(May 28) WASHINGTON, D.C. — Organic industry pressure seems to have paid off.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman withdrew a statement that alarmed organic producers who feared it would weaken the integrity of their products by possibly allowing crops to be sprayed with materials reserved for conventional growing methods.

The USDA wanted to allow chemical use if “reasonable efforts” couldn’t determine what ingredients were in the pesticides. Givens said the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, doesn’t require all inert ingredients to be listed for proprietary reasons.

The Organic Trade Association, Greenfield, Mass., lobbied to change the decision, saying it would erode consumers’ confidence in organic products.

“This is not something the National Organic Standards Board brought forward, not something the Organic Trade Association brought forward,” said Holly Givens, communications director for the association.

“… Some of our members were angry this was happening. Over the years, they’ve made quite an effort to make sure they’re meeting the desires of the consumers and the requirements of the regulations, sometimes above and beyond the regulations.”

Veneman made the announcement May 26, about a month after the Agricultural Marketing Service issued the controversial statement that would have potentially allowed the use of chemicals on organic crops.

USDA spokeswoman Julie Quick said organic certifiers raised the issue, asking for clarification about inert ingredients that aren’t required by law to be listed on pesticide labels.

The issue isn’t dead yet. Quick said the USDA will informally solicit comments from the industry to resolve certifiers’ questions.

Veneman made the announcement during a telephone news conference about agricultural exports. She said the USDA is acting in good faith to clarify questions raised by the implementation of the organic standards.