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Organic Food Guidelines

The highest international body on food standards, comprising members of the United Nations health and agricultural agencies, has approved wide-ranging guidelines for organically produced food.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), adopted last Saturday at the conclusion of its latest session "Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organic Food." The standards clearly define the nature of organic food production and prevent claims that could mislead consumers about the quality of the product or the way it was produced.

The Commission also agreed to set up three intergovernmental task forces: one to devise standards by 2003 for foods derived from biotechnology; a second to revise fruit juice guidelines that protect consumers and prevent fraudulent practices and a third on animal feeding in the wake of the recent international crisis over dioxin-contaminated animal products.

The Commission postponed setting maximum residue limits for the controversial cow hormone Bovine Somatotropine (BST) after failing to reach consensus, but did approve measures relating to food standards and control for the Near East, prepackaged food labelling as well as the Commission's procedural manual.

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