Sunday, March 02, 2008

Speaking of truth in labeling ...

As it happens, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is considering a new label, "naturally raised," for meat. To quote from Elanor over at Ethicurean:

Their proposal: livestock must have been raised without growth promotants, antibiotics, or mammalian or avian byproducts in their feed.

Grass? Nah.

Access to the outdoors? Nah.

Natural breeding instead of artificial insemination? Nah.

Treating animals humanely? Nah.

Making sure that the operation doesn’t spew toxic gases into the air or leach manure into rivers, streams, or groundwater? Nah.

If the USDA’s proposal goes through, consumers looking to do the right thing at the grocery store will see a label that tells them the meat they’re buying has been raised naturally. But in the words of Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride, "I do not think that means what you think it means."

A weak "natural" label will also undermine other more meaningful labels like organic and grassfed by making consumers think that they’re buying something comparable when they buy "naturally raised." Wouldn’t a "no hormones or antibiotics used" label be more clear and more honest?

Taking the natural step

We can do something about this, but we have to do it quickly. The USDA is taking comments on their proposal through Monday, March 3. So this weekend, please take a few minutes to let them know that consumers deserve labels that are clear and meaningful. It’s easy to submit comments online. And in case you were worried, it does make a difference: in 1997, the USDA floated a proposal for an Organic label that allowed irradiation, GMOs, and sewage sludge in organic production. The agency received more than 275,000 public comments and reversed its stance on all three issues.

Here's the information:

Please submit comments opposing USDA’s proposal by Monday, March 3rd, 2008.

You can submit comments two ways:

1. Electronically – submit your comments online at the following link: main=SubmitComment&o=09000064803b3e50.

2. Via fax to 202-720-1112.

Important: All comments must reference "Docket No. AMS-LS-07-0131".

Also: Be sure to include your name, address, and if appropriate, affiliation(s) and/or interest(s) in the issue.

Remember: The public comment deadline is March 3, 2008.

This sounds like a worthwhile activity to me. I hope you all agree.


Post a Comment

<< Home