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USDA panel approves first rules for labeling farmed fish 'organic'

December 9, 2008

USDA panel approves first rules for labeling farmed fish 'organic'

US federal advisory board has approved criteria that clear the way for farmed fish to be labelled “organic,” a move that pleased aquaculture producers even as it angered environmentalists and consumer advocates.

The question of whether farmed fish could be labelled organic ? especially carnivorous species such as salmon that live in open-ocean net pens and consume vast amounts of smaller fish ? has been in dispute between scientists and federal regulators for years. The standards approved yesterday by the national organic standards board would allow organic fish farmers to use wild fish as part of their feed mix provided it did not exceed 25 percent of the total and did not come from forage species, such as menhaden, that have declined sharply as the demand for farmed fish has skyrocketed.

“Finally, maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of defining what’s organic,” said Wally Stevens, executive director of the global aquaculture alliance. “The challenge is to figure out how we can produce a healthy protein product with a proper regard to where the feed comes from.”

For further information, visit the Washingtonpost web site

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