According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Ohio has decided not to pursue regulations that would prohibit dairy producers from including on their labels statements that organic dairy products are made without antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic hormones. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in September 2010 that those parts of the rule involving hormone-free statements violated the First Amendment and remanded the action to the federal district court for further development of the record as to the rule’s ban on composition claims related to antibiotics and pesticides. More details about the court’s ruling appear in Issue 366 of this Update.
The trade group stated, “Ohio has now agreed to abandon the rule rather than trying to revive it, recognizing that the First Amendment allows organic dairy products to proudly state that they are produced in accordance with organic standards without the use of synthetic growth hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics.” OTA Executive Director Christine Bushway was quoted as saying, “This is significant for all of us who support what the organic foods are about, and for consumers who carefully read food labels to find out what’s in their food and how it’s produced. The Sixth Circuit opinion made it clear that states cannot unduly restrict organic labels or consumers’ right to know how their food is produced, and the State of Ohio’s actions today make it clear that the fight to keep labels accurate by OTA, its members, farmers, and consumers was worth it.” See OTA Press Release, October 31, 2011.