USDA Eats Its Words
In a move being hailed by enviros, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week will announce tough new proposed standards for organic foods. The department had released a previous set of standards in 1997, but went back to the drawing board after receiving more than 275,000 negative public comments about the rules, which would have allowed the organic label on foods that were genetically modified, irradiated, or grown using sewage sludge as a fertilizer. The new rules prohibit the organic label on such foods and also tightly restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals, as well as banning the use of pesticides. The public has 90 days to comment on the proposed regulations, which could take effect by the end of the year, becoming the first nationwide standards for organic foods.