The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
USDA Gives in to Big 'Organic' Poultry, Moves to Withdraw New Animal Welfare Rules
Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally proposed withdrawing a set of rules finalized at the end of the Obama administration that establish stronger, more enforceable animal welfare requirements for certified organic producers.
The rules, titled the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, are the product of more than a decade of collaboration and coordination among the organic community, including consumers, farmers, veterinarians, environmentalists and animal welfare groups. Unfortunately, a few large-scale egg producers fear the new rules will expose their less-than-organic practices and put pressure on USDA and Congress to stop the rule.
"The new rules are vital for protecting animal welfare, organic consumers, and the thousands of farmers that opt-in to organic certification," said Cameron Harsh, senior manager for Organic & Animal Policy at the Center for Food Safety.
The rules, which have been delayed from implementation three separate times since being finalized in January 2017, provide needed clarity on organic animal care, including prohibiting several painful alterations. In particular, the rules require all animals to have real access to the outdoors, which must include contact with soil and vegetation, and outline minimum spacing requirements for poultry. This is, in fact, what consumers already expect from the organic poultry and eggs they buy in stores. But the largest poultry producers have so far been able to consider small, cement, fenced-in areas as outdoor access and have not been required to abide by specific spacing limitations.
"The rules would hold all certified producers to the high standard of animal care that consumers expect and that the drafters of the organic law intended. If they are withdrawn, the steadily growing organic market and consumer trust in the organic seal will be at risk," added Harsh.
Center for Food Safety has submitted extensive comments in support of the rules. While the rules are not perfect, they are a substantial step toward ensuring all organic animals are provided a consistent level of care. The small but vocal opposition against the rules have misrepresented the realities of the rules in order to continue business-as-usual.
The proposal to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule is open for public comment until Jan. 17, 2018.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Erica Cirino
Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.
By Jason Bittel
High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.
By Bob Curley
- The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
- Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
- The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.
McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.
By Andrea Germanos
Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.
By Tim Radford
The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began — leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.