USDA refuses to enforce organic standards

USDA refuses to enforce organic standards, allows synthetic omega-3s in Horizon organic milk
by Ethan A. Huff

(NaturalNews) The US Department of Agriculture is once again deliberately shirking its responsibility to properly oversee the integrity of the certified organic program. After admitting in a recent letter that a chemically-derived, synthetic omega-3 fatty acid additive produced by Martek Biosciences Corporation is not legitimately organic, the USDA also said it does not plan to take any enforcement action against companies that use it in certified organic products. The Cornucopia Institute (CI), a leading organic industry watchdog, continues to call the USDA out on the matter, exposing the fact that the additive not only has a questionable safety record, but also does not belong in any organic product.

The saga dates back to around 2002 when practically every major brand of infant formula began fortifying its blends with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), two omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids naturally found in human breast milk. Manufacturers began to claim these blends were superior than others, and the closest thing to actual human breast milk (…).

The primary type of DHA and ARA used in the formulas, however, is the same laboratory-grown, synthetic variety made by Martek, which is now showing up in Horizon organic milk products. A CI report explains that Martek’s synthetic DHA/ARA blend is created using genetically-modified organisms (GMO), and then extracted using the toxic chemical hexane. Since the time of its approval, there have been hundreds of adverse event reports submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the additive causing serious health problems in children and babies (…).

If that is not bad enough, the USDA has known since 2006 that manufacturers were illegally adding the Martek additive to organic baby formulas. Though the agency initially sent letters to the offending manufacturers ordering them to stop using the additive, a later Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed that the agency ended up caving to corporate lobbyists by agreeing to permit the unapproved additive in organic formulas.

Now, the Horizon brand of organic dairy products has begun illegally adding the unapproved chemical additive to some of its milk products — and the USDA says it can continue to do so for an indefinite period of “phase-out” time. CI says it may file a lawsuit against the USDA for its negligent stance on the issue, which flagrantly violates the agency’s own organic standards and compromises the integrity of the entire organics program

And to top it off, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recently proposed allowing any synthetic additive to be freely added to organic products without having to be properly reviewed. NOSB will debate and vote on the proposal at its next meeting in Seattle, April 26-29, 2011.