OTA Wants Organics in Guidelines

July 8/Washington/PRNewswire-USNewswire -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has called on the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health & Human Services (HHS) to encourage those seeking to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals to look for the USDA Organic label wherever they shop by revising the draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

In oral testimony at a hearing conducted by the Advisory Committee preparing the latest version of the guidelines, OTA's executive director and CEO Christine Bushway pointed out serious concerns with statements in Resource 3 entitled "Conventional and Organically Produced Foods." For one, although the Dietary Guidelines statement on organic foods references only limited research on nutrient density, it draws the broad conclusion that "Our current understanding of conventional and organically produced foods indicate that their nutritional value and contributions to human health are similar."

"These conclusions are neither grounded in current science nor relevant to the mandate of the Dietary Guidelines," Bushway said.

Also, the conclusions of the draft Dietary Guidelines are in direct conflict with the advice put forth by the recent President's Cancer Panel (http://www.ota.com/pics/documents/OnePagerCancerPanelLetterhead.pdf) report regarding ways to reduce environmental cancer risk. In its recent report, that scientific panel recommended that "Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers...Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications." These attributes are all certified practices in organic agricultural production.

"It is inconceivable and alarming that the very document that is the under pinning of our nation's policies regarding food and nutrition would include a statement that directly contradicts these recommendations and certainly does not meet the stated goals of the committee to speak with 'one nutrition voice,'" Bushway told the Advisory Committee. She also testified that the guidelines should seek to arm parents with information that helps them reduce their children's pesticide intake. Organic agriculture is the only system that uses a USDA certification program to verify that these chemicals are not used.

"As released, the guidelines confuse the consumer, contradict the President's own Cancer Panel, and do not enhance dietary recommendations," Bushway said, adding, "Because the reference to organic foods in Resource 3 offers no real value to the consumer, OTA respectfully requests that it either reflect the President's Cancer Panel recommendations or be stricken from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010."

From the July 19, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition