re: more on scary genetic engineering (fwd)


In response to your questions about the 5% non-organic ingredients in
processed organic foods - that NOSB recommendation for the 5% tolerance has
some pretty big restrictions on it.  It was  meant to bridge the gap for
certain agricultural ingredients that were unavailable in organic form -
largely spices.  An example of this would be black pepper, which is an
exotic imported product which until very recently, could not be found at
all as certified organic.  With the global spread of organics and in
response to the demand - some black pepper supplies are now developing, but
they are still not enough to match all the demand from organic processors.
The 5% tolerance does not cover the addition of prohibited materials such
as synthetic compunds that are not exempted by the NOSB, and it would not
allow genetically engineered ingredients if the final organic regulation
follows the NOSB's recommendation on this issue.   There are some other
issues the 5% can cover such as regulatory requirements to which certain
categories of foods are subject - the addition of Vitamin D to fluid mil as
a prime example.  Hope this brings some clarity to the matter. It is still
encumbant upon us to monitor developments in the USDA and NOSB to ensure
that the 5% margin is not abused in such a way that organic integrity is

In response to your previous email - the labeling requirements (or lack
thereof) for genetically engineered products and their status in organic
products are interrelated.  Without a requirement for clear and distinct
labeling of GE products it may be very difficult if not impossible for
organic certifiers to enforce the ge prohibition across the board for
organic systems. We are learning about common food production enzymes whose
formulations decades ago already may have technically been genetically
engineered according to the NOSB definition
(although not transgenically modified (gene transfer from one species to
another, which is the classic definition).  Seed sources are another area
likely to become very difficult to monitor as more and more generations of
seeds could be either ge or non-ge sources and those sources can be
multiple for any one bag of seed. We in the certification world are
deliberating all these difficult issues. We need an organic regulation that
we CAN ENFORCE - not just one that makes us all feel good when we read it.

Diane Bowen
California Certified Organic Farmers ( CCOF)

The National Organic Standards Board recommends that the class of
>genetically engineered organisms and their derivatives be prohibited in
>organic production and handling systems.   Genetically engineered is
>defined as : Made with the techniques that alter the molecular or cell
>biology of an organism by means that are not possible under natural
>conditions or processes.  I think that says it for me.   I want to thank
>the National Organic  Standards Board  and hope the USDA sees it that way.
>I have a question about the gov allowing the organic market to include
>foods with 95% organic content to be labeled as organic and that the other
>5% could be none organic  and could open the door for genetic engineering
>and other poisons .  I always thought that as an organic grower I was not
>to do anything not organic  not even 1 per cent and that the 5 % was to
>cover ecological damage like contaminated water or drift of some poison
>that the farmer had no control over (because this earth is so contaminated
>that 100% was not possible.)but never did I think we could add 5% of
>something non organic to our foodstuff and still call it organic nor did I
>feel the packer handlers and processes had the right to add 5% of some non
>organic thing and still call it organic.  What the hey.  When you start
>telling folks they can add 5% non organic stuff to a product and still call
>it organic you are opening a can of worms.  I feel the spirt of the organic
>law is that everyone that come in contact with the organic food makes sure
>that with in all his power nothing non organic contaminates it.  .I thought
>that 5% was for the  stuff be on your control.  Can someone explain this
>95% thing to me.
> >On Tue, 15 Jul 1997, sal wrote:
>>> Agriculture and Organic farming.   Contact the Sec. of Agriculture at
>>> (202-720-3252) agsec@usda.gov or U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington
>>> DC 20250 .  tell Secretary Glickman if they are going to refuse the label
>>> at least  exclude genetic engineering from the organic certification so
>>> that we that do not what to partake of this global experiment can have a
>>> choice.
>>Does anyone know email addresses for the Canadian Min of Ag? I would
>>appreciate getting it. WHile I'm asking, does anyone have the email
>>address for the PM?
>>Diane Ridout, Instructor, ACP.............................................
>>Kwantlen University College,                "Talk
>>PO Box 9030                                    doesn't
>>Surrey, BC, Canada                                cook rice," they say.
>>Tel: (604) 599-2964 Voice mail 9837.......................................