Dietary Guidelines need stronger organic foods stand: O.T.A.

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON –The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) and Health & Human Services (H.H.S.) were asked by the Organic Trade Association (O.T.A.) to encourage people seeking to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals to look for the U.S.D.A. Organic label wherever they shop by revising the draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

Christine Bushway, O.T.A.'s executive director and chief executive officer, pointed out serious concerns with statements in Resource 3 entitled "Conventional and Organically Produced Foods” in oral testimony at a hearing conducted by the Advisory Committee preparing the latest version of the guidelines.

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 added.

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 ) study regarding ways to reduce environmental cancer risk, she said. In its recent report, that scientific panel recommended "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.

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