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US-Japan agree to make it easier to import each other’s organic products

The Associated Press announces a new US-Japan deal that could lead to more organic options.

The United States and Japan have agreed to make it easier to import each other’s organic products, the latest step in a global effort that could give consumers access to more — and cheaper — organic food.
The Agriculture Department announced an agreement Thursday between the United States and Japan that will allow organic products to be certified in one of the countries and be sold as organic in both. The agreement will allow producers to sell their products in both countries without going through the lengthy process of getting certified twice.
The agreement is similar to a 2009 deal with Canada and a 2012 deal with the European Union. Agriculture officials say they are looking at agreements with other countries — South Korea, and possibly India, Brazil and Mexico down the road — that could also make it easier for U.S. organic farmers to sell abroad. Continue reading


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Organizations Urge USDA to Improve Oversight of GM Trials

The Environmental Leader reports on efforts by more than 150 organizations to urge the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of gentically engineerd crops:

Organic food manufacturer Amy’s Kitchen, Farm Aid, Clif Bar & Company, The Urban Farm, Organic Seed Alliance and the Center for Food Safety are among more than 150 farm organizations, millers, retailers, bakeries, seed businesses and food processors urging the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of genetically engineered crops.
The groups have signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that centers on their concern over the discovery this summer of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Oregon. The signatories say the contamination shows the inadequacy of US regulation of genetically engineered crop field trials. The incident also reinforces the sensitivity of export markets, all of which reject genetically engineered wheat.
The economic impacts of the genetically engineered wheat discovery were immediate, the signatories say. Shipments from Oregon wheat farmers were temporarily put on hold after the unapproved wheat was found.
The delegation has asked the USDA to halt new approvals of genetically engineered wheat field trials at least until the contamination investigation is complete. The group also says the USDA should publish a report detailing the investigation, implement recommendations that aim to improve field trial oversight, and require mandated containment protocols for all genetically engineered crop field trials.