March 2, 2008

Want the USDA's "naturally raised" label to by God MEAN naturally raised? You have until Monday, March 3 to speak up.

"Naturally raised"? Tell the USDA what you think. You have until Monday. As we call it here in California, "tomorrow."

Important news from The Ethicurean: the USDA is soliciting comments on a "naturally raised" label for meats.

The proposed label won't mean the beef was grass-fed.

The proposed label won't mean the hogs saw sunlight or had a chance to root.

The proposed label won't mean the chickens could walk and run on normal, healthy legs.

The proposed label won't affect the lagoons of waste that have turned much of Iowa — the air, the aquifers — into a toxic miasma of pollutants.

I could go on, but you get the idea. What, exactly, are the standards behind the USDA's proposed label? Here you go, via The Ethicurean: "Livestock must have been raised without growth promotants, antibiotics, or mammalian or avian byproducts in their feed."

That's it.
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?

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.

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.

Need talking points? The Ethicurean's got em. Much of this post was lifted straight from their coverage: please visit this link for more information.

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