In 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture made sweeping changes to their National Organic Program (NOP) totally redefining the shape and standards.
The new rules outraged farmers and consumers alike. The new “In” program stated that livestock would be allowed to eat non−organic fishmeal, even if it contained toxic or synthetic preservatives. Cows and calves could still be given growth hormones and antibiotics, and producers could still provide the population with so called organic milk as long as a year had passed since the drug had been administered to the animal.
In addition, pesticides were OK, as long as a reasonable effort was made to identify them in some form. Seafood, pet food, clothing, and body care products could also be labeled organic without being evaluated or monitored by the USDA. Ronnie Cummins, the National Director of The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) stated “Rather than comply with regulations which uphold the integrity of organic food, corporate run factory farms, who want a piece of the $11 billion a year industry, are manipulating the USDA and Congress to change the rules. Allowing non−organic, and potentially genetically engineered feed, to be included under the definition of organic is a major setback for the integrity of what is the fastest−growing sector of the food industry in this country."
In May 2004 after the public outrage, The USDA reversed all of these changes.
So how much credibility and trust do we place in these organizations? And where do we go from here?