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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Fall 2004 : Cover Story

Part of Cover Story

Understanding Organics

by Katie Sosnowchik


More Cover Story Articles

Organic agriculture is a production method that supports and enhances the earth’s natural balance. Organic food products are produced using:

* Agricultural management practices that promote and enhance agro- and eco-system health and use no genetically engineered seeds or crops, sewage sludge, long-lasting pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.

* Livestock management practices that promote healthy, humanely treated animals by providing organically-grown feed, fresh air and outdoor access while using no antibiotics or growth hormones.

* Food processing practices that protect the integrity of the organic product and disallow irradiation, genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) or synthetic preservatives.

Currently, the Organic Rule applies mainly to organic food products. The USDA and the organic industry are working to create certification standards for nonfood products such as fiber, personal care, household cleaners and pet supplies.

Organic Labels: A Reference


100% Organic

* Product must contain only organically produced raw or processed material, excluding water and salt.
* The name of the certifying agent must appear on packages, and use of its
certifying seal is optional. Use of the USDA “organic” seal is optional.

Organic
* Product must be at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients.
* The label may also state the percentage of organic ingredients.
* The name of the certifying agent must appear on packages, and use of its certifying seal is optional. Use of the USDA “organic” seal is optional.

Made with Organic Ingredients

* Product must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.
* Product may display the term “Made With Organic . . .” and then list up to three of the product’s organic ingredients or food groups. The label may also state the percentage of organic ingredients.
* The name of the certifying agent must appear on packages, and use of its certifying seal is optional. Use of the USDA “organic” seal is prohibited.

Other Labeling Provisions
* Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients may make no claim other than designating specific organic ingredients in the ingredients list.
* Any product labeled organic must use the word “organic” to modify each organically produced ingredient in the ingredient list.
* No restrictions are made upon the use of truthful labeling claims, such as “pesticide free,” “no drugs or growth hormones used,” or “sustainably harvested.”
* “Transitional” products are those that are being grown according to the Organic Rule regulations, but have not yet met a three-year requirement in order to label their product as “organic.” Labeling products as “transitional” is allowable as long as the word “organic” does not appear on the label.


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