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Date: Sat, 09 May 1998 13:33:30 -0400
From: John Hammell <>
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>From: Sprinkraft <>

The comprehensive and well researched article (below) was sent to me by
Steve Sprinkel of the Organic Farmers Marketing Assn. who played a major
grass roots role in monkeywrenching USDA's plans to torpedo organic
standards. The article below is long, but it bears printing out and reading
for the lessons we can learn from it. Steve has incorporated mention of our
battle to get HR 2868 through Congress to stop a pharmaceutical takeover of
the natural products industry, and our battle is better understood in the
context presented here. Steve and I are working together to identify
"ASTROTURF" (fake grass roots) within the American health food industry.
Your help is needed to pull the ASTROTURF crowd up by the roots and expose
them so that they can't operate their despicable turn coat agendas on us.

Speaking of our battle to defend access to dietary supplements: I have been
making progress in my effort to reach out to the small herb companies which
sell whole herbal formulas. They have been targetted for extinction as we
face a pharmaceutical push to raise the hurdles to full ISO standards. If
there are any herb companies you'd like to see me contact, please let me
know their names. I am methodically working through a list, building
support for the bill, which will also get more support now that FDA is
trying to shaft us with their recent ANPR on structure function claims.
Soon I will have a form letter out to facilitate comments on this ANPR. If
you haven't yet donated to IAHF, please do- we're crawling over broken
glass here to protect you. Please forward this mssg to more people! HR 2868
info can be downloaded from

>T R A N S I T I O N S
>May, 1998
>"The time has come," the Walrus said,
>"To talk of many things:
>Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
>Of cabbages--and kings--
>And why the sea is boiling hot--
>And whether pigs have wings."
>Well, the biggest news of the month comes from the Agrogenetic Sector. Those
>are the folks tinkering with winged pigs. They also seem to come up with a
>name to describe themselves with every month. Biotech is long gone,
>particularly since the " Biotech" industry wants to differentiate between
>pharmaceuticals and agriculture, though they own both of them.

> Monsanto,  in a formal comment to USDA, requested that Genetically Modified
>plants and organisms be taken off the NOP discussion table for three
years. In
>an article in the Wall Street Journal of April 17, a Monsanto spokesman said
>that, after that intervening period,  "a better, more  informed decision can
>be made as to whether and how to make plants improved through biotechnology
>eligible for organic certification."

> Rehaka Balu of the WSJ got it pretty right when she wrote: "Many consumer
>organic-farming advocates contend that organic means that the crop and the
>growing conditions should be naturally occurring, and thus genetically
>crops shouldn't be considered organic."

>Northeast Organic Farming Association representative Steve Gilman made the
>following observation: "While Monsanto may be seen as backing down...--
>Excuuuse me -- OFPA-1990 specifically forbids USDA from ADDING anything to
>National List and NOSB has already ruled Genetically modified organisms are
>prohibited substances. Period.

>" Monsanto seems to be conceding that the inclusion of GMOs as Organic is not
>NOW possible, given the tremendous widespread and vociferous response against
>the Rule, but they are also keeping the door open, suggesting  that when we
>peons finally become ³better informed² after a  three year delay, THEN the
>USDA can insert it into the Organic regs.... Perhaps by then they can stack
>NOSB with their own minions who will be there to represent their interests.
>Quite easily done since the Secretary has the power of appointment."

>"What we really need to call for is a 3-year moratorium on the USE of GMOs ,
>sewage sludge and irradiation ( across the board)...these practices have
>already  been unleashed on our food system, and a full, public discussion is
>long overdue."
>The Defazio/Metcalf Letter: From the US House of Representatives
>Dear Secretary Glickman:
>We are writing to express our concerns with the proposed standards for the
>National Organic Program.  The USDA's proposed rule contradict Congress'
>intent for the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 and runs counter to
>the demands of consumers and the organic industry.  The OFPA was designed to
>create federal standards for organic production based on the historical
>practices of the industry and to provide protection for the consumers of
>organic food.

