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>>Return-Path: <>
>Errors-To: <>
>Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 08:10:08 -0500
>From: Ginny Rodgers <>
>Organization: The Brightside Corporation
>To: John Hammel <>
>Subject: [Fwd: URGENT! FWD: Organic Agriculture Threatened + action to
stop the Multilateral
>  Agreement on Investment]

DISTRIBUTION LIST: Please join me in commenting on USDA's Proposed Rule for
Organic Agriculture- Comments Period has been extended until May 1. We MUST
stop what they are trying to do! We Must also stop MAI! (If Outside US-
Skip to MAI)

>To: (Jean Hudon)
>From: (jean hudon)
>Subject: URGENT! FWD: Organic Agriculture Threatened + action to stop the
> Agreement on Investment
>Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 03:25:10 -0500
>X-Mozilla-Status: 0001
>This just came in. As an organic gardener, I'm appaled, to say the least by
>this terribly destructive attack done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
>(USDA) against Organic agriculture. If we don't stop this, we all stand to
>loose on everything else and end in a very depressing world. For often what
>happens first in the States then spread to Canada and many other countries.
>We are now in a dangerous slide towards further impairement of gains made
>since 1990 to save our environment which are now eroding at an alarming
>I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but the fact is that we are seeing
>a concerted and well-planned effort by Big Business interests to drive us
>all like sheeps under their dominant control, which can only spell the end
>of what still remains of democracy, freedom and the right of choice.
>So please, if you can take any action to contribute to prevent this from
>happening, please do it and pass it on to others. And if you can also help
>to send support the NGO statement to stop the Multilateral Agreement on
>send your endorsement by Friday, February 6th (see after the following post).
>Best regards to everyone
>Jean Hudon
>Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
>Date:    Thu, 29 Jan 1998 13:04:06 -0400
>From:    Mark Graffis <ab758@VIRGIN.USVI.NET>
>Subject: Rachel #583: Organic Agriculture Threatened (fwd)
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
>=======================Electronic Edition========================
>.                                                               .
>.           RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #583           .
>.                    ---January 29, 1998---                     .
>.                          HEADLINES:                           .
>.                ORGANIC AGRICULTURE ENDANGERED                 .
>.                          ==========                           .
>.               Environmental Research Foundation               .
>.              P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD  21403              .
>.      Fax (410) 263-8944; Internet:       .
>.                          ==========                           .
>.  Back issues available by E-mail; to get instructions, send   .
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>.    in the message; back issues also available via ftp from    .
>. and from     .
>.            and from            .
>. Subscribe: send E-mail to .
>.  with the single word SUBSCRIBE in the message.  It's free.   .
>by Frederick Kirschenmann[1]
>If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has its way, food
>now known as "organically grown" may be genetically engineered,
>fertilized with sewage sludge, and/or irradiated with nuclear
>wastes.  On December 16, 1997, USDA unveiled its proposed rule to
>implement the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA).[2]
>USDA's proposed rule would legalize practices that are presently
>unthinkable for organic farmers. All across the country, organic
>farmers and advocates for organic foods have risen up in protest
>against USDA's proposal.  If USDA prevails, the labeling of
>"organically grown" foods will become meaningless and consumers
>will no longer have confidence in the organic food industry.
>Citizens have until May 1, 1998, to comment on USDA's proposed
>The practice of producing food organically began with farmers who
>wanted to farm in harmony with nature instead of subduing nature
>by the use of toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. For
>various reasons, consumers want to buy food grown by these more
>natural methods.  Those consumers created the need to identify
>such foods in the market place. Private, independent, third-party
>certifiers emerged to provide assurance that the "organic" label
>actually means something. Third-party certifiers inspect farms
>and processing facilities to insure compliance with organic
>standards.  These certifiers also establish audit trails so that
>consumer products can be traced back to farmers' fields.  It is
>this third-party certification that gives the words "organically
>grown" their meaning. (For an example of organic standards, see
>the world wide web site of the California Certified Organic
>Farmers at .)
>As organic foods became more popular and commanded a premium
>price, some growers and manufacturers labeled their products
>"organic" even though they were not produced and processed in
>keeping with organic standards.  This fraudulent use of the
>"organic" label led the organic food industry, organic farmers,
>consumer groups, and environmentalists to ask for government
>USDA's proposed rule, however, will not provide the needed
>assurance. Besides failing to prohibit sewage sludge, irradiation
>and genetically engineered organisms in organic farming and
>processing, the rule also:
>** Fails to specifically prohibit factory-style farms from being
>certified organic
>** Fails to strictly forbid animal cannibalism in organically
>produced animals (believed to be the leading cause of
>transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, like "mad cow" disease).
