Wednesday, October 21, 2015

USDA Motion to Dismiss Granted In Organic Case

Written by Katharine Richter

On October 9, the United States District Court of Northern California ruled in favor of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) motion to dismiss a complaint brought against them by the Center for Food Safety (CFA) and other consumer groups.  The groups had claimed the USDA did not issue a proper notice and comment period regarding a new review process for certified organic foods.

The complainants originally filed on September 16, 2013.  The USDA was seeking to revise which “substances may be used in food certified as ‘organic’ under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).”  Under the act, there is a 15 member board called the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which determines what substances can be used in products and considered “organic” for labeling purposes.  USDA proposed a new framework that would alter the review process from requiring a two-third vote for renewal of allowable substances. to now requiring all members of the group to remove the substances from the allowable substance list. 

The Court found the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had failed to show the new review procedures would cause them any concrete harm.  The complainants will have 21 days to file an amended complaint.

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