Unfortunately, the proposed rule fails on both of these counts.
>The proposed rule ignores many of the recommendations of the NOSB allows
>production practices and materials which consumers of organic food
>overwhelmingly reject.  It ignores the input of organic growers and consumers
>and sets the national standards far below any of the current state organic
>programs.  Most state organic programs do not allow irradiated products, the
>use of sewage sludge, or genetically-engineered organisms.

Attempting to include any of these items in the national standards is
totally unacceptable.
>An easily recognized national label, backed by a set of standards based on
>consumer preferences, could instill confidence and offer the protection
>consumers demand.  However, the proposed rule is not consistent with consumer
>expectations and demands.  The current proposal is so inadequate that many in
>the industry want the proposed rule withdrawn.  Rather than
>starting over, we encourage you to work with the organic industry to revise
>the current proposal and give far more consideration to consumers'
>and customary practices in the growing organic food market.

>Peter DeFazio, Jack Metcalf, Sam Farr, Nancy Pelosi, Neil Abercrombie, Earl
>Blumenauer Sherwood Boehlert, Rick Boucher, James Moran, Lois Capps,
Benjamin Gilman,
>David Minge Wayne Gilchrest, Frank Pallone Jr., Allen Boyd, John Lewis,
John Conyers,
>Edward Markey Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Patsy Mink, Jim McDermott, David
Skaggs, Lynn
>Woolsey David Bonjor, Leonard Boswell, Lloyd Doggett, Dennis Kucinich,
>Furse, Joe Kennedy John Olver, Thomas Allen, Christopher Shays, James
Walsh, Gerald Soloman,
>Charles Bass George Nethercutt. Fred Upton, Marcy Kaptur, Lane Evans, John
Tierney, John
>Peterson Amo Houghton, Ralph Regula, Michael McNulty, Darlene Hooley, Bill
>California State Senate Resolution Backs Strict Standards
>State Sen. Mike Thompson, the St. Helena Democrat  carrying the measure, said
>that President Clinton and the U.S. Department of Agriculture need to
re-think the
>USDA Proposed Rule on the NOP. The text of the resolution says that  the
>regulations are far weaker than California's and, if adopted, would threaten
>the integrity of the state's $600 million-a-year organic food industry and
>destroy consumer confidence in its labels. The resolution was also backed by
>the California Farm Bureau.
>A Time To Talk
>20,000 copies of a special edition of the Organic Organizer and Pesticides
>You, a joint effort of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of
>and the Organic Farmers Marketing Association went out in early April.  NCAMP
>and OFMA are calling for a congressional hearing on the history of the
>National Organic Program, a time to talk among the kings about organic

While many other organizations are threatening legal action against
>USDA or calling for a repeal of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990,
>others want to force the issue in a court of public review.
>Probably the last resort ( and most dubious recourse ) would be to ask one
>single federal judge to rule on the USDA’s implementation of OFPA. Getting a
>subcommittee of the US House to have a modest hearing, on the other hand, may
>not be too much to ask in an election year. Please help to make it so by
>writing to your US Representative. Those names at the top of the column might
>be a good place to start.
>And An Agreement to Talk Some More

>The Organic Trade Association’s Organic Certifiers Caucus meeting in Chicago
>last month yielded a framework for continued discussion on accreditation.  An
>Independent Accreditation Steering Committee was formed, composed of 4
>certifiers, 1 inspector, 1 farmer, 1 handler, 2 consumer/public interest
>representatives, with OCC’s Tony Kleese as the coordinator. Now that USDA
>accreditation is ever more distant, perhaps 18 to 24 months according to more
>than one source, interim accreditation providing for equivalency and
>reciprocity can benefit farmers and protect consumers. It may lead to a
>that is hopefully more economical than the USDA estimated costs. Portions of
>the eventual accreditation system may even provide a model  USDA may employ.
>After the 30th of April: Working with the Federal Government
>May One is no time to turn down the heat, according to Cecilia Bowman, an
>Indiana certified organic farmer and chair of the Indiana Organic Peer Review

> " We have wounded some pretty big players, who completely underestimated the
>community’s ability to rally support.  The " Agrogenetics" industry, both
>private and within the public research and education sector, has the
>and the will to rise up again with awesome force. Even within the organic
>community, we have to be vigilant and demanding of ourselves, holding onto
>coalitions built between farmers and consumers, and relentlessly require
>continued support for those standards that are now proven so important."
>The National Organic Program Staff’s biggest task will be to wade through the
>50,000 specific personal comments that have been received.