>** Fails to prohibit the use of other materials in the production
>and processing of organic food which have long been considered
>unsafe or inappropriate by the international organic community,
>such as piperonyl butoxide, arsenic, mono-and di-glycerides, etc.
>The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) required the
>Secretary of Agriculture to establish a 15-member National
>Organic Standards Board (NOSB) which the law empowered to make
>recommendations for establishing the national organic standard.
>The law specifically gave the NOSB authority to establish the
>list of allowable materials that could be used in organic farming
>and processing.  Importantly, the law restrains the Secretary
>from adding materials to the list.  Since USDA's proposed rule
>adds materials to the list despite this prohibition, many see
>this as a deliberate attempt on the part of USDA to challenge the
>authority of the NOSB, a citizen board.
>As troubling as all of these issues are, the rule proposes other
>regulations that may have even more sweeping implications. These
>regulations could affect every American, not just those
>interested in the purity of organic food. The regulations, as
>proposed, would prevent producers and manufacturers from
>identifying products in the store based on production practices,
>thus ending the consumer's ability to "boycott" or "buycott" food
>products with their shopping dollars to support environmental
>goals.  The proposed rule gives some examples of the kind of
>labels that would be prohibited. They include: "produced without
>synthetic pesticides", "produced without synthetic fertilizers",
>"raised without synthetic chemicals" "pesticide-free farm", "no
>drugs or growth hormones used", "raised without antibiotics",
>"raised without hormones", "no growth stimulants administered",
>"ecologically produced", "sustainably harvested", and "humanely
>raised".  In other words the rule, as proposed, could end all
>eco-labeling, thus destroying an important market-based tool for
>environmental protection.[4]
>If they became law, these broad, prohibitory regulations would
>force many U.S. companies and grower associations to refrain from
>marketing eco-labelled products that they currently produce.
>Several examples come to mind.  Coleman's Natural Beef, which
>produces and markets a growth-hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef
>product.  Numerous companies and grower associations that are
>presently marketing products produced by reduced-pesticide
>practices. Perhaps even companies using the "dolphin safe" and
>"SmartWood" labels to differentiate sustainable fishing and
>forestry products would be in jeopardy.
>Additionally, the proposed rule would prohibit private organic
>certification companies from certifying or labeling products that
>distinguish "any farming or handling requirements other than
>those provided for" in the government's regulations. (Sec.
>205.301) This means that if the government insists on allowing
>sewage sludge, irradiation, genetically engineered organisms,
>piperonyl butoxide and other similar materials then no one can
>certify any product that is produced or processed WITHOUT those technologies.
>The proposed rule takes the power of preference away from
>consumers, limits the market opportunities of producers,
>restricts commercial free speech, and leaves chemically sensitive
>and allergic people without any reliable choices in the
>marketplace to protect them from possible harm.
>Ironically, the proposed rule does not place such restrictions on
>imported products or on foreign certifiers. The rule simply
>requires that imported products "at least" meet the requirements
>of the U.S. organic regulation. In effect, then, the regulations
>would allow foreign certifiers to certify that foods were
>produced without sewage sludge. etc. for import into the U.S.,
>but U.S. certifiers could not certify U.S. products to that same
>standard for U.S. consumers.
>This same regulation would also force international certifiers
>doing business in the United States, who want to uphold the
>standards they have become identified with over the past few
>decades, to move their base of operation out of the U.S. to
>retain the value of their trademarks. Other countries not only
>allow private certifiers to uphold and market higher standards
>than those required by government regulation, but some actively
>encourage it.
>Alternatively, U.S. certifiers apparently could certify products
>to a higher standard if those products were destined for export,
>but could not certify those same products for the U.S. domestic
>market.  This potentially creates a preposterous scenario in
>which U.S. certifiers could certify products to meet export
>standards, see those products sold into foreign markets from
>which they could then be sold back into the U.S., yet it would be
>illegal to market those same products directly in the U.S.
>In short, this proposed rule does not serve the interests of
>either American producers or consumers.  This raises an
>interesting question. Who would benefit from this rule? It would
>be a boon for the conventional agribusiness food system which
>has, for years, sought to eliminate any differentiation in the
>marketplace that threatens their market share.  This rule would
>simultaneously erase most of the major distinctions between
>organic and conventional food, make it illegal to use any other
>eco-labels, and prevent private certifiers from certifying to any
>standard other than the one proposed by USDA. One could hardly
>imagine a single piece of regulation that could bring more joy
>and comfort to the agribusiness food industry.
