(For background posts on this issue, click “organic/GMO” in the categories list to the right.)
Last Friday, the USDA approved a rule change allowing non-organic hops to be used in beer labeled USDA Organic. But they also extended the public comment period on this rule change for an additional 60 days due to widespread protest about the rule and because the originally comment period was a mere seven days (yet they received over 10,000 comments protesting the proposed change).
The rule change allows 38 non-organic ingredients in products labeled USDA Organic because: 1) they are “minor” ingredients in their products; and 2) they are not commercially available in organic form.
In other words, just to make this very clear, they are saying that hops are: 1) a minor ingredient in beer, even though in America and Germany beer is legally required to be made with hops or it can’t be called beer; and 2) organic hops are unavailable commercially, even though Seven Bridges Cooperative commercially markets (both retail and wholesale) seventeen varieties of organic hops in both whole hop and pellet form.
Furthermore, last week when Anheuser Busch got scared that their organic beers might get yanked from shelves because they did not contain organic hops (the rule changing procedures got stalled, temporarily requiring organic hops), they swiftly shidted their organic beers to be brewed with all organic hops and issued a public statement to that effect.
To recap: hops are a mandatory ingredient in beer, they are commercially available, and the world’s second largest beer company markets two organic beers brewed with organic hops – yet the USDA says organic hops are a minor ingredient in beer and are not available commercially so they are exempted from being used in beers labeled USDA Organic.
Click here to file a public comment with USDA protesting this rule change. If my math is correct, the new public comment period ends on August 23.
Tell your friends to comment. These comments have an impact. USDA has proposed bad industry-sponsored rule changes in the past (like allowing GMOs to be used in organic products) but widespread public outcry has stopped them. Let’s do that again so organic beer will really be organic. You can be guaranteed that A-B will switch their organic beers back to non-organic hops if this rule change is allowed to stick.