The majority of the responses, from form letters and postcards, essentially
was that loud noise on
>the door to Secretary Glickman’s office to let him know that the Rule, as
>written,  was a big mistake. People spent postage to respond mostly on The
>Dirty Three, but among them was genetically engineered agriculture, thank
>heaven. And GE was the only one of the Three that actually is in the Proposed
>Rule. According to NOP Director Keith Jones, the staff is precluded by law
>from "characterizing the response officially,  until the Public Comment
>ends." Many formal comments are many pages long.

>" We definitely have our work cut out for us," Jones said. " And we hope that
>the public and the organic community will exhibit some patience as we develop
>a new rule based on the comments made."
>Mike Hankin, who had been at the NOP off and on since its inception, has been
>reassigned, and Richard Mathews, who formerly was at the Fruits and
>Division of the Agricultural marketing Service has been brought on the NOP
>staff.  Mathews is a specialist, having worked at USDA on rulemaking

>Who Got the Word Out?
>Here is an unofficial USDA NOP tally of form letters from the major sources:
>            Working Assets Public Comment Letter     35,900
>Organic Gardening Public Comment Postcard     16,500
>Organic Farmers Marketing Association Public Comment Letter  4,825
>            Mothers for Natural Law Public Comment Letter    2,275
>Community of Natural Food Markets  6,025
>San Francisco Bay Area Food Community Public Comment Letter  274
>Petaluma Poultry Processors, Inc. Public Comment Letter   230
>GreenStar Cooperative Market Public Comment Letter   225
>Harvest Cooperative Supermarkets Public Comment Letter  600
>Lancaster Greens Food Circle Committee Comment Postcard 100
>Center for Science in the Public Interest  400
>Paper Storm and Information Overload
>They wanted it and they got it. In the last few days leading up to the end of
>the Public Comment Period on the NOP Proposed Rule, rumors flew: Did you say
>115,000 or 150,000?
>The response has gone exponential in the last few days of April. In any case,
>the organic community has set a record for comment on a USDA Rule, and now
>that we are all warmed up we can learn about commenting on yet another
>Proposed Rule.
>This One Is From The FDA
>The Food and Drug Administration wants to be able to call herbs "drugs" once
>and for all. Right now herbal supplements are rightfully considered food with
>special health benefits. The scenario includes a positive US House Bill, HR
>2868, The Consumer Health Free Speech Act, proposed in parallel political
>fashion while FDA revs up for Public Comment. Small herb growers, consumers
>and manufacturers,  and portions of the health establishment are pitted
>against the Big Boys.

Its a labyrinthine drama reminiscent of the federal
>organic blow-out, with multinational pharmaceutical conglomerates
>overreaching, filing patents on wild plants so that control can be
>consolidated, and an attempt to set a precedent for World Trade Organization
>regulations. Those most severely affected will be the same players threatened
>by the USDA previously: innovative small family farms and  consumers
trying to
>live without depending on the mainstream food and drug system. We will return
>to this in the next issue in greater depth. In the meantime, you might
>consider doing some research on HR 2868. More information is available at: <
> >, the website of the International Advocates for Health
>More Nonsense
>Dennis Blank, writing in the April edition of Organic Food Business News,
>reports that "focus groups" of consumers polled by the International Food
>Information Council said that the term "cold pasteurization" would be a good
>alternative to the use of the word " irradiated".
>The food processing sector would make George Orwell proud with such
>exquisitely manipulated phrasing. Dennis notes that  " In addition, studies
>that the irradiation industry uses to show its process is "safe" are "
>questionable", the polled group says." ( OFBN: (407) 628-1377. Email:
>Where the Boys Aren’t
>Fewer males are being born. Around 38,000 fewer in the US in the most recent
>studies, with ample data made public by Peter Montague in the Environment and
>Health Weekly of April 16, 1998, a publication of  the  Environmental
>Foundation  (P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD  21403. Email: )
>Montague says that " scientists are hypothesizing that all of these patterns
>are linked to exposures to hormone-disrupting chemicals including dioxin,
>pesticides, lead, solvents and smoke stack emissions from smelters, steel
>foundries and incinerators." And the decline in male births is also found
in a
>wide number of other species.