>Given these disturbing developments, citizens need to take steps
>to protect their shopping and marketing rights. There are several
>things we can do.  First, everyone can inform themselves by
>getting additional information about the proposed rule from
>various web sites.  Several are listed below.[2,5]
>Second, every citizen can submit comments to USDA to voice their
>concerns about this rule. Information on how to comment and how
>to gain access to the rule is also noted below.[2,3]
>Third, we need to take steps to protect citizen rights to
>"boycott" and "buycott" foods so that we can use our shopping
>dollars to protect the environment.  Every citizen can support
>the efforts of consumer groups like Consumer's Union, Mothers and
>Others, Greenpeace, Food & Water, or any number of other consumer
>and environmental groups that are fighting to preserve these
>rights. And everyone can contact their congressional
>representatives urging them to support the right to label
>products based on point of origin or production practices.
>Some private organic certifiers have already decided that they
>will not certify products to a standard like the one proposed in
>the USDA rule. We need to encourage USDA to establish a strong
>standard for organic food --a rule that supports farmers who are
>producing food ecologically and customers who choose to buy and
>eat that food. The existing proposal only supports agribusiness
>--the same industries that have brought you pesticides and
>genetically engineered crops.
>[1] For the past 22 years, Frederick Kirschenmann has operated a
>3100-acre organic farm in North Dakota.  He serves on the board
>of the World Sustainable Agriculture Society and is president of
>the board of the Henry A. Wallace Institute.  He was a founding
>member of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.
>He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago.
>[2] The proposed rule can be downloaded from
> on the world wide web, or you can
>purchase a paper copy from the FEDERAL REGISTER for $8.00 by
>calling 202-512-1800 in Washington, D.C.  The original comment
>period was slated to end March 16, but has now been extended to
>May 1.
>[3] Comments to USDA on the proposed organic rule should be
>submitted by May 1 to: Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator,
>USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room 4007-S, AG Stop 0275, P.O. Box 96456,
>Washington, D.C. 20090-6456. Comments can also be faxed to
>202-690-4632, or E-mailed via the National Organic Program home
>page at . Anyone filing comments by
>fax or E-mail should check to make sure their comments have been
>received and duly noted.
>[4] For a brief but thorough statement on opportunities to
>protect the environment through consumer purchasing power with
>eco-labels, see Mark Ritchie, "Purchasing Power: Consumer Choices
>and Environmental Protection," December 3, 1997, an unpublished
>paper available by request.  Send a request via E-mail to
> or via fax to (410) 263-8944.
>[5] Web sites where you can get additional information:
>http://www.usda/gov/ams/nop.  And: And:
> And:
>Descriptor terms:  organic farming; food safety; food
>irradiation; sewage sludge; pesticides; fertilizer; usda;
>agriculture; agribusiness; organic agriculture; regulations;
>eco-labels; frederick kirschenmann;
>                             NOTICE
>Environmental Research Foundation provides this electronic
>version of RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY free of charge
>even though it costs our organization considerable time and money
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>Date:    Thu, 29 Jan 1998 13:12:39 -0400
>From:    Mark Graffis <ab758@VIRGIN.USVI.NET>
>Subject: MAI negotiations 9 February Paris (fwd)
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
>Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 15:34:51 -0500 (EST)
>From: Andrea Durbin <>
>In the next few weeks, the political representatives for the OECD
>countries will be meeting (the week of February 16th) to decide
>whether to:
> a) proceed with the negotiations for the MAI or
> b) to scrap the agreement altogether.  Groups around the world
>    are gearing up to increase the pressure nationally and
>    internationally that the MAI should be dropped.
>Below is a joint NGO statement that was released in Paris during the NGO
>consultation meeting with the OECD last October.  We are asking groups to
>endorse this statement so that we can re-release it internationally with
>more signatures the week of February 9th.
>If your organization can endorse this statement, please send me your
>Also, please circulate this message broadly to other networks you work
>Thanks in advance for your help.  Keep up the fight against the MAI.  Its
>defeat could be the next blow to the globalization agenda!
>Regards, Andrea Durbin, Friends of the Earth, US
>NGO/ OECD Consultation on the MAI
>Paris: 27 October, 1997
>As a coalition of development, environment and consumer groups from around
>the world, with representation in over 70 countries, we consider the draft
>Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to be a damaging agreement which
>should not proceed in its current form, if at all.
