USA: K. Merrigan appointed to Deputy Agriculture Secretary
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Barack Obama has announced Kathleen Merrigan to Deputy Agriculture Secretary. This move drew cheers from food-safety advocates who have been pushing for stricter labelling regulations, reports Scientific American. Consumers Unions’ director of food policy initiatives Jean Halloran said in a statement that Ms Merrigan would bring an excellent perspective to a number of labelling issues. Among the matters that needed to be addressed were loopholes in the current grass fed standard, lack of uniformity in meat marketing claims, defining raised without antibiotics label claims, and weaknesses in the current definition of naturally raised.
The Consumers Union had sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack complaining that the naturally raised standard finalized during the Bush administration had been very limited because it allowed meat from animals treated with antimicrobial, growth-promoting drugs to carry the label. It had asked the agency to define the term raised without antibiotics, which had previously been interpreted to allow the use of ionophores. The Consumers Union had also called for Tom Vilsack to close what it said was a loophole in grass fed standards that allowed to use the grass-fed label without meeting the AMS guidelines.
Kathleen Merrigan, director of the agriculture, food and environment program at Tufts University helped develop the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 as. Ms Merrigan served as administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the agency's organic program, from 1999 to 2001,