>Britain is also beginning  a government research program to investigate
>whether falling sperm counts are endangering the nation's reproductive
>capacity, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said this past month.
>"I am very concerned about the various reports of declining  reproductive
>health in man and wildlife, and suggestions that this could be due to
>chemicals," he said.
>Press Freedoms Threaten the Genetically Manipulated Golden Goose
>One hormone that is intentionally used in agriculture is featured in a
>stunning expose of mainstream media’s filtering of the news. Two Tampa,
>Florida-based FOX network television journalists, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre
>were hired by WTVT in Tampa to produce a series on Monsanto’s rBGH in Florida
>milk. Wilson and Akre were eventually fired for refusing to water down their
>investigative report.

> Evidence has grown  that rBGH may promote cancer in humans who consume dairy
>products from rBGH-treated cows. The cancer link to rBGH was what Wilson and
>Akre refused to remove from their report.
>A few days before the series was to air, lawyers for Monsanto claimed in a
>letter to the station that Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" if the
>series ran. Monsanto followed up in another memo, warning of "dire
>consequences" for Fox if the series was aired without significant editing.
>Wilson and Akre refused to edit their work, were dismissed, and filed their
>own lawsuit against WTVT on April 2, 1998. If you have access to the WEB, the
>whole story is at
>< >

>Peter Monatgue, who also covered this story for ERF wrote: " No one will be
>surprised to learn that powerful corporations can intimidate TV stations into
>re-writing the news, but this case offers an unusually detailed glimpse of
>specific intimidation tactics and their effects inside
>a news organization.  It is not pretty."
>"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rBGH for use in cows
>in 1993, but the approval process was controversial because former Monsanto
>employees went to work for the FDA, oversaw the approval process, then went
>back to work for Monsanto."

>All the Money For the 21st Century
>Jeremy Rifkin, author of  The Biotech Century, continued to call for a broad
>societal debate about the role of DNA technologies in the years to come.
In an
>address recently in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Rifkin said that "Agricultural
>biotechnology will be the greatest disaster in Modern Capitalism."
>Now, if I were a conventional grain farmer about to plant out a few thousand
>acres of Round-Up Ready soybeans and  Bt Corn, I would pause for a few
>and wonder what kind of market I would have come fall, what with all the
>hesitancy to accept them overseas.

>That is, IF I knew I had a problem. The
>news blackout on high level European Union deliberations ( they recently
>backed up four members who want to prohibit import of genetically modifieds )
>is nothing short of appalling. Over 30 million US acres will be planted to
>corn, soy and cotton this season, and the market for them is not at all
>steady. The conventional farm leadership is already very concerned about the
>affects of the Asian economic failures ( probably a 30% decrease in exports
>from US commodities).

>Rifkin also points out the unresolved, not even considered, issue of product
>liability and the uninsured failures of gen-altered crops, which  will
>contribute to this unsteadiness; for example,  Monsanto's RRS Cotton failure
>and the pending litigation.

>More On Milk

>Organic Cow, the northeastern manufacturer and distributor of dairy products
>produced by 62 small organic dairies has filed a suit in a US District
>Court in Vermont. Organic Cow is  seeking relief from marketing order
>backed by the Northeast Dairy Compact. A pincer movement also aimed at
>Cow has  been introduced to the Vermont legislature, which would revoke the
>licenses of dairy producers in violation of compact orders. Organic Cow does
>not benefit from the programs supported by the assessments paid by
>conventional dairies since their market is entirely distinguishable from
>conventional. Bunny Flint, owner of Organic Cow, said that " Since we already
>pay so much more than the compact requires, we can not both pay our farmers a
>higher price ( about 4 dollars more per cwt) and then an assessment for all
>the other farmers too."
>Disappearing Farm Land
>Cities are located where they are for two reasons: historical access to water
>transportation and good farmland. Take for example Dallas and Ft. Worth,
>Texas. The Trinity, North and South Sulphur, and the Sabine  Rivers all flow
>through this area, which is now known as the Metroplex.
>Lewisville used to be a small farming community north of Dallas, and I
used to
>farm on 22 acres of "Lewisville clay loam" so named by the Soil Conservation
>Service many years ago because that  Blackland Prairie soil was typified by
>what one found in Lewisville- until it got paved over.

