Iowa Public Television


Loophole Still Raising Ruckus

posted on February 28, 2003

It's likely the development and use of G-M-O's will remain controversial. Controversy is hardly a new phenomenon in the arena of food and agricultural policy.

Take, for example, the 3000-page omnibus spending bill which became law last week. By most accounts, it included a host of curious provisions. One such addition would nullify organic label enforcement when organic feed becomes more than twice as costly as traditional feed.

The provision is attributed to Representative Nathan Deal. Last year, the Georgia Republican floated a measure to gain an organic feed exemption for livestock producers. That measure failed. In another effort, Deal sought an exemption on behalf of Georgia-based Fieldale Farms. That attempt also failed.

The company claims organic feed is costly and in short supply, and argues it should be allowed to label its meat as organic, even if the livestock was not fed organic rations.


Loophole Still Raising Ruckus

Deal's staff has defended the organic enforcement prohibition measure claiming the law will be a non-issue as long as a forthcoming U-S-D-A report shows 100 percent organic feed is abundantly available and not more than twice the cost of traditional feed.

But others are unconvinced. Opposition to the Fieldale exemption has surfaced on a number of fronts.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Vermont: "But, if the public were to lose its faith in the label, you've got a multi-billion dollar industry that's going to go down the tubes. and this loop hole, that was slipped in at the last minute would create a huge confidence gap in the whole industry."

Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, along with bi-partisan backing, has introduced legislation to nullify the so-called Fieldale Loophole.

Tyson foods, the nation's largest chicken processor, recently has begun developing an organic line of chicken, and has publicly criticized the organic livestock loophole as detrimental to the organic regulations.

And, the U-S-D-A, which originally took NO position on the matter, and was present during the closed-door conference committee hearing which inserted the loophole, is now expressing concern that the non-organic feed provision may weaken the National Organic Program.


Tags: agriculture government news organic