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New organic rules

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: With sales expected to top $15 billion this year, you might have noticed the organic food section in your grocery store’s been getting bigger. But what’s really in all those organic goodies? This week, the federal government issues new rules about that. Janet Babin has more.


JANET BABIN: If you buy an organic cupcake, it probably contains ingredients that aren’t really organic. But that’s because the baking soda or cornstarch in it has no organic alternative.

The new USDA rules will clarify what non-organically produced substances are allowed in foods that carry the organic label.

The Organic Trade Association welcomes the changes, but some watchdog groups are worried.

Mark Kastel with the Cornucopia Institute says the fear is that the rule changes could allow inappropriate synthetic products under the organic umbrella:

MARK KASTEL: if we just have the labels that look pretty, but the actual package contains cheap imported products from around the world — milk, meat, grown and produced in factory farms — the label’s going to lose its economic value.

Proponents say the changes will bring more uniformity to the organic label.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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