>In a recent interview with Robert Wagner of the American Farmland Trust (
>I learned that Texas is Number One in the nation in quality farmland at risk
>to development from encroaching urban areas. Very little criteria exists that
>helps to identify our Class I and II soils as specific, strategic natural
>resources, much as we do rivers or aquifers.

>Here is AFT’s list of Most Threatened US Agricultural Areas: 1. Sacramento
>San Juaquin Valleys ( CA), 2. Northern Piedmont ( MD, NJ,PA,VA),3 Southern
>Wisconsin/ No. Illinois Drift Plain, 4. Texas Black Land Prairie, 5.
>Willamette Valley, (OR) and Puget Sound Valley (WA), 6. Florida
Everglades, 7.
>Eastern Ohio Till Plain, 8. Lower Rio Grande Valley, 9. Mid-Atlantic Coast,
>10. New England and Eastern New York.
>For more information check < > or call (413) 586-9330
>The Organic  "Yellow Pages" from CAFF
>Community Alliance With Family Farmers has now published the 1998 National
>Organic Directory, the unparalleled resource book for and about organic
>farmers, farm materials/tools suppliers, certification information and
>certifiers, handlers, processors and buyers. The 365 page book is an
>tool for anyone interested in learning more about the size and scope of the
>organic market, who is who and where. Call 1-800-852-3832 to order a copy.
>Ohio Ecological Food and Farm/OSU

>Recent discussions between the Ohio State University and the Ohio Ecological
>Food and Farm Association ( OEFFA) have stimulated a desire on behalf of both
>parties to investigate the possibility of developing a long term organic
>research project designed to document the affects of the organic transition
>process on field crop yield and other aspects of production.  In order to
>facilitate this process, a joint development committee is being formed to
>investigate replicable trials and research programs which have been
>in other states. They are  currently investigating a "model" program from
>State, and are soliciting  help in identifying other Universities which have
>begun similar projects.

>OEFFA also has an organic farm internship program offering " beginning
>a way to get involved in agriculture without the significant capital input
>required to own or operate a conventional farm." For more information on
>either subject, contact OEEFA at (614) 294-3662.
>Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center
>The Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center is a new conservation project
>that           " develops economically practical solutions to agricultural-
>environmental problems and makes these rapidly available to farmers and
>ranchers."  Originally based in Arlington, Virginia, they will soon move to
>Charleston, South Carolina.

ACIC operates as a project of the private,
>nonprofit Natural Resources Council of America  (a council made up of over 70
>pre-eminent national and regional conservation organizations). ACIC works
>closely with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and has
>designated that agency's "Innovation Partner." As such, it " works from a
>solid, well-established base of conservation expertise, but at the cutting
>edge of agricultural resource management." ACID has job openings, training
>opportunities , and internships available in sustainable agriculture at
>Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center, Suite 1100, 1400 Wilson Blvd.,
>Arlington, VA 22209-2803.

>Organic Farming Systems Training Partnership

>North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Department of
>Agriculture have begun an educational outreach program running from April
>through September 17th, aimed at getting on-farm expertise into the hands of
>extension agents and other mainstream educators and specialists . Whole Farm
>Planning on 600 organic acres was the subject of the April field training and
>included cover cropping demonstrations, compost and fertilizer utility and
>availability, and finished up with marketing. Future trainings will from
>planting to the produce case at Whole Foods Market, information sources on
>World Wide Web, organic insect and disease control/prevention and livestock.
>Please contact Nancy Creamer, North Carolina Department of Agriculture at
>  Phone: (919)515-9447.
Donations Needed- Need Help to Keep Helper On
International Advocates for Health Freedom
John C. Hammell, Legislative Advocate
2411 Monroe St. Hollywood, FL 33020 USA
800-333-2553, 954-929-2905, FAX 954-929-0507,