Friday, March 03, 2006

How quickly Congress changed the OFPA after Harvey v. Veneman

Further to our earlier discussion of Harvey v. Veneman on IPBiz, Consumer Reports discussed the issue in February 2006 [Vol. 71, p. 57]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the Organic Foods Production Act, guided by the National Organic Standards Board, a nongovernmental group that includes consumer advocates, farmers, and food processors. The board also has authority for approving all allowable nonorganic ingredients. Five percent of the
ingredients in food labeled organic and 30 percent in "made with organic
ingredients" may be nonorganic.

Recently an amendment was slipped into the agriculture
appropriations bill at the last minute and without opportunity for public input. The original law had barred the used of synthetic ingredients in the nonorganic portion
allowed in food with the organic label. A 2005 court ruling [IPBiz: Harvey v. Veneman] upheld that standard, but the amendment to the appropriations bill overrode the court. That move to sidestep the court's decision was engineered by the Organic Trade Association and supported by some of its members, including General Mills, Horizon, Kraft, and Smucker's [sic: Smucker, of peanut butter and jelly sandwich patent fame].

On a different note, one observes how the Organic Trade Association et al. got Congress to alter the OFPA far faster than anyone has gotten Congress to change the Patent Act.


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