Hallelujah! Organic Labeling Rules Take Effect

Statement Of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

October 17, 2002

After a twelve-year gestation period, rules governing the labeling of organically grown foods will finally take effect on Monday, October 21. In coming months, foods bearing government-approved labels will start showing up in grocery stores. The law, for the first time, will assure consumers that foods that purport to be organic, really are. That increased consumer confidence should lead to greatly increased consumption of organic foods—and a bright outlook for growers, processors, and marketers of those foods. Because organic farming is the soundest, most-sustainable type of farming, the biggest winner here might be planet Earth.

Of course, consumers should realize that just because foods are organically grown, they still could be loaded with organic fat and organic sugar, and they still could be contaminated with dangerous bacteria. At least, though, organic produce is likely to contain lower levels of pesticide residues, and organic meat and poultry will have been raised without hormones or antibiotics.

When CSPI lobbied for the organic law in the late 1980s and 1990, we had hoped that the law primarily would help small farmers, food coops, and consumers. It’s a little disappointing that the organic-food industry is being taken over by huge farms and huge supermarket chains.


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