Natural Foods Merchandiser

News Beat

GM Crop Ban Passes in Mendocino County
Northern California?s Mendocino County became, on March 2, the nation?s first region to ban genetically engineered crops when 56 percent of voters approved Measure H. The measure prohibits the ?propagation, cultivation, raising and growing of genetically modified organisms in Mendocino County.? Organic proponents are applauding the success of the measure.

?The H-bomb. It?s pretty seismic. This does change the landscape,? said Mark Lipson, Organic Farming Research Foundation policy program director. ?It?s our first real success [against genetic modification].?

Other counties have taken note; Humboldt County has begun collecting signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. ?Right now it?s only one county but it will try to spread,? Lipson said. ?People at the grass-roots level want it. Organic farmers led the way along with an organic brew pub. They ought to be proud of themselves.?

The new law will likely face challenges from its opponents. ?The biotech industry and the California Farm Bureau are considering their options for litigation or legislation,? Lipson said. He thinks a legislative attack is the most likely. ?The obvious argument [against the measure] is that one county shouldn?t be able to do this. The legislation should be at the state level.? However, Lipson pointed out, the state has had opportunity to craft legislation but hasn?t done so.

OTA Approves Standards for Organic Fiber
The Organic Trade Association adopted fiber-processing standards Feb. 23 for organic fiber, such as cotton or wool, that cover all post-harvest processing. International organic fiber standards and requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act were reviewed and modified to create ?American Organic Standards—Fiber: Post Harvest Handling, Processing, Record Keeping and Labeling.?

It took the OTA?s Fiber Council nearly five years to develop the standards. ?At first, some of the manufacturers thought OTA shouldn?t tackle processing standards and that we should first just focus on expanding the use of organically grown fibers,? said Sandra Marquardt, coordinator of OTA?s Fiber Council.

?A number of toxic chemicals are used in the processing of apparel and textile products. Some pose direct risks to the person wearing the clothes, others to the environment when the chemicals are discharged during the manufacturing process,? she said. ?OTA?s standards will help ensure that quality, attractive products can continue to be created, but with the most minimal impact on people and the environment. OTA believes these standards will ultimately not only affect the organic industry, but ultimately the textile industry in general.

?The most controversial topics revolved around labeling, as companies are used to claiming that their products are ?100 percent organic,? ?organic? or ?made with organic,? even if the products contain less than the amount of organic product permitted in the organic food standards for that labeling category (the current regulations apply primarily to food products). I believe the OTA standards will affect what percent of fibers are chosen for the different blends, as companies will want to be able to use the highest labeling category possible.?

Copies of the standard are available through a licensing agreement at the OTA Web site, OTA will also present a seminar about the standards at the All Things Organic conference and trade show on May 4 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 4/p. 7, 12

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