Why Organic Means Something?

I get asked all the time why are we so particular about the word – Organic? Here is a list that I did not write and to be honest do not know where I got it, but it is a good start for protecting the word, brand or label called ORGANIC!

  • Requirements to Display the USDA Organic Seal—Since 2002, products that display the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal are certified by the National Organic Standards Board to meet requirements for organic growing, production, handling, storage, and processing practices.
  • Assurance of Organic Ingredients—The USDA organic seal ensures buyers that the products they purchase contain at least 95% organic ingredients. The remaining 5% can be non-organic ingredients like baking soda, salt, non-synthetic flavors and vitamins and minerals.
  • Pesticide Testing Program— Farmers must provide a history of every substance applied to their land for the past three years and pass a rigorous pesticide residue testing program. Toxic synthetic pesticides are never allowed in organic production, thus protecting you from harmful exposures. 
  • Animal Health and Welfare— The organic seal verifies that farmers do not use antibiotics or growth hormones, and that they use 100% organic feed and provide animals with access to the outdoors.
  • Environmental Health—Promotion of ecological balance, conservation of biodiversity and the cycling of resources are key components that producers must adhere to in order to comply with USDA organic certification. Toxic synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge are not allowed on organic farms.
  • Avoiding GMOs—Use of GMOs is prohibited in USDA certified organic production. Your best protection against genetically modified ingredients is to buy organic.
  • External Inspections—30,000 onsite inspections are conducted by certification agents every year to ensure that farmers and producers are in compliance with USDA organic standards.
  • Third Party Verified—Beginning with seed selection and soil management, an accredited third-party certification agency audits farming, processing, handling, storage, and packaging facilities to ensure compliance with organic seal regulations.
  • Audit of Third-Party Certifiers—Third party certification agencies are routinely reviewed to be certain that their auditing methods are up-to-date and meet national regulations.
  • Heavy Penalties for Non-compliance— A fine of up to $11,000 can be imposed on any person who knowingly sells or labels a product organic that is not produced and handled in accordance with the standards set by USDA.

Author: Bob Whitney, Regents Fellow & Extension Organic Specialist

Agriculturalist, extension educator and researcher, organic agriculture enthusiast and promoter, international program developer, Christian, husband, father and friend.

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