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Organic Left Standing as the Gold Standard for Consumers Looking to Avoid Food Produced With Synthetic Growth Hormones

Federal court rules that truthful information regarding organic production practices may not be explicitly shared with consumers on product labels in Ohio

GREENFIELD, Mass., March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers in Ohio and elsewhere who are seeking to avoid milk and other dairy products produced with synthetic growth hormones will only be able to discern how their food was produced by looking for the organic label, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the leading voice for the $17 billion organic industry in North America.

On March 30, 2009, a Federal District Court in Ohio upheld an emergency rule enacted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture that takes away consumers' rights to receive truthful information about organic production practices on the labels of their milk and other dairy products in Ohio. The ruling also goes against the rights of organic dairy farmers and processors to communicate truthfully with consumers regarding federally regulated organic production practices required for products to bear the USDA Organic seal.

"Consumers have a right to know how the food they feed their families has been produced, and organic farmers and manufacturers should be allowed to tell them," said Christine Bushway, executive director, OTA. She added, "Our country's national organic system is highly regulated and verifiable, and no American should be denied access to truthful information about it."

In order to qualify for the organic label, organic farmers are prohibited from using synthetic growth hormones (rBGH), genetically engineered organisms (GMOS), antibiotics and toxic, persistent, synthetic pesticides. The standards also mandate a rigorous system for inspection, certification and verification of organic practices, all of which protect consumers who choose organic products.

"Even though the court's decision restricts consumers' right to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, consumers who choose organic dairy products can still be assured that the products have been produced without the use of synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics or toxic, persistent pesticides," advised Bushway. She noted that the overwhelming majority of Americans wants this information on product labels but will not see truthful information on organic product labels as a result of the court's decision in Ohio.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center polled more than 1,000 people nationwide on various food labeling issues. Seventy-six percent of those polled were concerned with 'dairy cows given synthetic growth hormones' and 88 percent agreed that 'milk from cows raised without synthetic bovine growth hormones should be allowed to be labeled as such.'

"Consumers have spoken, and we are very disappointed the court disagrees," added Bushway.

The United States is in the minority among industrialized nations by allowing the use of synthetic growth hormones to artificially stimulate milk production in dairy herds. The practice is already prohibited in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in the 27 countries of the European Union.

The only way for consumers to be sure they are choosing products produced without the use of synthetic growth hormones (rBGH), genetically engineered organisms (GMOS), antibiotics and toxic an persistent pesticides is to look for the organic label.

Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its 1,700 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

SOURCE Organic Trade Association
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