USDA Rescinds Controversial Changes to Organic Standards

The USDA announced yesterday that it will rescind changes to organic food standards made last month that would have cleared the way for use of antibiotics on organic dairy farms, toxic pesticides on organic fields, and more. The changes — first reported in Grist (ahem) — prompted a wave of protest from many organic farmers, though not from some agribusiness conglomerates that want to rake in a bigger share of the booming $11 billion-a-year organic-food market. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced the reversal, citing “a tremendous amount of interest” and public concern in recent days in the wake of media reports on the issue (ahem). The news was met with an outpouring of praise from enviros, legislators who support the standards, and smaller-scale organic farmers. “We were really stunned,” said Nancy Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm, an organic producer. “It really doesn’t happen often that democracy prevails and voices are heard.”