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Food Safety Modernization Act

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Organic Trade Association applauds passage of Food Safety reform

Integrity of organic practices protected in final bill

Contact: Barbara Haumann (802-275-3820, bhaumann@ota.com)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 21, 2010)—The Organic Trade Association (OTA)
today applauded Congress for finally passing the FDA Food Safety
Modernization Act that will help tighten food safety oversight while
also including provisions to protect organic farmers and producers from
costly duplicative requirements.

“As an early supporter of food safety reform, OTA is pleased that this critically needed legislation will provide greater consumer protection from food-borne illness, and is crafted to protect organic producers from duplicative trace-back and record-keeping systems, or any requirements that would violate National Organic Standards,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO.

The legislation, originally passed Nov. 30 by the Senate in a
72-to-25 bipartisan vote, first cleared the House of Representatives as
an addition to its Continuing Resolution for funding the federal
government without a new appropriations bill in place. When Senators
were unable to pass an identical bill, they subsequently approved food
safety by unanimous consent as a stand-alone measure on Dec. 19. The
stand-alone bill, which cleared the House today, maintains language
which OTA had sought that prevents regulations forcing certified organic
operations to duplicate or conflict with requirements set by the
Organic Food Production Act.

Taking the lead on this language were Representatives Marcy Kaptur of
Ohio and Sam Farr of California in the House, and the Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the Senate.
Specifically, the legislation prevents any regulations that would force
organic operations to use prohibited materials or practices, such as
irradiation, as identified by the National Organic Program.

The legislation also includes resources and guidance for technical
assistance, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, to be
provided through the states and local governments for operations that
will be subject to the new law—provisions which OTA had also supported.
In addition, it includes language offered by Senator Sherrod Brown of
Ohio to amend the traceability and record-keeping section of the bill to
allow for food directly marketed from farmers to consumers or to
grocery stores and food labeled with the identity of the farm which
produced it. That amendment also prevents the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration from requiring any farm to keep records beyond the first
point of sale when the product leaves the farm, except when farms
co-mingle product from multiple farms.

Fully supporting an improved food safety system, OTA is especially
pleased that members of Congress recognized that steps taken by organic
producers align with the goals of food safety reform, including business
registration, record keeping and audits, and inspection requirements.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based
business association for organic agriculture and products in North
America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers,
farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants,
retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected
by its members.