>There is an obvious need for multilateral regulation of investments in view
>of the scale of social and environmental disruption created by the
>increasing mobility of capital. However, the intention of the MAI is not to
>regulate investments but to regulate governments. As such, the MAI is
>MAI negotiations began in the OECD in the Spring of 1995, more than two
>years ago, and are claimed to be substantially complete by the OECD. Such
>negotiations have been conducted without the benefit of participation from
>non-OECD countries and civil society, including non-governmental
>organizations representing the interests of workers, consumers, farmers or
>organizations concerned with the environment, development and human rights.
>As a result, the draft MAI is completely unbalanced. It elevates the rights
>of investors far above those of governments, local communities, citizens,
>workers and the environment. The MAI will severely undermine even the meagre
>progress made towards sustainable development since the Rio Earth Summit in
>The MAI is not only flawed in the eyes of NGOs, but conflicts with
>international commitments already made by OECD member countries:
>The MAI fails to incorporate any of the several relevant international
>agreements such as the Rio Declaration; Agenda 21; UN Guidelines for
>Consumer Protection (1985); the UNCTAD Set of Multilaterally Agreed
>Principles for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices  (1981); and
>the HABITAT Global Plan of Action.
>The MAI fails to comply with OECD commitments to integrate economic,
>environmental and social policies (1).
>The MAI removes responsibilities on transnational enterprises which were
>previously agreed by the OECD under the OECD Guidelines for Multilateral
>Enterprises 1976 (2).
>The exclusion of developing countries and countries in transition from the
>negotiations is inconsistent with OECD policy on development partnerships
>Problems with the MAI stem both from the broad restrictions it places on
>national democratic action, and from its failure to include sufficient new
>systems of international regulation and accountability.
>As the MAI stands, it does not deserve to gain democratic approval in any
>country. All the groups signing this statement will campaign against its
>adoption unless changes, including those cited below, are incorporated into
>the body of the MAI.
>As drafted, the MAI does not respect the rights of countries - in particular
>countries in transition and developing countries - including their need to
>democratically control investment into their economies.
>The level of liberalisation contained in the MAI has already been opposed as
>inappropriate by many developing countries. However, non-OECD countries are
>under increasing pressure to join.
>There are differing investment and development needs of OECD and non-OECD
>countries. In particular, the potential for economic diversification and
>development of the developing countries - especially the least developed
>countries - and countries in transition would be severely undermined by the
>provisions of the MAI. The standstill principle would cause particular
>problems for countries in transition, many of which have not yet developed
>adequate business regulation.
>The MAI's withdrawal provision would effectively bind nations to one
>particular economic  development model for fifteen years; prevent future
>governments from revising  investment policy to reflect their own assessment
>of the wisest economic course; and force countries to continue to abide by
>the agreement even if there is strong evidence that its impact has been
>The MAI contains no binding, enforceable obligations for corporate conduct
>concerning the environment, labour standards and anti-competitive behaviour.
>The MAI gives foreign investors exclusive standing under a legally binding
>agreement to attack legitimate regulations designed to protect the
>environment, safeguard public health, uphold the rights of employees, and
>promote fair competition.
>Further, citizens, indigenous peoples, local governments and NGOs do not
>have access to the dispute resolution system, and subsequently can neither
>hold multinational investors accountable to the communities which host them,
>nor comment in cases where an investor sues a government.
>The MAI will be in conflict with many existing and future international,
>national and sub-national, laws and regulations protecting the environment,
>natural resources, public health, culture, social welfare and employment
>laws; will cause many to be repealed; and will deter the adoption of new
>legislation, or the strengthening of existing ones.
>The MAI is explicitly designed to make it easier for investors to move
>capital, including production facilities, from one country to another;
>despite evidence that increased capital mobility disproportionately benefits
>multinational corporations at the expense of most of the world's peoples.
>With regard to substantive concerns:
>1) Undertake an independent and comprehensive assessment of the social,
>   environmental, and development impact of the MAI with full public
>   participation. The negotiations should be suspended during this
>   assessment.
>2) Require multinational investors to observe binding agreements
>   incorporating environment, labour, health, safety and human rights
>   standards to ensure that they do not use the MAI to exploit weak
>   regulatory regimes. Ensure that an enforceable agreement on investor
>   responsibilities takes precedence over any agreement on investor
>   rights.
>3) Eliminate the investor state dispute resolution mechanism and put into
>   place democratic and transparent mechanisms which ensure that civil
>   society, including local and indigenous peoples, gain new powers to
>   hold investors to account.
>4) While none of the undersigned NGOs object to the rights of investors
>   to be compensated for expropriation by a nation state, there are
>   adequate principles of national law and jurisprudence to protect
>   investors in circumstances such as these. The current MAI exceeds
>   these well accepted concepts of direct expropriation, and ventures
>   into areas undermining national sovereignty. We therefore request that
>   OECD members eliminate the MAI's expropriation provision so that
>   investors are not granted an absolute right to compensation for
>   expropriation. Governments must ensure that they do not have to pay
>   for the right to set environmental, labour, health and safety
>   standards even if compliance with such regulations imposes
>   significant financial obligations on investors.
>With regard to process concerns:
>1) Suspend the MAI negotiations and extend the 1998 deadline to allow
>   sufficient time for meaningful public input and participation in all
>   countries.
>2) Increase transparency in the negotiations by publicly releasing the
>   draft texts and individual reservations and by scheduling a series of
>   on going public meetings and hearings in both member and non member
>   countries, open to the media, parliamentarians and the general public.
>3) Broaden the active participation of government departments in the
>   official negotiations beyond state, commerce and finance to a broader
>   range of government agencies, ministries and parliamentary committees.
>4) Renegotiate the terms of withdrawal to enable countries to more easily
>   and rapidly withdraw from the agreement when they deem it in the
>   interest of their citizens. Developing countries and countries in
>   transitions which have not been a party to the negotiations must not
>   be pressurised to join the MAI.
>The current MAI text is inconsistent with international agreements signed
>by OECD countries, with existing OECD policies, and with national laws to
>promote sustainable development. It also fails to take into account
>important work carried out by investment experts and official bodies such
>as the UNCTAD "development friendliness" criteria for investment
>agreements (4) and other work on investor responsibility.
>If the OECD policy statements are to have any meaning, the above
>provisions must be fully integrated in the MAI with the same legal force
>as those on economic liberalisation.
>Given our grave concerns about the MAI and the unrealistically short time
>frame within which the MAI is being concluded, we look to the OECD and
>its member governments to fundamentally reconsider both the process and
>substance of the draft agreement. We call on the OECD to make a specific
>and detailed written response to our concerns. We also call on the OECD
>to avoid talking publicly about its consultations with NGOs without also
>talking about the serious concerns raised at those consultations.
>Finally, we will continue our opposition to the MAI unless these demands
>are met in full.
>(1) OECD Ministerial Communique May 1997
>(2) OECD Code of Conduct for Multinational Enterprises, Paris 1992
>(3) "Shaping the 21st Century: The Contribution of Development
>    Cooperation", OECD 1997. (4) UNCTAD, World Investment Report 1997;
>    UNCTAD Expert Meeting," Development Friendliness Criteria for
>    Investment Frameworks", 1997.
> .......................................
>List of 65 Non-governmental organisations supporting this statement
>not included with this message.
>Many of you saw this message when it first came out in October.
>It is relevant now because your government must decide this week
>whether or not to continue negotiations in Paris on Feb 9, 1998
> Bob Olsen      Toronto   (:-)
>And to alleviate a bit the whole thing, some more funny headlines:
>Newspaper Headline Goofs
>      * Grandmother of eight makes hole in one
>      * Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing
>      * House passes gas tax onto senate
>      * Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan
>      * Two convicts evade noose, jury hung
>      * William Kelly was fed secretary
>      * Milk drinkers are turning to powder
>      * Quarter of a million Chinese live on water
>      * Farmer bill dies in house
> Some become unintentionally suggestive:
>      * Queen Mary having bottom scraped
>      * Is there a ring of debris around Uranus?
>      * NJ judge to rule on nude beach
>      * Child's stool great for use in garden
>      * Dr. Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors
>      * Soviet virgin lands short of goal again
>      * Organ festival ends in smashing climax
> Grammar often botches other headlines:
>      * Squad helps dog bite victim
>      * Dealers will hear car talk at noon
>      * Lawmen from Mexico barbecue guests
>      * Two Soviet ships collide - one dies
> Once in a while, a botched headline takes on a meaning opposite from
> the one intended:
>      * Nicaragua sets goal to wipe out literacy
>      * Drunk drivers paid $1,000 in 1984
>      * Autos killing 110 a day, let's resolve to do better
> Sometimes newspaper editors state the obvious:
>      * Smokers are productive, but death cuts efficiency
>      * Child's death ruins couple's holiday
>      * Blind woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn't seen in years
>      * Man is fatally slain
>      * Death causes loneliness, feeling of isolation
Donations Needed- Need Help to Keep Helper On
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