When it comes to organic foods, it’s just as imperative to know what isn’t allowed and what is. The organic standards are process-based, meaning they establish the rules for an entire system of farming that follows a product from its early stages on the farm all the way to retail.
The USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of GMOs, listing them as “excluded methods,” and defining those methods as “a variety of methods to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes.
The New York Times published a story called, “It’s Organic, but Does That Mean It’s Safer?
The ‘USDA certified-organic’ standard was not developed to be a food safety label, but a label that confirms and verifies that the product is produced following organic protocols.
Through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA is funding 694 projects in 54 states and territories. The block grant program allows states to prioritize projects, investing in programs that will best meet the needs of their communities.
USDA is responsible, under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522), for establishing national standards for organic production and marketing, for assuring consumers that organically produced products meet those standards, and for facilitating commerce in organically produced products. The 2010 USDA Strategic Plan called for an increase of 25 percent in certified U.S. organic businesses by 2015.
Some guidance under USDA:
- Where compliance with an agriculture practice or process is required, and this prerequisite concurs with provisions of the NOP regulations (7 CFR part 205), all USDA agencies will determine whether a valid USDA-NOP certificate can suffice as third-party verification and proof of compliance;
- Where programs require documentation of land or livestock management practices for participation in an agency program, agencies will determine whether the “Organic Systems Plan,” corroborated through the USDA NOP’s third-party verification, will satisfy such documentation requirement;
- Administrators will review their agency’s training goals with respect to the USDA Organic Literacy Initiative and the relevant AgLearn training modules, and ensure fulfillment of those goals;
- Administrators should confirm their agency’s Point of Contact for the USDA Organic Working Group, which is the Department’s internal communications network concerning organic agriculture and markets.
Blog contributed by Akanksha Khurana, Class XII, New Delhi
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