GreenYes Archives

[GreenYes Archives] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

[GreenYes] No "organic" seafood in California

from the The Sacramento Bee / Fresno Bee (

Law bans seafood buzzword
State creates quandary over what 'organic' means.

The Sacramento Bee

(Updated Monday, January 2, 2006, 5:19 AM)

SACRAMENTO ? A California law that went into effect Sunday prohibits labeling seafood as
"organic," but New Leaf Community Markets already has come up with an alternative.

"Organic-Everywhere-But-California" is the way New Leaf's upcoming newsletter describes
the Ecuadorian prawn that will be on sale at the five-store chain in Santa Cruz County in
early February.

As the New Leaf situation illustrates, the law, Senate Bill 730 by Sen. Jackie Speier,
D-Hillsborough, has created a quandary over how to label seafood and aquaculture that
employ methods some consider healthier and better for the environment.

Speier said the bill was needed to protect consumers in the absence of state or federal
standards for organic seafood and aquaculture. It was supported by consumer and organic
food groups, as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which runs an influential labeling
program that recommends environmentally friendly seafood.

But New Leaf Community Markets and other sellers and distributors of seafood say they were
unfairly caught in the net. Environmentally friendly seafood costs more to produce, said
John Battendieri, CEO of Blue Horizon Seafood Company in Aptos, which sells the prawns to
New Leaf markets. That means bringing in organic feed, and limiting the shrimp population
to avoid disease without resorting to antibiotics. The "organic" label lets sellers charge
a premium to recoup the higher costs, he said.

Blue Horizon plans to start calling the prawns "eco-farmed," which is not prohibited by
the new law.

But it's not the same, Battendieri said. "Organic is so hot right now. It's a buzzword. It
delivers more impact."

Supporters of the new labeling law recognize that businesses would like to claim the
lucrative "organic" niche in the marketplace.

The problem, they say, is that in the absence of state or federal guidelines, anyone can
slap on the organic label. Even some products that contain enough mercury or other
contaminants to warrant a warning label under Proposition 65 can be marketed as "organic,"
supporters of the new law say.

While some aquaculture operations rely on certification from European organizations,
backers of the law point out that there are many such groups, with a wide variety of

The reality, they say, is that for certain types of aquaculture, there are few if any
operations that don't damage the environment.

Dan Weisenbach
Columbus, Ohio

[GreenYes Archives] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]