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Read more directly on the Organic Consumers Association’s website.
Certified organic food and personal care products are just about the only things sold in grocery stores these days that can be accurately described as healthy, nutritious, safe and good for the environment. (Beyond organic you can vote for economic justice with your consumer dollars by choosing items that are labeled as Fair Trade or Union-Made.) But constant vigilance is required to prevent unscrupulous companies from driving down organic standards, or exploiting their workers. Family-scale organic dairy farmers are being undermined by factory farm feedlots masquerading as organic, as well as Wal-Mart and other national retail chains driving down farm gate prices. Multi-ingredient organic food processors are cutting costs by using the same supply chain as bottom-of-the-barrel conventional brands, with unfortunate results such as the recent peanut butter food poisoning scandal. And, fake organic imports threaten to flood the domestic organic marketplace.
Under the Bush Administration, the USDA National Organic Program contributed to these problems by being slow to address National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations, issue definitive regulations and enforce existing ones. Under the new Obama Administration, with Kathleen Merrigan as second-in-command at the USDA, we have an opportunity to prevent corporate greed from corrupting organic standards.
And, help the OCA develop our comments for the NOSB’s next meeting May 4-6,
The United States Department of Agriculture is responding to climate change by updating the Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the first time in 20 years. The map shows where various types of plant species can thrive, and as warmer annual temperatures move northward, the more than 80 million U.S. gardeners and farmers will be looking to the map to see what new plants may be able to grow in their area. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is typically used for domesticated plants, but this graphic display also sheds light on how native plant species are shifting due to climate change. The updated map is due out later this year.